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December 2012

Bad Girl For A Day: Jessica Lee – “Women Write M/M Romance?”

 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve received that started response many times. Why would a woman want to read or write gay romance? I’m not saying there aren’t plenty of gay men who read and write them as well, but there’s also a large population of heterosexual women writing and filling their ereaders with the genre. Still, there are just as many who have yet to hear about us.

Not too long ago, I talked about a trip I made to Starbucks for a little writing time. While there, I received another a shocked expression followed by “Why would women want to read that?”

I asked myself the same question the first time I learned of the popularity of the books. How could I connect to the characters when neither are a woman? I had to see for myself what all the buzz was about. So I set out to find a few free reads by a popular m/m author. Then I downloaded a novella I’d heard had been very well received, and I dove inside to educate myself. When I finally emerged from the pages, I have to say…I totally got it.

The writing was great, and to my surprise, even though a woman wasn’t in the picture, I could totally get why they loved each other. I’m a woman who loves men. Why wouldn’t I relate?

In fact, as a female reader of m/m romance, I get to fall in love with two men instead of one! Bonus!

That was over two years ago and many downloads later.

Since then, I’ve been asked more than once what is it you like about m/m romance? I’ve given the question a lot of consideration and have tried to nail down what the draw is all about. The best way I can describe it for me is it’s sort of like being given an exclusive backstage pass to an event that as a woman you would never receive an invitation.

The stories are provocative. And as I read along, I feel very special to be allowed behind the closed doors of two gorgeous men lives, witnessing their deepest emotions, their angst, how they fall in love, and how they love each other.

If you haven’t picked up your first m/m romance yet, give it a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what you find, and you’ll be coming back for more.

To those of you who have already indulged in the genre, who was your first? What book has made a lasting impression with characters you’ll never forget?

Thank you so much Bad Girlz for allowing me to stop by! You rock!

I’d like to offer a digital copy of Bloodlines: A KinKaid Wolf Pack Story to a randomly chosen commenter.

For an alpha male wolf shifter promised to a female whose goal is to one day be queen, coming out has never been more explosive.

Evin KinKaid, the only son of the KinKaid pack’s alpha, has a secret. One that will tear his family apart. In one year, Evin is to succeed his father as alpha and continue the dominant bloodline of his family. There’s only one problem: Evin is gay. When Evin is pushed into the bed of his intended female mate, he’s forced to reveal the truth. And for an alpha male wolf shifter promised to a female whose goal is to one day be queen, coming out has never been more explosive.

To Mason Thorne II, heir to Thorne Global Inc., life is a lie. To sustain his father’s love, Mason has agreed to stay in the family business and to one day assume his place as CEO. Instead of reaching for his heart’s desire, he’s settled for a life he never wanted. But an unexpected auto accident will send Evin and Mason into each other’s arms and down a path toward a destiny neither man can escape: an eternity sealed in blood.

 

You can find out more information about Jessica Lee and her other available titles through the following sites:

Website: www.jessicaleenovels.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jessicaleeauthor

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jessleenovels

Buy links for Bloodlines:

Amazon:

Barnes and Noble:

ARe:

9 Comments

Just Run With It

After the awesomeness that was Fiona McLaren’s post yesterday, I’m tempted just to take the day off. Maybe stretch out, drink a mimosa or two, read a Victoria Dahl book and… No? Fine. But I am not changing out of my fancy-pants pajama pants. 😉

This week I have had my first experience with pure pantsing. At least, pantsing on a story in a way that I have never pantsed before. Pants… the final frontier… where no pants have pantsed before… AHEM.

Anyway.

I was feeling the itch to create new material between finishing a rough draft and jumping headfirst into the editing process. I needed to take a mental break from that story, that world, and those characters.

My first attempt at a novella failed miserably. It crashed and burned. Or I set it on fire because I couldn’t connect with the story at all. After putting the attempt aside, I thought I was also going to have to give up on producing new material and start on my edits sooner than I have planned. But then, I had an idea….

It wasn’t much of an idea. A blur of sexy gladiators, an alien queen in mourning, and a competition to be her studmuffin. And instead of pulling out the character sheets, writing the blurb, and drafting a quick plot outline like I would normally do for my full length fiction, I juuuuust started writing.

Then, I wrote…

…and then I wrote…

…and gosh darn it, wouldn’t you know? I wrote so’more.

Now I am a scene away from finishing this smexy little Sci-Fi short and it feels so fucking good to have written something new. To know that I will be able to hit ‘The End’ on a completed rough draft. However, I say that with a note of caution as I am writing this by the seat of my pants and the story could pull a fast one on me. Considering it now I don’t think I would mind if the story threw me a curve and I had to add another scene or ten. The unknown is what makes this novella fun and it’s been a wonderful experience.

Sometimes you just have to grab that idea and run with it. Run, sprint, crawl, and perhaps be dragged behind when your characters’ actions surprise the hell out of you. Just run.

 

Can’t wait to welcome Jessica Lee tomorrow on Bad Girlz Write! I better make sure there’s more mimosa supplies for our next Bad Girl For A Day. 😉

6 Comments

Bad Girl For A Day: Fiona McLaren – “Freelance Writing – Taking The Plunge”

First of all, I’d like to say I’m thrilled to be invited to join in and be an honorary Bad Girl for the day (the mimosas and the chance to wear my tiara really help!).

Today, I wanted to talk about what it is like to work as a full time freelance writer and, perhaps more importantly, the steps I took to get to this point.

Writing full time is a wonderful and extremely challenging career.  Yes, it is fantastic to be able to run my own schedule, to dabble in my craft all day long and to spend a good portion of my time researching.  However, there are other aspects that are very challenging.

Firstly, it’s hard to write all day where you have to get the words out No Matter What.  When I have a word count deadline to meet for a client, I can’t just wait for my Muse to sidle up whenever she feels like it.  No, I need to get a rope and lasso her to the ground lest she gets away.  And I can’t just use “filler” word count either.  It needs to be high quality, polished prose that does the job it’s been asked to do.

Secondly, you don’t always get to write what you want.  In fact, if you want to make money you need to be a Jack (or Jill) of all Trades.  Finance?  Real estate?  Horror fiction?  Press releases?  Not your thing?  Doesn’t really matter.  If you want to make a proper stab at working full time from home and earning a decent wage from writing then you need to learn to be flexible with your writing skill.  It’s a rare writer who can make a career out of writing solely what their Muse brings to them.

Thirdly, you need to have a rhino-tough skin.  Clients want edits all of the time.  Sometimes the edits are good.  Sometimes they aren’t.  Balancing keeping your client happy with keeping your writing integrity is a hard task.  You need to know when to compromise and you need to know when to politely stand your ground.

As for taking that leap into becoming a full time writer, I’d advise caution.  Make sure you have at least six months funding behind you or someone who is willing to support your career change.  Also, try to work at it part time for a while first, so that you can build up your connections and writing credits.

I don’t recommend the “write an article and submit it and hope” route.  This is slow, arduous and hit and miss in terms of whether you will find an editor who is looking for exactly what you are pitching at the exact time you are pitching it.  It’s better to go out and source who is looking for what and then write a piece to fit.  There are a lot of resources online where individual companies and publishers post messages about what they are looking for.

It’s also important not to set your goals too high to begin with.  Scoring a big contract takes time.  Start by building up connections and by making sure your work is of an excellent standard.  I worked for some low pay to begin with, so that I could build up my references, writing credits and my name brand.  Now, I can demand higher wages and better clients due to my breadth of experience.

Hand in hand with this is being super flexible on what and who you work with.  Not all clients are big magazines or publishers.  Some are small companies, others private individuals, yet others still websites or online blogs.  Join in with everything you can until you build up your portfolio.  Only then should you look into zeroing down into your target area.  Cast your net wide to start with before you start fishing with a spear!

And perhaps the hardest aspect – there is very little recognition for the freelance writer.  A huge amount of work is ghost written (I’ve done DVD narrations, historical fiction books, entire websites and hundreds of children’s books and yet not one will have my name on it).  So you need to be able to draw a line under what you write for profit and what you write for love.  Personally, I only write for money in areas I don’t write for pleasure.  My own areas of interest are saved for my own work.

Becoming a freelance writer is a tough job and you need to stand out from the crowd.  You need to be flexible, have excellent standards, never miss a deadline and be open to all sorts of revisions and edits that come your way.  If you can do this, you can enjoy a rewarding career that teaches you more about writing than you could imagine.

And one of the biggest bonuses?  When you finally snag that dream agent or publisher, you will already be professional, easy to work with and well on your way to becoming a successful author under your own name.

 

Find out more about Fiona on her page on the Corvisiero Literary Agency website or visit one of the social hubs below…
Twitter: @BookOmnivore
Blog:  http://yabookcase.blogspot.co.uk/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/FionaMarieMcLaren?ref=hl

 

*  I’d like to offer 3 query and elevator pitch critiques to three random people who comment on the blog.

(Pssssst! This is a great opportunity to get feedback from a phenomenal writer and one of #PitchWar’s mentors. xoxo Darcy)

21 Comments

The Warm Chocolaty Center of Eeeeevil

I recently took my 4 year old monkey to see the movie: Rise of the Guardians. It’s a great movie if you haven’t seen it, but it led to a discussion of villains last night that made me say, “Oooh! I should share that on Bad Girlz Write!”

In the movie Santa tells Jack Frost about his center. According to Santa, everyone has a center and Jack needs to find his. Santa’s center is: eyes of wonder at all of the magic in the world. Jack goes on to try to discover his center over the course of the movie. What do they mean by center? His core, way down deep what is at the root of Santa.

So, back to the discussion of villains…My little monkey has an imaginary arch-nemesis named “Mr. Grumpiness.” They battle daily and I hear about Mr. Grumpiness’ travel plans and day to day activities all the time. Last night the monkey asks me, “What’s Mr. Grumpiness’ center?”

I said, “Grumpiness?” (And now we’ve reached the point in the story when I get schooled by my 4 year old.)

He replied, “No, no, no, Mommy. Mr. Grumpiness wasn’t always evil. He became Mr. Grumpiness. Grumpiness isn’t his center.”

Damn. He’s right.

Villains have to be more than mean people in the world.

Perhaps in real life people are born evil, doing bad deeds from a young age. But, in fiction, they become evil. Whether it’s being dropped into a vat of acid like the Joker or losing the love of their life like Darth Vader, all villains have an inciting incident. Likewise our villains should have some point of flipping to the dark side. Most likely this won’t actually go into the printed pages of your story, unless you have a sympathetic, villainous hero, but it will help you to understand the villain you’re writing.

  • What happened to the villain of your story to turn him/her to a life of crime?
  • Why does he/she have a vendetta against your hero/heroine?
  • Can you incorporate some element of that moment into the climax of your story to give it more punch?

Even villains have a backstory. While I’m not advising you should info dump this into your story, it may help to understand his/her motivation. It could also give some depth to the evil monologue just before his/her defeat. Sometimes real life is random and unfair. Some people in the world are just mean. In fiction, however, everything and everyone has a driving force. I’ve been pondering my villain’s center since last night and I think it’s a greedy, selfish form of love. As for Mr. Grumpiness’ center, I think I’ll leave that for the monkey to discover on his own. *grins*

What’s your villain’s center?

xx –E.Michels

3 Comments

Stand Up Or Suck It Up: Being An Advocate For Your Book

I know most of our focus on this blog is about writing and querying, but I’m fast-forwarding just a smidge to talk about a little of what happens after that magical ‘yes’. Because the simple fact is that the work isn’t done just because you have an agent or a contract.

Your book is your child. You conceived of it. You brought it into this world, raised it, disciplined it when it tried to get out of hand. And now, even though it’s ready to sail on its own, it’s still your job to stick up for it and to advocate for it.

When a content-editor wants you to change the very heart of the book and destroys your entire vision for it. When a line-editor adds mistakes to your manuscript. When a blurb writer completely misinterprets your query letter and implies the book is about something vastly different from what it’s actually about. When the cover comes back and it’s awful.

In all of these cases, it might be time for you to step in. To put on your bravest, most fierce momma-bear face and say ‘no’.

Let me tell you from experience, it’s nerve-wracking as hell. You’ve waited years for the chance to publish a book – surely these professionals know better than you. Surely you should follow all of their suggestions. Surely you don’t want to jeopardize this amazing, fragile chance you’ve been given.

But it’s still your book. It reflects on you. When people do wrong by it, it’s time to take a deep, objective look at their suggestions and decide if it’s in the best interests of the book. And if it is, no matter the consequences…it’s time to stand up.

I’ve only worked with small presses at this point in my career, but I’ve found editors and cover designers and blurb writers to all be surprisingly easy to work with. The few times I’ve put my foot down and calmly explained the reasons I disagreed with what they wanted to do with my book, in general it’s gone very well. They’ve listened. They’ve discussed. And more than once, after consideration, they’ve said, “You’re right.”

Shocker of shockers, though, it’s not always time to stand up. Part of parenting a book is realizing when your book is being a stubborn brat and it’s time to take it over your knee. The people helping you shape it and package it are trying to do just that—help.

When a content-editor wants to change the very heart of your book and it makes the character arcs stronger and the theme more profound. When a line-editor calls you on your pretentious bullshit and wheedles that gorgeous thirty-seven-word sentence down to thirteen. When the blurb comes back and is a total one-eighty from what you envisioned but still encapsulates your story while making it accessible. When the cover isn’t quite what you had in mind but it’s eye-catching, damn it.

Sometimes, it’s time to stand up. And sometimes, it’s time to suck it up. Get off your high horse, swallow your pride, and realize that this collaborative effort is designed to make your book better, and that letting someone else’s work help shape your story is all part of the process of improving.

It’s a hard distinction to make sometimes, trying to decide which pieces of feedback you should take and which you shouldn’t. It requires a lot of introspection and a lot of thinking about what you want your book to be.

The moral of the story is that you are the advocate for your book, and no matter who tells you what to change about it, it’s still your job to take every single suggestion, give it a long hard look, and decide: Is this in the best interests of this book?

And then, depending on the answer, either stand up…or suck it up.

2 Comments

I Write Women’s Fiction, and I’m Tired of Skirting Around It!

Being a fiction writer can be a lonely job.  We live in our heads a lot of the time, talking to people who don’t exist about issues that never really happened.  Sure we have our spouses, our kids, our family and regular friends, but they don’t really get it, do they?  They don’t understand how long it takes to make it in this business, or why we’d purposely send out ten more queries after we’ve just cried for two days over a rejection.

That’s one of the many benefits of organizations such as RWA – they bring together a group of people who get it.  I found my local chapter through RWA, and in turn met all of my fellow bad girlz.  We laugh, we cry, we critique, we praise, we get it.  Along the way, this organization has also taught me a great deal about my craft and what I write, which led me to join the wonderful Women’s Fiction Chapter.  I found a place I belonged and people I could learn from, which is why I am disappointed in the recent decisions that my organization has made in regards to women’s fiction.

When RWA announced at this year’s national conference that they would be discontinuing the Romantic Elements category, I had a brief panic attack.  What did this mean for me and my romantic women’s fiction?  Was I no longer welcome?  Where would I go if I wasn’t?

After a migraine and two aspirin, I took a deep breath and tried to be objective about it.  I read all the correspondence on the loop of my Women’s Fiction Chapter to make sure I was fully informed of their communications with the RWA board.  I tried to understand the reasoning and, even though I didn’t agree with it, I came to respect their decision.  Since everyone was assured the chapters wouldn’t be affected, I chose to renew my membership in October.  What was I really out of?  I still had the support I needed on this lonely road to publication.

Or did I?

RWA is now requiring all the chapters to change their bylaws to specify their members write romance.  And as of this week, the announcement was made that the Women’s Fiction Chapter is disbanding.  I feel hurt by this.  I feel lied to.  This should’ve been announced back in July when the category was eliminated and saved those members such as me from renewing my membership.  Quick like a band-aid.  I am very disappointed in how this was handled by RWA.  I never expected that from the organization that was supposed to help me through all the massive disappointment this business sometimes throw at me.

That said – I am also hopeful.

There are currently discussions taking place about creating a separate women’s fiction organization.  This idea is highly supported amongst the chapter members, as well as some of those outside of the chapter.  I am very excited to see how this develops, and you can bet your pants that I’ll be joining with them next year.  I believe in the end this will be a good thing and become a better home for me and my romantic women’s fiction.

Please don’t misunderstand.  I still believe RWA serves a good purpose for those who fall inside its rules.  I’ve learned a lot and appreciate what I’ve gained as a member up until this year.  Most of all, I’m grateful that it led me to six of the most talented women I know.  So if you write primarily romance, by all means I encourage you to join and maintain your membership.  You won’t regret it!

As for me?  I’m not going to change who I am so that I can fit inside that box.  I write romantic women’s fiction and I’m tired of skirting around it.  It’s time to move on to a place where I’m accepted.

Hugs!

Jenna P.

5 Comments

Crafting Settings that Steal the Scene: Think Like a Designer

I consider myself a visual writer: when a project’s really going well, I can see my characters, the action, and the setting all playing out like a movie in my head. It’s really awesome. And fun. And a great way to kill time waiting in line, sitting in traffic, or ever-plentiful staff meetings. But my real goal isn’t to amuse myself with super-detailed daydreams, it’s to tell a story. And since it’s my story, I want to do as much as possible to make my readers see the story as I do. Just call me a control freak. As a reader, I’m little better: I want to know details, dammit! I hate not knowing what a character looks like or what they’re wearing—or even worse, to form my own images of the story’s world, only to find out the heroine I assumed was a petite blonde is now a tall redhead. I’ve even been known to check out the copyright date just so I can mentally dress the characters properly! Of course, nobody wants pages and pages of needless minutiae. When I write description, I want to make the most of as few words as possible. One way I’ve found that helps me do this is to think like a designer.

Maybe I’m weird, but I spend an inordinate amount of time mentally dressing my characters down to the smallest accessory—even if I never mention any of it in the book. I know what color my heroine’s apartment looks like, right down to the color of the tiles in her bathroom (they’re retro aqua and black in case you were wondering). I often find myself returning to the same color family in different scenes in the book. I never set out to do this consciously, but it’s something I’ve noticed in my work, and I think it helps to create a coherent vision for the story—and I think it helps my descriptions build on each other. Your setting should guide your color palette, and when you have a detail you’d like to describe, using one of your go-to colors will add another layer of cohesiveness to the scene.

For example, an important part of one of my stories is set partly on a sailboat in the Florida Keys. Naturally, all that water and sky pull a lot of blues and greens into my description of the scene. When the setting shifts to other locales, I still include references to those colors in other things to keep the connection going. If it doesn’t really matter what color your character’s car is, why not make it echo the ones already in your theme? Or, it might better suit your story to pull in a contrasting color if you’re at a turning point or it’s something you want to stand out.

If visualizing an overall design doesn’t come naturally, a collage can be helpful. Include pictures of people, settings, colors and textures for a “look book” to help jog your imagination if you have trouble with description. Disclaimer: I don’t make collages. I do this in my head instead—if I did the collage thing, I’d be obsessed with it and the story would never, ever get written.

Other things to consider in your design: mood and theme. Is it a dark urban fantasy? A frothy historical? A glamorous contemporary? I bet these genre descriptions alone inspire a particular “look.” Work with it. Play around, and have fun. When you layer color, description, and mood together, you can go a long way toward making that little movie in your head visible in the heads of the people who count: your readers.

Happy designing!

4 Comments

What do you want?

I’m about to get a little personal up in here, so bear with me.

In life, there are things we’d like to have and things we want.  Right now, I’d like to have another cup of coffee. Do I want it bad enough to get off my duff and make another pot? Mmm, not really. 

I want to be a published author. Notice I’m not specific about traditional pub, digital, or small print. I’d like traditional, but I’d like digital too. I’m not twisted up over the mode of distribution; I just want to be published. 

Because I want it, I work toward it.  I’m driven to work, because my desire is so strong.  I get up early & stay up late to write. Instead of napping on weekends during the two 2.5 hour spans of the only alone time I have all week, I write. The housework? Eh. I’ll catch as catch can. I’d like a spic and span home, but I want to finish editing this manuscript more.  My point is, if you want something – really WANT  it – you have to do the work.  If not, it’s all lip service.  Pageant contestants that want world peace? That’s sweet, but are they actually doing anything to help accomplish this desire?  Volunteering for humanitarian organizations, Peace Corp, Food banks?  If so – awesome. Then it is something they really want.

Locally, we’ve experienced strife in our writers group. Honestly, what group doesn’t experience strife at some point?  It’s inevitable.  But we’ve come together and decided we want peace and prosperity among our members.  Because this is something we all want, we’ve done the talking, apologizing, forgiving, fence mending, and communicating required to get past the turmoil. It’s one thing to say, “I want to move on.”  That’s a nice sentiment and good luck with it. But in order to really move on, you have to talk and clear the air. Sometimes you have to admit you were wrong or out of line. It’s okay! We’ve all screwed up (that we definitely includes me), but we continue to do the work required to keep this peace and have the productivity we want. I’ve seen so many women step up, it’s inspiring. I Want this to continue and therefore I’ll continue to do whatever I can to see that it will.

Whether it’s the road to publication or the road to working together effectively, we all have to walk the talk in order to make it happen.

Here’s to the things we WANT. What do you want for next year?

4 Comments

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