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Messages - Zuri

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Writers' Cafe / Re: So...about the banned book thing
« on: August 11, 2017, 09:49:29 AM »
I read several summaries of the book, most were written by people who gave it one star and were offended by it's content. None of them mentioned her being molested at 11. I flat out asked a friend who just finished the book if that was in there. She told me it isn't.

At this rate I'm going to have to be another indifferent person who buys this book and reads it cover to cover just the verify what is and isn't in it.

Think about that for a moment, you're declaring people irredeemable for thinking a book is awesome when you've only heard what's in it. What if you are blocking people over a book that doesn't actually have child molestation in it?

Just weighing in to clarifying this... (I read the book. I have a romance pen name and had a release this week. This book was just everywhere, so I read it. I've read one of the author's books in the past and found it good.)

Although the events in the wilderness take place when she's 16 and then 17, there are a number of flashbacks that show the inappropriate nature of the father and daughter's relationship before they got there. This, in my opinion, completely destroys any 'outs' the author was trying to give the reader to justify this behavior since the father was effectively grooming her. Even if she was the one giving him inappropriate attention, he never properly dealt with it or rejected it. They even discuss some of those past instances and how they wanted to bang each other at the time, at one point recreating the moment and taking it exactly where they wanted it to go.

Almost everyone who has justified this book fails to mention this element of it. It is simply child porn and abuse because if she has had these notions of her father since the age of 11, she cannot possibly see any inappropriate relationship with him objectively. It cannot be romantic or romance in any form. Furthermore, the father was a billionaire and they chose to go to the wilderness. They weren't stranded. There was nothing that would have stopped him from going back to normal society. He could have done so after the mother died. There was no psychological, situational or characterisation reason that explained why a relationship of that type developed other than, 'they' just wanted each other (and by they, I really mean HE since he was the adult).

So the whole thing becomes clearer when you look at the facts and not how hot the man is. (Not saying that's what anyone is doing here, I'm just talking in general about those who have defended the content of this elsewhere.) As a story, it was intended to shock - many ridiculous, illogical things happened and I very much doubt it would've been praised by the same people if it had been a less accomplished author who released it.

My personal opinion is that the author has the right to write and publish whatever she wants and others have the right to read whatever they want. But I find it highly irresponsible and damaging to the romance genre and all who love dark romance to market this book the way she has. I thought the vague blurb and description was a mistake on her part and possibly an error in not targeting the readers who would actually want something this taboo, but after reading the comments here, I am sickened by her using such a method, that could potentially trigger people, for her own gain. Particularly since she got her fangirls in on it too. I'm absolutely astounded.

Comparisons to Martin can't really be argued. Many of the situations and events in the books were to establish the world he was presenting to us and to develop character. There was no true romance in A Song of Ice and Fire in my opinion apart from Ned and Caitlyn, and even they had problems. Dany had to go through all of that the become the woman she needed to be later. Her rape was symbolic of the shedding of her innocence (and yes it was rape). Many epic fantasy worlds have rape and the degradation of women as the norm, which is why strong female MCs have been desirable and sought after in recent decades, but the fantasy genre rarely romanticizes it to the degree this book tried to.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Over powered
« on: January 18, 2017, 07:25:34 PM »
I kinda agree with Patty not to worry about it too much, however, if you're concerned it's worth seeing if there's a lesson there. Only you know if the reviews are hitting something that you think you should check out.

Female MC's are tricky and everyone has a short fuse with them. (Though I haven't seen many reviews talking about characters being too powerful.) I also don't see much reviews where male protags get the same scrutiny but I think it's because everyone has differing opinions what a female hero is, whereas people seem to agree more on the standard expectation of a male hero.

Anyway, without having read your work, I think it comes down to how much struggle your character has in the story. I like seeing characters use their powers, but they also need some brains to get them into or out of a situation if their powers fail them or for some reason can't be relied upon. So basically, if she didn't have her powers, would she be interesting and worth reading about? Stories are about people. The only thing that separates the hero from the villain is what they chose to do with their powers because of who they are. If she has a lot of different powers that help her out, readers could think it's a bit convenient. You mention all the things that happen to your character, did those things happen as a chain of cause and effect sparked by her own personality defects or are things happening to her and she manages to get out using her powers and the people around her?

It's worth thinking about but take everything with a grain of salt - you have one or two reviews that mention your concern and loads that love her how she is.

So the first worry is averted - the book has gone free on time. Phew! Next worry - did I give all those promo sites the right links to the right book??? Or is it just me that worries about making a complete hash of this stuff?

Don't worry, it's all fine. I've seen it on a few emails already. Downloaded a copy too as it looks great  :) Good luck!

This is a really interesting discussion. I never considered it before and I'm surprised with the majority preference. I prefer the image to be on the right, with the spines on the left for the following reasons:

- When the cover is on the left it feels like it's facing away from me, which is unappealing
- In an actual boxset, the books all line up to face the right so that the spines can face out and be read by tilting your head to the right. Therefore, in a digital image, for the cover to show at the front, and not the back of the book, it needs to be on the right.

If the boxset has a sleeve, that's different, but it still feels odd to me that the books would effectively be facing away from me, even though I can't see their covers. If the preference is so that people can read the sleeves, I get that, but it's not important to me.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Help expressing character emotions please? :)
« on: January 14, 2017, 06:52:17 AM »
Also, could you say something like this:

"What a loser," I laughed.

Is that okay? I am trying to express that my character is saying "what a loser" while laughing. Or does it need to be this:

"What a loser," I said with a laugh.

?? Thanks.


I laughed. "What a loser."

With regard to showing anger, I think exclamation points are a great way to show that someone's really yelling, as long they're not used casually at any other time.

In general, people's emotions are echoed in their bodies and their dialogue. So the best way I normally like to read emotions is through the subtle highlighting of body language and dialogue. Sometimes a glance or a slow raising of the head can tell the reader all they need to know even if the other characters don't get it. The Emotion Thesaurus is a great tool though. But I only use it as a last resort.

Just also wanted to comment on your reviews. You don't have many and that might be another barrier for people to take a risk on it. I would suggest spending your AMS money to push the book on your free select days and get it into the hands of people who might read and review it (not sure how you feel about free?). And then while this is happening focus on writing the next one and catching those people who are eager for the next one. I'm in the same boat as you but won't be committed to anything like AMS until the whole series is out. Hope it goes well.

I recommend Glenn from Streetlight Graphics. I got an illustrated image for my cover and he did the rest. Very easy, helpful and professional.

Sorry, I know you didn't ask for cover feedback, but since we're discussing this topic and what makes a woman appear "powerful" on a cover to other women, that's my feedback.

Yes, and I also think looking at the reader says something different to looking away or looking at someone/thing. Standing says something different to lying down... it is indeed the subtle things.

THanks. I appreciate the feedback. This is a great example of that strong female character I am intending to write.

Zuri/Becka, both of you have valid points. The problem is that the character I am writing lives/works in a bladerunner/urban environment and works as a detective for the most part. Agreed most of the best sellers in the scifi genre tend to not show people but rather ships and environments, my hope was to brand the books with some sort of repetative imagery. Sadly I cannot find a good example (other than Jims suggestion of honor harrington) of a cover representation of a strong female character who may attract both genders of readers.

My hope here is not to sexualize a gender for the intention of sales but rather turn the volume down and represent a female as an equally strong (don't read masculine) as a male counterpart.

The intention here is something like Jessica Jones marvel character/crossed with blade runner. I want to represent an urban Sci/Fi world as seen through the eyes of a female detective.

Okay, I see what you mean. This might be something your cover designer could help you brand - one that is experienced in creating sci-fi covers but also depicting women in non-sexualised ways.

From what I see in sci-fi and urban fantasy-type covers, women want images of women who look kick-butt. I have my own reservations about that kind of image--that it says that traditionally "female" qualities are weak and "male" qualities are strong (esp. aggression), but I'm not the target audience.

I never thought about this in this way before, but I see how that comes across. The tricky thing about Sci-fi/fantasy is that readers want to know their heroine is capable of dealing with epic scale, physically harrowing and off-world events, so having what is considered to be 'male' qualities is likely to aid her. Also traditionally the genres have not been known to show women in that light. So going for the 'strong' female image tells readers looking for female protags at a glance that the heroine is capable, strong-minded and makes decisions that affect the story. Hopefully.

I'm not the best to provide an answer because I don't write sci-fi/adventure and don't read much in the genre, but I just wanted to point out the examples you provided are not within the genre you've said you're working on. They are all fantasy except Rouge Angel, which has a fantasy style title. I would recommend looking exclusively in your chosen sub-genre to get an idea of appropriate book covers and to focus mainly on the best-sellers.

In my experience, females do not have to be sexualised to make a good book cover that attracts both male and female readers but it really comes down to your genre/sub-genre. (This tends not to be true for raunchy romances, for example.) Sci-fi adventure books tend not to have characters on the cover at all... so best to focus your research on what is proving to already work for the best-sellers.

Good luck.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Anyone else felt like this? (about book 2)
« on: December 24, 2016, 07:08:14 AM »
I've been feeling the same way, so I'm glad to have come across this thread! Book one took years to write and now I'm writing book two much faster, doubts are creeping in. But I'm only on the first draft so will hold the panic at bay until it's ready for the editor. I also do have some beta readers eager to get at it. Good luck Pam and thanks all. Have a great holiday.  :)

Writers' Cafe / Re: Question about multiple POV's
« on: December 12, 2016, 12:10:32 PM »
There's no need to force yourself to write the POVs sequentially, however:

1. Are there any local or national events/news that impact or are mentioned in more than one POV?
2. Are there any characters that cross over into two or more characters' stories?

If the answer is yes, I would say to alternate so you don't mess up the timescale of things. This is the main reason why I alternate. I thought I wrote about characters but actually I write about the story/plot. I follow whoever has something interesting going on and timescale is important for me because the characters are impacted by the actions of others. Also if your characters' stories are each quite complex, it writing them in bursts can help you decide on cliffhangers, choosing what to reveal and create suspense, as someone said earlier.

But if in doubt, I agree to experiment and see what works.


I'm asking if these type of romances can be in sci-fi settings or with other types of characters? 

I don't think those terms apply to other genres, since they're representative of sub-genres of the romance category. Readers of other genres usually don't want explicit sex because it distracts from the things they do want (as someone said earlier) so it's likely that other genres will be clean in general.

I have clean and wholesome books that have nothing to do with those things. I don't see the connection at all. You can have a romance with no details of sex, as they used to have many years ago when a married couple in a movie had to have twin beds or keep one foot on the floor. Nothing religious about them.

The connection is in the categorising of the books on Amazon. Browsing that category, I mostly found religious books. It's good to know that you write those kinds of stories, and I'll check them out, but they're hard to find if I'm not looking for medieval or historical romance.

As a reader, I have to admit that I sometimes skim through sex scenes. I'm not a prude, but let's be honest -- I'm a grown woman; I've had sex and I know how it works. I know what happens next. What I don't know is what happens next in the story. I don't mind a little bit of steam, but I just get annoyed when a sex scene gets so descriptive or extended that it distracts from the story.

Agreed. I love reading romance and will read whatever heat level I'm in the mood for, but increasingly the sex scenes are becoming the priority over the plot in a lot of books I've read. Sometimes I want to see how a character reacts to something dramatic that just happened but I've got to wade through a sex scene before normal emotions seem to kick in. And sometimes the author will give the couple a sex scene almost every moment they're together when actually, in some situations, intimacy might've been a more powerful way to connect the couple instead. When I feel like a story like that, I look for books labelled Sweet.

I wouldn't mind reading 'Clean and Wholesome' books but they seem to always have a strong religious or redemption theme, which feels preachy to me so I don't browse there anymore.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Question about cover art
« on: November 11, 2016, 11:05:46 AM »
I've just received my first proof for the cover art for my first novel and I love it. The feeling is exactly what I wanted and the artist is excellent.

I had a couple of specific issues, though, about elements that didn't match my story (image character is right handed, my MC is left, image character holds a sword, my story only has knives etc.). For those of you who have done this a time or two, how much deviation between cover and story are you prepared to accept? Is it an important issue or am I being pedantic?

How much of a big deal do you make in the story about those things? I assume only you know your MC is left-handed? If so, it won't matter one iota to your readers. Regarding the sword/knife thing, it will bother some people and not others. Using either requires different skills that some readers may be expecting. But unless you're writing in the sword and sorcery fantasy genre I think you can get away with it, especially if he has some kind of training with blades in his history.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Fantasy Maps
« on: November 09, 2016, 02:55:08 PM »
If you'e writing epic fantasy and the characters travel all over the place (or if the locations are significant in some way), then it can be enjoyable for the reader to follow along. But it's not a must. For me it helped a lot with the world-building and therefore solidified certain aspects of the plot. You can commission one at the Cartographer's Guild site (link above). There was also a thread a little while back of authors sharing their maps so you can always message the author if you want to connect with their map maker.,242315.0.html

Good luck and have fun  :)

Writers' Cafe / Re: Will a non-white MC affect my sales?
« on: November 08, 2016, 07:52:17 AM »
I agree with the consensus here.

If you're passionate about diversifying your worlds/writing etc, it will become something that will be identified with your brand, and you will attract readers that seek and enjoy it.

After years of reading racially limited epic fantasy, I decided I want to write about characters that looked like me, my friends, family and colleagues - meaning a varied and diverse world with people of every skin colour, tone and hue that exists (and some that don't!). I'm not going to worry about people who won't like or identify with that because they're not my audience.

Covers may be an issue but unless there are people requesting more diverse stock art, it won't change.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Must watch for Fantasy Authors
« on: October 30, 2016, 10:32:33 AM »
Thanks Martyn, looking forward to watching.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Silly question about Goodreads...
« on: October 25, 2016, 02:08:26 PM »
I just released a book and have no idea how to let people know on GR's. And I don't feel like harassing people with private messages.

Goodreads will send your followers an email with your release and updates about anything new you've done on e.g. blog posts etc. Friends will know from the dashboard when they log in. Its a good idea to follow a few other authors so you can see the experience your followers have.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Noob question -- Character List
« on: October 23, 2016, 02:43:04 PM »
I don't have a character list that I'm planning to publish but do have a Terminology post on my blog that I include in the first or second email to newcomers of my mailing list.

I think its worth considering giving readers access to this info if your world is quite complex with new terms, various families and POVs. Epic fantasy readers are not going to complain if its in there but might be lost if its not. Good luck  :)

The Book Bazaar / Re: Over 300 Ways to Say "Said"
« on: October 19, 2016, 02:59:23 AM »
I have lived my entire life without ever hearing anyone howl, growl or bark. Except my dogs. ;) Especially, no human has barked, growled or howled a line of dialogue.

I think there's a difference between using verbs like howled or barked to describe someone's action vs. using these verbs as dialogue tags.

For example, it's one thing to write:

When they removed the ice pick from John's eye, he howled in pain.


When Master Sergeant Vickers saw Private Lyons stumbling on the parade field, he barked out a command. "Lyons, you're supposed to march not dance."

Because, you know, John might actually go "Ooowwwwwooo!" and I know personally know that Master Sergeant Vickers sounds and looks like a bulldog. ;)

It's another thing to write:

"I can't stand it anymore!" John howled.


Master Sergeant Vickers glowered at the private with two left feet. "Lyons, you're supposed to march not dance," he barked.

Nope. You will never convince me that is good writing. It's impossible to howl that line of dialogue. It's excessive and unrealistic unless you are writing a werewolf or dog shifter as a main character. ;) Then, I can accept them howling out something whilst in the process of shifting. ;)

So, you can and should definitely use those verbs to describe actions in the narrative, but I would argue you should avoid using them in dialogue tags.

This is my opinion. YMMV

I kinda agree here but think it depends on the actual dialogue. A bark, in my opinion, suggests a short, hard, loud snap. So:

"Get off," he barked.


"You take the first left off the roundabout and go on until you reach the coffee shop by the park," he barked.

However, the way in which "get off" is delivered could be described in other ways as already suggested.

I personally think, each to their own. And I do think its a matter of style. People communicate in so many different ways so all of them can be used if we choose but they don't always need to be defined in the dialogue tag. Its necessary when its necessary. I prefer using action but even that can be unsettling to use all the time.

To be honest this doesn't bother me as a reader unless its excessive. My bugbears are overused exclamation marks, italics and bold.

As always, I maintain that any "Official Writing Rules"(TM) are simply general guidelines to help young authors practicing their craft. Once you get a handle on what you're doing, you can feel free to break them.

Absolutely agree with this.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Lessons from Writing to Market Wrong (and Failing)
« on: October 17, 2016, 12:32:37 PM »
It's interesting to note that there's a certain "shame" authors can have about owning their genre. Many of us want to be respected as artists and so forth, which sabotages our commercial aspirations and, ironically, our art. I didn't want this series to be thought of like a "cheesy" SyFy show. I'd prefer the NYT-Bestseller-y kind of look (which is why the cover looks as it does, down to the typography). But, you know what? There are worse things in life than being entertaining and giving people exactly what they want. And some of the stuff on SyFy is really good, tropes or no. 

Absolutely! I used to feel that way when I first told people I write Fantasy. Then I realised it was only to people who are not my target audience. So now I don't care. Good for you.

And I love a bit of SyFy (Dark Matter anyone?)  :D

ETA: Very interesting post (including the coffee banter - in England, Tea is queen!). Thanks for sharing your results and process. Its great to hear what doesn't work and your thoughts behind each step you made.

Writers' Cafe / Re: To hire, or not to hire an editor
« on: October 15, 2016, 05:04:58 PM »
I'm not saying 'don't hire an editor'. I will be hiring an editor within my price range.

I am saying the article is interesting and not everyone can afford an editor even if they saved up for a few weeks, months or a couple years. Yes, they could borrow money, I've seen authors mention that. They could barter or make an agreement to pay an editor after the books made some money. They could cut out all luxuries but some people don't have any extra luxuries, expensive hobbies or someone they can borrow off.

I mentioned that one author. There are several authors like this author and I have some of their books on my kindle. If an author writes a really engaging story, it doesn't bother me that much.

I'm not saying you're advocating the 'no-editor' approach, at all. I know you're just pointing out evidence of another viewpoint. And I think advice to new authors should be weighed evenly so all viewpoints are useful.

With regards to the saving up thing, maybe it is unrealistic for some people to save up. However I can't think of any business that requires no start-up capital to make it a success. There's no rush to publish a book if its not ready. And if the writer truly cannot afford to put any money into the product then they can just hit publish and see how it goes. You never know, they may defy the odds.

I agree that grammar will not stop me reading a really engaging story but it will distract me. And I'm not going to assume that my readers are (not) effected by the same things I am. Each to their own.

Writers' Cafe / Re: To hire, or not to hire an editor
« on: October 15, 2016, 04:18:12 PM »
I'm not talking about a few errors, which I have seen in trad pub books. I'm talking about big glaring errors that can make the story a little difficult to read. Some readers have made that clear in the reviews. However, this author is a bestseller and so most of their fans probably don't care or are not put off by these things. 

As someone said last week. Authors see more errors in other authors books. The average reader who does not write, does not see all those errors.  Most readers want an engaging story and can deal with some errors.

But that's one author. I don't think that should be an example for new authors who tend to make more mistakes. I've seen other authors with numerous reviews trashing their books because of poor editing. (I'm sure its possible that genre has something to do with this as well.)

Some authors are great at self-editing and so feel that advising others to do the same is helpful, when actually its not because not everyone can do that. Similarly, looking at what one author is doing doesn't mean it will work for others. New authors should consider their options carefully and find alternatives they can afford or save up if their new venture (i.e. their writing career) is important to them. Then when they've been through it once they will have a better viewpoint to make decisions on future works.

That article is specifically targeting new authors and seems to be directed at the type of writer Derek was dealing with as an editor himself. So, fair enough, his opinion is valid but not all novice authors are writing poor stories. His alternatives are useful but could cause more problems than saving up which he doesn't mention.

The fact is, unless there is some hard data looking at if poor editing really does turn off future readers/customers, it's down to each author to decide on their needs based on their circumstances, experience and budget.

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