J to tha M: What We’re Writing

J Writes Erotica?!

tips for writing erotica

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J:  I had this big epiphany for a new book, but I’m not entirely sure how to make it work.

A reluctant hit woman.

M: It’s hard to make those sympathetic. Or would it be satire?

J: I’m not smart enough for satire

it would just be silly chick lit

and of course, she falls in love with the mark

which means he has to be sympathetic

but the real question is…

should I adopt a pen name and make this series erotica?

M:  Well…here’s the thing. You have to write sex pretty well to do that – to write a sexy, intriguing, hot erotic novel or novella. A *good* sexy, intriguing, hot erotic

J:  I could probably do that

maybe

and with you around to whip me into shape…

M:  I’d consider maybe amping up your sex scenes first

I mean, I’m not 100% sure about writing straight out erotica myself

I would need to be sure I at least thought I could give it a fair shot

J:  you mean I should write at least one before I dub myself an erotica author?

M:  I’m still working my skills, thought process, and writing to that point

by all means, give it a shot if it’s in your head and that’s where your characters want to take you

but…

good, not eye-rolly, squicky, or throw-the-book-across-the-room erotica takes a certain mindset and experience writing sex scenes, I think

J:  you’ve got a point. I’m still working on writing good, not eye-rolly, squicky, or throw the book across the room regular scenes

M:  yeah. You have to be comfortable writing those first, I’d say

but who knows – maybe you’ve got a hidden erotica alter ego. Jen Bare-y. Haha.

on the other hand…

J:  which other hand?

there are lots of them.

M:  erotic sex scenes are hard to write. good ones, that is

I seem to remember a story you wrote a chapter of under an alter ego for fun

wasn’t that a foray into more erotic territory?

J:  Oh, I didn’t shy away from writing sex in the past

that was before I realized I sucked at it

M:  Um. You can’t suck at writing sex in erotica

J:  Oh, for a moment, I thought you meant that I can’t suck. As in, I’m incapable of sucking

then I realized what you meant

you weren’t exactly saying I don’t suck, which is fair enough

i’m giggling

and getting funny looks

M:  well, you don’t suck

J:  why, thank you

you keep me in line

M: Howevah, sex scenes are not your strong point. And I think it only makes sense a writer needs to be able to write really strong sex scenes for good erotica, yes?

so I would just put that out there to consider before diving into a full erotic novel

M:  but write the story and characters and see where they take you. That’s the most important thing

J:  fair enough

you do know I’m not actually going to write erotica, right?

I leave all the sex-writing to you

and if you’re not there to do it, I write YA

*nods*

But it is sexy when you lecture me.

M:  yeah. I’m like “Jen? Erotica? Um…How do I put this? I need a drink. A big drink.”

hahaha

Oooh, and I have chocolate vodka

brb

J: …wait. What are you trying to say?

J: Hello?


Book Review: Collector’s Item

Guest Review by Michelle Schaffer

book review denise golinowski collector's itemThe Collector’s Item was an interesting read with a great story line potential. There was a great deal put into a novella. Though the book had promise, it fell a little short for me. To sum it up, I wanted more details, less story angles. The span of the story could have been expanded into a full book instead of a novella.

The book is about KT, a were-jaguar trying to find her aunt who has gone missing. KT is a part of a royal were-family who are trying to find the people behind the Collectors who view supernatural’s as game to hunt. I enjoy supernatural stories, and loved that the lead in this book was a female alpha. KT is a great lead character…strong, smart, saavy, who know’s who she is and what she wants. Where I was thrown was her were-jaguar form, Andi, and the way in which they communicate. I actually went back to read it again to understand. Once I understood, I loved it. It was different than any other supernatural story I had read.

The lead male character is Peyton. He is all male in every way…in every good way possible. Peyton is strong, sexy and domineering. He is a great match with KT, someone who can stand up to her and put in her in her place. He is an alpha-male that is looking into the Collector’s for his own personal reasons. Their were personas recognize a connection immediately, it takes KT and Peyton more time to catch on. The connection between the two is strong and intense, and I wanted more.

Where the story lost me was the missing details. Without giving any spoilers, I wanted more information about KT’s family and the Alliance. I wanted more details about her aunt, her decisions in the end. It felt like there were many parts of the story that were left vague and unclear. If you aren’t paying very close attention you will miss key parts that will require you to go back. An example of that the communication between KT and Andi. It is stated in one sentence and wasn’t clear until I read it twice. I like a story in which I am completely lost and absorbed into the story to where you don’t miss a single detail. The book gets there, just not initially. Where I think the story excelled is the connection and story between KT and Peyton and their were form connections. The scenes between the two of them had me smiling, frustrated, laughing and consumed in the book.

Overall, I liked the book. The story has great potential as well as the author. I would read more from this author when there is more time to divulge in the details of the story. This was the first book I read from Denise Golinowski. I like her writing style around characters and romance. She paints a great picture around romance, love and lust.

Book review Collector's Item

About the Book

Alpha were-jaguar, Katarina “KT” Marant is trained to protect the pride so when her aunt disappears, KT naturally takes up the hunt. Her suspicion settles on the Collectors, humans who view shapeshifters as the ultimate big game.

Peyton Allers can’t believe he’s got to blow his cover to rescue a shapeshifter “princess.” Even harder to believe is that she wants to stage her own kidnapping in order to catch the leader of the Collectors and find her aunt.

Everything goes sideways when KT is kidnapped for real and by someone she never suspected. Will Peyton find her before time runs out? Or will she become a true Collector’s Item?

About the Author

Denise Golinowski has always been a writer. A hopeful romantic, she gravitated to fantasy and romance.  Collector’s Item is her second enovella with the Wild Rose Press and is currently availableexclusively on Amazon.com for Kindle.  Her first enovella, The Festival of the Flowers: The Courtesan and The Scholar, is also available from The Wild Rose Press.  Denise is a PRO member of the Romance Writers of America, Virginia Romance Writers, James River Writers, Writers Endeavor, and RichWriters.  A native of Richmond, Virginia, Denise lives with her uber-supportive husband and one devoted lap kitty. She is currently working on a Contemporary Paranormal Romance involving another member of the Marant Clan—KT’s older brother, Peter Marant.  You can find her on facebook at Denise Golinowski/Author and at her blog, Golinowski’s Gambol. You can buy Collector’s Item for Kindle at  www.collectorsitembook.com. Visit her blog, Golinowski’s Gambol, and visit Denise on Facebook atDenise Golinowski/Author.

About the Reviewer

Michelle is a lover of books, all shapes and sizes, but a big sucker for a great romance and the search for a new fictional boyfriend! When not taking care of three demanding persons in her home, one being the man she married and the other two co-created with her husband, she works full time in a job that pays the bills. She dreams of down time to lose herself in another book since she has more books on her TBR list than she does food in her refrigerator.


On Writing: Music as Inspiration

Music and Prose

Guest post by Jack Croxall

writing inspiration with music

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What I’d like to reflect upon here is how useful I’ve found assigning particular songs to certain sequences, settings or even whole chapters of my novel.

I first tried this because I wanted to create a kind of reference point for the feel of some of my scenes; a way of standardising say, a certain location’s mood or the mindset of a particular character. It seemed like a decent enough idea and, once I’d decided on a suitable selection of tracks for a sequence, I always made sure to have a quick listen through any time I wanted to add anything more to said sequence, hopefully preventing myself from accidentally bolting on any tonally dissimilar sentences.

However, I soon realised music could do more for my work than just help with continuity.

I think everybody’s experienced that moment when a familiar song comes on and you’re instantly reminded of how you felt when you first heard it; I know when I hear tracks from Echo Park by Feeder, I suddenly feel as sad as I did at the end of the book I was reading when I bought the album (Watership Down). I mention this because, as I began carefully allocating scene X with track list Y, I started to realise a lot of the older songs in my music library put me in the precise mental state I’d been in when I’d first listened to them during my teenage years.

Now, a lot of teenagers have an incredible amount to deal with and dredging some of that back up could perhaps be considered a bad idea, but upon taking the plunge myself, I recognised I’d discovered a priceless writing tool.

Let me explain a little bit more. The two main characters in my YA novel are, unsurprisingly, teenagers and having not been one for a while, I was sometimes finding it difficult to work out how certain events in the plot might affect them. In rediscovering some of my older music, I realised I’d stumbled upon a valuable window into how I’d felt during the more testing times (but comparatively meagre in the grand scheme) I had gone through as a teenager; insecurity, break ups, cancelation of my favourite TV show etc.

So, the point is, I was suddenly able to construct more realistic reactions and responses to some of the more emotive events that occur throughout my plot, simply because my old music could reminded me of how I’d felt and thought during similar, albeit far less extreme, situations. It really was somewhat of a revelation.

About the Author

Jack Croxall - Author PhotoBorn in High Wycombe, Jack Croxall now lives in rural Nottinghamshire with his chocolate Labrador, Archie. He has a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Nottingham and currently toils away as a science writer in between working on his books. A YA Victorian fantasy, Jack’s debut novel, Tethers follows Karl Scheffer and Esther Emerson as they become embroiled in a treacherous conspiracy. The book is available through Amazon and you can find out more by visiting Jack’s blog or the book’s GoodReads page. You can also follow Jack on Twitter or Facebook.


On Writing: The Where and the How and the What?

Writing Is Hard and Other Wise Tidbits

Guest post by Margaret Taylor

on writing: finding inspiration

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As an Author, many times I’m asked, “Where did you get that idea?” or “How do you write a book?”

My fellow Authors can attest to the fact that these two questions are probably the most consistent ones we get asked.  Am I right ladies and gents?

So, I was thinking that today I’d try and answer them.

The first, “Where did you get that idea?” is probably the more common of the two, so we’ll start there.

Most of my ideas come, literally, from everyday life and I’ll give you an example of the one I had not too long ago so you can understand.

Now, as we all know, the Superbowl was not too far back.  And no, I’m not going to start talking about what an awesome game it was!  Because it was.  If you didn’t watch the game, you’ve probably heard about it by now, so I won’t recount any of it.

What I will focus on is the other big story of the game…the lights going out.

Like most, I watched the game, beginning to end and it was only afterwards that an idea came to me for a new book.  As I lay in bed, trying to fall asleep in the aftermath of the nail biting previous five hours or so, I thought…what if?

And here’s the “What If?” I came up with.

What if the lights going out wasn’t some sort of feed power failure as they are saying it was?  What if it was a very powerful witch or warlock or sorcerer who had an obscene amount of money bet on the 49′s?  Said witch or warlock or sorcerer, seeing the game getting away from his/her team decides to intervene and with his/her power or spell or whatever, shuts off the lights in the hopes that’ll be enough of a break for his/her team to recharge and come back.

Ah ha!  I now have my bad guy or girl, yeah?

So that thought led to…ok, so who would be my hero/heroine in that scenario and which of the many series I have going could I fit said bad guy?  Well, the second part of that question was easy to answer.  I have a stand-alone paranormal, “Prophecy of Love” into which the above scenario would fit perfectly as a possible “Book 2″.  That left me with, ok, who’s going to be my protagonist, or good guy to the bad?

Hmmm…

Alright, I admit that was about the point my mind drifted to other things and I fell asleep shortly thereafter.  However, when I woke the next day, I wrote down the thought and will eventually flesh it out for possible development/writing.

Now, this leads to the second question I get asked, A LOT!  “How do you write a book?”

This question is not so easy to answer.  What works for me may not necessarily work for you.  There are numerous schools of thought on how to write.  Many have published books, there are a ton of websites, and the most obvious, creative writing courses out there.

And I’m not talking about the technical stuff.  The grammar, the punctuations, the sentence structure and so on.  That comes with time, practice and a damn good editor behind you!  (Ladies and gents, ALWAYS pay due homage to the editor.  They are the ones that bless the final product and make sure – if they are worth said due homage – that your work looks really good on the backside of the creative process.)  So, no, we’re not talking about that part.

What I am talking about is putting your ideas onto paper.  Getting that scenario, or “What If” out of your head and out there for all to see.

This is not as easy as it might seem.  Everyone wishes they could write the “Great American Novel”.  I think it’s something that crosses everyone’s “Bucket List” at some point or another in their lives.  It’s human nature.  Despite the tunnel vision we’ve developed in the last 50 years, we are, by our very nature, “Sharers”.  We want to tell our stories to the perfect stranger sitting next to us.  We want people to know our trials and tribulations.  Before the internet, we did this via hand-written and eventually typed letters.  Now, we do it via email, Facebook, Blogs, Twitter and so on.

Regardless of the method, we share.  It’s just who we are.

Sadly, despite this, not everyone can write.  Not everyone can see something in their heads and effectively put that on paper for others to enjoy just as much as they do.  The good ones, the great ones, have the ability to draw you in, bring the scenario, the idea to life for those of us not so fortunate enough to have that talent.

I, at least I hope I am and have been told I am, one of the fortunate ones.  I have talent.  Where it comes from, I haven’t a clue.  But, it’s there and even I am amazed sometimes by it.  I’ll be sitting here reading something I’ve written and go, “Hey, you know what?  I’m not so bad at this writing thing…

Anyway, I’ve digressed a bit and apologize.

Moving on.  Writing is like anything else.  It takes practice, lots and lots of practice.  Steven King, in his book, On Writing, said it best I think.

“A true writer…writes.”

And it truly is that simple.  If you’re a writer, and my fellow Authors can back me on this I think, you write.  All the time.  And sometimes you do it without even realizing you are.  (I wrote the next scene in one book in the shower this morning and another while I was out running errands a bit later, just to give you an example.)

Despite the fact I have a “day job” I write whenever I have free time.  I’m not Steven or any of a half a dozen others, yet so the bills have to be paid.  However, I’ve decided that I’m going to devote serious time to my writing in 2013 and see where it goes.  If I’ve honed my craft sufficiently, then maybe I’ll start to catch on and take off.  We’ll see.

That being said, I’m going to give you what I use to write.  It’s a tool, a concept and if it works for you, then please feel free to use it.  It was given to me, years ago, so I don’t “own it” but I’ve lived by it since. And if it doesn’t work for you, then I hope it gives you an idea, helps you create your own tool, that you can use to craft your own works.

As I’ve said, writing is a talent and not one everyone has it.  But the tools are there.  The following is but one of them.

It was once said to me:  “Writing a book is like building your favorite sandwich.  You need everything to work together to enjoy it.  For example, you wouldn’t eat a pastrami on rye without the rye yes?  Or a roast beef without the beef?  No, you wouldn’t.  So, if you look at every book as a sandwich and you have all the elements, all the pieces, then it should work and taste o’ so good!”

I was told that you need a beginning and an ending, which are your two pieces of bread.  They hold the sandwich together, give you something start and end with.

The meat of your sandwich are your characters, all your characters.  The good, bad and yes sometimes ugly.  The meat is what makes the sandwich, well, a sandwich.  If you didn’t have meat, or characters, then all you have are two pieces of very boring bread.

The lettuce, tomatoes, onions or whatever it is you like on your sandwich, is the plot.  These things compliment your sandwich, or the story, but they don’t overwhelm it, or they shouldn’t anyway.  They add flavor – or as he said, “Penash!” – and make you want to keep eating, or reading, to the end.

The mayo, mustard, ketchup and what not, are your sub-plots.  The little twists and turns to the story, or the bit of flavor you get now and again when you bite in and begin chewing.  Again, they don’t overwhelm, but compliment – send your taste buds, or your readers, off in a new, and sometimes completely unexpected direction.

He also added to make sure you love the sandwich you’re eating!  In other words, if you hate pastrami on rye, or mystery novels, then don’t try and write one.  You’ll take one bite – or write one page – hate it and throw it away.  But, if you love Turkey, or science fiction, then get going, start eating and before you know it, the sandwich will be gone and the book is written.

As I’ve said, I’ve used this model to write since I was 16 and as crazy as it sounds, it does work.  Granted I’m not one of those that has to plot everything down to the last chapter.  I never have been.  Most of the time, once I “see” the opening line to a book in my head, I’m gone.  I open up a word doc and just start typing.  It’s not until afterwards, when it’s done, that I go back and apply the above tool to begin the long, arduous process of editing the words to fit it.

Sometimes though, it’s not a line, but a character that I see.  As in the above scenario I spoke about earlier.  In that case, I put the character down first and build the sandwich around it.  In other words, I’m really craving turkey but have no idea what I want to go with it!  I know eventually that I’ll get the rest of it down, I already have the “background world” which I developed in “Prophecy of Love”, so it’ll come.  But, for now, he/she is just a plain old “What if?” waiting in the wings for his story to be told.

And that’s fine.  When he/she starts to “yell the loudest” is when I’ll pull it back out and have my turkey sandwich!

And that’s all there really is too it.

Now, it’s time to build your sandwich, or your story.  One final bit of advice, have fun with it!  Enjoy that Turkey, or Pastrami, or Roast Beef to its fullest!  Savor every bite of it because if you do, then so will your readers.  If you don’t love it, throw it away and start over with something you do love.

I hope this helped to give you a brief glimpse into the creative process that goes on…at least for me.  And if you’re an aspiring Author, please, feel free to use it or not.  It’s whatever works for you.

Thanks, J & M for having me here today.  It was wonderful to share myself with your audience.

Until next time.

Margaret Taylor.

About the Author

Margaret Taylor’s debut release Wolf’s Paradox is coming in June 2013.  She also has Prophecy of Love with Lyrical Press (Coming in Feb, 2014). She’s a Member of SARA, San Antonio Romance Writer’s Association, http://sararwa.net/ as well as RWA.  She has many current projects in the works and if you ask nicely, she might be persuaded to post some tasty excerpts on her blog! *Bring Cookies as payment please!* You can follow Margaret on her, Blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.


J to tha M: What We’re Reading

Series, Serials, and Cliffhangers

series, serial novels, and cliffhangers

Dudley Do-Right, created by Alex Anderson

J: so, I’m currently about 50% through the fourth book in Elizabeth Hunter’s series

Elemental Mysteries

and our stalking paid off

she has agreed to a guest post

M: You read three books in a week? Woo-hoo! They must be good

J: um, yes

they’re really addictive

I know I need to read up on The Painting of Porcupine City so our interview with Ben Monopoli doesn’t spoil it for me

so that’s next. I promise

M: That’s one of the things that makes series so fun. If you like them, you can pick up the next.

fun for both the reader and writer to stay in an intriguing world

J: yeah, but I’m not a fan of the cliffhanger thing. There are a few reasons for a cliffhanger, and none are good

the first is that you’re too wordy to fit everything in one book, so you split at a vital point

the second is that you aren’t sure if you created a compelling enough story to keep readers coming back for more

so you have to trick them

M: Some cliffhangers are good, to build suspense, keep the reader wanting to turn the page. I love a good cliffhanger when used like that.

What I’ve found annoying is those books that are written to end on a huge “cliffhanger” for the sole purpose of getting you to buy the next. You get 130 pages for 2.99 and the story just ends in the middle of the scene, so you have to pay another 2.99 for the next 130 pages if you want to read the rest of the story.

And then you find out there are like four “books” in the series like that

to me, those aren’t really cliffhangers. Those are just ending in the middle of a scene.

J: there is that, too

M: There are the serial novels, which is a much better alternative

I mentioned a couple I’m reading a week or so ago

Where you pay one price and get installments automatically delivered to your Kindle

J: I could get behind something like that. Would be like a TV show

M: but you know in advance the (reasonable) full price and when you’ll get the next episode

J: yeah, instead of getting to the end and finding out you have to fork over more money

M: exactly. You can make a fully informed choice from the beginning

J: i love a good series, though. I love an epic story that requires more than one book to tell

M: I wonder if the new interest in the serialized novels is a reflection of the proven popularity of fanfiction. They do follow a similar format

J: I thought that, too

are they all dramatic and soap opera-y?

do you hear “dun dun dun!” in your head when you finish an installment?

M: some are, just like any book

J: She turned to see who was at the door and gasped.

tune in next time!

M: it’s like the ending of a chapter, though. They’re ended that way to keep you turning the page

whether it’s a serial or a traditional book

J: well, I can get behind it because you know what you’re getting when you go in

M:  In that format, a cliffhanger is, I don’t know, more accepted. Expected.

When one just ends only to sucker you into buying the next…I’m not 100% sure how I feel about that, but mostly no likey

J: accepted because you know the rest is coming

I really no likey

and usually enough to abandon ship

M: Yeah. I read one like that recently. Thank goodness the first one was free – which is a whole ‘nother subject, I think. And the story was fairly good, but then, it just ended in the middle of an action scene, and the next book was 2 or 3.99. And the next, and the next.

J: >.<

M: And even though I did like the story and would have liked to read more and see what happened – oh, hell no.

J: I feel you

M: I was annoyed

as both a reader and a writer

J: and I bet a lot of people agree with us

except, of course, the authors who exploit their readers in this way

M: and then there are those novellas – which are really popular right now – that just…end

J: oh, I’m a fan of the novella. bite-size fun

M: I like them, too. I mean, I understand the shortened nature of them and how difficult it can be to get in enough character and story development, but it’s just frustrating, to enjoy a story and characters so much, for the author to have done such a good job with the rest of the story, and then…

wah, wah, wah wahhhhhhh

J: but if you have to end without an ending, you probably should have made it a full novel

M: or, you know, come up with a better ending

J: oh, yeah

or that

what I think is a fun idea are the novellas centered on side characters in a series

M: Oh, I like those, too. It’s like a special surprise bonus to revisit a world you loved and characters you want to know more about. I think it’s cool that ebooks seemed to have opened that up as an option. made it more viable.

Oh, hang on. I need to see who’s at the door

brb

**gasp**

 

Tune in next week!


Book Review: The Silver Linings Playbook

Guest Review by Eva Pugzlyte

(Reviewer purchased this book; it was not provided by the author for review.)

The silver linings playbook book reviewPat Peoples is practicing being kind instead of right. He also does thousands of sit-ups on the Stomach Master 6000, jogs many miles, goes to therapy to avoid going back to ‘the bad place’, a neural health facility he believes he has spent 4 months in, and reads great works of American literature. In short: Pat Peoples has embarked on a journey of self-improvement, because Pat Peoples has a theory. That theory is that life is a film created by God and that its “silver lining” will be the end of ‘apart time’ (the reason for which he can’t remember, but he’s convinced Kenny G. has something to do with it) and Pat’s reunion with his wife Nikki.

But something is not right. Someone stole all the pictures of Nikki from his parental home (where he lives after leaving the bad place until he can move back together with Nikki), he struggles with the tragic silver-lining-less endings of the works of Hemingway and Sylvia Plath, and he starts to suspect that he has spent years in the bad place instead of mere months. In the meantime his mother is crying all the time, his father won’t even look at him let alone embark in fatherly conversation, and the Philadelphia Eagles keep losing despite Pat religiously wearing his Hank Baskett jersey.

And then there’s Tiffany, an odd woman who moved back into her parents’ place after losing her job after her husband’s death. She follows Pat around on his runs, “scouting” him, rarely says a word and when she does they have no filter. She wants something from Pat, but he can’t figure out what that could be.

And then he starts getting letters from Nikki.

So does Pat get his silver lining ending? It’s almost impossible to believe otherwise, what with Pat’s blindly hopeful life philosophy, yet I will leave it to you to find that lining (according to Pat Peoples every cloud has one, you just have to look.)

The Silver Linings Playbook is not an epic tale. It’s a bittersweet story about people and relationships. About friends and family and connections. A story about many kinds of love and the refusal to be defeated by mental health issues and pessimism and Kenny G, delicately balancing between laugh out loud funny and heartbreakingly grave.

An interesting facet to the book I found was the breach of the fourth wall. The bad place is where he started writing down his memoirs, because his memories started slipping and at times he talks directly at the reader, sometimes to explain something other times to ask the reader to participate. (I totally channelled my inner Rocky to the beat of “Gonna Fly Now” when he requested it.) This way of writing penetrates the boundaries normally present in fiction same way Pat People’s actions and thoughts penetrate boundaries normally set up between adults.

“Here’s a thought: I’m like Holden Caulfield thinking about ducks, only I’m thirty-five years old and Holden was a teenager.” ­– Pat Peoples, The Silver Linings Playbook (p.282)

I could go on about the parallels between the works of literature Pat read, the writing style and his mental condition, but in the end somehow the important thing is that this book made me laugh out loud and squeezed my heart and made me wail along with 80s power ballads, and it taught me an important lesson: that sometimes the only way to hold on is to let go.

The Silver Linings Playbook Novel review

 

About the Book

Meet Pat. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure a happy ending for him — the return of his estranged wife Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent time in a mental health facility.) The problem is, Pat’s now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he’s being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of theraphy. Plus, he’s being hunted by Kenny G!

About the Author

Matthew Quick (aka Q) is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels, including THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, which was made into an Oscar-winning film. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has received a PEN/Hemingway Award Honorable Mention, among other accolades. Q lives in Massachusetts with his wife, novelist/pianist Alicia Bessette. He did not supply the copy for review and has no idea he’s been featured on Fight for Your Write.

About the Reviewer

Thinker. Dreamer. Independent. Observer. Night owl. Frank. Stubborn. Easygoing on the surface, but shy underneath. Prone to sarcastic remarks. Ticklish. Lover of arts. Foodie. Would never exchange the feel of paper under her fingertips for an e-reader. Often talks in references. Could eat her weight in licorice. Secretly suspects her house is trying to kill her and shall deny every accusation of klutzery on her behalf. Is known to on occasion name inanimate objects and oftentimes can’t decide whether she loves something because it’s beautiful, or whether it’s beautiful because she loves it.

 

 


Book Review: It’s a Wonderful Undead Life

Guest Review by Tsuki Mew

book review it's a wonderful undead lifeI really hate giving books a “Did Not Finish” rating but usually it just means I didn’t like it enough to trudge through it in order to give it a one-star review.  When it gets to that point I wrestle with the concept of reviewing it when I did not even finish it.  How can I truly give a review when I never got to the end and in this case, only 45% in?

This is my reasoning behind my decision to review it anyway.  I am a negative review reader.  I want to know what the problem was for some people.  Sometimes it is the price and other times it was inconsistencies in plot or poor storytelling.  In this case it was a little of everything from characters to plot to mythology.  I pretty much had an issue with everything.

The story begins with a vampire killing a human.  The opening seems like an attempt to set the stage like in many paranormal romances.  The reader gets a glimpse of the paranormal elements and the first (or sometimes only) conflict.  Quickly the story shifts to Cailey who is having a terrible time with the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life(hence the title).  Cailey is attacked by the vampire in the prologue and left for dead.  From there she meets vampires and becomes one herself.

I pretty much stopped reading right after she became a vampire. At that point I realized I couldn’t stand another moment of the vampire family or Cailey’s ridiculous behavior.  I also cared very little for the villain, secondary characters or pretty much anything.

Cailey is completely unlikeable and unrealistic in most of the scenes.  She whines about the movie and Christmas.  She rationalizes walking home in a seedy part of town in the dark because her ride needs five more minutes at work.  Frankly I was hoping the vampire would just kill her by this point.  She then gets attacked and runs away from the people trying to help her.  She rationalizes her need for blood and sensitivity to light in about three paragraphs and just accepts it.  She actually formulates a plan to survive, which I respected, but she implemented it horribly.

Gabe (the hero, I guess) was also so childish and unrealistic as an ancient vampire I had to put it down multiple times to get over the laughing.  Gabe acts like he’s twenty-two years old or younger.  He has insta-love with Cailey or at least instant attraction.  When she says something about her ‘mentor/sire’ being horrible he gets offended even though it is obvious she is talking about the vampire who attacked her.

The entire vampire family is unrealistic.  I understand sibling dynamics and I love them in paranormal romances but this was ridiculous.  The siblings act like four twenty year olds with little wisdom or actual life experience.  Michaela (Gabe’s sister) wants to let Cailey die although she believes in healing people.  Metta (Gabe’s other sister) spends the time while Cailey is dying to rhapsodize about the hero.  Rafe (Gabe’s brother) is like the kid brother everyone finds annoying.  They act like a group of people no one would want to hang around.

Not only are the characters unrealistic but events shift so much I couldn’t keep up.  Cailey mentions she’s dying and sort of seems like one more breath will kill her.  She then spends a few pages discussing Michaela’s research, Cailey’s ex husband, and political correctness in vampire society. If I was dying those would all be the last of my concerns. Also I might want them to start going on and on about how my becoming a vampire saves their butts.

The other major issue I had was the technical terminology used.  I understand Cailey worked in the medical profession but anything pertaining to medicine was overly complicated and spiffed up to sound pretentious. The author used words/phrases like ‘sphygmomanometer’, ‘oximeter’, ‘subnormal temperature’, etc.  As someone who is not in the medical profession this threw me out of the book and made me skim through hospital scenes.  Say her temperature is low and they’re monitoring her and then move on please.

I had trouble with the writing style and the ‘as you know’ writing. The mythology seemed thrown in to easily explain ‘good vampires’ and ‘convenient plot points’ rather than a real grasp of vampire mythology.  I have no problem with creative mythology but it seemed like it was a hybrid of a bunch of different mythologies to the point it made vampires seem normal and humans abnormal.  Also the combination of Nyx and Cassiopeia seemed a little too convenient.  It left me wishing for better story-building.

I struggled on each page to read about Cailey and Gabe.  I hated both characters and the situations in the book.  When she became a vampire I actually thought it would have been a good ending place.  All the book would have required was a quick stand-off between Gabe and Vincent.  That was it!  That point in the story would have set up another novel and left things shorter.  I would have much preferred it.

This was not my cup of tea at all.  I wish the author had taken a little more time developing the characters and building the world around them.  It had potential with the general premise and the idea of the vampire family but if fell way short.

About the Book

It’s been a rough couple of years for Cailey Kantor. Facing her first Christmas alone and bad financial news, she prays for an angel to fix her problems. Instead, a sadistic, sociopathic vampire, with the goal of starting a vampire war, attacks her and forces her to drink blood stolen from the Nosferatu Gabriel Blautsauger.

Gabe must complete Cailey’s turning or she will die. In doing so he risks losing his yet unfound soulmate. But something about the lovely mortal speaks to his heart. Once her transformation is complete, he and Cailey find themselves embroiled in a battle that could cost them all they hold dear.

Faced with lies, abduction, and betrayal Cailey wonders if the vampire she is falling fangs over heart for is in it for love or if she’s just a means to stop a war.

About the Author

 R. E. Mullins was born and raised in Joplin, Missouri. She has also lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mt. Clemens, Michigan, Springfield, Missouri and Colorado Springs, Colorado. Though she has loved each area, the Ozarks hold a special place in her heart. That is why she set her fictional town of Amber Heights there.

She worked as a Phlebotomist for ten years and assisted in a Continuing Education Course in Phlebotomy for several years. Now she is concentrating on writing. Visit her at any or all of the links below.

Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Pinterest | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Wild Rose Press

About the Reviewer

Tsuki runs her own reading/review blog at http://tsukibooks.blogspot.com. She’s  a lover of all things romance–which means Happily Ever Afters are a must. (Frankly the tragedies can stay on the shelves for the most part.)


On Writing: Worldbuilding

IT’S EASIER THAN YOU THINK

Guest post by Denise Golinowski

on writing: world buildingAs a fantasy author, I often hear how intimidating worldbuilding can be for writers. I often wonder—is it the whole “world” thing or the “building” thing? Suspecting it’s a case of both of those and more, I suggest we change the term and, hopefully, change the attitude. [Drum roll and appropriate trumpet flare]

Henceforth, I shall call the process “world-discovery.”

I think the term works better because it’s more about discovering what’s familiar or different about my character’s world and putting those details on the page.

For me, a story begins with a character, a personality who saunters or struts or leaps onto the stage of my imagination and demands that I tell their story.

The first step to world-discovery is to take in the details of my character. Besides the basic statistics—name, age, sex—I take note of what is unique about this character? What will keep my attention through the writing, and the reader’s attention through the reading? Attractive characters are easy to sell, but there is also something to be said about the flawed character. Bottom line, your character must be interesting enough to you to carry the story for the readers.

A character’s clothing will give you plenty of hints about their world. Do they look like they stepped off a fashion runway (a contemporary world) or a starship (a futuristic world)? Are their clothes machine-made (a world with technology) or homespun (a world with low technology or none)? Do they carry weapons (again, high or low technology) and are they comfortable with the weapons (in defense or offense)?

Let them reveal their story to you. Listen carefully. Whenever they present you with something unfamiliar, take a moment to examine it. Whenever their story requires something unusual, delve into the reason and then explore your options for fulfilling that need. No one lives in a white box. Every room your character enters, how is it furnished? Every street they walk, how is it paved? Every person they encounter, how are they dressed or occupied? Make your character show you what they need from their environment and then discover how to supply those needs.

As you discover more and more about the character’s world, you will begin to do your research. This is a slippery slope and one you have to treat with respect. Dig to get the details you need to tell the story, but don’t fall down the hole into parts unknown and unrelated to your character’s story. Also, don’t become so enamored with your discoveries that you toss in everything, including the kitchen sink, because it just so interesting.

Remember: If it doesn’t move the plot or provide character development, it doesn’t belong on the page. Think of it this way. You use a cell phone, but do you really know how it works? Do you need to? The answer is probably no to the first and definitely no to the second. And neither does your reader.

In my newest book, COLLECTOR’S ITEM, my shapeshifters live openly in society, having come out of the closet, so to speak, about twenty years ago. An entire legal system had to be developed to protect both humans and shapeshifters, codified in the Paranormal Rights Act, but I didn’t need to give my readers the details of the Act and legal system, I only refer to them where they impact my story.

My shapeshifters and their animal personalities are separate entities sharing a physical form. They communicate to each other, but the animal personality is always under the control of the human side. Shapeshifters live in clans and raise their children communally, openly preparing children for the emergence of their animal personalities with the onset of puberty. This dual nature is anticipated but in rare instances, can create serious psychological issues that were once a death sentence, but with the help of modern medicine is now manageable.

I loved developing these parts of KT Marant’s world, but they were only mentioned in passing, or hinted at, in COLLECTOR’S ITEM. Putting any more into the story than I did would have slowed the action of what I hoped would be a suspenseful story.

Think of those fascinating details as seasoning. Put in too much and you’ll spoil the dish. Put in just the right amounts in the right combinations and you’ll have a dish fit for a king.

World-discovery is fascinating. If you are engaged in your character and the story, I know you will easily discover all the details you need to successfully portray their world.

About the Author

Denise Golinowski has always been a writer. A hopeful romantic, she gravitated to fantasy and romance.  Collector’s Item is her second enovella with the Wild Rose Press and is currently available exclusively on Amazon.com for Kindle.  Her first enovella, The Festival of the Flowers: The Courtesan and The Scholar, is also available from The Wild Rose Press.  Denise is a PRO member of the Romance Writers of America, Virginia Romance Writers, James River Writers, Writers Endeavor, and RichWriters.  A native of Richmond, Virginia, Denise lives with her uber-supportive husband and one devoted lap kitty. She is currently working on a Contemporary Paranormal Romance involving another member of the Marant Clan—KT’s older brother, Peter Marant.  You can find her on facebook at Denise Golinowski/Author and at her blog, Golinowski’s Gambol. You can buy Collector’s Item for Kindle at  www.collectorsitembook.com. Visit her blog, Golinowski’s Gambol, and visit Denise on Facebook at Denise Golinowski/Author.


On Editing: You May Be Doing It Wrong

Why Your English Degree Might Not Make You an Editor

Guest post by TC Slonaker

on editing

freedigitalphotos.net/scottchan

I am a writer.

Even with my first novel in publication, and a second on its way, I have trouble bringing myself to actually use that title. When I am reading the likes of C.S. Lewis and Harper Lee, I hardly feel worthy to share the same occupation. But I didn’t always boast this humility.

Here’s my background. In school, I was caught in the beginning of that “Let’s boost every kids’ self-esteem” movement. I won awards for my poetry and even found myself holding a pen set designated for Writer of Year, both in 8th and 12 grades. Obviously, I must have known what I was doing. I mean, hey, I placed out of having to take any composition classes in college. Even they thought I knew it all, right?

Ha.

Once I had written my first novel, I began to send it to publishers and agents in hopes of finding someone to take on my project. I expected some rejections, having heard the stories of all the greats. No one is accepted on their first query. After 19 rejections, I thought perhaps all the appropriate niches for this book were full. If I wanted to see this work in print, I might have to do it myself.

When I made the decision to self-publish, I knew my work needed to be looked over.  You know.  For the little things I may have missed like missing commas or forgotten capitals.  Because nothing is more frustrating than reading a book and finding a typo, right?

After all, how bad could it be? Remember all those writing awards I had won? In high school? Of course, high school is not my recent past.  That means it had been 20 years since I was a student of English. But the language hadn’t changed any, so I was sure I was fine.

I had even been a teacher of English – as high as 6th grade, mind you.  And all that stuff was still pretty familiar. I have to correct my own kids’ work regularly too. Many people even hate me for constantly reminding them of which “your” is needed.

So I formed a group of my friends to be “betas” and tasked them with finding my little typos. They hadn’t gone very far when, I am convinced, God sat upon His throne, shaking His head, saying, “Oh no.  She’s really going to do it.  She is going to try to represent me with a book that looks like that.”

Harsh, you say? I wish I could show you the compilation of edits made to the very first chapter of my “masterpiece.” The work I had pored over.  And over. And over again.  I’m telling you, I read that book so much, I was even getting sick of it myself.

I wasn’t going to catch my mistakes, because I didn’t know what I was doing wrong.

So, God set the wheels in motion, stopping me from my adventure into self-publication and finding a publisher willing to work with me. Since I had been nervous diving into publishing my book with no knowledge of the publishing world whatsoever, I jumped at the chance to have a professional do it for me.

After all the contract signing, copyrighting, and other business about which I was clueless, was finished, I leaped into the next phase of editing.

O. M. Gosh. I felt like a first grader, who just learned to read, being taught (patiently) all the rules of composition that I either never knew or was choosing to ignore for the sake of voice. (I learned later that voice didn’t have to break rules and look ugly.  There were better ways to achieve it.)

My editor taught me what felt like years’ worth of proper grammar, syntax, style, and story-telling. I wish I could list it all! Actually, I have been compiling a list of my biggest mistakes.  I use it as a check-off list as I proofread my other novels. It is an on-going list, because sadly, I know there is plenty more to learn.

The result was a book that I was not embarrassed to sell. I probably wouldn’t have been embarrassed to sell it before the editing, but I should have been!

Okay, fellow writers, what are you taking away from this? I’m not putting you down if you have selected the self-publishing route, especially if that was the way you wanted to go in the first place.  However, if you are only self-publishing because your work has been rejected numerous times by traditional publishers and agents, I would suggest looking into finding a professional editor.  A publisher might be too busy to tell you that his pet peeve is when someone starts a sentence off with the word, “But,” but an editor will fix it so you can experience a valued look from the publisher.

I haven’t made it as an author, if “making it” counts as selling more than 13 books. So, my opinion might not matter all that much. But as a reader, I will tell you that I do not want to waste my time on a book that is not well-written.  Please give it your best.

Tracy enjoys her life as a wife and mother of three in just outside Reading, PA. She still has a soft spot for kids and an eagerness to use her degrees in Elementary Education by using them as Director of Christian Education at her non-denominational Christian church. She has also learned to love running, and has not given up her childhood fondness of sports (playing softball and watching football). She gives thanks to the Lord for all His good gifts. Visit her website, follow her on Twitter and Facebook, and connect with her on Goodreads. You can find her book for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or the Martin Sisters Publishing website.


J to tha M on Reviews, Marketing, and Cheese

What We’re Reading…or Not Reading

book reviews and author marketing

© Sutashiku | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

J: I read a book! Well, I read a couple, but my recent history suggests this is a rare thing. Of course, there was Ben Monopoli’s The Cranberry Hush. Loved. I think I might have a reader-crush on him.

M: I thought you’d like that one. Vince is very Holden-esque

J: Holden, yes. Vince, yes. But mostly the authors who created them. Also, our stalking has paid off once more. Interview with Mr. Monopoli coming soon! (We should maybe clarify that our stalking is in no way shady and almost always welcomed by the authors in question…)

M: Read his books and prepare to ask questions. There may be spoilers in the interview, but we’ll be sure to warn everyone.

J: I have The Painting of Porcupine City queued and ready to go soon. I’m also reading Elizabeth Hunter’s A Hidden Fire.

I’m only half done, but I do not hate

not even a little bit

in fact, I think I’ll love and have to order the next three immediately

M:  I love that

finding something you like and being able to read more

J:  I think you would like this one

but I’ll wait to rec until I finish

M:  I’m not a huge YA fan

they have to be pretty good

J:  it’s a vampire one

but I did not know that when I started. It doesn’t necessarily read like a YA, either.

M:  I read the beginning of an erotica BDSM trilogy by Lila Dubois. The first book was free – Undone Rebel – not sure if it still is. It was good. Not annoying, sexy

but I like a well-written, sexy story

J: it looks kind of cute, actually

M: it was

I liked both hero and heroine

cute, sexy, and free

J: one of the reviews says geek-turned-dom

tell me it’s the hero

please

M: it is

computer geek ;)

J: *dances*

i have such a soft spot for the geeks

M: geek dom

and fun

J: siiiiigh

M: I was very pleasantly surprised.

J:  I’ve got it but haven’t started it

but I will

M:  it’s definitely BDSM-y

good, though

Started a romantic suspense – jury is still out. Started pretty well, but then…

got kinda draggy and now looks like it will succumb to the Silly Romance Overreaction and Misunderstanding

I need to catch up on my reviews

which makes a good segue

I’ve gotten a few emails from authors patrolling reviews of books similar to theirs on Amazon

Sending the emails to the reviewers and asking them to read and review their book. This last one actually sent the book as a pdf attachment.

J:  I actually got a review request to my email, too

I didn’t connect the two until you said something

M:  I find this annoying.

I mean, I understand coming up with new and creative ways to get your book put there. All authors struggle with marketing.

But I’m pretty uncomfortable with people picking up my contact info from Amazon and

using it like that

And it likely violates a number of Amazon policies, not that that means much anymore

Something like that would never occur to me.

Maybe that’s why I suck at marketing myself

But I could never do anything like that, something that I find so annoying and, well, just uncomfortable

J: liam and I had a discussion about marketing the other night

I want to try a few new things in the future

M: I’d love to hear. Honestly, the only thing I’ve found that really helps is write a better book

“better” in terms of something that really connects with readers

J: we had visual aids and stuff

M: haha – omg

would have loved to see that

J: it was actually pretty funny

over dinner

a container of romano cheese

there may have been a mess to clean up

“this container of cheese represents my sphere of influence. I have reached them all. This piece of lonely cheese out here represents someone who would love my book but has no idea it exists. how do I reach that piece of cheese?”

“well, all of this cheese–” he dumps a handful on the table “–has to go tell that cheese.”

“but they don’t know that cheese. no one I know knows that cheese.”

M: mmm, cheese

word of mouth is so powerful. that’s the best way to reach people

figuring out how to get them to talk is the thing

J: that was another point. “this cheese may EVENTUALLY reach that cheese, but do we want to wait that long? how do I go directly to THAT cheese?”

J: I guess the most important thing is for people to just keep spreading the word if they find a book they like. Goodreads helps, but not everyone is on Goodreads. Same with Facebook and Twitter. You think?

M: I do. That’s why I love talking about books I enjoyed. I want other people to have a chance to enjoy, too, and help spread the word for the author.

J: So, who do we stalk this week for the blog? Whose amazing skills do we want to learn about next? Suggestions? Maybe Elizabeth Hunter?

M: Sounds good. I’m off to spread the stalk–I mean love.

brb