Five Years ago I was feeling a bit lost in this big bad cyber world of publishing. I was a National Bestselling author of erotic fiction, multi-published with an agent, three big New York Publishers as well as a great ePublisher, yet I still felt … unanchored. After thinking on it for a while I figured out that I felt that way because despite my accomplishments, I was still basically a newbie to this world.
I’d only been writing for 6 years, and was woefully under-educated about the business. I’d simply set out to write, and it happened. I was one of those writers who thought, “Hey, I’ve got multiple contracts, and am on my way!” I soon realized there was so much more to this than writing a good story…at least if I wanted to build a lasting career. I wanted to learn what the Big Name authors did to make things work, and because there is always more than one way to do things I figured it didn’t matter what genre they wrote in. So it was with a somewhat selfish intent that I set out to build a group blog of successful, multi-published authors, all of them best-sellers in their own genre.
In January 2009, Genreality was born. For the past four years it’s been a large part of my life. I’ve learned from some of the best authors out there, and surprisingly, some people have even learned from me.
It’s going to feel funny to not be here every week, (even though I will be blogging on my own site )but I’ve no doubt I’ll be back here often, searching through the posts/archives for inspiration, tips and advice, and the occasional kick-in-the-pants reality check about the business. I really hope that many of you will also do the same.
Ms. Carrie Vaughn, you and I are the last original members standing. I cannot express how thankful I am to you for being part of this blog. Without your enthusiam and encouragement, right from the get-go, we might never have gottenoff the ground. You’ve been here from the first day, and I’m so glad you stuck with it, and are here at the end. You are not only a talented woman, but a generous one. You’ve always been one of my favorite authors, over the past several years you’ve become an inspiration, and I’m honored to call you a friend.
Now…Carrie left you all some wonderful short bits of advice yesterday, and for my last bit of advice I’m going to leave you with a movie trailer. Me, I find inspiration in many places, and movies are a big well to draw from. It’s not really story ideas I get from them, but the inspiration to keep going after what I want, and to keep dreaming. This clip is from the movie Take The Lead with Antonio Banderas. The tagline for the movie is Every dream begins by taking One Step.
The stories inspired by the life of Dance instructor Piere DuLaine, and it’s about him, and the way he believed in the talent of a group of problem kids. Check it out….
“You can get whatever you want,” DuLaine says.
Rock shakes his head and replies. “Nah, only some people get the shit they want.”
“That’s true,” Dulaine says as he looks Rock in the eyes. “And those are the people who show up to get it.”
You can get whatever you want, if you show up to get it. Show up, put the work in, don’t give up, and you will find success at whatever you chose to do…even writing.
Thanks to all of you for helping to make Genreality a success.
I write fiction, there’s no quibble about that, but my favorite aspect of what I write is the truth in it. Confused?
Recently, due to a story I’m working on, I’ve been thinking about how much reality in a sex scene is too much?
Realistically, women don’t always orgasm when having sex, let alone have multiples and men aren’t all eight (or more) inches long, and last for hours. Just because I like some realism in my erotic scenes doesn’t mean I can’t have these things.
What I’m referring to is things like….in NO ANGEL the hero rolls right off the bed and onto the floor because he’s in such a hurry to get his pants off. When he stands up proudly without them the heroine makes him take his socks off before he climbs onto the bed again. Then, when she says “Wait, now my socks.” he says “I don’t give a fuck about your socks!” and climbs on.
If anyone here has read My Prerogative, you might remember the mutual masturbation scene between Kelsey (the heroine) and Harlan (the hero). When I originally wrote it, it was slightly different…and for those who haven’t read it, bear with me..it’s going to sound gross, but I really don’t think it was…maybe y’all can tell me what you think int he comments….anyway, in this scene, after they watch each other masturbate, Kelsey gets up off the bed, snags some tissues from the box next to her bed, and walks to the end of the bed where Harlan is sitting in a chair. He still has all his clothes on, but his jeans are open and around his hips so he can stroke himself off. Without a word, Kelsey, the brash and outrageous heroine kneels down in front of him and starts to clean him up with the tissue. Of course a bit of tissue sticks to the uhmm stickiness, and without thinking about it she spits on the tissue and goes to wipe the stuck pieces off. When she realizes what she’s done, she looks up at him and Harlan, hero that he is, is just starting at her. She’s like “What, didn’t your mother ever spit on a tissue to clean your cheek or something?”
He laughs and says “I’m so not thinking about my mother right now.”
This helps her relax, and they chuckle and the awkwardness is gone.
Now, in my original scene, she didn’t spit on the tissue, she actually spat on him.:lol: My editor wanted that whole part of the scene gone, because it was unsexy. I fought to keep it because to me, it wasn’t supposed to be sexy. For me, that was a pivotal scene, because it was when the heroine realized that with Harlan, she could be her true, bawdy, graceless, somewhat raunchy self, and he accepted her. To me, it was something that might actually happen in real life.
To me, that’s reality. I think it’s good to have a bit of reality in fiction…what do you think?
Years ago, when I was a wee babe in the publishing industry…okay, so I’m not a giant, but I’m not a babe anymore either. *g* Anyway, years ago I met a woman named Kate. Little did I know at the time that she was lovably referred to as Queen Kate by some, but it didn’t take me long to hear it, and to figure out why. This lady is amazing. Not only is she talented, and prolific, but she’s fun and generous and helpful, and all those things you fear are lost traits in people nowdays.
Not only is she an awesome person, but she’s a kick-ass author too. Kate writes in several different romance sub-genres under different names. She’s a member of RWA and is published by Kensington Aphrodisia, Ellora’s Cave and Virgin Black Lace/Cheek.
Every now and then Kate publishes a very thought provoking post on a writers group I hang out at, and this time, I begged her to let me post it here. She said yes!
Please welcome Kate Pearce….
Let’s talk about “No.”…
So you sell your book. There are rainbows and unicorns and confetti and those golden gates swing wide and you shade your eyes and look forward and there it is… your path to success. It’s shiny and goes straight up that hill to that golden trophy marked NYT Bestseller or USA Today Bestseller or #1 on Amazon kindle! (or billionaire-whatever your vision of ultimate success is).
You stride forward and it beckons to you, that golden prize so you keep after it. You write more books, you hone your craft you get your first fan letter and then something happens…
Someone says no.
Now this can occur in many ways. Here are a few (most of which I’ve experienced myself)
1. Your editor loses interest and enthusiasm in you.
-this can result in them taking a long time to look at your new submission.
-being slow to respond to your emails.
-sending you back your manuscript with either a revise and resubmit or a flat out No.
2. Your editor gets too busy.
3. Your editor gets fired or leaves the publishing house.
-leaving you-where exactly?
With the task of convincing a new editor to love your work, which quite often leads back to the above, -lack of enthusiasm or an overworked editor who doesn’t get you or need you.
4. Or worse. your publisher folds usually with debts and bad feelings.
5. Your particular line closes or your publisher merges it with another, or changes the criteria, or the word count or…
So that career path?
Not so straight and uphill after all.
What do you do?
If the publisher is still standing-
1. Send something new in.
2. Revise and resubmit the original piece.
And what happens when you still hear no? Or there’s no one to send anything to?
At this point you’ve usually lost time rewriting and waiting and your slot in the schedule has gone or been moved back, or disappeared meaning you’ve got a gap in productivity that your readers might notice.
I honestly believe that unless your name is Nora Roberts, almost every writer at some point in their career will have the above happen or be told a project is either being canceled or hasn’t lived up to expectations.
It doesn’t matter who you are, or what the reason is- it’s soul destroying.
Good writers pick themselves up, dust themselves down and Move On.
I’m not saying it’s easy but it’s what we do.
Ultimately you are the only person who knows your goals and cares about them. Publishers don’t. They really don’t. You might be the sweetest person in the world, the hardest worker, best promotor, and an unflagging supporter of the company principals. They look at the numbers and how much money you are making them. That’s ultimately it.
And still we feel like we are the failures, that our magic gift and career trajectory is all destroyed and that we are worthless hacks… (or maybe that was just me)
And then maybe you will get angry and think “I’ll show them” and come up with something new and sell it to someone else. (or maybe that is just me too. )
That’s the best revenge. Sell it to someone else or self-publish it and makes millions for yourself.
What I’m trying to say is that almost every published writer I’ve ever met has been rejected, struggled to find a publisher, had to change sub-genre, pen name, publisher editor etc etc and have done it because ultimately the writing is the thing they need to do. Always keep your eye on the business side of the job-without becoming a slave to it-be aware of what’s going on at your publishers, feel the vibes, trust your instincts and survive by diversifying and being ready with a back-up plan or three.
At the beginning of this year I had one contract ending and a terrible sensation that my Tudor Vampire series was not going to be picked up. (editor enthusiasm had disappeared) It was hard to accept that I’d failed at one of my dreams-getting in to mass market paperbacks. Well, to be honest, it was hard to accept I’d failed, period. But it taught me a lesson and reminded me that everyone has their ups and downs. It also inspired me to continue self-publishing and launch proposals for three new series. Okay, so they all got picked up and now I’m back in deadline hell again (which is why those of you who know me know why I’m writing this) But you have to be brave and put yourself out there-and that can be in any format you choose. You don’t even need to go with a traditional publisher anymore.
Again, this isn’t me telling anyone how it is or that my experience is more valid, its just to make you all think about what you want from publishing, whether those goals have changed over the years (mine certainly have-I just want to write excellent books), whether you’ve had slips and twists and unexpected slip ups in your careers and whether you plan ahead, pay attention and diversify.
Kate’s Latest Release: Disowned and disinherited by his aristocratic family, Jack Llewelyn survives on his wits and his ability to nurse officers returning from the Napoleonic Wars. He is prepared to go to any lengths to clear his name, but fate, and the Duke of Diable Delamere, have different plans for Jack. Soon, he will be hunting a missing spy, discovering old family secrets, and risking his life pursuing a woman who has changed beyond recognition. Only then will he be able to face his lost love, ask her forgiveness and finally deserve his very happy ending.
“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”
― Dr. Seuss
One thing many people ask is where do your ideas come from? Or how do you do it? Meaning, how do you create/come up with/tell theses stories.
For me, the answer is always the same. I don’t really know where the ideas come from, (everywhere? nowhere?) and how do I do it? I sit down, and start writing.
It really is that simple. If you want to write, you have to sit down and do it. You can’t wait around for the lightening of inspiration, or for the perfect idea, you just sit down, and write. It’s work. The idea might not be perfect, which is why you write it out, and work on it, and make it the best it can be. But, the only way to do that is to start.
In August I attended the Authors After Dark conference in New Orleans. I admit it, I went because it was in New Orleans, but man, I have to say it was one of the best conference I’ve ever attended- and not just because of where it was. It was casual, fun, friendly, and all about the readers. I got the chance to connect with so many readers it was amazing, and very motivating. Yes, I’m very motivated when I know there are people out there who love what I put down on the page. Let’s face it, we all have egos and pride, (it’s not one of the seven deadly sins for nothing.)
Anyway, I stayed for a couple days after the conference was over just to bum around, and one of the things I did was get a tarot reading. C’mon, I had to do something supernatural while I was there. *g* Anyway, of course one of my questions was about writing, and the reading had several interesting things about it, but one that really stuck with me was that I had two career paths open to me as far as writing goes, and both were successful. One was safe, and fairly unsurprising, and the other was make a few personal sacrifices, but be paid off by a bit of a twisty road, but more satisfaction and success at the end of it.
I know which one I’m choosing, but what about you? I honestly think this is a choice every writer has to make, so which path are you taking? Straight, and safe, or sacrifice and a deeper satisfaction?
Our Theme Week subject is Dream Projects….and it’s created some interesting posts. The question is, what would you write if you could write anything…meaning if time, money, market…whatever didn’t matter. If there were no other considerations, what would would you work on?
Diana took the view that every project is a dream project because she loves writing… Carrie’s touches on this too, and I found after reading her post yesterday, that I could almost just type “Ditto”. LOL
By that I mean, I do love what I write, but there are times when I get ideas that don’t fit with the career path I’m on, on the obligations I have. Then there’s times when I have no obligations, or contracts, and too many ideas that I love and I can’t decide. Plus, like Ken says in his Saturday post I have a bit of a yen to try my hand at a screenplay, but haven;t come up with the right idea for one just yet.
All in all, when I really sit here and think about what my Dream Project is, it’s the one that will touch readers. Let me try to explain this. Have you ever read a book that made you laugh out loud? Or cry tears for the pain the characters feel? That’s my Dream Project. I want to write that book.
To me, there is nothing like getting a letter from a reader who tells me something in one of my stories struck a deep chord within them. Sometimes I strive to keep things light and fun and sexy, and others I aim to push the envelope with a bit of kink or a character who’s not the most sympathetic, but I rarely strive to hit readers on a gut-wrenching level that makes a story unforgettable. My dream project is the one that takes me there when writing it, and hopefully hits readers the same way. And you know what? I think the idea simmering in my skull for the last few months just might be it.
HelenKay is on vacation right now, so I’m going to steal her day to post a quick little shopping list. The gift giving holiday season is nearing, so it’s not just any shopping list, but one geared toward writers.
Moleskin Journals: Even in this electronic day and age most writers love notebooks. These little babies come in different colors and sizes, but are always high quality. Moleskin website.
Novelist at Work sign.: C’mon, you know they’d love this little bit of fun. Besides being fun, they’ll love that you acknowledge their writing as ‘work’.
Folio with Keyboard for an iPad. If your writer friend has an iPad, this is a fantastic gift that turns their tablet into a laptop for easy travel and use.
Conference Ticket: Writers love to go to conferences to connect with other writers and learn and promote and all those important things. But conferences can be expensive, so giving them a card with “Redeem for admission to one writers conference of your choice” written inside is a fantastic gift. Or airfare, or hotel stay…you get the idea. Just a little something to help them out.