Showing posts with label authors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label authors. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Why readers love to be shocked? πŸ™€

I'm sure there's a part of our brains that light up like a Christmas tree when we read something shocking in a book. Let's talk about why. 

It's interesting how we're iffy on shocks and surprises in our everyday lives but we do love it in our entertainment. There's something about the unexpected that is alluring; I've often said that I'm sure there's a part of our brain lights up when something exciting or stunning happens to our favorite character (in books or television) that we never saw coming. It's called being entertained.

As I'm writing a book, I tend to be very conscious of when the story is starting to take a low point. It doesn't mean it's not crucial, however, I don't like to have things go an even course for too long. My rule is if I'm feeling a little bored, so is my reader and therefore, it's time to shake things up.

Shocks can come in many forms. It could as simple as a character's comment or reaction to a situation or something more alarming, like violence, an impromptu sex scene, an argument, unexpected news, sudden death, illness or when unexpected characters show up. Of course, there are many other options but the main idea is to add something that readers didn't see coming; and ideally, neither do you, as the writer.

Shocking twists keep the story alive. Remember, readers, want to be entertained, so entertain them.

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Authors that Inspire Me! πŸ“š

Although I don't have a 'favorite' author, I certainly have a few that have greatly inspired and amazed me along the way. Here's a quick list of who they are, why they inspired me and how this reflects in my writing.

  1. Douglas Coupland. A few years ago I read Worst. Person. Ever. and was a good way. I had never read anything so brutal, so blunt and cutting. It was awesome! Few books shock me so when one does, it definitely has my attention. Coupland's work definitely inspires me because through him I've learned to color outside the lines, to not worry about having characters that were less....pleasant and that sometimes people enjoy the shock, a surprise that grabs them by the throat in the middle of a page.
  2. George Orwell. Pretty famous guy. Wrote a book called 1984 and Animal Farm. Both remind me a lot of....well, we won't get into that but trust me, if you watched the news anytime after November 2016, you probably already know. At any rate, I loved his insightfulness, his observations and the beautiful way he demonstrates it throughout his books. This inspires my writing because rather than simply writing about what is happening, I allow my imagination to wander and write about what could happen.
  3. Gabby Bernstein. The only author (other than myself) who I own every book of, simply because she is amazing. Unlike the first two, her books are spiritual but I take so much from her words and find that her philosophies sometimes have a way of working into my stories and characters. It might seem hard to believe considering my characters are...shall we say, less than moral but you know, even dark souls sometimes see the light. 
There are just three amazing authors that inspired me along the way. There have been others and there will be more in the future. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

How do you get your ideas for books? πŸ’­

Probably one of the most common questions that I'm asked is how I get my ideas for books. It's not an easy one to address but here goes!

Generally, I write about topics that interest me. I don't think about what is popular or what I think other people might like to read; I write about things that I'm passionate about, that intrigues me. For example, my first couple of books were about rock stars because I love music. My second two were about vampires because I found the topic intriguing (and specifically, wondered what if vampires were different than how they're portrayed on television and movies?) and finally, I started to write about gangster and criminals. This subject intrigued me because I was drawn to the antihero concept, however, the longer I write, the more I question how it relates to our current world. With all the corruption, collusion and everything else we are seeing in the news, it's becoming more and more evident that it's not always clear who the 'good' and 'bad' guys are anymore.

Having said that, more specifically, regarding chapter to chapter details, I mainly follow my instincts. I have a lot of snippets of conversations and scenes that show up in my mind and I immediately jot them down and eventually they find a place in one of my books. Often I have no idea how or why until it actually happens.

Most of the time, I simply follow the storyline and the characters to see where they take me. Characters have their own unique personalities and like people in everyday life, you can often predict how they will react in any given situation. That in itself usually moves a story in the direction that it's meant to go.

My ideas come to me all the time. The key is to be open to everything without questioning it. In the end, it usually finds a place in a book.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Do we judge women writers differently? πŸ‘©πŸΌ

Female writers. Lots of us out there. I'm just wondering if many women writers are conscious of whether or not their book comes across as being too feminine? Do women worry about covers that look too girly or do they avoid topics that suggest wedding bells, hearts and flowers? Is there a concern about making the male characters 'too soft' or not making their female characters strong enough? Do women writers feel they are taken as seriously as men in the business?

I'm just curious. I've noticed some comments in the media that have suggested that women writers sometimes feel that they aren't taken as seriously as their male counterparts, especially if they write romance or anything to 'fluffy and frilly'. Having said that, the romance industry is actually vastly popular, so this shouldn't be the case and yet, I've heard it is. 

Personally, I tend to write about darker topics such as rock stars, gangsters and vampires; all of which probably have a more masculine vibe but regardless, I am very conscious of my potential audience when I'm doing things like picking out a cover. I know women will grab a book with a masculine cover but men, on the other hand, are less likely to go for anything that looks too 'girly'. It's kind of sad that we even need to have this discussion in 20-fucking-18 but chances are things aren't going to change anytime soon. 🀭

And so, when I pick out my covers, I think about this kind of thing. When I'm writing my synopsis, I think about this kind of thing. When I create my characters, I think about this kind of thing. I like to believe that all my books are potentially appealing to both men and women. 

In fairness, I make sure all my characters are strong (or become stronger within the book) because I really don't like 'soft' characters, regardless of their sex. There's nothing appealing about a male or female protagonist that whines, cries and complains all the time (God knows we have enough of those people in the real world, why read about them too? 🀭) or is simply too soft. Honestly, I don't think this appeals to anyone. 

The truth is that I often feel, that as a women writer, I am kind of judged and therefore maybe work a bit harder to show that I can play with the boys. No one could ever accuse me of having 'girly' books but even if I did, should I be ashamed of it? Should any female writer? 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

How music has become my co-writer 🎼

I often talk about how each of my books has a 'soundtrack' that inspired me during the writing process. These aren't songs that I select but more like the other way around. In fact, I often wonder why specific music grabs me during the writing process and won't let go until the book has been completed. Often, after I write that final chapter, the songs seem to fade away. It's not that I don't like or listen to them anymore but that they are no longer in the forefront of my mind.

It started with my first book, Fire.  Of course, it made sense since the book was about the music industry. However, this pattern continued. Some were like We're All Animals where I couldn't get one group (in this case, Pink Floyd) out of my head for the entire writing process or my last few books that were inspired by a diverse collection of songs. We're talking everything from AC/DC to Toto. 

Yes, Toto, the same band that sings to song Africa. 

It's actually to the point where hearing certain songs will automatically make me think of the chapter in my book that it inspired. I guess it's no different than how most people connect a song to periods of their lives, memorable moments or an emotion. Except, of course, those are real things and not a bunch of made up people in a story. 😊

The interesting thing about the process is that often the specific song topics are vastly different from the scene I see in my imagination. For example, a song could sound very seductive and actually inspire a murder scene in my book or....well, vice versa. πŸ™„It happens. There is just something about certain songs that pull a story from a dark place in my mind and sets it on fire. I'm not sure what causes it but it works for me. 

Monday, September 3, 2018

Should you be a writer? ✍🏼

If there is one question people often ask me it is whether or not they should be a writer. For me, it's difficult to answer that question because it's really not for me to say. It depends on how passionate they are about it, whether or not you have the time and more than anything if you are ready to put the time and work that is required.

For some people, the idea never leaves the thought process and for others, they jump right in and start writing. Chances are if you are thinking about it more than doing it, your heart may not really be into it. Writing requires a lot of time and dedication so if you aren't truly inspired than chances are, it may not be for you.

Having said that, not everyone has to write a book either. Some people are more inclined to work on a blog, while others might simply want to write in a journal, create poetry or even come up with songs. It really depends on your style and interest. For me, I can't imagine ever writing a short story and I'm not interested in all the research required to write a non-fiction book; but fiction? Now that's my baby!

Of course, you have to also look at why you're doing it. If you think that writing a book automatically makes you a world-famous millionaire, think again. Not to say that this isn't possible but it rarely happens overnight. In fact, writing books is like starting a business. You probably are going to put a lot of work into it before you start seeing results as you slowly build an audience. Then again, if you're writing because you can't imagine not writing then you are probably on the right path.

At the end of the day, you need to love. If you're passionate about it, then you need to follow your dream.

Do you need a website? πŸ’»

If you're an author, I definitely recommend you have a website. In fact, if you're a creative of any kind and want to get your work 'out there', I strongly suggest you have a website so people can find you.

The beauty of a website is that it is the one place where people can learn all about you; your work, the latest news, how to connect to your social media, how to sign up for your newsletter etc. It really depends what you wish to put on your site however, the bottom line is that you need all your information put together in one place.

I'm definitely not an expert on websites. In fact, my first website was put together by a friend and it was free. Since that time, I've moved on to get a domain name and a site that I threw together myself. It's not elaborate but it works. It's simple and contains information on my books, interviews, articles I've written and a little bit about me. Again, nothing fancy but it serves the purpose.

I think it's also important to note that websites should be clear and simple. People go to sites to find out basic information and if you're an author, that could be to find a list of your books, learn who you are, check out your interviews and social media. If they go to your site and find it cluttered, confusing or lacks the information they want, chances are they won't stick around for long.

If you aren't super techy and a little intimidated by creating your own website, I would recommend you do a Google search to learn about the best approach for you.

Why authors should challenge themselves πŸ€“

Let's face it, it's easy to fall into the comfort zone and not want to get back up again. It's our nature as humans to want to feel comfortable, to feel in control; but is it good for us?

I think we both know the answer to that question.

As a writer, I've traveled out of my comfort zone many times. Sometimes it is topics that make me uneasy, other times it is something like self-promotion or social media that has made me anxious. Of course, this is normal. When we aren't familiar with something, we become nervous, fearing that we will make fools of ourselves or do or say something wrong. When in reality, we are simply on a learning curve and this is important. Not only does it help with your end goals as a writer, it also builds your confidence.

One of the biggest challenges I've had as a writer is doing interviews. The first few times I've done them, I actually felt a bit dumbfound and not always sure what to say. I've actually had one journalist bite my head off because I wasn't giving her a 'good quote'. In my defense, I didn't exactly have media training and was attempting to answer my questions as best I could.

Since that time, I've also jumped into the whole world of YouTube videos. It wasn't something I was super excited about in the beginning but in the end, I have to say it was one of the best ideas I've had since I started writing. I don't say that because I have a massive following or because I think I'm terrific on camera but because it helped me build my confidence, which in turn, helped me with my interviewing skills and generally talk about my writing.

I've also dealt with writing topics that have challenged me. Believe it or not, I've never been in a cartel, never sold drugs, never been in politics, never been an assassin, never been a vampire or a rock star and yet, these are all topics that I write about. Not only have I done the research, I've paid attention to the world around me; the news, documentaries, films, webinars, books...there are many sources of information out there and many trails away from just the facts to more personal experiences. We have to put ourselves in many shoes when writing and give it fair consideration and that sometimes is a challenge in itself.