One Writer's thoughts on the experience of writing and the publishing journey.
|Posted on March 10, 2014 at 3:45 PM||comments (0)|
Maybe it’s the bitch in me, but I hate reading books where the hero and heroine are perfectly good and the villain is completely bad to the bone. In fact, there seems to be a positive epidemic of this going on at the moment – maybe it’s in reaction to the stroppy heroines of chick-lit, maybe it’s because the world seems to be going to hell in a hand basket and people are searching for absolutes.
Whatever is causing this need for perfectly identifiable goodies and baddies, I wish it would stop before I find myself throwing yet another book across the room in disgust. This is a very bad practice, especially for someone reading on her tablet….We all have little (or big) flaws. When I come across a heroine who is so lovely she never thinks a mean thought, never challenges anyone else, never has a bad hair day, never is without a winsome smile and a plate of homemade cookies, well – immediate turn off.
Heroes written to be so, well, heroic – no thanks. Those big, strong, silent types, wonderfully patient and indulgent to the heroine, selfless, manly, broad chested, and completely fart-free – I ask you, who could possibly stay in love with Mr. Perfect?
Then there are the totally mean, verging on positively psycho villains. Most of whose behaviour is clinically psychotic. No matter what you might think from television, there aren’t that many nutzoids running around – the highest figure is probably one in a hundred. Not every fictional villain can be one. And all this with no hint as to why they behave this way. Believe it or not, even psychopaths can demonstrate a reason for the terrible things they do. At least in their way of thinking, their actions are rational, even if the rest of the ‘normal’ world thinks them total fruitloops. Usually, too, there is something in their backgrounds that triggers the behavior, whatever side of the nature/nurture debate you might be on. It would be nice if this was hinted at in the stories.
You see, these characters are just not real. Sure, we want larger than life characters in our novels, but they also need to be people we can identify with. People we can understand. People who don’t make us feel so inferior because we do have bad hair days, don’t bake cookies and sometimes cuss a little…
I spent years covering the criminal courts and the crime beat as a journalist, and then worked as a counsellor, so I say this with some measure of authority: The truth is no-one is all bad or all good. So why should we write about perfect people?
Please, please can we have heroes and heroines with flaws? Villains with a touch of humanity? I’m not asking for every story to be as boring as the real life we’re often reading to escape from, but give me real characters, people I can like or at least understand why I hate them.
Okay, putting away my soapbox now. Thanks for listening!
|Posted on February 13, 2014 at 2:55 PM||comments (0)|
Yes, it’s true! – My Valentine’s gift to you, my dear Readers: A free download of Marrying Money: Lady Diana’s Story, on Kindle!
Marrying Money is a romantic comedy set in England and Ireland, starring Lady Diana Ashburnham, a down-on-her-heels aristocrat who needs to find a rich husband to save her 500 year old estate from being sold to the highest bidder. And she’s heard that Ireland’s awash in wealthy bachelors who’d love an English title, so…..
Here’s the blurb:
Diana, Lady Ashburnham, needs to find a rich husband, and fast.
She's the last of an aristocratic line stretching back 500 years, and she's broke. The family fortunes have been eaten up by the crumbling mansion and impoverished estate. Not wanting to be known as the 'Ashburnham Who Lost The Lot', she refuses to sell off heirloom jewellery or let the estate be auctioned off to a dot.com millionaire or heavy metal rock star.
That's when Diana has her Great Idea – she'll follow a new take on the way her ancestors raised money – by marrying money!
So Diana corals her best friend, commoner Sally Barnes, into joining her on a trip to Ireland to try to net a – preferably titled – millionaire. After all, with the Celtic Tiger economic boom, Ireland is supposed to be awash with wealthy guys. As she tells Sally, Ashburnham ancestors plundered Ireland with Cromwell, so why shouldn’t Diana do a bit of plundering there herself?
Sally, very much a common commoner from a council house, reluctantly agrees to the trip.
They hook up with Diana's very pretentious but untitled cousin, Mairead, who married money herself – a wealthy 'paper products' entrepreneur. His line of work has led to many rude family jokes, but Diana has to admit that Mairead had landed herself in the lap of luxury with her marriage choices.
It looks like Diana isn’t going to be so lucky. Not only do the very valuable Ashburnham Emeralds disappear at the Galway Races, where Sally, not Diana, is chosen the winner of the Ladies' Day Prize, but there seems a huge shortage of titled wealthy young men who would be willing to fork out the millions required to keep Alexandria House, the Ashburnham estate, and Diana all in the style to which they want to become accustomed.......
Check it out and get your free download from February 14 to February 17 at:
UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00HNVBLNE " target="_blank">https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00HNVBLNE
USA - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00HNVBLNE " target="_blank">https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HNVBLNE
Germany - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00HNVBLNE " target="_blank">https://www.amazon.de/dp/B00HNVBLNE
Australia - https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00HNVBLNE" target="_blank">https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00HNVBLNE
Canada - https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00HNVBLNE" target="_blank">https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00HNVBLNE
Or Read the first chapter here!
Thank you! Enjoy Lady Diana's husband hunting, and Happy Valentine's Day!
|Posted on February 2, 2014 at 3:00 PM||comments (0)|
Even the greenest freelancer knows that they should follow the publishers' guidelines to stand a chance of having work accepted. So, because many publications state they will use their own photographic contacts to illustrate an article if they decide to purchase, many writers don't send photos with their work.
That's a mistake.
The old adage that 'A picture is worth a thousand words' holds very true in the case of space conscious print media. Photos are important, but must be of the best quality, serve to illustrate a point in the article and attract a reader's attention, and must be used sparingly because they add to production costs and take valuable space. But if you are submitting a text piece that has photo potential, don’t hesitate to send some good shots along with the copy.
There are two reasons for this: 1) your pictures will add an extra dimension to your writing, enabling the editor to visualize your subject more clearly, and 2) The reason magazines and newspapers send out their own photographic staff, or hire professional photographic stringers, is that they need quality, professional pictures. No family snapshot type deals; your editor is looking for clear, well focused, well-thought out scenes that will complement the written article. You have the advantage of knowing your story and subject matter, so if you can provide top-quality photographs to go with your work, why should the editor look elsewhere?
|Posted on January 4, 2014 at 11:35 AM||comments (0)|
Characters make our books – they're the ones who make us womanwritinglaugh, cry, angry, sad. We root for the hero and heroine, yell mean things at the villain – or maybe even have a sneaking admiration for him – and develop a soft spot for minor characters and hope there’s a sequel to tell their story.
And the characters readers love can surprise you. I received a really good review of Resort to Murder, and there was no doubt that the reviewer loved one character in particular – Tuesday the Stray Dog. Go figure! In fact, Tuesday seems to have his own little fan base and I'll be putting his story up on my website a little later.178 (200x300)
Most writers base characters' behavior, voices, habits, mannerisms, etc., on people they have met, worked with, sat on a bus next to, spent time in the airport lounge with, sat in class with, or seen on television or at the movies. Remember that all your friends and relatives will be trying to identify themselves in your work, so disguise your characters well!
You can also use magazines to help build your characters – read interviews with celebs and other people who have been written up.
Often characters spring fully-grown into your mind, so clear you can just about reach out and touch them – or at least call them on the mind-phone. That's great at the beginning of the story, but often the familiarity with the characters starts to fade as we continue along, and other characters join in. How to avoid this?
Get to know your characters.
Build them from the ground up, but do it subtly – let them reveal themselves to you just as a new acquaintance would. You meet someone and they seem really sophisticated and distant. But a couple of meetings later, you realize they have a wicked sense of humor. Maybe that self-assurance isn't more than skin deep. Maybe that cool exterior hides a seething mass of anxieties and neuroses.
That's when you'd also slowly realize that they have a past, a time before you knew them, which has careerwomanshaped how they are today.
There's an ongoing argument in psychology about nature v nurture – are we born as we are (nature), or did we grow up this way because of our childhood experiences (nurture)?
Most psychologists today tend towards the nurture and nature combination – we are born with certain characteristics, but the way we are treated and the events in our childhoods decide which characteristics come to the front and shape who we are.
For example, a child born with a tendency towards anxiety may well grow to a relaxed, laid back adult if he is reared in a calm, loving atmosphere where his anxieties are soothed and he learns how to control them, and perhaps even more important, that he is in control of his life. The same child reared in a different environment may grow up anxious and insecure, a candidate for compulsive behavior disorder and numerous other mental health problems, or possibly even grow into a volatile, hostile, domineering and violent character who simply loses his cool if the world around him doesn't fall into line. Because he cannot handle the anxieties that flow in on him and make him feel out of control, he constantly seeks to be in total control, and anything out of the ordinary throws him for a loop.
So, what tendencies does your character have? And how did his life so far shape him? When you're really having difficulty with a character, you may need to think right back to his childhood – where did he come from? What was his family like? His schooling? Even the time in history that we are born in affects who we may become – hence the phrase 'War babies' to describe an entire generation who were a puzzle to their parents.
That can sound quite daunting, but it's not really.
Write down everything you want your character to be – is he an Alpha male? One of those people who have to win at any cost? A company executive at 30, and a heart attack patient at 35? Or is he a laid back character, one of those kids whose teachers always said 'Could do better if he worked harder?' and 'Not working to his potential', Think of the ramifications for your story if your character is either one of these, because these characters will behave quite differently in whatever situations you put them in.
Remember that characters often have minds of their own – trying to force them into behaviors they don’t want to do is a great way to spark Writer's Block. Of course, it's not really your character but your subconscious mind that is objecting to the route your plot is taking. At least, I think so…...
Sometimes having a good chat with your characters can clear the air and clarify what you need to do. It makes them real to you, and that's what we are looking for – real characters. Remember the fun you had with an imaginary friend, or a favourite stuffed animal, when you were a kid? Well, try to bring back that feeling with your characters. Talk to them. Listen to them. Interview them. Just make sure you do this in private. Talking to yourself is acceptable in a writer, but answering yourself back can still make your nearest and dearest wonder. And when you start sending your characters birthday and Christmas presents, you're really in trouble…..
There are a number of books on the market for writers about personality types and there are lots of sites on the Internet if you want to delve deeper. Beware, many of them let you take a personality test, and you can spend a lot of time browsing here! Instead of putting your own personality traits in to the questionnaires, you can insert the answers you think your character would give, and get a Personality Type designation for him or her that will help you develop the character.
•What methods do you use to build your characters?
Glenys O’Connell is the author or Naked Writing: The No Frills Way to Write Your Book She has a degree in psychology and is a trained counselor.This Blog Was Originally an Interview at http://siamckye.blogspot.ca/2009/10/coffee-with-my-characters.html
|Posted on December 31, 2013 at 2:55 PM||comments (0)|
The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
At least, that’s what my Welsh Grannie used to say. She didn’t add that the same road is also the one that leads to failure, guilt, stress, anxiety attacks and self-loathing. Or, depending on your personality,loathing others who you are sure stood in the way of your achieving success with your good intentions.
Any excuse will do! But eventually you have to own your own failure, and it hurts...
.This is really the time of year when we should take this lesson to heart. For ‘good intentions’ read ‘resolutions’. I’m not even going to tell you the percentage of people who actually make something of their resolutions, it would just depress you.
Read the rest of this blog on my new blog site at: Romance Can Be Murder Blog
|Posted on December 19, 2013 at 11:25 PM||comments (0)|
@GlenysOConnell - The holidays are so busy, we all need a break. The No Sex Clause, a romantic comedy, will bring a smile to your face - especially as it's on Kindle Countdown sale this weekend! The ebook is just 99cents today (Dec 20) with the price going up incrementially over the next few days until it's back to its regular price of 2.99....
Here's the blurb:
Anna has gone from being the bullied Mouse in a small town high school to the perfectly groomed and wealthy author of a pop psychology book on sex. When her publicity agent talks her into going to her high school reunion at Christmas, there are two problems - Anna hated high school, and she has no one to go with. So, in her own pragmatic style, she hires an escort from an agency - a move that will change her life forever.
Anna finds herself revisiting her past and learning that she has never been comfortable in any of the personnas she has invented for herself. It takes falling in love - and Christmas - to show her that all she needs do is be herself.
|Posted on December 12, 2013 at 4:05 PM||comments (0)|
Have a writer on your Christmas gift list? Stuck for ideas? That’s not surprising, considering you’re dealing with a person who can have anything he or she wants – in their imagination, of course
But buying for writer friends or family needn’t be a chore. And it needn’t be expensive, either. Of course, the latest word processing programmes, computer technology, a library full of books or a year’s rental on a retreat to a villa in France, would all be welcome gifts. Bear in mind that the latter could be very pricey indeed, because most of us writers are broke much of the time so you’d definitely have to throw in air fare and stock the place with food.
But for more realistic purposes, here are a few writer pleasing ideas.
1) Fancy pens, pencils, cute notebooks, or other desktop gadgets. Sure, we know we’re in the age of high tech, but there’s nothing like the allure of a clean, virginal page or a fancy new gel pen.
2) A really good diary with at least a page per day for notes. Or more than a page, to help keep track of word counts, deadlines, book signings, talk events, submission dates, etc.
3) The online version of The Writer’s Market or Artists' amd Writers' Yearbook.
4) The online version of Writer’s Digest
5) A comfy cushion for the desk chair – you’d be amazed just how numb one’s posterior can get after a few hours of typing madly, butt in chair….
6) One of those little desk puzzles, to give the brain a break from words. Careful with the choice, though – nothing too difficult. Writers are all too familiar with failure and not being able to succeed with the Rubik’s Cube, for example, can begin a slow slide into depression as easily as any rejection letter.
7) A pair of those woolly fingerless gloves, for typing when the power is out – or has been cut off – and there’s no heat.
Woolly socks with tops that will fit over flannel pajama bottoms.(See #7)
9) Flannel pajama bottoms.(See #7)
10) A gift card for Starbucks or Tim Horton’s, so that your writer won’t get black looks from the baristas after sitting in the warm café for hours, typing without buying…..
11) Probably the very best gift for a writer costs nothing: Time. Yes, time to write without interruption is such a gift! Be a friend. Don’t take offence when your writer buddy rolls her eyes at your suggestion that the two of you go out, when you know she’s on deadline. Offer to take the kids for a couple of hours, cook a meal, pick up groceries, dry cleaning, kids from school. Don’t talk for hours on the phone. Listen when she needs a sounding board, otherwise give her some space.
Trust me, she or he will eventually emerge from the writing cave, eager and ready for human interaction again……once the writing is done. Until the next book, of course….
If you have a great, original, or amusing idea for a gift for the writer in your life, please share!
|Posted on December 9, 2013 at 3:25 PM||comments (0)|
Overwhelmed by trying to publish your books independently? Me, too. And I suspect many others, as well. There are so many avenues to do this, so much you have to remember, do’s and don’ts and musts and mustn’ts, a writer could easy lose her mind.
So many of books on Indie publishing give the same advice, pretty much “follow my suggestions and the cash will come pouring in’. So you do. You follow them (even though you maybe need a publishing degree before you can actually figure out how to do that) and then eagerly watch your Amazon rankings.
Which may go okay at first. But soon it becomes like watching paint dry – you’re pretty sure something must be happening, but darned if you can see it.
The most often stated advice is: ‘Write a Good Book.’ Which is very true. But often this comes from people who were smart enough to get in on the ground floor of the Indie publishing ebook goldrush. They put out a good book, and people found it easily because it was, well, a new idea. An ebook (possibly with print to follow) at a great price and not handled by the weighty publishing companies.
That was a few years ago. Now the digital world is crammed with books; some terrific, some not so much. Anyone could put out a book, and some of them maybe shouldn’t have. Some readers at one point veered away from Indie published ebooks altogether after being disappointed in a couple of purchases.
I think that’s changed a good bit now; there are wonderful books out there and the prices of Indie published eBooks generally compare very favorably with the high rates asked by traditional publishers who are now dipping their toes in the ebook stream. So much so that several well-known traditionally published authors are trying out the Indie route for themselves.
I’m published by The Wild Rose Press, and would always speak very highly of them. But I wrote a book for writers, Naked Writing: The No Frills Way to Write Your Book, taken from years of teaching creative writing. I loved this book, and Indie publishing seemed a great way to go with it. The book did well for the most part, both print and ebook.
Next came The No Sex Clause, a book I wrote for fun (and it still makes me laugh) about a former High school bullying victim, now a famous writer (no, it’s not autobiographical!) who hires a companion to accompany her to a dreaded high school reunion, falls in love with him, and finds herself running home to the foster parents she hasn’t seen in years. Anna Findlay is forced to re-evaluate her childhood experiences and her own life, proving that Christmas – and falling in love – can work miracles.
The No Sex Clause did really well for a while. I offered it for free and the sales continued after the free time was up. Plus it got reviews. I have considered using the word ‘sex’ in all my titles!
Then another publisher I was with, who will be nameless, finally gave up her stranglehold on three novels she had of mine after a short fight. So there I was, three books that I really believed in and no home for them. Most publishers aren’t keen on looking at previously published books. It seemed logical to Indie publish them, too. And that’s where overwhelmed came in.
Naked Writing had been straightforward, my market was writers who wanted to either start or improve their books. But novels? Winters & Somers (Irish romantic mystery/comedy) Judgement By Fire (Canadian romantic suspense) are out there already, with Marrying Money (romantic comedy) soon to come.Suddenly, life seemed to get complicated as I hit a steep learning curve. And I’m learning more – sometimes painfully - every day. Here are Wise Words that I didn’t know when I started to publish Independently:
• Wise Words: Know Your Market
• Write a Book you love
• Dream up a short, catchy title that says something about your book
• Use all the tools Kindle can offer, even though it means signing up exclusivity for 90 days for your ebook.
• If you do a print version, shout it from the rooftops! Make sure it appears on at least the major outlets, like Amazon, Smashwords, etc.
• Get a really good cover that speaks to your target reader.
• Price it properly – you’ll probably have to fiddle around with pricing until you hit on the one that readers seem to find most attractive for your book.
• If you do print and ebook, look into programs such as Kindle Selects Price Match – your readers who buy the print version can get the ebook version either for free or at a lower sale price.
• Don’t be afraid to experiment with pricing changes, sales locations, marketing strategies.
• Make sure you read the small print.
And if you’re looking for books to read that will help you, here are some I recommend:
• No Rules, Just Write! by C.J. Lyons (Not sure if still available, but any of her writing books will work!)
• We Are Not Alone by Kristen Lamb (hard to get)
Do you have favorite books that have helped you with your publishing ventures? Please comment and share!
|Posted on December 4, 2013 at 2:00 PM||comments (0)|
DEAR GOD, Jehovah, Allah, Goddess - sorry, I know You have many names and it’s my journalistic soul that wants to cover as many of them as I know. Forgive me if I get it wrong – I’m rushing the research a bit here. I do appreciate Your taking the time to listen, as You have done so many times in the past. You must be extra busy with deadlines at this time of the year, because fires, floods, famines, storms, droughts, wars and general stupidity do not stop even in this holy season. With all that going on, I hope You can also find the time to celebrate with us the joy and peace that belong to this Holy Festival.
There have been so many times when You have pulled this tattered manuscript of my life out of the heavenly slush pile, and even when Your reply has been a gentle rejection note, there is always been encouragement to go on using the talents You have loaned to me. You have forgiven the times I have been grouchy on life’s deadlines, when I failed to appreciate the wonder of the opportunities in new contracts You have offered, and the many times I have ignored Your submission requirements in hopes that You would see past my mistakes into the willing prose of my heart.
Having said all of that, I feel selfish even asking for more, but here goes:
1) It’s a bit of a cliché, but I would join with so many, many others to ask You to give Mankind – and I say MANkind because the male of the species seems to be more inclined to conflict than we females, but maybe I’m biased – if You would just give them all a bit of a shake and tell them it’s time to make peace not war.
2) Please ignore the mean things I said about the intellectual abilities of publishers or agents who rejected my work – I know what they said had merit and I didn’t really want You to strike them. Honest.
3) There are so many of Your people in need, hungry, homeless, afraid, in pain. Maybe You could inspire those of us who have so much to heed Your teachings and work towards a more equitable society. Perhaps You could even slip a little extra blessings into the Christmas stockings of those who have been courageous enough to stand up for what is right.
4) Please forgive the times I’ve cursed at my computer; the technology You have given us is truly a blessing and it was just the heat of the moment. I didn’t mean a word of it. Really.
5) Of course, I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t invest this prayer with a little personal self-interest. First, I want to thank You for all the people who have bought my books – the nice reviews always feel like a warm GodBreeze to my soul.
6) Then maybe You could run to a dollop of forgiveness for all the times I left undone the things I ought to have done, and done those things I ought not to have done? Let’s not get into specifics now, eh? That would be a bit embarrassing and take up too much of Your time. We both know what they were. However, if You could see Your way to nudging me to become a better person, and a better writer, and maybe, just maybe, a bit of help in getting through the edits for the next book, I would be very grateful.
I can’t promise that I won’t screw up some more, but Dear Lord, I’m trying to be better.
Thank You. Amen.
|Posted on November 18, 2013 at 1:15 PM||comments (0)|
Just love this gorgeous cover by Ramona Lockwood for Marrying Money - Lady Diana's Story - the first in the Marrying Money series and about to be released in a couple of days in ebook form. You can read the first chapter for free uner the First Chapters tag above at www.glenysconnell.com