How Many Stories?

Forgive me, this may be a bit more rambling than what you want to endure. I’ve decided to just type whatever comes into my head for this post. My apologies if the thoughts I put down don’t quite flow together as well as they should.

I’m working on a few different stories at the moment. First, we have Jazelle, Bryce, and Ethan–Erotica. I don’t think I’ve said much about them here…which is odd considering how much I’ve written about them. Second, we have Arryn, Imir, Felice, and Elijah–Erotic Fantasy. They are my top obsession at the moment. Third, we have Hesandra and Gosi (and sometimes Imir)–Erotic Fantasy. This group I just play around with, jot down plot notes, dialogue, whatever comes to mind. Point is, I work on all three of them every week, without fail.

There’s only three?!

That’s odd for me. I would normally have something like five or six, maybe more, going all at the same time. Even so, it still feels crowded inside my head. There’s so much I want to do with all of them that they keep my mind occupied 24/7.

A lot of writers can’t have more than one story going at a time. That’s happened to me before once or twice, where I felt like I had to focus my attention on just one story. More than one can be too much of a distraction sometimes. We feel like working on Story A and B–or A, B, C, D, and E–would cause Story A to not be as good as it could/should be. Each writer has their own preference, it works for some and doesn’t work for others.

I fall under the other category; I’m one of those that likes to work on multiple stories at once. I know quite a few writers that feel the same way. We’re doing edits on this one, in the middle of writing those two, making notes on another idea, completely rewriting yet another one. The list goes on and on. Odd behavior, I know, but it happens.

So, where she would we draw the line? I mean, I’ve had a max of three story ideas spawn from writing Story A–never more than that.  At some point we have to stop creating new things so we can work on the existing stories right?

I’m curious if other writers experience this same thing, only worse. I imagine a spiderweb or a tree branch when I think about this. Ideas growing out of little bits of information here and there in Story A, branching off and becoming something completely new. Maybe it’s related to Story A in some way or maybe it’s not.

I firmly believe this is a good thing. How could I think otherwise? The biggest appeal for me is knowing that if I’m stuck on Story A, I can take my mind off it by working on something else. Sometimes I leave it for a few hours, sometimes for a few weeks. I’ve tried doing other things like reading, listening to music, etc., but they never quite work for me. The best remedy for me is to work on Story B or C or D…you get my point.

A Character’s Voice: Hesandra

Last month there was a post in which Arryn had free reign around here for a day and I was thinking I should let Hesandra loose this time. (This may become a recurring theme.) Truth be told, I’m a little nervous. I hope I don’t regret this later.

If I do, live and learn.

P.S. Strong language ahead.

♥ ~ Audra ~

Audra says jump and I’m supposed to ask how high? Under normal circumstances, I’d tell her to fuck off.  I’ll indulge her this time. Hope this bitch doesn’t get any ideas in her head that I’ll be doing this often. I’d really hate to sick Gosi on her.

Actually, I lied, I’d LOVE to sick Gosi on her…….But, this isn’t about Audra. As much as she’d like me to wax poetic about her mad writing skillz, it’s not gonna happen. Kick rocks bitch, this is my show.

A little about me: Name is Hesandra, I’m a Reborn, a Dark Arts witch (this time around), forever in a love/hate relationship with the nastiest vampire in existence, Gosi (he’s killed me three times already–more on that later), and the sweetest girl you’ll ever meet.

Ok, so that last part is a load of shit. I’m not sweet; I creep into the territory of somewhat decent once in a while, but not often. It’s just the way I am. You don’t like it? I don’t really give a fuck.

A little history lesson: The Reborn are a handful of people with the ability to be reborn into any form we wish when we die. We have a limited number of times–five–we can choose the form. The sixth life we live is chosen by some higher power we know shit about and it’s permanent. You die the sixth time, you’re fucked.

I was originally born a mortal girl–won’t EVER make that fucked up choice again. I met Gosi when I was a teenager. As I said, I was only a mortal, but because of being a Reborn I had a sort of sixth sense for supernatural beings. I knew right away he was a vampire–a nasty one. I could tell you horror stories, but it would take a while–he’s over two thousand years old and I’ve known him nearly as long. Suffice it to say, he let me live–knowing what he was–until I came after him. Once he realized I meant to kill him, he made quick work of me.

So, I came back as a werewolf. I knew he’d fucking HATE IT, and I was right.–As a Reborn, he has the ability to sense me when I make my choice. That shit pisses me off like you wouldn’t fucking believe.–Gosi has a deep loathing for werewolves that the majority of vampires do not. My pack helped to protect me for a while, but when Gosi wants something that badly, he gets it. He killed me again. Why? Easy, he hated the choice I made and refused to let me live like that. Frankly, I was relieved. Being a werewolf has its perks, but it’s barely a step up from being a mortal. Fuck. That.

I came back as a mortal and vampire-to-be. Gosi turned me when I was twenty-three.–He first came to me when I was a small child and watched over me until my change. Reborns are hunted by many supernatural beings trying to steal our ability to reincarnate. It’s happened before and I’m sure the shit will happen again.–I managed to keep myself alive for over three centuries before Gosi killed me that time. We had the best fucking time ever! We wreaked havoc all over the world for three hundred fifteen years, causing death and chaos everywhere we went. That time, he offed me because we were under attack and both of us weren’t going to get out alive. He ripped my heart of of my chest and snapped my head right off my neck. No coming back from that kind of death as a vamp.

My third, and most recent, choice was a Dark Arts witch. This has been my longest life and I’m sure the only reason he hasn’t tried to kill me yet is due to the choice I made. He loves the smell of a witch, the taste of our blood.–Oh yes, he feeds off me….quite often.–I’m convinced his bitch ass was waiting for me to make this particular choice. I could have chosen to be a White Arts witch, but they are far too goody-goody for my tastes. I’m much happier being able to do whatever the fuck I want and not worrying about the consequences. Even if he wanted to kill me, he couldn’t. Dark Arts witches are extremely powerful and, like vamps and a few other supernatural beings, we get stronger the longer we live. 

I’m now five hundred and sixty-eight years old as a witch. I was able to cast a spell that keeps me from aging a long time ago.–Haha, bitches!–Love little perks like that, they’re so handy. Right now Gosi and I are in one of our love to hate each other stages.–We go through different phases quite often. We’re immortal, forever means a lot more to us than it does to a mortal couple.–I’m in it for the sex, plain and simple. In this particular phase, we have the hottest, craziest sex. I recommend having a vamp sink his/her teeth into you when you orgasm. For the love of all that is unholy, I swear to you it’s the best orgasm you’re ever going to have in your life.

You’re probably sitting there going, “Oh my god, you dumb bitch. Why haven’t you killed him yet?” Back off asshole, it’s not like I haven’t tried. Let me say this again, HE’S OVER TWO THOUSAND YEARS OLD. Have you ever tried to kill a vamp that old? The shit isn’t easy, I’ll tell you that. There is a way to do it, I just haven’t found it yet. And while I will miss the wild, totally fucking HOT and crazy sex we have, I’ll gladly kill him when I finally figure it out. He’s only on his second choice so I have no qualms about ending his too long existence. I’ve gone after him more times than I can count. The fact that he’s only killed me a few times means I’m doing something right, so back the fuck off.

For those of you that know Arryn, I taught the little witch everything she knows. She’s not a Reborn, but she is a kick ass Dark Arts witch. Gosi knows better than to fuck with her. Not only because of her power, but because he’d have to deal with me after that. He rather enjoys being attached to his dick, so he leaves her alone. He wouldn’t ever admit it, but he would take care of her if I needed him to. He may be a beast, but there are a few beings in his long life that have wormed their way into his rotten heart.

That’s enough, I have shit to do.

You’re Turning Me Off

Disclaimer: Strong language and adult content to follow. Consider yourself warned.

Riddle me this – what the fuck is going on with epub/self-pub stories these days? With the majority of my recent acquisitions, the writing has turned me off within a few pages and left me worrying about the current, and future, standards for these publishing venues.

You don’t have to tell me it’s my decision to read these stories, I know that. It doesn’t mean I have to like the way they’re written. Sometimes, I can’t stop myself from reading them; oddly, I’m compelled by the horror of it all. I want to see how many times an author can make me roll my eyes or go, “Gimme a fuckin’ break!”. (I’ve actually kept track of this on a few different books ‘cus I’m weird like that.)

Nor does it mean that this practice of publishing shit and calling it a finished story should be acceptable. Frankly, I feel it gives writers who work hard a bad name. We  should all be held to the same standards, regardless of how our stories are published.

Thousands of people want to write a story. A large number of them shouldn’t be writing. If you want to write a story for the love of it and/or because you hope that somebody else will love it as well, the end result will reflect that. The impression I’m getting from epubbed/self-pubbed books these days, is that their authors are trying to be the next big thing and are writing anything that comes into their heads. That’s not bad, BUT they publish the story without sending it to a beta or two, without any editing being done (or not enough editing), and then wonder why they get no sales and/or bad reviews. (That’s when I have to refrain from using shouty caps and saying, “Um, because you’re an asshat that doesn’t realize their shit sucks.”)

It’s not a big mystery people. You need to put time and effort into the story so it can be as good as possible. Then you need to send it out, let people trash the shit out of it, and then rework it to make it even better than it was before.

When we do revisions, we learn from the mistakes we made the first (or fiftieth) time. If you’re publishing without doing revisions, and thinking that you have written the best novel in the world and legions of fans will be falling at your feet and begging you to write more, you’re sadly mistaken. Mark my words, you will suffer from it. Don’t turn around and get all butthurt because people are giving you bad reviews. Writers need to be able to take criticism and learn from it where they can. If you’re not willing to do this, you’re never going to be a good writer.

That’s where–I hope–I can be of some assistance.

I’ve included some tips for writers who are considering publication of their work. Take the advice or don’t, it’s your choice.

Please note: Nobody wants to listen to (or read) your whiny ass complaining when you’re confused about why your story isn’t doing as well as you thought. When you don’t put the work into it that you should, that’s what happens.

Oh, and some of the following are probably going to be a personal preference of mine. Feel free to ignore everything I have to say if you wish to do so, I won’t be offended.

Good writing this does not make:

Scenario 1: Person A telling Person B “No”, Person B persists……. and then Person A is all “Give it to me baby!” a millisecond after saying no.

Scenario 2: Person A continuing to come toward/touch/penetrate Person B after they’ve said no…….repeatedly.

You see where I’m going with this? Characters playing hard to get are sexy. It builds anticipation and all that jazz, right? Right. What I don’t get is the complete 180 in no time at all. It’s even worse when there’s inner dialogue from a character about how he/she doesn’t want anything to happen; there’s not a single hint of attraction to the other person.

If the scene is written as a type of fearful excitement, I can understand. Person A is kind of nervous and worried, but at the same time ready to rip Person B’s clothes off. That’s what I want to read. Not something that makes me feel like Person A is being forced into an act or one where said person changes their mind for no apparent reason and in less time than it takes for a hummingbird to flap its wings. You expect me to swallow that and just move right along with the story? It’s not gonna happen.

Scenario 3: “Oh my stars and garters! I just met the sexiest man/woman alive and I’m totally in love with him/her and I’m going to die if I can’t be with him/her!”

Excuse me, I’m going to need you to move off the rug so you don’t ruin it with the love juices oozing from every orifice in your body. Please and thanks. Maybe I’m jaded, but shit like that doesn’t happen and it doesn’t appeal to me. Instant physical attraction, a strong need/desire to be around somebody and get to know them, even get downright dirty with them, these things I understand. I don’t get the whole “love at first sight” concept and I don’t enjoy it in my books.

Scenario 4: Perfect body (god-like good looks on a man OR woman), with a huge dick, and the best lover in the world where every single touch brings out an orgasm in the recipient.

The hell you say. Be realistic please. I’m bored with the image of a perfect body on a man or woman in any story, but especially Erotica and Romance. Yeah, yeah, god-like good looks sell because it’s the fantasy of every man/woman out there. Whatever. Personally, the “perfect” body image gives me the beginnings of The Ew…..trust me, it’s not good (The Ew is worse than the Ick Factor). Never an awkward moment during sexual encounters, both people getting off at the same time with the most amazing orgasm they’ve ever had in their lives……every time they have sex. Shoot me now please. It’s possible to create a story where people have sex/sexual interactions, and don’t have simultaneous mind-blowing orgasms. Crazy concept, I know.

Scenario 5: A line of dialogue, then a new paragraph with the same person doing an action, followed by more dialogue within that paragraph by said person.

Example–

“Hey, what’s up,” Hilbert says as he walks in the room.

He plants his flat ass on my couch. “This is the bullshit I’m talking about. Is this really the proper way to write dialogue in a story?”

I shake my head in shame, “No, Hilbert, it’s not.

What–who–why, all I want to know is why.–Nevermind the shitty writing for a moment, you get the point.–I’m begging people to stop writing like this or I swear I’ll start burning books on the lawn. Easy rule to learn and follow boys and girls: A new paragraph in dialogue indicates another speaker.

Scenario 6: We’ve met, gone through –insert tragedy/comedy/whatever– together (or nothing at all), and now we’re going to live happily ever after and our children will be perfect and there will be sunshine and rainbows every day. I’m never going to want to stab him in the eye for not putting his dirty clothes in a basket and he’s never going to want to choke me because I snore too loud.

My ass. Unless you’re writing a fairy tale, this type of ending just doesn’t work for me (even then, I still don’t like it). Happy for now? That’s acceptable. Happily ever after when the characters haven’t spent more than a couple of nights together–if that–and are now going to live in bliss and never have a problem with anything the other one does? Unacceptable. Why? Because it’s not realistic. People aren’t perfect and even if you get along famously, you’re going to have some bumps in the road during your relationship.A bit of realism in stories is a good thing, regardless of genre.

**Note: the following is vital information that you must have and use for the sake of the sanity of your future readers**

Scenario 7: Referring to a character’s genitalia as “down there” or something equally juvenile.

*bangs head against wall* This one, obviously, is geared more toward Erotica and Romance stories. I’ll say it again because it bears repeating: for the sake of our sanity, please pay attention to and follow this piece of advice. Phrases like the one above make me think of teenage girls giggling behind their hands when they say the words penis or vagina. This is not cool people, not cool at all.–It sure as hell isn’t sexy.–If I wanted to read an erotic story written by a teenager, I would have gone looking for one. Oddly enough, and call me crazy for this, that’s not what I want. I want an erotic story written by an adult that doesn’t say “down there”, and instead says something at least resembling the word vagina. Hell, I’d be happier with a cheesy euphemism that’s been used a million times by bodice-ripping writers the world over. Example– “his throbbing member penetrates her love tunnel” and not “he plunges into her down there”.

There are exceptions to every rule up there (I suppose…….maybe), but please at least consider the fact that because you choose to publish in a non-traditional way, that doesn’t mean the story has to be trash. There are self-pubbed/e-pubbed writers out there that take the time to do everything necessary to create a good novel. They care deeply about what they’re doing. If you’re throwing some words together in hopes of being the “next big thing”, the fans you could’ve had will be nonexistent because your work won’t be of the quality it needs to attract readers.

Am I operating under the delusion that I’m a top-notch novelist? No. Do I think I don’t need to improve? Hell no. (You see how wordy this damn post is? -around 1900 words give or take- I know at least 10 people right off the top of my head that could say the same thing with a far lower word count. *stands up from chair* My name is Audra, I’m long-winded and use craptastic punctuation and grammar when I write.) Do I think you should listen to everything I say because, if you don’t, you won’t ever be published? Not a chance. You may or may not benefit from what I’ve said here, that’s up to you.

I know I need to work on several areas of my craft, and I’m ok with that. It takes a lot of work to be a successful writer and I’m more than willing to put in the time. I learn something new every day in regards to writing. I take what advice and lessons I feel are best for me and I apply them to my craft from that moment on. At least, I try to. Sometimes I forget things or fall back into old habits, but I take the time to fix the mistakes before I deem the work finished.

So tell me, darling followers (even though I don’t technically know you, you are darling to me), what’s your opinion on self-pubbed/epubbed work? How do you feel about writers who aren’t willing to perfect their craft?

This Madness Must End

Disclaimer: I understand I am contributing to the problem by publishing this post.

If I read one more “50 shades” of anything, I’m going to rip my hair out. Ok, not literally, but I want to. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the books, but I am tired of hearing a 50 reference every time I turn around.

–It’s only been worse with the movie coming out. Sadly, the choices they’re making are turning me off watching the movie. A huge disappointment there; I was looking forward to seeing Christian brought to life but it seems they’re not doing it the proper way with their “tamer version“. (That’s another post altogether I think.)–

Go to your bff of search engines, (Google, duh) and type in “50 Shades” and watch how much nonsense pops up. Once you get past the obvious sites dedicated to the author, books, and movies, you get into the real goodies. A few examples: a parody cookbook, countless musicals, and my personal favorite, the Fifty Shades Generator. (This site kills me. Too funny!) Even budding authors aren’t immune to the craze. I was checking out some books for my Kindle one day and I saw one titled almost the same, only the color was different. –insert “Alrighty then” meme– Talk about authors being original. (Homework: Google the images for “anti 50 shades of grey meme”, you’ll get a giggle or two out of it.)

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I get the popularity is off the wall and all that jazz. I just don’t think it’s necessary to shove 50 down our throats at every turn. (Shut. Up. with your jokes about bad puns and/or references to loving the idea of 50 down your throat.) There’s this erotica story name generator, something like that anyway, that is a spawn of the craze and it’s one of the most ridiculous sites I’ve seen. (Don’t judge what I Google when I’m bored.)

The big problem? It’s not going away anytime soon. The first movie has yet to come out, plus we have (possibly) two more to follow. I’m praying to the movie gods that they don’t go all bat shit crazy and decide to, unnecessarily, split the third book in half and make two movies like they seem to be doing with everything else these days. (I’m sorry, but splitting up Mockingjay–just like Breaking Dawn–is plain stupid. It’s not needed.) I could go on forever about this, so I’ll just stop there.

Enough already, please, I’m begging for it to stop. At this rate, I won’t be missing the movie because of how they’re making it, I’ll be missing it because I’m going to be so tired of 50 by the time it comes out I’ll want to stab Christian Grey on sight.

I have a love/hate relationship with the 50 books themselves, but as I said earlier, I’m so ready for this madness to die down. I’m aware this isn’t the first, or last, time a craze like this is going to happen. People are going to keep going nuts over 50 until something else comes along. That’s just the way it is…

/rant

And now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Revising The Revisions

I’m sitting here, everything is in the proper place, my Erotica short is pulled up on the laptop…

…and I’m not touching it. (No pun intended.) I’m really distracted by the music playing, and I’m mostly over here singing along and dancing in my seat. *sighs* It’s just one of those days I suppose.

Except, it really isn’t one of those days. I’m procrastinating on purpose and I know it. The music wouldn’t be on if I wasn’t. The Erotica short I’m working on needs some revisions and I’m putting them off. One thing has lead to another in my scattered brain, and I no longer want to revise. I want to ramble about revising.

Hey, it’s better than nothing.

“Books aren’t written – they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it.” ― Michael Crichton

When I saw that quote by Crichton a few months ago, all I could was nod my head and smile. Show me a writer that has successfully published and  sold the first draft of their manuscript. Please. I’d love to meet them. Revisions are a necessary evil in our world. Like it or not, we need them in the  writing process.

Writers are asked many questions about what we do and why we do it. Their curiosity leads them to question us about every aspect of the writing process, revisions are no exception. They want to understand why it takes so long to write a novel sometimes. The time spent and amount of revisions/edits done varies from one writer (and one story) to the next. So, what can we tell them to make them understand us? Let’s find out.

Do you get dizzy going in so many circles?

A little bit, but it’s worth it.

While I’m spinning, I’m learning and improving. Not only my story, but my writing in general, is being improved (at least I hope so) with every revision I make. When the initial writing stage is complete, it’s like a breath of fresh air. We’ve accomplished our goal and finished the story that needed to be told.

Then the butchering begins. I adore the butchering. Not every writer will have the same process, obviously, when it comes to revisions/edits, but it may look something like this: (1) read through the manuscript, remove what isn’t necessary to the story, mark grammar/punctuation issues, etc. (2) make the changes….. (3) then do it all again.

This can be done once or a million times. The process will be complete when the writer feels that they can do nothing more to make the story better on their own. They’re now ready for outside opinions.

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How do you know you’re receiving the proper feedback?

Writers never know how people are going to react to their work. Some will love it, some will hate it. We generally receive conflicting feedback because everyone has different preferences and dislikes when they read a book. Writers have to choose what to take from that information to make our stories better. The only feedback we don’t want, because it helps us not at all, is “I loved it!” or “It sucked!”.

–cue the crickets chirping–

That’s it? That’s all you have for me? Mmmk, thanks.

We are appreciative when people are willing to beta for us, but we need information from them in order to improve the story. (Granted, there are writers who don’t want/can’t take criticism and only want praise for the greatest novel ever written. They are a pain to beta for….to put it mildly.) Bottom line, we need to know what worked and what didn’t for each beta reader we have.

From this information, best if received from multiple sources, we choose what changes to make to the manuscript. The choice is different for every writer and for every story. We’re never going to use all of the feedback we get. It would be impossible to do that. There’s always going to be one person that didn’t like this or that, but another that did. So, we decide which changes are best for the story and go from there.

“Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing.” – Bernard Malamud

How can you be sure you’re making the right changes?

The right changes? Hmmm, it depends on how you look at it. As I said above, people have different opinions. Writers make changes in their stories to ensure the flow is consistent. We don’t want our readers halfway into our book to suddenly become bored or disinterested. We want to make sure the reader cares about what happens to the MC(s).

We never know if the changes we’re making are going to work for the overall story. That’s why we have this process. Once the changes are made we can go back and read it again to see how it works. If it doesn’t, more changes will be made until we feel it’s finally right.

Why bother making changes now when you know you’re going to be doing it at some point down the road?

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I’ve heard this question multiple times. Frankly, I start twitching when it’s asked. Nobody’s ever going to consider publishing your story if you send them an unpolished copy. Rejected. Yes, you will undoubtedly be asked to make some changes to the story once it hits the publisher’s desk. Let the butchering begin…again. That being said, writers who are serious about publication aren’t going to send an unfinished copy of a manuscript out. At least, they shouldn’t. As I said before, changes are unavoidable.

It doesn’t matter to us that we’ll have to go through all of this again later. We plod through the revision/edits stage to polish our story to the best of our ability. Why? Because we care about what we’re doing and want to make it as good as possible.

Don’t you want to be done with it all already?!

No — no I don’t.

I mentioned in a recent post that I think writing a novel is like reading a good book. When I’m reading a new book, I don’t want it to end. The same holds true for when I’m writing. I want to go on writing/reading about these people until I get tired of them. When that will be, nobody knows. (I will say that, eventually, I do let go and decide that there’s nothing more I can do for the story. It’s now ready for submission and all I can do is hope for the best.)

Letting the characters look through my eyes while we dissect every word, every twist and turn, delves me deeper into their minds and their worlds. I learn things about them I didn’t know before. I become more familiar with their personalities and how they react to certain situations. I need this to happen, I don’t know about other writers, but for me this is a must. If I’m going through revising and editing and I don’t feel like I’m learning more about the characters/places I write about, then I’m not fully invested in the story. I should be. When this happens, that particular manuscript is set to the side for a little while. Eventually, I will come back to it and try again.

Whether you love it or hate it, the revision/editing process is a must if you want your novel to be as well written as possible. It doens’t take every writer the same amount of time or revisions before they decide it’s right. Hopefully though, after all of the struggling and rearranging, we’ll have made something that turns out to be better than we initially imagined.

“Throw up in your typewriter every morning. Clean up every noon.” – Raymond Chandler