Starting a new habit

miraclemornwritersI recently finished reading The Miracle Morning for Writers by Steve Scott and Hal Elrod. I heard Steve Scott on a podcast not too long ago and I really took to his seeming humility about the book business. I really have an affinity for down to earth people.

Anyways, I’ve been going through a lot of self inventory and self evaluation lately. Some of my internal digging has to do with  my personal life as a mom, wife, and day jobber, but much of my introspection was also about books.

What about books?

Everything books — from writing, to publishing, to marketing.

I’ve done all that, but with little success. You may say, but you’ve written books! Yes I have, but it’s not enough. I love to write, but more importantly, I want my books to be read and enjoyed. Doesn’t every writer?

So, I started to think, Ah geez, what if my writing sucks? Problem is, I don’t know that I can objectively critique myself. I know my writing isn’t at JK Rowling caliber. I’m not delusional. But is it so terrible that it’s unreadable? I don’t think so. Can my writing skills improve? Of course it can and this is a craft I’ll happily keep working on for as long as I can type, write, and think. Problem is between my shiny ball syndrome and my bad habit of procrastinating, I have a hard time being consistent with writing.

I can’t improve, if I don’t write. Practice makes perfect, right?

Then suddenly, I hear a choir of angels singing “AAAAAHHHH” as streams of gentle, glowing lights shine upon me, and I find The Morning Miracle for Writers.  Okay, it wasn’t quite that dramatic, but the book still came at the right time.

To get to my point, I LOVE this book. I have implemented the recommendations and I am happy to say that I am starting a new habit of waking up early. I thought it would be more difficult, but so far this week, there was only one day I overslept. I am tailoring the recommendations to suit me better so that my system doesn’t go into shock, but I plan on waking up earlier as I get used to this new behavior.

As of today, I’m waking up 30 minutes earlier than I usually do.

This book is not just about why the morning hours are a gift to every person who wants to be productive, more to the point for us writers, is that this book is also full of suggestions and recommendations on how to leverage your time in general as a writer. Yes, absolutely The Morning Miracle recommends writing during the morning, but more so, the book recommends writing consistently whatever time of day that happens to be for you. It gives ideas on how to collect inspirations to battle writer’s block and a bunch of other helpful tips that are very doable.

Because I am re-evaluating, I’m trying to really decide and understand what is mosmiraclemornwriterst important for me to focus on at this time. Writing is not a full time job for me and I have to make the best use of my time. When I think about everything that has to be done to move me closer to my dream, ‘overwhelm’ is not a big enough word to describe how I feel.

One benefit so far of Miracle Morning for Writers is that I have gained time in my day. For real. I thought I would be tired getting up earlier, but to my surprise that hasn’t been the case. My goal  is to ultimately wake up 2 hours earlier. That means waking up at 4:30 every morning. But I’m not there yet. Give me a month and I’ll update my progress.

I think this book is definitely worth a read. It’s one, I know I’ll be going back to again and again. I’m sure the next time I read it, I’ll find something else I didn’t catch before. (Don’t you just love that about books?)

Again, I’m not an affiliate of Steve Scott or Hal Elrod, but I am now a fan 🙂

Does size really matter?

owlbookLOL! Just in case, you were wondering? Yes, size does matter. Specifically when we are talking about length.

I mean sometimes, a shorty will do depending on your mood, but there are times when full length is what you want to spend the night with.

Get your mind out of the gutter.

I’m talking about book lengths here.

So, this has been bugging me for a while. I hear and see different things on the web as far as guidelines when it comes to how long a book should be. What I’ve gleaned is that there are standards depending on the genre. These standard seem to have come about due to the many years of traditional publishing.

But, indie publishing is exploding and with that comes change. I guess I’ve wondered (as an Indie) if these traditional book lengths still hold water in this ever changing market. Well, here’s what I can tell you based on the searches I’ve done.

  • There’s a “guideline” on how long book lengths should be, but there’s nothing set in stone.
  • The market is changing as evidenced by Amazon’s push towards Short Reads. There’s a short-read option in almost every genre.
  • Ebook readers are growing in sales. This means more books are being read on electronic devices including smart phones. An average person’s reading stamina on an e-reader is not the same compared to a physical book.

I found this table on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_count) and thought I’d share it here for a quick reference:

Classification Word count
Novel over 40,000 words
Novella 17,500 to 40,000 words
Novelette 7,500 to 17,500 words
Short story under 7,500 words

I also found this article by Lee Masterson and I just LOVE the way she sums up the answer to the age old question every author has probably asked at one point or another, “How long should my book be?”

Masterson says, “The simplest answer is: As long as it takes to tell the whole story.”

Check out Lee Masterson’s article here. She goes into more detail about word count guidelines from micro-fiction all the way to epics.

http://www.fictionfactor.com/articles/wordcount.html

Happy creating!

My kindle library

file9531244575592Like most authors, I’m also an avid reader and yes, a book hoarder. My to-be read list grows by the week.

Do I have a slight problem? Yes, I believe I do. I have more books than I can read. I really don’t need to download any more, but something about 1-clicking on a kindle book… ahh. It’s therapeutic 🙂

So, I was actually looking through my kindle library searching for a book when I started to notice that my books of choice seem to fall in very certain categories:

  • Writing tips and how-to’s
  • Marketing
  • Self – publishing
  • Spirituality
  • Paranormal Fiction (Romance, Erotica, YA)
  • Wicca
  • Dreaming
  • Chakras & Energy & Crystals
  • Cookbooks

I’ve always had varied taste and the book categories above all make sense given my interests… all except Cookbooks. LOL! I don’t like to cook and I’m not much of a cook, but I still like to look. I have a lot of hardcopy cookbooks too. I think it’s the colorful pictures that attract me. I do love food.

But, the best part about all this? For all the books I have, the money I spend on e-books is so minimal. Self-pub authors are generous 🙂 Not only do authors often run free promos, but most books can be had for $2.99 or less! I can spend more on a latte.

Being that I’m an author myself, I like to support the community. It’s a good thing for me. I grow my collection, I learn, and I’m entertained. For the author, it’s good as well. They get sales, ranking, and a new reader.

Positivity all around. Support an indie today.

 

Is there a difference between erotica and steamy romance?

Couple Kissing at SunsetWell… I have been pondering this question for some time now. Why? Because, I admit it, I read a lot of romance novels of all heat levels — all the way up to erotica; and I have noticed that the difference between erotica and steamy romance is very blurred.

I would say there is a difference, but at times it’s really hard to pick out and even harder to explain, but I’m going to try. The differences are based on my observations only and certainly not something I’ve scientifically researched.

So, what are the differences?

  • Descriptive word use
    • In erotica, you get a full frontal assault and there is no questioning what body part is receiving attention and what is getting done to that body part. The body part is glorified in all its splendor and there is no shame in the words used to pay it homage.
    • Steamy romance — the choice of words are softer, more subtle, not actually naming the part, but perhaps pointing to its location. Yes, there is plenty of loving attention to the body part as well, but attention is shown in a more “flowery” kind of way, but with a mix of a good “pounding” when needed. Catch my drift?
  • Frequency of sex
    • In erotica, all the time, all ways, any ways.
    • Steamy romance, there’s a buildup in the story that leads to the sex scene. In some stories, the couple may not get together until half way through the book — the peak if you will 🙂 LOL! I crack me up.
  • Focus
    • In erotica, the point of the story is the sex. The best way to describe this is with erotica anthologies. The focus of each short story is the sex — the how, when, and where, doesn’t really matter, but you know that in each story, that the couple will end up boinking.  Why, because that’s the point of the story. There is no plot twist, except maybe if the alpha male twists something on alpha female, but that’s it. The goal is for the couple to succumb to their lust and have brain numbing sex while they’re together.
    • Steamy erotica, like I said above, there’s a build up to the sexual encounter. The plot moves and winds for the couple to overcome certain things together and sex just happens to be one of the things that brings them closer. In most stories, the sex is the act that solidifies their bond and brings out their feelings of love. That’s where the “romance” comes in 🙂

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Here’s a few more related questions:

Can steamy romance have “explicit” language and scenes? Yes.

Then shouldn’t it be called “erotica?” Perhaps.

So is there really a difference, if steamy romance can have the same type of scenes that erotica can have? The difference may be miniscule and the only difference, may be in the way the author and/or publisher decide how to categorize the story and  market it.

Either way, as a reader, whether you purchase a book categorized under erotica or romance, I think it’s fair to say that you’re going to be reading some scenes that can have you wiggling in your pants — and really isn’t that the point of both these categories because when it comes down to it, a great author regardless of genre, will make you feel the characters — in this case the feel includes pleasure.

Happy reading!

 

From a reader’s perspective

19 Jan 2005 --- Row of Old Books --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisI’ve read a lot of great books in my time and though I have a tendency to read a specific genre more than others, I can fairly say, I’ve read a little bit of everything.

I like to keep my options open and often times, my reading is ruled by my moods. Reading has always been a big part of my life and it is where I find solace in the craziness of the world.  When I was younger and had more time, I reveled in these escapes.  For me it was better than watching a movie. I felt more connected to the pages of a book where I could imagine the scenery and the characters and make them exactly as I saw them in my head.  I thought it was better than watching TV.

Now, that I’m pursuing my writing dreams, I don’t have as much time to read. Well not because I’m writing, but because I’m older and have more responsibilities and obligations that often require my full attention and unfortunately reading often takes a back seat to everything else that needs to be done first.

But, here’s the thing, in order to write better, I have to read. Not only to get ideas and inspiration, and learn about style and flow and all that great stuff, but also to remind myself what readers love about reading in the first place– readers read for the pure love and pleasure of the story.

The story is the vehicle that transports the reader to the world that the writer just created. Without a good story, even good writing practices, like perfect grammar can fall flat. The story is the life of the book.

I know, you’re probably saying, “Uh yeah! That’s a no brainer.” Yes, this is something that all writers are aware of, but sometimes, it is the most basic thing that needs to be brought up, so that people can be reminded.

I was recently reminded of this because, I promised to do a review of a book. I figure I have a little bit of free time right now and can read a short book pretty quickly. Well, here’s the thing… as I’m reading this book, I am looking at it strictly from a reader’s perspective and removing that writer side of me from the equation.

How’s it going? Well, reader-me is having an incredibly hard time reading. Why? Because, often times, I can’t tell whose character perspective I’m reading from. I feel like I’m jumping from one head to another and although, I’ve gotten used to it, I’m still struggling, especially when there’s dialogue.

This is really unfortunate because had I not promised to review, I would have probably put down the book chapters ago! But the one thing that is saving my attention from completely wandering is this –there is an interesting story that is building beneath all the head jumping. At this point, I feel committed to seeing it through… and so, I read on.

As a reader, I think there’s a lot of things I can overlook and imperfections I can forgive because for me it is about the story.  Does the author’s tale have the ability to take me away to another place and make me live the lives of his or her characters? If the answer is YES, then I’m captured and I’ll be a fan, and I’ll buy all your books without even reading your blurb 🙂

Sometimes it’s good to step back and see things from the other side 🙂

Happy reading, happy writing 🙂

Still writing

A few posts ago, I informed you that I’ve started working on a fiction story.  I’m  still working on that story and having a great time doing it, but I am finding that it is a different experience from writing non-fiction.

From what I’ve learned so far, writing non-fiction was a very linear process.  I had my concept, I outlined, wrote, cleaned-up, edited, published and I was done… Well, not completely done, this list should actually conclude with marketing and promoting, but I have done very little of that.  You notice, I didn’t write “marketed and promoted?”  That’s because when you are self-published it seems that marketing and promoting need to be a constant and consistent effort in order to assure that your work is getting noticed.

Yes, there are those success stories who have achieved best-seller status without much effort in “advertising,” but that seems to be a rarity and perhaps one of those events where the cosmic powers have to be in just the perfect alignment in order for the book gods to bestow graces upon thy work.  Anyways :), it is possible, but realistically speaking, effort towards marketing and promoting seem to be a must.

At this point… I want to focus my efforts on writing.  I don’t have a lot of time to do everything that I need to do to fulfill the other responsibilities I have.  The writing, the books, that’s the product right?  The way I see it is like this… consumers want variety.  I only have one book.  I don’t have much of a product line.  My theory is that when I increase my inventory, I’ll have much more of an offering–theeeen I’ll do more marketing and promoting.

MP900255382[1]In all honesty, I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing, but I’m following what feels best for me right now.  One day I know I’ll have more moments like the woman in the picture, where I’ll be peacefully sitting on a rock, (but I’d prefer a beach), watching the sunset as I contemplate my next great novel. In the meantime, it’s back to juggling my day job, being a wife and mom, and pursuing my dreams as an author.

Happy writing and best wishes to you.

 

Writing…

Pad of Paper & PenVery recently I decided to take a stab at writing Fiction.  This is a leap for me.  Although, I’ve written short-stories back in the days of high school and college, I have not re-visited this style of writing in a looooong time.

My first published work, er I should say my only published work (so far) is Non-Fiction.  Spirit 101 came from my heart–it’s what I’ve been going through for the last several years.  By releasing this book, I essentially publicly admitted to some very personal difficulties I went through.  This was scary, but at the time and in the process of writing the book, the words came out relatively easy.

What I am learning now with writing fiction is that I have to put myself in a different head space.  The words don’t always just flow out.  I have to somehow coax it out and boy does it get frustrating.

I have to find that inner voice that holds the story I want to document.  But it is not the same inner voice that I talk about in Spirit 101.  Oh no, this is a different voice altogether–it is the voice of the characters!  Who would have thought that hearing voices in your head could be normal, and fun?!

My great friend Nancy Brooks is a fantastic fiction author and she often tells me, “just write.  Don’t worry so much.”  So… I’m taking her advise and I’m writing, writing, writing, whether I feel it or not.  The thing I’m finding out is that writing is a lot like any other activity we do.  The more we do, the better we get, the easier it becomes.

From a newbie’s perspective, here’s what I’m learning about fiction writing–so far:

  • Writing fiction is totally FUN
  • Your characters will have other ideas about how the story should progress
  • You have to be flexible and go with the flow when the flow is going
  • Writing fiction is totally FUN
  • As the author, you can create anything and anything is possible
  • You can have a lot of “muahahahaha” moments
  • Writing fiction is totally FUN
  • Get used to the voices in your head
  • You may get a little impatient with the “real world” at times, because you want to get back to creating… your world–the world of your characters

That’s it for now.  I’m back to my other world 🙂