“PAY THE WRITER!” and Other Good Advice I Should Heed.

If I were to explain the roundabout way in which this whole exchange began, your eyes would start bleeding at the 5,000-word mark. So forgive me (or thank me) for being a bit brief about it.

When I’m not writing my own stuff, I’m almost always helping my friends with their writing. I’m acting as a beta, or I’m critiquing covers and fonts, or acting as a fount of bizarre knowledge for the mystery writers in my inner circle. (I frequently get 3 a.m. text messages asking things like, “If a guy slit his throat with a straight razor, would he have time to write a suicide note?” or “What kind of personality disorder would a character have to have in order to make this level of paranoia and narcissism believable?” And the scary thing is that I have answers for questions like these.)

But aside from doing the helping thing with my longtime pals, I also write book descriptions (also known as “blurbs,” to the consternation of many – it’s an incorrect term, considering I’m not the one who writes, “Stephen King calls it ‘The scariest book I’ve read in thirty years!’“). As a job. Separate from my actual novel writing stuff. It’s a thing I do. It’s a thing I’m told I’m good at doing, which is why several friends coerced me into doing it for a (part of my) living.

Very recently I was working with an editor who was looking to spruce up the “blurb” (okay, let’s just agree to call it that for now, got it?) of a client’s new release. She approached me with what they had, and I said I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to help, mainly because there wasn’t a whole lot wrong with their working draft. But we pursued it anyway, went back and forth for a week or two, discussing the author’s preferred revisions and trying to work them into what we were piecing together. In the end, not a whole lot of my suggestions were implemented, and I was okay with that – I’m okay with whatever the client wants in cases such as this one – but I expressed some hesitation about being paid, considering my end contribution was so insignificant.

I won’t repost the editor’s email to me without her permission, although it was very kind and I adored her for writing what she did, but it ended with a stern order to watch a video on YouTube repeatedly until I got the message. The (NSFW) video in question?

 

Now, let’s not get me started on how I feel about Harlan Ellison as a human being. That’s a conversation that probably won’t end well. But I have to admit, I watched this video and laughed, shook my head. put a hand to my forehead, covered my face in shame…because damnit, he was right. And I’d been going about everything in precisely the wrong ways. I let myself feel guilty about charging for my services, even when my services happen to be specialties, ones that come from years of education and experience. They’re legitimately marketable, because they happen to be something I rather like doing and many other people absolutely hate doing it, so they’re all too happy to enlist my help. And yet, still, I’ve always been profoundly uncomfortable when it comes time to discuss fees, because there’s that unavoidable sense when you’re working in the arts – such an intangible thing that you’re producing, so abstract and even ephemeral – that its worth is in the eye of the beholder…and not in what you put into it (man hours, emails, countless drafts, research, any number of things that go on in the writing of a blurb).

I’ve had this conversation repeatedly for years with musician friends. It’s a big thing these days, especially, what with most of them (unless you happen to be U2) getting stiffed out of royalties and no longer being able to make ends meet. I’ve also had this argument with people close to me, my favourite (by which I mean the most infuriating) being, “Hey, if I’m a woodworking artist, and I make a beautiful chair, and someone buys it, I get paid. Once. If someone else buys it from that guy, I don’t get a cut from his resale. Why should any other art be different?”

I have yet to formulate a response to that argument that isn’t mostly made up of curse words and unintelligible noises of rage – if you have a great comeback, please do share it with me so I can use it the next time this inevitably comes up – but the thing about my blurb writing (and working out a price scale for my HUSH commissions, too, but that’s a whole different blog post unto itself) is that I suffer from guilt even over getting paid that first time. There’s something about the fact that it’s just words on a screen that makes it feel…not worthless, obviously, but you know what I mean. Not necessarily something for which I can justifiably put my hand out and say, “Okay, there you go – that’ll be X dollars, please!” This despite the fact that I’m the one who’ll go out of my way to buy the band’s CD at a gig even though I could just stream it on my phone, because I see the worth in what they do. I try to buy my books directly from independent authors when possible so they get more money from me than whatever faceless behemoth is swiping at least 30% out of their pockets. I buy an art print or a photograph from the artist rather than just right-clicking in Firefox. But somehow none of that applies to me?

I know this is a common thing for people in the arts, whatever the branch. So my secondhand advice to you is: watch that video. Bookmark it. Watch it repeatedly. Watch it every time you forget that you stayed up until dawn trying to reword something for somebody else. It’s enormously important to be fair to the people who are paying you. Just don’t forget – like I so often do – that it’s equally important to be fair to yourself, too.

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My Writing Process: The Blog Tour

First: I thought it might be nice, and a little more personal, to actually say hello and welcome everyone to this special post – part of a blog tour (which I’ll explain momentarily) –  by literally saying hello! If ever you doubted that I am who I am – or that I’m secretly a 50-year-old Danish dude in his basement – this audio might help allay your uncertainties. And as I mention in the very brief verbal message, just imagine the potential! I write erotica and New Adult, for goodness’ sake. A podcast? Oh, hell, yes.

Now, on with the show/tour! Many thanks to my esteemed fellow author, Aimee Easterling, for inviting me to be a part of this insightful little project. In case you’re unfamiliar with her work, Aimee is the author of, among other things, Shiftless,” a book I read in my very limited spare time over the past couple of months, and I loved it.

aimeeeasterling_shiftless She’s currently working on a follow-up to the novel, too, which is exciting. You can get hooked by clicking the above link and picking it up for a mere 99 cents on Amazon, too, so you now officially have no excuse to remain unfamiliar with the lovely Ms. Easterling and her gorgeous paranormal fantasy-world of werewolves.

By now you’re asking what a “blog tour” is. I was, too, frankly, until Aimee explained it. The concept is simple: authors get together and answer questions (in this case about the writing process each of us use) while also introducing our audiences to one another. You get to “meet” new writers, and you can learn about those you already follow (like me!). There are four questions I was tapped to answer for the “My Writing Process” blog tour, so without further ado, I shall make my responses known.

 

What am I working on?

Yeah, and I thought we’d be starting with an easy question, too. Ha! The short answer: a lot of things. The longer answer: I’m just about to launch into a three-part series of standalone stories, all  of which will fall under the title ROCK HARD. Yes, after months of talking about it, I’ve finally gotten a few ducks in a row and will be releasing some short, sexy and fun tales about the lives of rock stars and the women who love (or simply lust after) them. My brilliant cover designer already has the concept ready, and we’ve chosen the three images that will act as eye candy for readers (and, okay, yes, for me, too – I cannot tell a lie), so expect an announcement about the first installment very soon. I’m pretty stoked to unleash it upon you guys.

 

How does my writing differ from others of its genre?

I struggled with this response for a while before I was satisfied with it. I think the main thing that separates what I write from a lot of what’s popular in the New Adult/erotica world right now is (oh, God, I really hope my parents don’t read this) that so much of it is pulled from real life experience. Now, that’s not to say I’ve done every little thing my characters do, or that any of my characters are a version of me – far from it. But I’ve led an interesting life so far, which has afforded me glimpses into very different fields and lifestyles…so I’m not writing out my own fantasies. I’m writing what I already know, and what I hope will serve to fuel the fantasies of others. I suppose I ought to ask my readers: How am I doing so far?

 

Why do I write what I do?

I actually blogged about this quite a while back, and explained how I began writing erotica in the first place – beginning as something I did for the men in my life, and eventually evolving into something people were offering to pay me to do. It doesn’t hurt that I genuinely enjoy writing, and I’ve always had an appreciation for the more sensual things in life, you might say…so why not? If I can write stories that make me happy and that serve to entertain (ahem) an audience, I’d be crazy not to!

 

How does my writing process work?

You know all of those rules you read about on LitReactor and the like? Yeah, toss those out the window. I seem to have the artist’s temperament when it comes to getting stuff done. A daily word count? Tried that. Didn’t stick. I binge-write the way other people watch Breaking Bad – ten thousand words in one sitting, then a welcome week of brain death. Deadlines? Sure, I can make ’em, but I have perfected the art of procrastination, so I’ll only make it by a few hours. Plotting things out in advance? I do it, yes, but the story doesn’t always end up going where I expected it to go. The only tried-and-true things that have to happen every single time I sit down to write are 1) I must either love or hate my characters, and they’ve got to seem real enough in my mind to come out sounding like someone you or I would know, and 2) I cannot write without a very specific playlist of music. That one has gotten so big that I’ve actually developed a sense memory about the songs I listen to as I write, and I deny myself the pleasure of hearing them unless I’m being productive on my current project. Apparently I’m a masochist. But it works.

There are also two of my closest friends – writers themselves – who tend to get frustrated messages or questions from me at all hours, day and night, as I muddle through looking for the right word or twisting a sentence out of its pretzel-shaped mess to make it sound better in my head. Cee and EssKay keep me sane on nights like those.

 

Once I’m in the zone, though, it’s smoother sailing. I tend to write something as a whole before handing it off to one of my trusted editors or letting my friends read over it, and I make changes to the first and second drafts that way. I try to write a very clean draft, though, before it escapes my hands and ends up in anyone else’s. I’d rather not think of them having to wear out the proverbial red Sharpie (bonus points to all of you who immediately thought of Secretary there!) as they slog through an error-riddled, nonsensical manuscript. Besides, the longer I spend on editing, the longer I get to listen to my beloved playlist, so it’s win-win.

 

Now I pass the torch! Two of my fellow authors who were meant to join this blog tour aren’t able to do so this round (one due to illness, the other due to a clash in deadlines), but the two who remain are decidedly worth your attention. I’ve mentioned them before, and I think it’s safe to say you’ll love finding out more about them. Go forth and discover!

 

The-Zombie-She-Carried-mediumCATE MARSDEN is the pseudonym of a self-published romance novelist. She shares a home with her husband (the sinister Dr. M.), two adorable children and an adopted zombie baby. That, and her addiction to Harlequin Presents, resulted in her first novel, The Zombie She Carried. A sequel (Playboy Zombie, Innocent Secretary) is due out in October 2014.  You can find her on Facebook or on Twitter (@Cate.Marsden).

Available at Amazon, Kobo, B&N and Apple!GREER HARTLEY, the author of the Killer B’s series (Bitten and Unleashed) and co-author of Ghosts of Christmas Past (written with Ella Blythe), is an avid reader herself. She enjoys paranormal suspense, gothic, and cozy mysteries, especially if there’s a love story included. When she isn’t haunting bookstores, libraries, and the occasional graveyard, she can be found lurking behind her Nikon D600 camera, or watching her favorite shows (Castle, The Blacklist, True Blood, and Game of Thrones). As an old-cat-lady-in-training she loves various critters (not that way). Her upcoming release will be a paranormal suspense novella, Death Becomes Her.

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Nothing will ever beat physical books.

IMG_20140515_184041

 

No picture will ever do the prettiness of a paperback justice, either!

I just wanted to update everyone who won my mailing list giveaway: your books are indeed en route to you! There’s also a Firstreads Giveaway happening on Goodreads for the book right now, so spread the word if you know anyone who’s up for some hot doctor/nurse action. I mean, if they’re up for reading about it. I can promise nothing beyond that. Ahem.

There’s a new post coming in a few days (Monday, May 19th), part of a blog tour, that details “My Writing Process.” In that post there are also a few exciting little details about the next big project, so please do swing by again when that entry goes live here & get the scoop!

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“The Best Medicine: The Complete Collection” now exists. Yay!

It was inevitable that I’d end up stringing all three parts of Brynn and Sam’s story together.

The Best Medicine

The Complete Collection is now available everywhere: Amazon, Kobo, B&N Nook, Apple, you name it.

Of course, I’ve already had a few people ask if I’m really finished with them (not to mention their supporting characters)…and I don’t know. As I’ve said before, maybe theirs is a story I’ll need to revisit in the future. I suppose that depends in part on how much people want to read about them! It’s hard to let characters go off and live their lives without checking in. Never say never.

Available at Amazon, Kobo, B&N and Apple! Available at Amazon, Kobo, B&N and Apple! Their Secret

Congratulations to my mailing list subscribers who’ve won themselves copies of the Collection paperback! The books are en route to me from the printer now, and I’ll be sure to have them sent off to everyone as soon as possible. If you enjoy it and want to review it on Amazon and/or Goodreads, I’d be even more grateful than I already am! (I’m doing a Goodreads Giveaway for it soon, too. Just in case you needed to know that.)

In the meantime, I’ve got two new series underway, so there’ll be an announcement about those very shortly. They’ll be a bit different – short and sweet (and by “sweet” I mean “hot”) – but I expect they’ll be fun. They’re certainly fun to write! Whew. I can’t wait to see what sort of crazy, scorching concept my cover designer comes up with for these ones. The possibilities are endless. Well, insofar as “within book retailers’ guidelines” equals “endless,” that is. I suppose we’ll have to rein it in before we hit triple-X level debauchery on the cover…at least until the lovely Selena Kitt’s eXcitica is back up and running. Then all bets are off! Ah, freedom of expression…with emphasis on the “x.”

I’ve made mention of it before, but I’m now actively in the process of adding a page to this site where you’ll be able to buy my books directly from me in the format of your choice via PayPal. I’ve gotten messages from people who are baffled by the fact that they can get one book in a series on their Kobo but the others aren’t listed there, and I know as a reader how frustrating that is, so I’ll be doing my best to remedy the situation. Stay tuned.

I know. I know. I keep telling everyone to “stay tuned.” I know! But I do get around to everything eventually, no? (Just nod and smile, I beg of you.)

More news soon, as always, but in the meantime I thought I’d mention a couple of new books that are out there & are definitely worth a look: the ever-awesome Jessica Pine’s brand new romance, Rock n’ Roll Girlfriend, and Aimee Easterling’s dreamy paranormal Shiftless. You’ll be glad you checked them out.

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THEIR SECRET has been published!

Well, my friends, the (very hot) saga of Brynn and Dr. Sam Hitchens comes to an end…TODAY.

Is it strange that I already miss them?

Their Secret

Maybe that means I’ll have to revisit them in the future… What do you think, dear readers?

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Upcoming Giveaway Alert! PLUS: THEIR SECRET, The Best Medicine #3, Cover Reveal!

Well, my mailing list subscribers have already seen this (and they’ve gotten to read the first chapter, too! Why are you not on the list yet??), but for other interested parties, I’m pleased to do a cover reveal for the third and final book in “The Best Medicine” serial: THEIR SECRET.

Their Secret

I’ll be sure to let everyone know the minute it goes live on every retail site; with any luck it’ll happen over this holiday weekend. At last!

 

But that’s not all: My cover designer is currently working on an altogether new and different look for the collected edition of both the digital and paperback versions of “The Best Medicine,” which will be released shortly after THEIR SECRET becomes widely available.

Want to be the first to get your hands on a copy? I’ll be holding a separate giveaway for mailing listers, but if you’re not yet on the list and you still want to enter for a chance to win a shiny new paperback comprised of HIS BIDDING, HER DESIRE, and THEIR SECRET, now’s your chance! Drop me an email at ella.blythe@bell.net and I’ll choose one winner at random. You’ll get a digital version first, and I’ll mail you a paperback as soon as they’re back from the printer.

 

How’s that for a way to celebrate a long weekend?

 

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Three cheers for “eXcitica”!

** NOTE (ongoing as of April 19th/14): There were some technical issues with the eXcitica site, so it is unfortunately down while Selena and her web folks are sorting it out. I’ll post an update when it goes live again! **

 

After all of my bitching and moaning about running into walls with certain booksellers (I’m sure you recall that about which I write), and after saying more than once that I would totally be on board if the prolific erotica mistress Selena Kitt were to open an electronic storefront of her own…

Well. Guess what, y’all?

A magical place called eXcitica has been born. And yours truly has listed the books you can no longer find on Apple and Kobo there. Go check out my profile. And look around.

I’d write more here, but I’ve been rather swamped with deadlines (HUSH Stories is so much fun, and yes, I’m getting ready to launch book #3 of The Best Medicine very soon, so keep your eyes open! Get on the mailing list for a preview, too…). I just had to make mention of how giddy I am that Selena has done what so many of us wish we had the clout to pull off, and I’m very happy to be a part of it. A place where everyone is free to explore their fantasies and find exactly the sort of sexy books they’re looking for is all right by me. To say it broadens the possibilities of what I may write in the future is an understatement, now that I know there’s somewhere people will be able to find and enjoy them…no matter how racy they get.

Have fun browsing, my friends. Just don’t do it while you’re at work. Unless you want to get fired. In which case, forge ahead!

Posted in erotica, HUSH Stories, mailing list, news, publishing and business, series: the best medicine, some form of humour, writing updates | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment