Sunday, March 26, 2017

How Much Sex is Too Much Sex?

Random thoughts here today, people! Be warned. I'm avoiding my book. It's in the wicked, gnarly stage where there's a twist that I'm having trouble figuring out.

So, let's get started, shall we?

How Much Sex is Too Much Sex?

I've actually been thinking about this since last week in regards to writing. I enjoy some heated moments in what I read and what I write. Usually it's the manhandled, younger/smaller dominate kind, but I've been known to enjoy the sweet and gentle on occasion. There are one or two writers I've loved reading in the past who rarely write on page sex. Megan Derr is one although I did actually read one of hers that had graphic details this week, but that woman can give a pretty lovely tale without mentioning a rod or a pole anywhere. Can't remember the other author right now.

But, is sex in a book necessary? You know, I guess it's completely up to the reader. There have been moments when I've been so interested in the storyline that I've totally skipped the sex. I know it's coming. I feel the signs. I scan over the grunts and moans and get back to the story. When I look through my saved bookmarks of my favorite books, rarely is it the sexy times. There may be the moment that leads into it, could be the moment after, but there are only a very few where it's the sex I go back to read. For me, it's the way the characters interact, it's the relationship, the spot where I realize this guy I've been waiting on to finally act, to just take over, is truly about to, and I have to read it again and again.

Now, those moments? Beautiful.

On Facebook, there's been the conversation of what defines a clean book. Some say a clean book is a book without sex? Really. There are some pretty horrific books out there without sex that I wouldn't let my kids near. Others are taking the challenge to write stories without on page sex. That's a tough one because you have to know how to give the heat, the passion, and the intimacy. Not saying it isn't possible. It's beautiful when a person knows how. Take me nearly there, like we're edging the pleasure, and I'm sold.

Then there's the other extreme. Too much sex. When is that exactly? Is it when the majority of the book is about the grunts and moans, and very little story actually happens? I think that depends on the reader as well. What's the reader looking for in their book? I bet that many readers can pretty much tell you the authors they read specifically for their own moments. I know my list for the dark and sexy kind, the oh-so-sweet kind, the fairy tale kind, the mysterious kind, and the I need a quick fix kind. As a reader myself (because that's why I became a writer anyway), I don't just read one type of book although I only read m/m. (That's it. I'm 43. I read and enjoyed everything under the sun until I found my genre about four years ago, one I used to write about in my teens. Bam. It's over. That's all my book fund pays for, the hard and male kind.)

 So, why do we write about sex if there is this question of clean, off page, too much sex? Don't know the answer to that myself. Could it be we're human, and we like to read where someone gets it right? We have enough stress in our lives. Why not enjoy a little fantasy? I will say my hubby's happier because of the books I read. Just sayin.

Why do I write it? I enjoy it. No, my guys aren't humping their way through the entire book, but I save the moments where they get up, close and personal and go in for the long haul complete with thrusts, pumps, touches and tender words. They have off page as well, but I like them to get physical.
Do I want the book overwhelmed by it? No. Those who enjoy reading my work know I'm a character writer. I love getting to know my people. All of them. I love story. I love plot. I love meat, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy the sexy roller coaster ride along the way. So, I provide them. This also doesn't mean that there aren't a few fabulous books that have been awesome without it.

When do I write it? It depends on the book and sometimes on the length. If it's a short story, it may have one or none. There may be allusions to it but nothing descriptive. If it's a novella or a novel, then I've given myself time to play.

How do I write it? I go with my characters. I like a little surprise sometimes. I like the younger, smaller guy to take over. Other times, I love the alpha male. Then, there's the moments when I enjoy a good switch.

Keep in mind that I've only written four books with another three in editing. I'm new. And, since I'm new, I have to do my research. Would you like to write about sex, but you're not sure how? Do you know what your heat levels are?

Check out the articles below for some excellent ideas:

Sex in Fiction—Do They or Don’t They?

by Fiction Editor Beth Hill
 It's the Editor's Blog, and it's pretty amazing on the details, the do's and don'ts. Give it a read.

Ten Top Tips For Writing Sex Scenes by Emma Darwin

Loved this one, too. Packed full of good advice but sectioned in a way you can scan for what you need.

With this done, maybe I should get back to my book.

The one that's scrambling my brain is Flirty and Red. Flirty's a Puerto Rican nurse who loves to chat. Red's a cowboy from Louisville who just can't get away. In the end, he doesn't want to. Neither does his beast. Yeah, it's that twist right there that's killing me.

Until next time, family.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

You've Submitted. Now what?

So, You've Submitted! Now what?

Submitted a book recently. Whew, that book. In the beginning I loved it, loved the characters. After editing, searching for repeat words and tweaking, I could happily push them both off of a cliff. But, that's writing.

Like giving birth, I'll forget about the pain and move on to the next one, but what do I do in between?

If you're trying to figure that one out, let me give you a few suggestions:

1. Read

It's probably one of the things that got you into the idea of writing to begin with. You read and read, and then one day, you said, "Why not write?" And, you did. The good thing about reading is that it not only gives you a break, but you are actually learning from other writers. I find that as a writer, I look at the way others tell their stories differently. I still read to enjoy, but it's more about how they transition and word their thoughts, how they avoid the repetition of words I seem unable to do without. How do they show rather than tell? The phrasing? Too bad I can't claim my library list on my taxes as research. Man, the money I could save. 

But, read. It's a must if you're going to take the craft seriously. You'll not only learn more about what you do, or see what you've grown past, but you'll enjoy yourself, too. 

2. Live

Get out of the house! Live! Go on a date. Are you single? Take yourself out. Go to a movie! Go shopping or window shop! Exercise. If these things are not already a part of life for you, make them regular. You need to schedule some time for you. 

You love to write? Yes, I do, too, but most of us are suffering from Vitamin D deficiency for a reason. 

See the sun. Get your blood pumping. Interact with others. I guarantee when you come back from actually doing something outside of the desk chair or wherever it is you type, you will have stories to add to your WIP list. 

3. Write

You finished your book! Now you're done. WRONG! Do you have a notebook, a journal? If not, try to get one. Carry this little guy everywhere. There are ideas waiting to be had. It could start with someone's eye color, a word or two you hear in conversation, pictures, shopping in the grocery store, etc. You never know, but you'll be surprised how quickly that thread of an idea becomes an actual story. If you don't get it down, it will join the pile of the forgotten, and you'll be left with nothing. 

You could even map out works you're already considering while waiting in line or sitting beneath the hair dryer. Take advantage or those moments. Get those ideas written, so you'll have them later. The only way to become a better writer is to keep writing. 

4. Build Your Platform

Social media can be more than a place for you to vent your frustrations, laugh at delightful cat videos, or find the latest and greatest recipes. For me, it's more than when the next pop up Lularoe party will happen. (Yes, me too.) 

Anyway, social media can be a tool for getting your name out there. Let's face it, you wouldn't work so hard to get your books published if you honestly didn't want people reading them. So, build those relationships and build your platform. Not sure how? Check out this article below:

There are some great ideas here and more to be found. Just remember to be yourself, get to know people and connect. Establish yourself.

5. Study Your Craft

If you're going to write and write well, there are just a few things to remember. LIE! There's a ton to remember which means you need to get started fast. Where do you start? First, try reading. Read books of authors you enjoy in the style you want to write. Look for tools to help. Need a few?

First, here's the best 100 websites for writers in 2016

Then, let's take a look at creating characters

And Justin McLachlan? Let me just say AMAZING! Read anything by this man. So helpful. Promise

All of this to say, don't just sit and wait to hear back about your book. You did it. You finished it. I applaud you. I love you for what you've accomplished. Now, move. Get shaking. Do more!

Lots of love,

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Writing - The Journey Never Ends!

Yes, Broken Pieces made it! I have signed the contract with Extasy Books, and Peter's story will be told.

And after I have finished Flirty and Red,

I will begin Kristoff's story!

I'm beyond thrilled to have a home for these works and can't wait to see what happens next. 

In the meantime, though, I'm working on Getting There with hopes of sending it to Extasy. One of the greatest gifts I've received from Extasy Books so far is their list of House Style rules. If you're a writer, you're always trying to find the words you've repeated, and while there are probably great tools for this, I have yet to find one that I am going to copy and paste all of my work into so this can happen.

In the past, I created a list, but it just wasn't complete. I would read through and stress, scratching my head.

Now, I have this. Thank you, Extasy.

Some of these words are passive, weak and/or excessively overused. Search via the highlight all feature, you might be surprised and watch for all forms:

a bit                        a little             a lot                            about
actually                 almost             alread y                      appear
approximately       as                    basically                    been
began                     begin,             begun                         being
caused                   close to           completely                could
essentially            even                eventually                 exactly
extremely              fairly               finally                         get
got                          had                 half                             has
have                       here                highly                         in
into                        just                  just then                     kind of
knew                      knowing        large                           like
momentarily        mostly            must                           nearly
notice                     now                only                            out
practically             pretty             quite                           rather
really                     seem               seen                            simply
slightly                  small              so                                somehow
something             sometime       somewhat                  sort of
start                        such                suddenly                   that
then                        there               therefore                    thing
to                            to be               truly                           unbeknownst
utterly                   very                was                             watch
were                       within             would                        all names
Beware of phrases that start with words such as:
about to                 began to         begin to                      begun to
could                     start to            would

Actually going through and checking for these words has improved my writing! I have better sentences since I just can't remove a word. The sentences have to be tweaked and changed. And, I find that I like the results, the way my words flow.

Maybe you have something else you're using, but I love this. No more scratching my head looking for the repeat word. Now, I'm scratching my head for ways to make it better. 
Writing. It's the journey that never ends!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

When One Door Closes...

Had a story. Okay, really I had three and the three of them were turned down by the publisher I typically submit my work to. I was crushed, defeated when the first one was rejected. I started doubting myself, my worth, who I was as a writer when the second one was, too. But, I didn't stop there. I rewrote, changed, edited like a crazy woman, even killed off characters who should have lived. 

I'm sorry. 

But, again, when the first book was submitted, it was rejected. Then, the light shown when I talked to a writer friend of mine and my husband. They both said the same thing. Submit elsewhere. Wow, nothing monumental there, right? Well, I didn't want to at first because I believed that if that one publisher who accepted my work in the past didn't want what I had poured my heart and soul into, maybe it just wasn't worth it.

That is crazy talk right there, people. 

Submit somewhere else. As a writer, you have to find the place for your writing style. The way you write may not be for that publishing house, but it just might fit somewhere else. Don't give up. Do your research, get to know other people in the field, and ask around. Find the publishers of authors who write similar to you and submit there. Check yourself, too. Be willing to read the reasons for the rejection. They may help to improve your writing so you'll be ready for submitting somewhere else.

Don't believe me? 
Well, here's a few articles on the topic of why your book may have been rejected, what to do or why you should consider an alternative: 

I took a chance and sent a book to a different company. Well, they accepted, and now my work is in a place where it fits, in a publishing house that is not only kind, but is also reputable and professional.
When one door closes, another door opens, but traveling those halls can be brutal. And, it's traversing from one end to the other that I learned some things:
1. Be willing to submit elsewhere. - There are more publishers out there. Take a chance. Truly, it's more about you establishing yourself and gaining your audience. Develop your brand, then find a house. 

2. Hone your craft. - If you're given suggestions, heed them. Make the changes that fit with your style, with how you write. Writing is a calling, a passion. You want it to be fabulous? You have to do the work to get it there. 

3. Get to know people in your field, build relationships. - Knowing people is important no matter what you do. It's especially important in the writing world. Building those relationships will help. You'll find out what publisher has changed, who's writing where, where the best places might be for you style, and things you can't just know from reading the publisher's website. You'll find betas, supporters, a shoulder to cry on and others who will give you a swift kick in the ass. And, yeah, you're going to need it. Get to know people.

4. Research - Know your style, your genre. Know other writers like you. Know the publishers you hope will accept your work. Don't go in blind. Read the submission guidelines and be certain their publishing house is the right one for you.

5. Don't wallow. - You got rejected? Get up, knock the dust off your knees, and get back to work. 

I'm working. 
And? I'm waiting to see if the the other two books make it, too. 

Love you all,

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A+B Doesn't Always Equal C

Bam, and Here Comes Z

Funny. I began writing Flirty and Red, the new story. Had it in my head as a contemporary, but there were hints that Red was more, not human. Struggled with that idea. I mean, the goal was for these two to have a pretty simple story. Meet, conflict, resolve and end. But, nooooooo. Red had to be something different.

Isn't that the problem sometimes? As a writer, even a writer who plans every last moment, you have an idea or a concept. Then, before you realize it, your story has changed. It's a lot like the characters having a life of their own, and you? You're just the storyteller, providing the events as they lived it rather than how you wanted it to be.

Me? Had the whole thing outlined from beginning to end. Now? I've got to do research, go back to the first chapter and add the layers then return to the area where I am currently and get the job done.

And, you know what? I'm happy. Writing shouldn't be easy. It shouldn't be a formula. A+B always equals C. No, it doesn't. Sometimes, you have to let D, E, F, and G in there. Then you have a story. It's like life. BAM, Z comes out of nowhere and clunks you on the head. Then, you have to deal with it.

I'm dealing with it and can't wait to see where it ends.

On Audiobooks? 

Right now, I'm listening to this series by Maris Black. Oh, my everloving wow. You have to check this book out, but be prepared. It's not easy. It's not cute. It's beautiful, dark and a little twisted. And, no, not twisted in that taboo way. It's raw, and it's real. Love it. But, I'm ahead of myself. Hang on a sec....

There you go! Find this book. It's a three part series, and you will not regret listening. In fact, you'll become addicted. Oh, that reminds me. Another second here...

The blurb!
My name is Jamie Atwood, and I'm an addict. I never thought I'd say such a thing. Never had a problem being overly attached to anything in my life. I came from a perfectly middle-class family, made good grades, and had a hot cheerleader girlfriend...but the truth is, nothing ever really moved me.

So how did a guy like me become an addict? I met Michael Kage. Kage is an MMA fighter. A famous one. I like to think I helped him get that way. He's charming as hell, with looks to rival any movie star and talent to back it up. So why did he need to hire me as an intern publicist? Simple. He has a darkness in him - like a black hole so deep it could swallow him and me and everyone we know - and that's not good for business. The first time I met him, I felt the pull. I think the addiction began at that very moment. And even if I'd known then what I know now, I would have fallen for him. How could I not? For me, Kage is everything.

Getting so much done here, because I will do anything to listen to this story: clean, wash, fold, drive, etc. Anything. 

Have you had a moment to check out Banks? If you're needing someone to listen to while you're writing or studying, try her. She's my go to . You can even do her radio station on most apps and get the same type of feeling. 

What's out there right now for me?

Broken Bones is available almost anywhere ebooks are sold, and of course, on the DSP website. 
They Called Him Nightmare and A Chance for Hope (which is actually a part of the Love Wins Anthology) is located on the Dreamspinner Press website and almost anywhere ebooks are sold. 

What am I crossing my fingers for? 
A Place for Dreams
Getting There
Both have been submitted. Let's all cross our fingers.

Still hoping for Broken Pieces to finally be finished. Waiting on some beta responses on that one, then submitting. 

Well, that's me, my lovelies! Happy hugs and hopeful wishes!


I'm dealing.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

New Year, No Promises

Out there making those fantastic New Year's Resolutions? Not me. Resolutions are promises you make to yourself that you are well aware will be broken. So, I don't make them. What would be better? How about, "I'm going to be happier," It's simple, but then it takes a lot of work to do that. Means you have to be happy in your own skin regardless of what someone else says about you, believes about you. You have to know how truly amazing you are.

The same could be said for writing. I'm realizing as I write more that I have to be happy with what I write as well as be aware of what my readers need. So, I've actually taken the time to ask one or two who've read a few of my books what they liked.

One said, "I like that you don't just write sex. You build the story. I like story." Perfect. I like story, too. I'm not trying to write porn. I'm trying to introduce you to the men I see in my head, get you to know them. Do I love the smexy? Just as much as anyone else, but give me the story first.

Another said, "I like that your guys seem real." That's good, too. Yes, I know they're in my head, but that doesn't make them any less real to me than they are to the people who meet them. It's funny how sometimes I have an idea of who I want them to be, who I want them to love only to learn that they don't care what I want. I simply have to go along for the ride, and it's a ride I enjoy.

What do I need to improve? Well, thank goodness for betas, because before the books make it to my readers, we have killed the superfluous use of backstory, the word "that", the need to say one thing three different ways and the tense change. Oh, and let's not forget that whole show versus tell monster. Without them? It's over. Just over.

Being happy as a person and a writer means three things for me:
1. Be willing to change - I don't have to be in a box, and I'm not going to be. I have to be willing to grow to see beyond limitations both in my life and how I live it as well as how I write. It means seeing beyond the limitations others may set for me.

Know that you are capable of more than even you know.

2. Take care of my craft by taking care of me - That whole lose weight deal became very real for me recently. I usually exercise and eat well, but prior to a few weeks ago, I settled into a rut. Well, like a domino effect, some crazy went down.

Food poisoning, some girl issues, or lack of, led to some seriously uncomfortable testing which made me lose time and spend a portion of it in several doctor's offices. Why? Well, it turns out if you don't take care of you, then you will have health problems. Go figure!

So back to walking, swimming and eating well. Can't be there for my family if I don't. Can't write if I don't. Taking care of me allows that to happen.

Hey, are you taking care of you?

3. Do what I love - If I'm going to be happy, I have to do what I love. Do the parenting thing. Do the family thing. Do the friendship thing. Do the teaching thing. Do the music thing. Do the writing thing. Whatever it is, do it because I love it, and put my all into it. I love to write. It's a part of me, something I just can't let go. If I'm going to do it, I have to do it well which means regular practice, studying, and reading.

Hey, Pixar says it best (Okay, maybe not best, but they do a really fabulous job of it).

See this link for the whole image. It's worth a look. 

I heard something interesting today. Slow down. 

Don't be in such a hurry. Value the things you love. Live in the top right quadrant, things that are important but not urgent. Breathe. 

My life is not a competition, no commentators on the sidelines worthy of my attention. Yours shouldn't be either. That includes the naysayers and the critics. My writing is not a game, a place where I put undue stress on myself to be better than the next person or try to meet everyone else's needs. Write because you love to write and because you want to reach the audience that enjoys what you put your heart and soul into. It takes time for that, so be patient. 

That doesn't mean you don't do a few things. For example, Amy Lane says it's important to know your genre, to know who you write like so you're able to pitch to someone else unfamiliar with your style. 

Learning from others, reading others, studying the ones who went before you? That's a good thing. Frustrating yourself about why you can't be them? Not. 

So, slow down.

Be willing to change. Take care of myself. Do what I love. Breathe. Live. 

Sounds good to me. 

Oh, and on the writing front, I'm working on that story, the one that appeared in my head when I took the Concealed Carry class, the very flirty guy and the cowboy who fell in love with him. I'm really excited about them. And, wow, finding their names? That took work.

Ah, and I did get the certificate in the mail by the way, the one that allows me to hide a weapon. Have I done anything with it? 
No. Still thinking. 

But, making empty promises? Resolutions? 

Who needs them when you can just choose to love you? 

Happy New Year


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Bullets and Ammo

Well, I did it. I qualified for my CCDW at Louisville Armory in an eight hour long class surrounded by different people, some of whom I truly believe don't need to ever have access to a weapon.

Why did I do it? It wasn't because I wanted to, let me tell you. 

I took my kids to the downtown skate park a few weeks ago. The place was covered in graffiti, had some overflowing trashcans, but in a place that's the domain of our youth, I pretty much figured that was the norm. We were concerned,though, and I had that little worry in my belly that accompanies being a mom. So, I called my hubby who said he hadn't heard anything about the place. I took a breath and went anyway.

We were there for maybe half an hour before two guys walked in. First they intended to walk past the place but looked up to see us. So, instead, they came in. We didn't see them again until I decided it was time to go, and I looked back to see them following us. 

I told the kids to go, but my kids didn't read the urgency in my voice and weren't moving as fast, so I really had to push them to get their butts in gear because the guys? They were moving faster. Finally I practically dragged the youngest one into the car and threw her in while the oldest jumped in the other side. 

We left, and I called my hubby.

It wasn't until later that I spoke with different people who knew about the skating park, that it's drug infested, that the area can be violent, and its not a place to take your kids to. 

It's beautifully made, has all types of different structures for kids to enjoy, it's large and it's not fair. But, when is life ever fair? 

That night, my hubby and I talked about getting my CCDW. He's been after me for a year to do it. I can shoot and shoot well, but it wasn't something that I wanted to do. Still, as a parent, there's things I don't want to do, but my little people take priority. I do what I must when I must to ensure their safety.

I'll follow through with the paperwork, will probably even get a gun, but will I carry it? I just don't know. 

A bullet doesn't solve the problem. But, maybe the presence of a gun can stop someone from doing something that would harm my family. I just don't know. Handling a weapon is a huge responsibility, and using it to harm others can be the very thing that takes me from them. 

Now for writing.
A Chance for Hope is out, and Jaymie at Bayou Book Junkies wrote a lovely review for it. Pumped!

A Chance For Hope by Deja Black 

4 Stars

Paul lost his husband, the man he'd spent the last 14 years loving to the Orlando Tragedy. Weighed down by his grief, Paul is wary of Brad, a freelance writer who introduces himself as wanting to be a friend. Paul has no idea that as Brad has seen him dealing with his loss and drawing inside of himself, Brad has longed to be a shoulder for him. Paul accepts Brad in his life and slowly Brad is able to help him learn to live again.

This is a sweet story about tragic loss and healing, a second chance at love story. I was a tad apprehensive at first, because I saw Brad almost like a borderline stalker. He's sweet and sincere and a good person, so I let it go. I just focused on how he took care of Paul and the fact that the two of them were good together.

I do believe though that if this were at least a novella as opposed to a short story and we could have gotten more substance and death with the characters, this could be an incredible story. 


This week, the beta readers have begun sending my chapters back to me for Getting There, and I'm truly pumped. First, I had to remember the rule of using beta readers:

So far, I've had to rework the first chapter, remember the cat is a boy and not a girl, that Anthony went into law enforcement after the military and not immediately after high school, and a few other choice items.

The most significant issue is backstory. Before my published work makes it to you, the betas have already done an excellent job of pointing out the areas of backstory rather than action. Backstory slows down the story and really needs to be included in dialogue or discovered by characters rather than narrated by some unknown speaker that takes away the energy of the story. Me.

When you find yourself writing, and no one's doing or saying anything, you've probably just written back story.

Need an article on it?
Check out this one:

Teyla Branton gives some excellent advice there. 

Something else to remember when going through beta reader comments? Don't try to attack everything all at once. Give yourself some time. Me? I save all of them with the beta reader's name. Then I go through them in order according to the beta. If you try to make the changes all at once from all of the betas at once, you'll lose your mind. 

I'm honestly considering just submitting Broken Pieces to another publisher, two actually. I've been told it's a good book. However, since I had no idea how to get Broken Bones, the first one, out there when Dreamspinner published it, it didn't do well. Broken Bones is a solid story, but I had to do the work of selling it. I realized a little too late that marketing is about what the author brings to the table and not about the publisher. Interested in knowing how to get your platform started? I provided several articles in my blog hopping, a few blog posts back. Check them out when you have a moment.

I was told by Dreamspinner that Broken Pieces is good, but it's not for them right now particularly because Broken Bones didn't do well. New author, new book without an established platform? Welcome to the reality check. Now, I have a few books under my belt, a platform and Broken Bones has an audience. I've also reworked the book. But, I'm ready to let it go. See what happens. I have a beta reader who's combing through it now. As soon as she's done, and I've made the final changes, I'll put it out again and see what happens. 

Then, there's the problem of what to write next. Well, I have it, and you won't believe where I got the idea. Okay, maybe you will. 

At the Louisville Armory CCDW class!
As a writer, we find stories everywhere. There were two men talking at the class. For now, I'll call the guys Flirty and Red. I loved watching Flirty reel Red in. It was like magic, and I can't wait to bring a little of that magic to paper. It's going to be so much fun. I wrote their outline while we watched the video on laws, the laws that were completely written out word for word in the manual that we had just gone over. 

Now, should Red be a shifter? Hm, I'll have to think about that.