Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How Great Advice Can Ruin a Writer's Day - Part 2


Back in July, I posted on Tali Spencer's brilliant blog: "Brilliant Disguise: Other Worlds, Other Loves...". In that post, I discuss the benefits of keeping a working timeline and how it helped me to analyze why the amazing advice of "writing X amount of words per day" was really getting me down.

At that point, I was 8 weeks into my timeline. In Part 2, I discuss being 14 weeks into my new project and how I've never felt better about writing less as the project goes on. What? Less words? Feel good?  "Jane!" you gasp, utterly shocked, your heart pounding with rivulets of excitement, "It can't be!" 

"I know, I know, you're right. It can't be; but perhaps, I'm the only one genius enough to have figured it all out."

;-)

Please visit my blog post here to read my short, but brilliant look at not just writing advice for those in the world of adult dating or erotica, but for fiction writers everywhere. 

Also, that picture above. That is original paper art work for my books covers. Hope you like it!

Be good and be safe,
Jane

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Always Read Closely - Fiction Tip #2

Dodger by Terry Pratchett


I always find it amazing how excellent authors keep their narratives tight. Terry Pratchett is no exception. With 80 million books sold, give or take a million or so, he is a master of creating complex narrators that are easy to follow. From sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph, there is a deliberate state of being or action that is then followed by a reaction to that state of being. Also, you’ll notice these authors never state the situation or the subsequent chain of reactions explicitly, just like I found in Justin Cronin’s The Passage in this brief fiction tip. Instead, they describe the scene in a way allows the reader to interact with the subtext.

Put simply, good authors know how to get out of the way!

Let’s take a quick look at the beginning of Chapter 3 of Dodger, published in 2012 by +HarperCollins Publishers and see how Pratchett has the subtext swirling in your mind.

It starts with his passage:

It was raining again as Dodger got to the attic, a dreadful somber drizzle. He fretted outside while the old man went through the convoluted process of unlocking the door, then spun Solomon round when he hurtled through. Solomon was old enough and wise enough to let Dodger lie in a smelly heap on the old straw mattress at the back of the attic until he was ready to be alive again, and not just a bundle of grief. Then, Solomon, like his namesake being very wise indeed, boiled up some soup, the smell of which filled the room until Onan, who had been sleeping peacefully beside his master, woke up and whined, a sound like some terrible cork being twisted out of an awful bottle.

This paragraph is dripping with setting.

1st sentence: Dodger arrives and there is a physical description of the London rain – a thread throughout the book. 2nd sentence: Dodger is worried as Solomon unlocks a series of locks and then Solomon is spun around. Interestingly, Pratchett doesn’t write the words, “Dodger knocked on the door.” There is no need for the verb “knock” because it’s implied between the sentences, allowing me to interact with the subtext. Also, the second sentence has Solomon unlocking the door, a reaction to Dodger arriving in the first sentence; it also spins Solomon around, a reaction to the door being unlocked. 3rd sentence: Pratchett achieves a lot, but most importantly, this sentence is a reaction to the second sentence. Namely, Solomon is too wise to immediately harass Dodger, who is very obviously upset; still in the third sentence, Pratchett gives a physical description of Dodger in a smelly heap (setting) and finally gives you Dodger's state of mind (a bundle of grief). That’s a physical description, two states of mind and it’s a reaction to the former sentence! Achieving a lot with few words is right. 4th sentence: As Solomon is wise indeed, he boils soup, a continuation of him not wanting to bother Dodger (but still helping). In the fourth sentence, it’s important to note the narrative moves forward with two different reactions. He boils soup and therefore the smell of it fills the room and therefore the dog wakes up and whines because of the smell.

I’m not going to continue on doing every sentence in the next paragraph or everyone will run screaming for the hills; but you’ll never guess how the 2nd paragraph begins if the 1st paragraph ends with the making of soup. Yes, you guessed it; the reaction of Dodger taking the soup. Action (soup is made) > Reaction (soup is taken): this is how authors construct their entire narrative flow. However, Pratchett does not describe Solomon filling the bowl or walking it over to Dodger or putting the spoon in the bowl. All that detail is between the two sentences and unwritten and the reader does the work of filling it in.

As the chapter goes on, Dodger and Solomon have a conversation but Pratchett, without ever saying so, manages to give the scene a feeling that it takes place over a period of time. It gives the impression of the two characters sitting around with silence between them. Pratchett does it slyly, never stating it explicitly. Instead, the reader fills in the subtext.

After Dodger takes the soup, Solomon goes back to work on a machine that made a “busy little noise…that would have made Dodger think of grasshoppers in a field.” Dodger then tells Solomon the story about why he is upset. Solomon is then given a paragraph to make Dodger feel better that ends with this sentence: “And the grasshoppers continued to dance, sizzling as they did so.”

It’s smart because the grasshoppers are associated with Solomon taking the time to work on a machine. We’re being told that time is passing, but not being told directly; it's in the subtext. It's a feeling the author imparts on the reader. The next paragraph is given to a fight outside and how it is part of Dodger’s life in London. The next paragraph is given to Dodger’s thoughts in close third person. And then the next paragraph starts in an interesting manner. It begins, “Solomon was talking again.” Then dialogue takes over.

The reader can almost see Dodger turning back from the window and coming out of his own thoughts to find Solomon talking again. Pratchett never says these two characters sat around comfortably until Solomon broke the silence. The text implies it. Again, it invites the reader to make judgments about what is happening. And for me, this is reader engagement. And reader engagement is everything.

In conclusion, good writers get out of the way. ‘On the head’ writers leave no room for the reader to engage with what isn't written. When I come across ‘on the head’ writers, sooner or later, while reading, this thought crosses my mind: “Come on, when will you let me do something?”

Readers love to work; you just have to trick them into it.

Happy writing and always read closely.

-- 
Be Good and Be Safe,
Jane

Thursday, July 11, 2013

How Great Advice Ruins a Writers Day!

I am a visiting writer today at the blog of the very courteous and brilliant Tali Spencer: Brilliant Disguise: Other Worlds, Other Loves...

"Writing X amount of words per day" is great advice but it was a thorn in my side for too long. I figured out my own way to tackle this advice and incorporate it into my writing life. Visit Tali's blog to read the post ;-)

http://talismania-brilliantdisguise.blogspot.com/2013/07/guest-post-how-great-advice-ruins.html?zx=383cc7865d8b6b7c

And tell us how you have conquered this good but strict advice.

Be Good and Be Safe,
Jane

Monday, June 17, 2013

Always Read Closely - Fiction Tip #1

The Passage by Justin Cronin



The Passage, a huge hit (proving long books still have power!), was put out by the Ballantine Books Imprint at +Random House Books.

Story: After a secret government experiment goes wrong, a virus escapes (causing an savage type of vampirism) and nearly kills the entire population of North America.

Scene; Wolgast (a secret agent) is with a girl (Amy), who he is bringing in and who might be the key to saving civilization. They are at some type of county fair and he is telling her to act normal.

“So, let’s try it. Who’s the nice man you’re with, little girl?”
“My daddy?” the girl ventured.
“Like you mean it. Pretend.”
“My…daddy.”
A solid performance, Wolgast thought. The kid should act. “Attagirl.”
“Can we ride on the twirly?”
“The twirly. Which one’s the twirly, sweetheart?” Honey, sweetheart. He couldn’t seem to stop himself; the words just popped out.
“That.”
Wolgast looked where Amy was pointing.

I always find it amazing how tight good authors can be and this passage is a short on. The story changes direction in every single sentence. It's like a great flow of constantly shifting sections/sentences, which are always in reaction to the previous statement, which in my mind, allows the reader to have the essential interaction with the text while reading. 

Let’s look at the rhythm:
-Wolgast asks a question.
-Amy answers, but it’s with a question mark; she ventures an answers. She’s unsure and Wolgast’s next sentence confirms it.
-In so many words, he asks her to try again.
-Amy tries again, but there is no question mark, no dialogue tag.
-Wolgast reacts to Amy’s second attempt in close third person with authorial flagging (authorial flagging is "Wolgast thought") so we know exactly what he is thinking and then he actually responds with “Attagirl.”  
-Amy changes direction and asks a new question about taking a ride on a twirly.
-Wolgast asks a question in dialogue and then thinks about the words he is using to address the girl (which refers back to the ongoing thread of his own deceased daughter – a plot point) in close third person, but this time with no authorial flagging (No, he thought). And then after his thoughts on using “Honey, sweetheart,” the narrator actually responds to those thoughts in the form of giving the reader Wolgast’s reaction to them.

Read the section again and see how Cronin always keeps you involved with what isn't on the page. He creates an enormous amount of subtext with very few words and the reader easily keeps up with it.

Happy writing and always read closely.


-- 
Be Good and Be Safe,
Jane

Friday, June 14, 2013

Free Sample from Jane Smith Divorced 2, my 10,000+ word erotic story, the second in the Jane Smith Divorced Series.

Apparently, free samples pull the people in! Welcome. Please see below for my original paper art cover and my free sample to the new 10,000+ word erotic adventure, the second in the Jane Smith Divorced series.

I promise the usual: good fiction, erotica, adult dating and things like, oh....sex!

Here is the cover...


He fiddled with the radio until a throaty female voice was singing the blues. I can’t remember the title of the song and I have searched for it with no luck. It didn’t suit the silent and chaotic tension building between us; however, it sat at the crossroads of the bursts of manic energy and periods of exhausted willpower which tortured my body. A song lost to history, I say. With Martin next to me, even for a few those few precious moments, boredom or inaction seemed impossible. I remembered my first fantasy of Martin; I wanted to literally climb onto him. That night, driving in my car, I realized maybe I just needed something to hold onto.
Martin leaned over, his long, thin torso bending over the armrest. “Thanks for dinner,” he whispered as his nose brushed along the ridge of my jaw until he was under my ear. The hairs on my neck jumped to attention as goose bumps rippled across my skin.
“Dinner on me anytime,” I said.
“Maybe I could’ve thanked the right person,” he said. “But I’m guessing your ex-husband never walked in.”
And there it was, out in the open. I smiled.
“I’ll fucking kill you,” I said. My heart pounded in anger and lust. Martin was reaching into my life with ease. 
“Killing me is a bit harsh,” he said as his lips toyed with my neck. “Hurting me a bit could work.” His lips and teeth closed down on the skin below my ear.
Sweet heaven.
I slammed on the brakes, sliding the car onto the shoulder. I had a secret hope that I would throw him against the dashboard, hurt him a little bit. His hand landed on the dash, exposing the long cords of muscles twisting up his taut forearm.  
I was across the car, straddling him. We were kissing frantically; my only thought: get these skinny jeans off of me. The first heel was off but I struggled with second. As I turned to loosen it, he was kissing my neck beneath my hairline, his lips brushing against my spine. A milky black shadow was cast over my eyes. All judgment gone. I got the heel off and turned.
I must’ve skidded to a stop under the only street light for miles. Light cut in at the angle from the window and across the middle of his face, hiding me from his eyes but focusing me on his lips. I kissed him but pulled back. I did it again, building myself up.
I saw it all: my idling car, the streetlight highlighting the flittering leaves as they reached back into the ancient wild. Behind us, the road disappeared into nothing. For the moment, the road ahead was irrelevant. There was only us; the moon and stars were suspended above like some puppet show. At any moment, someone would pull the rope, the curtain would fall. I spoke to make it real: “You are a terribly attractive monster.”
“You are more attractive than you know,” Martin said. “And the more you think you aren’t, the more attractive you become.” It was a compliment for the young but perhaps I was more immature than I thought.
I undid his top button and parted his shirt where his neck dipped inward. I lightly kissed his collar bone and inhaled. He smelled of wood, earthy and clean, a dying lick of cologne. And as I kissed his neck and unbuttoned his shirt, I felt his erection pushing down his leg and against my thigh – reason enough to wear skinny jeans.
Like Pavlov’s dog, I thrust my hips down against it. Being horny is one thing. Being emotional another. Being both was fucking dangerous. I needed to do the hardest possible thing in life. I needed to change and it turned me on even more to think that Martin might help me do it. I was kissing him desperately, fiercely – both of my hands on the side of his face, his jaw, his neck, through his hair.
Jane, Jane, Jane. His voice reached into me and split apart the walls that held back the stranger; she clawed her way out.
“Jesus, Martin,” I said. “I want you. I want you in me.” He wasn’t getting hard anymore. He was thick and hard under my leg. Dizzying heat pushed into my head, driving my senses to a timeless place.
Lost.
I had his belt undone, his zipper down. I was tugging at his pants, his erection pushing at his underwear. I pulled at the elastic band and as I was about to wrap my fingers around his thick cock, when I found my hands pinned behind my back, his fingers acting like a pair of handcuffs.   
His other hand was undoing my top button and then the next until my sheer blouse was split open. He kissed my chest and then let his lips drift along the top edge of my bra. I imagined riding him, my nipples out and hard. Exposed. 
We could have fun you and me. Couldn't we?” I asked.
You mean now or in general?"
"You know exactly what I mean." I was asking for more of this. I would've made him promise.  
“I think we both know that will come down to you,” Martin said. His hand was around my neck, urging me forward into his mouth. We both knew he was the object of desire, but like any good man, he had the common decency to pretend otherwise.
Without thought of it, my hands tried to break free from his grasp but he clamped down. His fingers nuzzled against my skin and I felt my jeans loosen. He had the button undone. Just push your fingers down, I thought. Just. Touch. It.

And he did. His fingers pushed down, brushing against my...

Please visit me at amazon or nook to read my first story, if you haven't, and to follow the continuing adventures of me and Martin....read the rest of Jane Smith Divorced 2. I hope you like it. I think you will. 
Be good and be safe,
Jane 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Create Content - Don't advertise, Part 1

I was recently reading an article on Marketing Trenches shared by +Mari Smith on Twitter that made good suggestions for sharing on social media. It was good advice for indie authors but I don't think many of them understand it, myself included. Summed up, I think the advice is short and easy: essentially, share content, don't advertise.

For a newbie in social media and trying to sell a product, this is totally overwhelming. One, I don't have the skill set.

Two, I'm tired.

Let me explain:

After slaving away on my stories and #paperart covers, I want to publish and run away! But I'm learning that just isn't possible. Besides the content of the stories I'm selling, I'm discovering that I need to constantly share content that others will find useful, entertaining, etc. This means, of course, that I have to get terribly comfortable with social media. For some people, it seems to come naturally. For me...well, I would rather sit in a room alone and slave away over stories that no one will ever read. Scary, but true.

But when indie authors and others simply advertise themselves, I tend to ignore them and their product. When they provide something, anything, of worth then I tend to keep an eye out for those people, organizations and products. Although it might not be true, good manners and appearance and classy social interaction leads me to believe they might have a product of similar worth.

So, the challenge is simple: think like a content provider 24/7. The downside is that it will be totally exhausting. The upside is that it will be totally exhausting;-)

But I can do it. I know that with developing any new skill, there will be a learning curve, but I think it will be fun. And mostly, I just don't want people to think of me the way I think of others when I'm surfing twitter, et al. Besides helpful tweets and sexy thoughts on blogger, which seem to come easily, I have an idea to share more content and it's coming soon!

I hope you like it. I think you will.

Jane

Thursday, June 6, 2013

On role playing – Outside the bedroom

     I was visiting a museum once and like many people I have a tendency to wander. And this time, as I wandered back and up to my boyfriend, I had an idea.
     “Hi,” I said. “You like the painting.”
     He shrugged, still unaware of my plan.
     “I’m Jeanie,” I said. Definitely not my name.
     “Jeanie?”
     “That’s it,” I said with a knowing smile. “First time to the MOMA?”
     Now, we aren’t huge into role play but the game was on. We left the museum as strangers. We had coffee as strangers. We rode the subway to a different part of town. We sat on a bench and talked as dusk fell over us and he asked me if he could give me a kiss.
     First kisses are fun.
     Look, he got to be hit on by a girl and I got to hit on a strange man. Was it real? Of course not. But the brain is a very interesting little toy. It can be convinced. And honestly, even though we knew we were in safe territory, there was some apprehension about what we might say and we definitely didn't know where it would go. Just having a bit of fun with my man. 

Be safe,
Jane


PS. This is my all original paper art cover to my second story! Hope you like it. The inspiration is plucked from a scene in the story.