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Messages - Usedtoposthere

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Writers' Cafe / Re: 1st or 3rd Person Blurb for 1st Person Stories?
« on: February 02, 2020, 04:08:23 pm »
Heaven knows I'm not the be-all and end-all of expertise in romance, but in my experience, voice is critical. It's a character-driven genre. And absolutely, if the story is first person, make the blurb first person, too. People who prefer first person for romance do so because they like the immediacy of it, and how much you're in that person's (or those people's) heads.

The blurb is telling the reader, not what the book is "about," but why they want to read THIS BOOK. Why they want to pick it up now, and to put it on the top of their TBR pile. The blurb is the urgency. So sell what YOUR book has to offer. If it's first person, if it's fun and sexy and sweet, if the heroine's awesome--sell that. Tell it in her voice. Get that sparkle into it.

My advice. (Former copywriter)
More here:

Writers' Cafe / Re: The Stigma of Self-Publishing - So What?
« on: February 01, 2020, 04:16:49 pm »
Well . . . SFWA has a membership requirement of making 3,000 dollars in one year from self-published work. That's well within reach of many self-published writers, and well below where agents and editors will take notice. 
Yes. And people who do get editors and agents to take notice aren't magical unicorns who got there by sprinkling pixie dust. They just wrote books that lots of people liked to read.

(Speaking of genre here. Literary fiction publishing is an animal I don't know much about.)

Writers' Cafe / Re: First person vs Third person past - what do you prefer?
« on: February 01, 2020, 01:46:49 pm »
I read either (as long as it's past tense). I write both, too. I find there isn't a huge difference between writing deep third person and first person. (Dual first person, if it's romance.) If I have many points of view, of course, I write in third person. I change it up by series.

And of course people can write first person well. To suggest otherwise is ridiculous. It's simply not that different. A little more immediate, is all, a little deeper into that character's voice. If you're good at characterization, you can do it just fine.

ETA: Folks, please stop dissing romance writers and readers here. It's not funny. It's not clever. It's not true. It makes you look misogynistic. Stop it.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Giving up... advice please
« on: February 01, 2020, 12:02:14 pm »
Why would anyone laugh? MacGyver is awesome.

The trick to mysteries is to write out the entire event or character backstory, then set it aside and borrow tiny pieces of it to sprinkle into the story leading up to the reveal.
That's one way. I write them without knowing where it's all going. That works for me. I agree that you can go back and put in more red herrings as needed.

ETA: Writing fiction isn't always fun for me anymore. It was at the beginning, but once I published my first three (at the same time) and they started to sell, it made me anxious. Some books are still fun, when the thing just comes to me. I don't use an outline, for mystery/suspense or otherwise, because I'm not good at thinking up ideas out of the logical front part of my brain. The story comes from what happens to the characters and how they feel and what logically should happen next.

However, I've finished every single piece of fiction I've ever started, and I've written and published 28 long novels and 2 shorter ones over 8 years--somewhere between 3 million and 4 million words. I just plug away every single day until it's done, taking that leap into the dark and moving the story along. I always feel at the beginning of a writing session that I'm not going anywhere, I'm flailing. The trick is to keep working through that, until I get where I need to go. (And usually, at the end of the day, I think, "This is terrible. Everybody's going to hate this." Even when it turns out to be the most moving part of the book, the one people highlight.) Self-doubt is a killer! But you can write a book anyway. You just have to keep going. (And I should add--with all the doubts and fears, this is still hands-down the best job I've ever had in my 60 years on the planet. It's immensely satisfying when I finish a book, and when I make it through some thorny spot and realize I do know where I'm going and what I'm doing. And sharing the story with readers is incredible.)

There's really no "one right way," but it's hard to know how to write a book YOUR WAY until you do it. That's how you find out what doesn't work for you, and more importantly, what does.

No guarantees of success. No guarantees you can even do it. You just have to try and see.

Writers' Cafe / Re: How do you stick to your genre?
« on: January 31, 2020, 09:53:30 pm »
I have to rack my brain to think of ideas. I write several subgenres within one main genre but do not have many ideas. I just kind of wait until I get an idea, and then let it play out. Research etc. Then I go with it. In this manner I have written 30 long books in 8 years and have sold a couple million copies. Methods are as varied as people I believe.

My first fiction, though, was just an idea that I really wanted to tell. I started writing it and kept going until the end. I do think that is key. I think it can take a while though to figure out what works for you. Your first book may well not be the genre you end up in. It is just your first book.

Fun fact: it has become much more difficult for me to get ideas and think up books over the years. Sometimes one is easy. Mostly not. I do best when I write something new, take a leap.

Writers' Cafe / Re: The Stigma of Self-Publishing - So What?
« on: January 18, 2020, 04:38:44 pm »
I'm glad I had the experience of traditional publishing (I got the first offers after my first year as an indie, and ended up with a number of contracts for different things). I'm not doing it now, though. I want to do what interests me, in the way it interests me.

Doesn't matter, though, trad, indie, or hybrid. As a romance writer, although I've received quite a bit of praise for my writing ability, I'm stigmatized anyway. To the majority of people, women at least as much as men, romance is trash, full stop. It doesn't matter how much money you make at it (I've made a lot), how high your review average is, or what kind of awards and plaudits you receive, your work is still trash.

That makes it easier for romance authors to ignore the self-publishing stigma idea, because there's honestly no difference. Same stigma, more dollars, and freedom to write in any offbeat way I want? Better bet.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Protagonist gender and reader preferences
« on: January 15, 2020, 07:17:20 pm »
In an upcoming book, I have two protagonists - one male, one female. With the help of a brilliant editor I explored the female character in ways I hadn't in my earlier works. I expected this effort to result in strong reactions from female readers. Not to say they would be universally positive. Not at all. But strong either way, given that by the end of the first book, it is clear she is playing a greater role than her male counterpart. Instead, it was male readers giving the strong reactions. And almost universally positive (with a couple of exceptions).
The real confusion comes from the fact that this is not a gory, action driven novel in any sense. Is completely character and plot  driven. In some places it's damn near fantasy romance (in fact it's listed as such on one site). Still the guys love it more than the women.
If you're female: Are you more critical of female characters in general? Are you critical of males writing females more than you would be if the writer was female? Do you prefer grittier novels?
If male: Do you care one way or another about the gender of the protagonist? Do you enjoy the suspense of a situation or would you rather it be a straight sword fight? Do you prefer grittier novels?
Oh--and as a woman, no, I prefer suspense to sword fights, or rather, I like reading the sword fight after the suspense has built up to it. I don't like things to get too horrible. A bit squeamish that way. I don't like grittier novels, but I suspect tastes are all over the map on that one.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Protagonist gender and reader preferences
« on: January 15, 2020, 06:34:40 pm »
IME, women are very hard on female characters. I have a sample size of one, but I've noticed my husband (who proofs my audio) is really easy on the female characters and hard on the male characters. So there may be some primal thing going on.

Or it could be all the internalized misogyny women have, seeing other woman as adversaries rather than allies.

Or some combination.
True. I thought that was just romance, but maybe not. I don't think it's misogyny. I think we just know women better than men, so we give men more of a pass. Men do the opposite--give female characters the pass, and are harder on the male characters. In my experience.

As a reader, what I don't like is writing a female character primarily as an object of desire for the hero. "She breasted boobily" etc. Hubby & I were reading a Wilbur Smith book where the female main character was a marine biologist Ph.D., 26 years old, long, blonde hair, big breasts, etc. I think it was their second encounter when they're having sex against the refrigerator in his apartment. She never got much more character development than that. :) I like Wilbur Smith a lot, but I can't say I care for the way he writes women! On the other hand, Lee Child does a great job IMHO of writing women who seem female, not some kind of male fantasy of a kick-ass girl who's also super hot. Reacher is attracted to them, but he also listens to them and works with them. That's hot for me in a hero. (Which matters to me even in a thriller or similar. It's hard for me to overlook sexual politics.)

Sample of one.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Why do series' sell better than standalones?
« on: January 15, 2020, 12:24:46 pm »
Mine vary, but they're mostly oriented around a family-like business. Band, tattoo shop, that kind of thing. Usually, a few characters are family members too. I don't have an actual family romance series--I started one, but that book didn't do well--but I find family sells well. (In the above series, Book One hero's sister is the Book Five heroine, Book Three and Four heroes are brothers, Book Five, Six, and Eight heroes are brothers. Book Eight heroine's two brothers are the first two heroes in the spin-off series. Ideally, each book would have a family member in it, but I haven't made that happen yet. Those characters and books tend to be more popular. But I sometimes need a break from the super tight connection).

I do have one series where the connection isn't as clear, where I daisy chain the books, rather than keeping all the characters in all the books. Sellthrough is pretty good, considering that, and considering book one only sets up book two's heroine, not its hero. (Romance readers are all about heroes).

I generally find the more connected the books--a four book series about a band where all the heroes have an active role in all the books--have the best sellthrough. But, of course, the longer your series, the less connected it becomes. You can't bring every single character into each book of an eight book series or the book becomes a bloated mess of fanservice.
Just want to add on to what Crystal said, especially her last point. Every character in a book should be there for a reason. If you introduce past characters, they should serve a purpose, not be making cameo appearances.

My bestselling series (of 6 or 7, can't remember) is a sports team. 14 books and counting. That works well because the camaraderie between the men (heroes) is so strong. Readers like loyalty in heroes. Other series are family or town. I often don't set up the next book's characters at all in the previous books, because I don't think things through like that, but sometimes I do. I'm not sure it makes a big difference for me, if the series is popular.

If the series revolves around a town or a country, that town or country can almost be a character all its own. That helps sell the unique flavor of your series. Secondary characters are really important for that.

In my experience, everybody's different. I write/edit about 40-50K words a month, averaged out over a year, in a normal year. (However, the books are up to 150K, so I'm only putting one out every 3 months.)

Usually, my workflow looks like this:

1-2 weeks after last book came out where I'm blank. Fallow time.

1-2 weeks to think up & research a new story. (I don't get story ideas ahead of time, and even then, I can't outline. I'm not good at thinking up plots. I have the characters firmly in mind, and the beginning of the story, but that's it.)

6-8 weeks to write the story, editing as I go. I write every day, 7 days a week. Half a day editing previous day's work, half a day writing new stuff. Usually 2K-3K words/day, up to 7K words/day at the end. I don't get writer's block, but many days, I have to force myself to start and tell myself the story will come.

1-2 weeks for additional editing and proofreading. The book will be 98% complete when I get to "the end," however.


Usually, that's about 3 months. 120-150K book. I am a full-time writer, working on my 30th novel over 8 years. (The last couple years, I've had much more non-writing time due to family issues.)

Writers' Cafe / Re: Why do series' sell better than standalones?
« on: January 15, 2020, 08:33:46 am »
I've never heard where each book in a series sold progressively better than its predecessor, which I've taken to mean writing a series involved writing progressively less successful books. I don't know whether that's a "duh" statement or an enlightened one (I just skimmed the thread).

Sample of one, but I have series where all the books have sold about the same. (Standalones within series.) I doubt that’s uncommon.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Why do series' sell better than standalones?
« on: January 14, 2020, 11:57:01 am »
Standalones within series offer the best of both worlds, and fortunately are still the norm in my genre. The bonus is, you can tell a completely different story with completely different characters and even vary the subgenre within that same series. It's pretty cool as a writer, and any book can be an entry point. If a reader isn't interested in a particular type of story, they can skip that book and start with another one.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon has sent this out
« on: January 14, 2020, 11:54:43 am »
Yeah, I edited. Thank you for the civility of your response. I think there's an overall issue and an immediate issue. On an immediate level, I think it's great that corporations and individuals are reaching into their pockets, no matter their motives. (Few of us have purely altruistic motives for most things we do, but that's OK if we do those good things anyway!) On the overall issue, as you say--well, it's a big issue and beyond the scope and mission of this site.

Writers' Cafe / Re: How many of you don't read the genres you write?
« on: January 14, 2020, 11:46:38 am »
I'd stick with that. Your writing will always reflect the sum of your influences, so I wouldn't push it one way or another. That's my two cents.

The whole "upmarket" discussion is just a shout-out to talented writers who don't read or want to write "in the genres" but still have a burning desire to write--there's a place for them too in indie publishing. It will be a relief for some, a perplexing notion for others, and for a few indies, a satisfactory label for where they've successfully landed while ignoring the "write to market" mantra.

Left undefined (or up for grabs?) is what constitutes "commercial appeal"? That's a stumper. Some speculation here could be useful.
Good points. I think "commercial appeal" just means the story moves along, the ending is satisfying, and the book is fun to read.

Writers' Cafe / Re: How many of you don't read the genres you write?
« on: January 14, 2020, 09:37:14 am »
I never know what any of this stuff means, but in my experience, readers call genre fiction "guilty pleasures" largely because it IS genre fiction, not because of the quality of the writing. In other words, they are reading for a satisfying ending, which literary fiction often doesn't provide. And possibly a greater sense of optimism and less dense prose, though many genre authors write beautiful prose with surprising turns of phrase. But readers are still going to feel "guilty," because maybe it has sex in it, or humor, and lots of dialogue, so it's easier to read. Because, above all, they're reading it for FUN or relaxation or entertainment.

Romance in particular tends to be character-drive, and IMHO, the best romance has sharp, vivid characters whom you feel you know by the time you're done. That's the point of romance.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon has sent this out
« on: January 12, 2020, 05:05:00 pm »
They didn't have to give anything.

Most companies aren't.

Of course it's for show. That's why all companies make contributions and publicize them. Fortunate that they do, since otherwise, that funding wouldn't happen. That doesn't make the contributions a bad thing.

Oh, by the way--they ARE coordinating donations, and they're also donating technical support. If you're Australian, here's how to donate on the AU site.

I'm not saying they're not cutthroat capitalists, because they absolutely are. I'm not saying their influence is benign, because in many ways, it isn't. I'm just saying that sneering at companies that donate because they didn't donate "enough" (or for donating at all?) is something I don't get. Apple hasn't publicized how much it is donating, but past donations have been at or below $1 million for various disasters. They're also coordinating a donation effort. That's it.

Meanwhile, Rio Tinto, one of the largest mining companies in the world, whose operations are headquartered in Australia, donated ... $1m. Immensely profitable company, net revenue $40 billion in 2018, and you could make a pretty good argument that Rio Tinto's product and processes directly contributed to the bushfires. Instead, in 2019: "Flush from the recent sale of its stake in the Grasberg copper mine in Indonesia and other non-core aluminum and coal assets, Rio will have returned total cash of $13.5 billion to shareholders for the year, after declaring a $4 billion special dividend..." (Reuters) Makes their $1m donation to these wildfires look pret-ty paltry.

So if this is a general rant about how Walmart, Amazon, etc. consume more public benefit than they create, I'm in. If it's about Amazon's contribution to this particular tragedy not being worth spitting on, not so much.

(Yes, I think corporations, esp huge ones, have too much power in the US (and from what I know, in Australia). Yes, I agree they don't pay enough in taxes. But it was still a nice gesture, and kinda creative, IMHO, to waive people's entertainment fees for a few months.)

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon has sent this out
« on: January 12, 2020, 04:47:06 pm »
I'm glad I'm not that cynical yet. To me, a good deed is a good deed. And you know, gift horse...mouth? It's like people complaining that somebody didn't give them a good enough wedding present. Geez. Guys. They didn't have to give ANYTHING. Most companies in the world aren't. But you're madder at Amazon than you are at, whatever, Maccas (MacDonald's), or whatever company is doing zip, and trashing them instead. I don't get it. Even if they only have 10,000 Audible customers, that's still $450,000. And why would it be inappropriate? If your life is difficult, one of the things that helps is small pleasures that distract you.

Would it be better if they DIDN'T give people free months of service?

Every single company that has a charitable giving arm is doing it partially for good publicity. That's why oil companies support PBS. Would it be better if they didn't give all that money away?

I see this attitude a lot, which is what makes it so galling. There can be a real expectation that others are "owed" something just because an individual or family (or a company) can afford more than other people. It can be a never-ending cycle, though. The more you give, the more some people expect.

Also, there's the fact that Amazon is donating AU $1 million to relief efforts. Or is that an insulting amount too?

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon has sent this out
« on: January 12, 2020, 11:39:30 am »
I saw that! What a nice gesture. Sure beats doing nothing.

Writers' Cafe / Re: How many of you don't read the genres you write?
« on: January 11, 2020, 03:18:03 pm »
Indie authors discuss the idea of upmarket writing, but they rarely use that word. It's hard to talk craft or style in the indie community without a bunch of people yelling "it's good if it sells," so, it's not the most frequent topic.

But plenty of indie books are written this way. And they're packaged/advertised this way too. In fact, I've had many talks with people about trying to make my (or their) books look not classy and expensive.
Yep. There's a big market for, for lack of a better word, "smart" romance, for example. (With covers and blurbs that are different from most.) It isn't so much about readers being dumb or otherwise (we all like to read different things at different times, surely, and sometimes you want something that flows by, easy-breezy--and writing that very well takes talent, too), as it is about readers wanting to read genre fiction that feels more like what I'd call "contemporary fiction." Books with more depth and nuance, or however you characterize it.

(Think Jane Austen, who absolutely wrote romance, but who also absolutely wrote smart romance--clever observations of a certain section of society, skewering of ridiculous types, characters who practically leap from the page, and lots of humor.)

ETA: Crystal knows all this way better than I do. Just expanding on her point.)

Writers' Cafe / Re: How many of you don't read the genres you write?
« on: January 07, 2020, 02:35:01 pm »
Are you referring to Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers? He's since refined the concept, narrowing it down to occupations where rigid structures or rules apply. His revised examples include classical music and some sports.

Beyond the genre aspect (knowing your genre is a sensible idea and can be left there), passive reading for pleasure is quite different from reading for insight, instruction, or enlightenment. I suspect talented writers are critical readers, so they're naturally analyzing the text as they go, dissecting, studying how a sentence or paragraph worked so well or didn't work at all. They're not gulping down books.

While I don't think reading "volume" is a good measure of a writer's talent, their reading habits might well be.

I don't think you can generalize like that. I've always gulped down books, and I don't think I'm the only one. I don't read and analyze and study. Ever. I do think though that you absorb a lot subconsciously.

Writers' Cafe / Re: How many of you don't read the genres you write?
« on: January 05, 2020, 06:21:03 pm »
(I'm Rosalind.)

Weird that I happened to see this. I almost never post here anymore, but here goes, since you asked.

I don't actually read in my genre, and I've certainly never studied it, or studied how to write it (or anything, truthfully, other than marketing copy, which I learned how to write on the job). I read many things for many decades, though, including my own genre, but I had a harder & harder time finding the books I wanted to read in it. I wrote my first book for myself, and the next books, too, just to have a story in my head that I liked.

Once I started writing, I stopped reading much for pleasure. I still don't. When I do, I never read in my genre. I'm too easily influenced, for one thing, and also, I still don't like much of what's available! That's why I write my kinda offbeat stuff--because I like it better! And I've never actually cared all that much about what's trending or even what's popular. I just hoped to reach some people who wanted to escape into my little world.

I do read some. I read a fair amount of nonfiction, and for pleasure, I read mostly mysteries (non-cozy--I have a thing against cozy mystery) and not-too-violent-but-mystery-centric thrillers. I do use what I learn from reading thrillers in my own suspense novels. (I've always loved mystery, and I LOVE writing it. Don't read romantic suspense, though, because again, I like the way I do it best. :) )

I'm not sure if other writers who don't read their genre, or read much, are like me, but there's one data point.

By the time I started writing, though, I'd been reading every day since I was 4 years old. A LOT. It was always my biggest hobby. So I had a pretty good baseline. But I think in terms of how to develop a story, I was influenced as much by romantic comedy movies (I like funny, and ironic-toned-funny-that's-not-haha is hard to find in romance novels) as I was by books. And I'm a huge re-reader, so although I still never read books to "study" them, when you've read a book 10 or 20 times, you probably absorb a lot about pacing and character development and stuff like that. I'm an, I guess, instinctive writer. Or a subconscious writer. I don't think about what I'm doing as I'm doing it.

No surprise, I guess, that writers are different, as people are so different.

(Edited for spelling and a bit of clarity.)

There are any number of fully indie consistent NYT bestsellers. They write books lots of people really want to read. That is pretty much it.

Some people are better at explaining how they work than others, but in my experience, it is difficult to replicate success based on writing ability. Some people are just better than others at writing books lots of people want to read. Does not mean everybody should not strive to get better at doing their own thing.

Writers' Cafe / Re: How do you edit your beats?
« on: December 11, 2019, 06:30:01 pm »
Everybody has a different process. Part of writing your first book is figuring out what your process is.

Personally, I’ve never figured out what “beats” are. Generally, when I happen to read somebody’s description of how to Do Riting, I find that I do something at least mildly similar in my own work, maybe just without assigning names or sequences to it. My process though has been about the same since I wrote my first book eight years ago. It works for me and that is all that matters. Find the process that works for you and go for it!

Writers' Cafe / Re: Craft: Think again if you plan on "fridging" a character
« on: September 19, 2018, 07:08:36 pm »
If you know who Crystal is, I think it will be pretty obvious that she knows how to tell an entertaining story. And one that sells extremely well in the romance market today.

That is my own approach to this deal. Beyond my personal preferences, it is about reading the Zeitgeist, because, boy, does it matter.

I am sure I will be bashed for this, but if you want to sell, it is a good idea to at least listen with half an ear to people who do sell well. They probably have a good handle on the market, particularly if their work is quite mainstream.

Personally, I listen to Crystal on stuff like this because she pays a LOT more attention to the romance market and its direction than I do.

KBoards is probably going away, but its value for me has been in meeting people who are more knowledgeable than I am. There are not many left of them here, but there are a few.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Craft: Think again if you plan on "fridging" a character
« on: September 19, 2018, 10:54:00 am »
Again, please stop with the strawman arguments. This thread is about one overdone trope. Not about every "rule of writing." Don't try to distract from this one point by connecting it with other things people say about writing.

I would tend to say that, yes, it is bad writing to use any character as a disposable pawn. And, yes, it is misogynistic writing to fridge a female character. This is a very commonly used, hackneyed, sexist trope. Period, full stop.

Does that make someone who uses it a terrible writer or a misogynist? Not necessarily. I don't see anyone saying that here. But people are as people do. If someone keeps writing sexist things, after awhile, I'm going to assume it's because they're sexist.
I wish KBoards had a Like button.

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