Wedding Cake We eat the top of your wedding cake, Stale sugar pieces cracking our teeth, Promising each mouthful To be the last, Buttercream drooling from Sticky fingers, Pregnant with cream, Pink pearls to be kissed. Plump lips wait, Shivering from loneliness. We listen to the screaming downstairs […]
Between broaching the busy season at my day job and the mounds of grief, I’ve been crawling out of my skin. There was no writing. There wasn’t even reading. I even considered deleting my author page and quitting my blogs. (Stop panicking, I didn’t give into the crazy.) Determined to break out of my funk, […]
kissing tenderly, as our husbands watch,
their passions temporarily placid, bodies weary,
cocks shiny and flaccid, our mouths tasting of their cum, and of scotch, fingers tenderly explore moistened crotch, head moving down, as yours hands gently urge, till my delving tongue, makes arousal surge, finding your hard clit, jutting from its notch, once limp […]
A nice read. For my sf/f loving readers! I can’t wait to read more by this author.
I’ve been working on this damn thing for longer than I really should, and I’ve never really been happy with it.
This patchwork of chapters has benefited from the various stages of my writing ability as I’ve revisited it time and again over the past twelve years, and in January I decided enough is enough, am I ever going to use it? No.
So rather than give up on the characters and world that I created – I’ve grown quite attached to them – I decided to rewrite the whole novel from scratch…as a science fiction novel. So that’s what i’m doing.
I’m roughly halfway through the first draft of the novel and making steady progress, but as this is my first full length novel I thought i’d see if I could enlist my friends and supporters to take a look and feed back any inconsistencies, cracks and/or spelling mistakes…
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One thing everyone assumes about self-publishing is that all you have to do is throw some cheap romantic cliches on a sheet of paper and make a cool $10k. But here in the real world we all have to decide whether we’ll try and get rich quick, which isn’t possible unless you scam, or whether you’ll take the time, dedication, and appreciation for you craft to create a product that not only will people want, but will keep them coming back for more. The most common difference between a successful author and a failed author is one gives up too soon. People write romance, not out of love but out of thinking the market is easy, and the result isn’t a labor of love or a desire to give readers what they want because their tastes are respected, but a book that will make a few sales then fade with the author’s name.
I respect myself and my readers, especially you loyal followers, too much to do that. This blog isn’t dead, but it is quiet as I focus on building a back catalog and pulling double shifts in order to afford editors and others to make my works more than good, but great because my readers deserve the best I can do. As I shift from pure erotica to romance I find myself falling in love with writing again.
some of the first stories I loved in my formative years were Lifetime Network’s romances and the intense made-for-TV dramas that were peppering the airwaves. Intense stories became cliches, but those cliches have roots in genuine human emotions. They’ve been belittled, but The Burning Bed touched on genuine fears in a society where regardless of race, class, or age women have a specific place in their relationships and how that can spiral into a nightmare Where the Heart Is touches on the harsh realities of being a young mother in rural America and the fear that you having been on “the wrong” path means you can’t love someone on the “right” without hurting them. Outlander is massively popular because it is genuine in its fantasy and romantic elements. A heroine is torn between one constraint in one time and another in another time; one love in the past and one in the present. What all of these stories have in common is sincerity.
They aren’t money grabs though their creators wanted to make money. They aren’t snubbing their noses up at their cliches. They’re using what we recognize and building very human stories in ways that leave you unable to look away. Sincerity makes the author successful. Sincerity gets you an audience that will always be in your corner even if it is only to debate you. Before I publish my next work I want to take time to make sure it is everything I know it needs to be so that you all can enjoy it, and see that it isn’t a money grab. Self-publishing isn’t just a scheme to me, but a dream and a love. Authenticity is how you write from tone to creating characters that are more people than props, more than simple projections for readers but vibrant heroes we root for and cry for. Authenticity is in short, everything.
I believe I captured that in a fun way in my first erotica Dirty Honey and Suffer Too Good. They’re stories about the erotic worlds of submission and domination, but they’re stories about relationships…about quirks that make our sexual lives special. The unique perspective an author brings to their work can and should enrich a genre. If you don’t bring that then you won’t succeed. If you don’t bring that then you’re insulting your audience. By god I get messages from people who dislike my stories, but one thing I’ve never been told is that my work feels fake. My editing? Self-editing. Sloppy? No, but some have rightfully said they need work. I’m now able to give money and time to my works
I’ll give you the number one tip to success in self-publishing that will mean something…be sincere. Don’t talk down to your audience, don’t just spout cliches, and don’t think you can just put out one book and make money.
Emptier than before
He finds my shy spaces
Devoid of even suffering
Leaving simply aching
And a gasping
He seals his lips to mine,
Filled with being
As I drift into him, sating a hungry heart.
This is an interesting review of The Clothing of Books, which makes a compelling argument for how we design books and consume visual media. I can’t wait to give it a look. One of the most underappreciated arts is designing good, concise, covers that are reflective of what the writer knows the story to be. This may seem trivial but can have disastrous and embarrassing consequences.
Here is an example….
Back in 2009, the young adult book Liar by Justine Larbalestier was a center of controversy due to the covers of the book. Larbalestier’s preference was the cover have no face at all, a preference met by the Australian cover, which featured the word Liar written over and over on a white background, creating a unique and visually striking image. The U.S cover however was another issue. The U.S branch simply, as most companies due, believed Americans were not going to buy something so artistic or intriguing. To the world we’re simple and commercial is best. You can guess my feelings on that. But that’s common…what isn’t common is the cover choice. The U.S cover of Liar originally featured a white girl, cast in black and white, her mouth covered, as she looks at the reader.
The problem? The main character, Micah, is described as a black teenager, and her physical appearance the author has described as resembling a WNBA player she’s a fan of with dark skin and short natural hair. Emails began appearing in Larbalestier’s inbox asking whether Micah lied about being black, or if the cover represents a lie. The author has said this:
“I never wanted a girl’s face on the cover. Micah’s identity is unstable. She spends the book telling different version of herself. I wanted readers to be free to imagine her as they wanted. I have always imagined her looking quite a bit like Alana Beard,2 which is why I was a bit offended by the reviewer, who in an otherwise lovely review, described Micah as ugly. She’s not!3”
In the planning stages she objected to a number of potential models to be used on the cover, and in her own words “none […] looked remorely like Micah.” But her words went unheeded. She remained silent, letting those unfamiliar with the text praise the over, while awaiting readers who’d push back, allowing her to comment without hurting her reputation as a writer who was easy to work with. As she watched she even began to realize how important it is to have a girl who looks like Micah, or Alana Beard, on the cover. Between people automatically calling her an ugly girl for having “nappy” short hair or being dark when reading the text, to observing the lack of diversity among models used for book covers…she began to see the underbelly of race, beauty and marketing. She began to see without ever being conscious of it how people assigned “marketability” to certain bodies or simply didn’t care.
But in a book about a pathological liar and in a world where a cover shapes how we read the publisher accidentally hurt the content of the book. The publisher, seeing the backlash and confusion, published a new cover with a light skinned curly coiled model. Better, but still problematic. Covers don’t have to be exact reflections of the character, but the choices publishers make about covers says a lot about them as a company marketing a product and a producer(the author).
I tell you this story because covers matter and they say a lot about the industry. Authors don’t always know whats best, but authors do know what’s honest and what works. The decision to ignore the content of the book, a story about a black young woman, and present an image completely seperate from that does damage to authors. And in this case makes the publisher’s U.S branch seem racist. There’s no way around that. The author gives them so much benefit of the doubt, but I cannot. It’s an embarrassing, event that didn’t have to happen, and could have been avoided if the author was actually listened to.
Hopefully ,The Art of Clothing books will open some eyes and begin to give the industry something to really think about when it comes to how writers can and should impact the cover process. Designing our books shouldn’t just be a formality, but a mindful process.
Written by Jacob Ibrag
It’s the free soul that carries weight, searching for an appropriate vessel to reanimate. ‘This time it’ll be the right one,’ yet if it isn’t, it’ll have to wait another lifetime. I caught myself romanticizing about yesterday. As much as I wanted to forget, there was still some part of me […]
I love following this blog for a reason. I get a lot of interesting poetry and prose coming my way
Previously, a post mentioned how reading poetry can make any writer better at their craft. Today I’m going to tell you why that is, and why that fact makes me buy poetry.
I buy poetry books every once in a while because I love them, but also because think they can offer a number of lessons of how to construct stories and evoke feeling. A workshopping buddy of mine told me that she believes people can be taught craft, but not how to tell a story. You have to learn story telling on your own. I am inclined to agree. The very nature of poetry makes me inclined to agree because poetry can violate all the rules of craft but still support a powerful story. A poem is as versatile as a piece of elastic. You can use it to hold a crown in place, to make pants more comfortable, or to make a foot tambourine(that’s a thing I learned that existed last night). The nature of a poem is something you can alter into whatever shape you need. The accouterments, whether they be crown or tambourine or the elements of the story telling and the evocation of feeling, are an essential part of crafting a story.
When you know how to cut, define, hide, and comfortably place elastic you have learned skills you can apply to nearly any fabric. Yet elastic is a structural component, what catches your eye is how the accouterments are presented. Does the crown look janky as hell? Does the rhyme scheme break without,pardon the pun, rhyme or reason. Knowing Iambic pentameter won’t necessarily make you a good poet. Hell it could make you a worse one if you only follow those rules. But knowing how minimalist elements produce vivid clear imagery that moves you in a poem using iambic pentameter is something you learn by consuming poetry. And when you don’t look at the pentameter, when you look at clear word usage, or even page formatting you learn far more about story telling than reading some novels or short stories. Writers often focus on writing craft over story craft when even the best writers should expose themselves to the craft of story telling. Poetry reading is an excellent way to do that. You learn how to convey the raw story in a dozen or more different ways.
In that last post I told you:
I am proud to say I write great dialogue because I read and wrote poetry starting from 10 years old. Actually maybe even younger I remember reading Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings at some point with my mother’s help. How did poetry help me write dialogue? A good insult should be as sharp as a good poem and just as heavy with the punctuation. A proclamation of love that, I believe, has the most effect can be as simple as one line when you craft to context well. Poetry has done a lot of me as a writer, as a human being, and I know I’m not alone.
Dialogue is poetry. The stupid things we often say can be poetry especially if we’re clever. When I write a powerful moment, especially in a script it is closer to poetry than prose. If I have character who has finally had enough say “I hate you. Go away” to another it can be powerful. But it can be more powerful to have them laugh with tears glistening in their eyes and say “Loving you is hell. Just let me be free.” Poetry also has a lot of contradictions, long verses interrupted by short ones, odd comparisons, and both broken and praised conventions. The sheer variety can show you so many tricks to showing emotional reactions, foreshadowing, and character building in neat little ways. More so than with novellas, where a period is in a poem or whether that poem uses periods tells you a lot of information. Read some of my poetry here and all the punctuation and line length is intentional. Why? Because even the punctuation has to do work in a poem.
Poetry has so many forms and variations, but I promise you even the variations you can’t stand have moved some one else’s emotions. There will be poems you won’t understand. Some poems may simply not be meant for you to understand, and that’s ok. Regardless, reading poetry provides a guide to understanding story telling and story crafting. Not the craft of writing, but the craft of learning to tell a good story. You can spend $500 on a seminar, download $100 worth of ebooks on writing, and learn every grammar rule by heart. None of that is going to make you a better story teller without a diversity of reading. They can help you learn the craft, and understand how to convey things in a improved way.
BUT reading poetry gives you examples of how to convey emotion, setting, story telling, and how to line craft in beat by beat punches. Even the longest poems have an economy of words and structure vastly different than novels.
Specifically, the lyrical nature of poems can radically improve your writing in specific genres. Experiencing poetry especially as a romance or horror writer can vastly improve your story telling. Why do I say this? A good horror story should sing like a poem. Do you know why so many children’s rhymes are morbid? Besides as a coping mechanism, there is something pointed about morbid things. They don’t require long explanations. I joined wattpad and have been reading some great horror stories, but have been coming across far more awful ones. The awful ones lacked feeling, suspense, scene, and sense of character. But let’s look at a lyrical example of a good horror story:
Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.
Were you surprised I used that one? In four lines we have a character, an event, and a conflict/realization, and then a choice. Slow it down and have children skipping rope to it and gets even more morbid. There’s a beautiful simplicity to that rhyme and the fact that this story has been told as a children’s jump rope rhyme even adds to the character. You have a woman who “whacks” her mother with an axe, and then the line is she sees what she’d done. Whether you think she did it in anger or not doesn’t matter because she saw the blood, the gore, and then not only killed her father but did so more violently.
We spend a lot of time critiquing flowery language and purple prose, but sometimes we misunderstand why. The problem is when flowery language detracts from a story or reads as fake. If flowery language reads wrong it comes across as an insincere way for the author to show off their talent. Good poetry flows, and good sentence should flow like good poetry by the last revision of a piece.
Lyrical poetic language isn’t about how many ways you can describe the night’s sky though it can help you diversify your descriptions. It isn’t about ego though I will say a lot of poets love to show off their egos in their poems. Lyrical poetic language is a means to tell a story in an immediate way to get a reaction, which is something many authors struggle with. It’s hard and let it be said that you may not always get what a poet is trying to do. It may not work for you. Still when written form a sincere place poetic language is incredibly potent. Understanding that potency is something that can greatly add to any written word. It pushes you to think in a different way than short stories and novels. The best thing a writer can often do is have exposure to everything under the sun. Not to copy, but to learn from.
That is why I read poetry. That is why I feel all writers should pick up a poetry book every blue moon. You can learn so much about how to craft a story.
Check out my two releases: