Showing posts with label writers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writers. Show all posts

Friday, October 26, 2018

Do writers need a high word count per day? πŸ’»

Something I've noticed a lot of author's comment about is their word count per day and often, their stress to meet a certain target in order to be successful. But should they be worrying at all?

I guess it's really a matter of opinion. Word count has never been a concern to me, other than whether or not I have too many words when I finish a book. It's not something I think about each time I sit down to write and I certainly don't check my word count per day - ever.

Having said that, we all need a way to measure ourselves when it comes to a successful day. I simply like to write a chapter with each sitting (note I said 'sitting' not per day. I firmly believe that it should be done in one shot in order to not lose your momentum or train of thought) and with that I'm happy. I don't feel like a failure if I don't reach a certain amount of words and in my opinion, neither should you.

The problem is that if you set your sights on so many words per day, what ends up happening is it can become your focus more than the actual writing itself. It also might end up that you create a 'wordy' piece of writing that you'll have to cut from later on. Also, a lot of words doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be pure gold. It's kind of like the girl who wears a lot of makeup; sure, some women will do it to perfection and walk away looking like a model, but most of us will end up wiping half of it off because we don't want people to think we have the makeup gun stuck on 'whore' (and yes, this is a Simpson's reference πŸ˜‰)

The bottom line is that I don't like to see any writer put stress on themselves to meet some crazy target because it actually can make writing feel more like work than a project that they love. And if that's the case, what's the fucking point?


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Should we allow readers to be our censorship police? πŸš“

I always tell the story about a woman who criticized my first book, Fire. She said 'If I took out all the F-words, your book would be half the size'. Of course, she was kind of a bitch on a good day, so I wasn't surprised when she made this snarly remark to me back in 2010. If you've read any of my books since that time, you already know that her thoughts did little to sway me and I continue to use a lot of profanity and graphic content in my books.

I don't do this for shock value (which has also been suggested by one particularly gnarly reviewer back in the day) but because it is my style. This is how I choose to write. I don't exactly sit down in front of my laptop and think 'what can I write that will shock people the most' but I do follow my writing instinct and admittedly, it sometimes takes me down a dark, twisted and even questionable road but one thing can be assured, I'm never bored. To me, this is a good sign. If the writer isn't bored, chances are good the reader won't be either.

The truth is that only in very extreme situations is a writer going 'too far'. There are 'how to' books out there that would make the most insensitive person a little ill 🀒and although there are some that definitely cross the line, for the most part, we have to consider freedom of expression. And the really beautiful thing about freedom is that it kind of goes both ways. I'm free to write what I want and you're free to not read it if you believe it's too offensive. πŸ˜‰


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 shocked...in 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. 


Thursday, September 20, 2018

Why do authors bug the shit out of you for a review! πŸ™„

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not shy to ask for a book review.  It doesn't have to be a long review, it doesn't have to have a lot of detail, it just has to be some reflection on what the reader thought of the book. A simple 'I enjoyed this book' would be sufficient.

And it's not about ego. Authors don't chase down reviews to feel good about themselves but because it gives new and potential readers some insight into what kind of books you write. I can say whatever I wish in my YouTube videos or blogs, put what I want on social media or create a terrific description for the back cover but sometimes what people really want is an outside party's point of view. What kind of book is it? Was it a fast read? Did it keep you hanging on? Was it exciting? Did it leave you wanting more?

Not that authors don't appreciate positive comments outside of reviews. In fact, we love them!! Like, with all the big hearts in the world ❤️❤️❤️we totally love them but unfortunately, people who aren't familiar with us or our work might be skeptical. Many readers stick with the tried and true authors, the ones everyone is raving about online and whoever is on Oprah's reading list and that's understandable but it makes our job finding readers a bit more difficult.

A review can make a difference. I know I've certainly hesitated to purchase a product (especially online) unless I was able to compare reviews to see what other people think. I've also heard it can affect your ratings on Amazon too but I'm not really sure if that is true. I'm guessing it can't hurt though. ☺️

So that's why authors bug the shit out of you for reviews.


Sunday, September 16, 2018

BOO!! Let's talk about Ghostwriters! πŸ‘»

Until recently, I always thought a ghostwriter was someone who assisted a less experienced person in authoring a book. For example, maybe a celebrity or some other public figure wants to write an autobiography and needs some help putting it together. Of course, I also didn't give the topic a lot of thought one way or another. It was no big deal.

And then - get this - I spoke to someone who told me that it was actually quite common for famous writers to have someone else do the work. He specified romance novelists however, I got the impression that it didn't start and stop there. In fact, I believe some pretty famous authors also use ghostwriters.

Why do I care?

Well, like most of us, I never really respect anyone who allows another person to do the work and then take the credit themselves. That's not cool. Furthermore, if I buy your book, I want YOUR book. I don't want a book with your smiling face on the back cover and someone else's words in the pages. Isn't that kind of like buying a knockoff purse? Sure, it might say Louis Vuitton on the bag but if you paid $20 to a guy selling purses in the back of his van, you're actually purchased a counterfeit purse. Except, of course, ghostwriting is legal. Also, you're going to pay the same price for the book authored by the ghostwriter as you would if you bought the same book authored by...well, the person it's supposed to be authored by in the first place.

Some argue that writers run out of ideas, don't have the time to write etc and I have to tell you, I have no compassion. I work and squeeze in writing, social media and all marketing for my book in my spare time, so you really aren't going to get any sympathy here. Furthermore, when did an author's name merely become a trademark rather than something that represents integrity?

And what about the ghostwriters? I realize that they're getting paid but if they write a best-selling book with someone else's name on it, why aren't they also getting the credit? I sincerely doubt the super famous author is going to publicly acknowledge that someone else did the work for them, nor give them credit for their 'brand' becoming more successful as a result. However, I could be wrong.

What do you think? How do you feel about ghostwriters? Does it matter? Would you feel differently about your favorite writer if you learned that they had someone else write their books?




Thursday, September 13, 2018

What do I learn from characters? 🀨

What do we learn from characters and how does this connect with our own lives? Do I always agree with my character's decisions? Why is it important to follow them along on their journey with no judgment?

To begin with, characters can teach us a lot about life. Just as with life, sometimes you have to let go of the wheel and let the characters take over and see where it takes you. In everyday life, it's usually a lot easier if we do the same. Not to say that you should be lying around on your couch waiting for an opportunity to come to the door but rather, that sometimes it is better to not be overly controlling about your day. We often have a 'to do' list that is unreasonably long and then get discouraged when we can't check everything off. To a degree, the same thing can be said of characters and plots. You can't force them ahead but rather, let them move at their own speed.

Having said that, my books tend to move very fast. Of course, they don't always go in the direction that I had expected but if a character surprises me along the way, that also means that my reader will most likely be surprised too and isn't that we all kind of want?





Why it's important to see through the character's eyes πŸ‘

One of the really cool aspects of writing for me has been able to get inside a character's head. I love being able to see things through their point of view, to understand where they are coming from due to their experiences and being able to demonstrate this to the reader. There's something really awesome about seeing through someone else's eyes and I wish everyone could do it more in everyday life. It's really easy to judge or put people in categories but it's much more difficult to step back and get a sense of understanding; then again, that's possibly why most people don't make the effort.

With characters, you simply have no choice but to understand and appreciate their journey. This is probably one of the biggest lessons I've learned from writing and probably one that I apply to my everyday life. Actually, when I first started to write as a teenager, I remember that as one of the key reasons why the whole process appealed to me. I felt there wasn't enough understanding of other people and that through characters, we could all open our eyes a little wider and perhaps show some compassion as opposed to ignorance.

Fast forward to years later and I think this lesson is even more relevant than ever. When we look at our world today, we definitely see a strong disconnect, a lot of judgment and even more so, a vast divide. One of the beautiful things about the characters I write about is that they come from many different backgrounds and experiences and I make great efforts to show how this relates to their current situations.

Interesting enough, real life isn't that much different if we take the time to investigate.





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? 




Do we judge people by what they read? πŸ‘©πŸΌ‍⚖️

Let's be fair. We all judge. Whether it be other people's life choices, taste in music or clothing, we all kind of judge from time to time. It's actually none of our business but it doesn't stop us from occasionally turning up our noses when noting other people's decisions. 

Books, as it turns out, are no different. This was something I discovered while in my 20s. A date dropped by my apartment to pick me up and immediately mocked me for reading fiction πŸ€­(I wonder what he would think he if he knew I now wrote it πŸ˜†) He immediately turned up his elitist nose at me and attempted to shame my decision to enjoy a VC Andrews book because it was merely 'fluff', especially compared to his non-fiction library. Needless to say, he's not on my Christmas card list.

The point is that there are some people who judge others by what they read and I'm sure, also by what they write. I've had people giggle at the fact that I wrote a couple vampire books but sit up a bit straighter when I describe my recent series of blood-thirsty gangsters. It's interesting to see just what is taken a bit more seriously. 

When I put the question out (with this original YouTube video πŸ‘‡πŸΌ) whether people judged what others read, I got a very candid yes in reply. What do you think? 



Saturday, September 8, 2018

How do I get ideas for my books? πŸ’­

I cover a lot of topics in my books. It's never just one specific area that I focus on but you can find a whole assortment of thoughts, ideas, struggles and conversations that contribute to each novel; sometimes within a chapter. πŸ˜„

People often ask me where I get these ideas. It's kind of a complicated question to answer. In fact, I find inspiration from a lot of different areas including everyday life, what I see on the news, documentaries, books and even comments people have made at some point in my life. There is a whole swirl of crazy activity in my brain and I'm never quite sure how it will land on the page but somehow it always comes together.

I guess to a point it is what stands out to me. If there is a topic or comment that grabs my attention, I will work with it. If it's on my mind, it should be expressed. It's not necessarily based on my life but more likely something that I'm simply aware of or have noticed.

Plots come to me all the time. Usually when I'm working out (especially when listening to music) is when I get my strongest ideas. I will often visualize a scene and rush to jot down notes. It may not make sense at the time but it will when I sit down to write it.

Speaking of characters, they really take the wheel when it comes to storylines. Each has their own district personalities, experiences and issues that float to the surface, which is something else you must always keep in mind. After all, where would we be without characters?

It's really quite magical.


Lots of great books out there - learn about them, share them and read! 😊

A few months ago I had an instinct to create a Twitter account that would help share other independent author's books. I decided to call it @booksthatsizzle and I used #oneforthewishlist as a way to inspire people to add interesting books to their wishlist on Amazon or their favorite online retailer's site. I thought this would be a neat way to remind people that if they're interested, this was a great way to keep the book in mind for whenever they might be looking for something to read down the line.

The following is slow however, it's consistent. I don't always have time to pop on the site but ideally, I attempt to daily, if not twice a day. Each time, I share some books, follow authors back and check out the notifications. I also throw out some ideas for book lovers on a budget; recommend interesting books to your local library, do online surveys in order to obtain points that can be used toward Amazon gift cards and even offering to write a review for an author in order to get a free copy. The more we get our books out there, the better it is for all of us.

I try to avoid retweeting books by authors who are already famous and best-sellers. This is because I feel this site should be geared more toward helping other new or indie authors get some extra attention. We don't have fat cat publishing companies backing us so it's important that as a group, we band together and help each other out.

So, do I practice what I preach? Do I 'add one to the wishlist'? Actually, I do. I don't order books at a rapid pace because I don't want to have a backlog of them sitting on my shelf but I am a regular Amazon shopper and do add an indie author on my shopping list on a regular basis. Also, I have been known to suggest that my local library order in books that interest me and also, I've donated a few of my indie books to them as well. It all helps.




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.