How do you react when you don’t finish a project when you plan? When your doing something that is entirely self-driven schedules help hold you accountable, but sometimes for one reason or another you just don’t meet them. Then you wake up one day and realize “Oh…I was supposed to be done by today.” It’s not a fun feeling, and for me it provokes some anxiety.
So I’m finishing Come at Night, which is the first book of The Marquess series that I was supposed to finish months ago. Why has it taken so long? The story was thicker, better, and more interesting than I initially planned. It went from an erotic short story to a sprawling tale of politics, gender, and redemption. And ,as much as I love the dirty business, I love those things just as much when they’re explored in an interesting way. Still that development wasn’t planned. I wanted to have the book done by Christmas, but at this point I’m only going to be able to deliver the “preview” short story. That’s fine, and that short story will be more than worth its small cost. However it is disappointing to be where I am now.
Yet, as I reflect the importance of realizing how and why you miss a schedule is important because you can prepare better next time….or realize what affected your inability to meet the schedule at that time. So what happened to me? I got tired of writing smut. I’m brand new, but I was spending an average of eight hours a day on several different stories…most of which aren’t finished. Most of which people promised to beta read and edit and…never got back to me on consistently, which lead to me saying “I’ll give them a week…I’ll give them another” because I know I need feedback like any other writer. So I sort of burned myself out…however it was sort of a blessing because then I focused on my other stories. Stories you won’t hear much about, but I will tell you they’re great. One romance is going to be about 200 pages and I’m on page 50, which is actually amazing because I started the story on the first and have been running around for weeks trying to finish paintings and presents for the holidays. Still…it hasn’t made me feel great.
Not completing a task you set out for yourself can be disheartening, especially because you are entirely responsible for it. Whether you just temporarily burn out like me, or whether you’re pushing yourself constantly to finish there is a struggle to reconcile why you couldn’t finish. It’s depressing, but for those of us building a platform and small business it is worrying. You begin to question if you can do it. You begin to make ideas for change but them worry you can’t do what you need to in order to be successful. Some people balk at me when I describe this and say “It’s your own fault. Have a tougher skin,” as though that makes the feelings about the situation go away. It doesn’t. It may be my fault…and what does that matter? We can be upset at ourselves and the situation and still have “tough skin”. When you’re responsible for your business, your books, your blogs, your livelihood, and your dreams it is frickin scary! That’s the bottom line, and when things don’t go as planned it is even scarier
But to conquer that feeling you just have to accept it.
That is something I’m really struggling with because I’m very scared. I’ve been strong armed into spending money over the holidays to maintain certain relationships I need in my life and I have been forced to buy a new phone by relatives(long story). My finances are more than a little tight, which adds stress and anxiety to my life in general. Now writing isn’t just about the money though if you’d like to buy my books please help a sista out. Writing is what I love to do and it is what I can almost always do at any time of the day. My dream career would be to be a team leader/research in a non-profit organization and also have a career writing on the side. I’ve been writing since I was a child and this career is amazing, but it is never stable and always changing with technology and interest. Every day is a gamble. Heck, blogging is a gamble because people make new blogs every day, and even those that aren’t active for more than a week can bury yours to the bottom of the search pile regardless of SEO keywords.
However, to get to where you want to be you have to take that gamble and accept that sometimes you won’t meet a deadline. Sometimes you will discover that what you’re doing needs more time and care than you can give and you have to put it aside. All you can do is accept that sometimes you won’t meet the deadline and that your anxiety about that is ok and normal. More importantly, you can begin to figure out what to do next time. That won’t fix the now. It won’t let you go back in time and finish the project. But it will let you feel like you’re taking a step forward towards completing the goal. That can be the difference between falling into a funk over the situation and finding a new way to push you to completion next time.
I found this thoroughly interesting Post from The Paige Turner Blog featuring an essay on Young Adult lit and feminism written for their class…and I couldn’t help but read and write a response to it! Give it a look over if you like.
I absolutely loved this post and I wanted to do a thorough response to it, a sorta “Dear author” moment because this essay demands proper attention and response. I pick apart a lot of the arguments here and take issue with many of them, but that serves to point out the thought provoking nature of this piece. There are a lot of good points here that simply don’t satisfy me….but I love this piece regardless. I hope the author doesn’t think I’m just shit talking because I’m an asshole because I’m trying to give their arguments the time, dedication, and attention it deserves even from an opposing and critical viewpoint because that’s how we all grow and engagement on these topics matters to me and my life as a woman and a feminist. I will also add I wrote this with my hands shaking from a sugar crash.
Here’s what I wrote in response:
Wow your essay is absolutely fascinating and I’d love to pick your brain abit because as a recent grad I’m totally missing the college world…
You say “Collins thusly reinforces the detrimental effects of having a character that, on the surface level, seems to be an inspirational character, but falls short of the racial divide.” I think you make some salient points, but miss some of the goals. Here the suggestion is Katniss being read as white is the problem as is her relationship to the black characters of the book. I think the stronger argument is that in the movies “olive skin” becomes a very specific type of white manifested via Jennifer Lawrence. But addressing the book writing you are most certainly right that Katniss becomes a white savior, which is especially fascinating in the context of the backlash of so many readers being forced to realize there reading Rue as white was wrong.
A minor weakness in your argument is that you acknowledge this while still claiming it is the genre and thus the authors fault for the audience assumption of Rue’s race. YA or any genre is not so much as fault as you can say the industry around it, and your argument would have been stronger if you clarified that the industry and its standards are different than the genre and both are different from the audience, while they still inform each other. The author attempted to bring diversity into YA, but the problem isn’t YA but the assumption of whiteness as the default state of being in every story. Though Rue’s depiction is still problematic in some ways, the author did something write in casting Rue as innocent, hopeful, and pure when black skin generally means that won’t happen. In a way that’s why the audience didn’t make that connection, society and the industry simply don’t do that. Innocence is pure and purity is white, and this book said “No” and the audience didn’t catch it because of media in all forms and genres saying Black people aren’t as innocent and pure and sweet as white people.
The biggest failure of the first book and film is a lack of time characterizing people outside of Katniss, which is one part the narcissism often present in YA, but very much is a reflection of white hegemony. Rue’s life only gains meaning in relation not only to Katniss, but being a representation of Katniss’s sister Prim, which truly denies Rue’s existence. Much like how women are shoved in the metaphorical refrigerator(just look up women in refrigerators if that reference eludes you). This is the most recurrent problem I see in YA literature, where most often characters of color are simply an extension of white protagonists. Even in things like The Princess Diaries white side characters are more likely to be described as individuals than non-white characters whose primary function is to be there for diversities sake more so than to have their own life and character. Rue exists to die for Katniss to rebel. It’s a shame because it eerily mirrors the now-outdated but still impactful 1930s and 1950s film/book An Imitation of Life where the light skinned and dark skinned black women are sort of sacrificial lambs, where their significance only occurs under white protection and approval which manifests as a black woman’s ideas being credited to a white woman and that black woman serving the white woman under the guise of being friends. Its sad that things haven’t changed so much.
As a fellow writer, I’d say avoid statements like “Bella Swan, again, a white female character, who has zero redeeming qualities, is put in the middle of the conflict between the vampires and werewolves,” unless you explain why you feel she is this way. You have to prove everything you say and back it up, and this is a opinion that is written in a way that lacks academic authority. I’d recommend say “Bella, again a white female character, who is written as being passive, lacking strong characterization in her personality, having a life beholden to two men, and ultimately is just an author/reader insert is put in the middle of the conflict between the vampires and werewolves”. The book is popular for a reason so when you write a bit more authoritatively and point out specifically what you mean you can really convince people of that opinion. And this would set up a great argument too. I’d respond to the Native Americans as Werewolves point, by agreeing, but also saying that it is in a way an exotification teetering on positive stereotypying, which still has a negative impact. The werewolves are almost more “spiritual” and consider themselves the protectors of the “natural”, which is an obvious stereotype…but it is presented as almost alluring via what’s his nuts(sharkboy). Yet even his being a jealous guy is a manifestation of a “savage” emotion.
Further, while it may serve you paper you suggest having insults thrown on the basis of “dog and mongrel” is reinforcing hegemony, which inadvertently suggests acknowledging bias and the hatred bread from it is inherently problematic, whether you intended it or no. You say “These subtle messages that are being sent in YA fiction are extremely harmful to the audiences, because it shows them that this type of behavior is acceptable and goes beyond the realm of a fantasy book; that it can be repeated in real life.” But this is a great leap without context. Showing that it happens doesn’t make it acceptable, and it can be repeated in real life. Pretending it doesn’t leans towards the far more harmful “I don’t see color so how could I ever be biased” willfully ignorant mindsets that allow bigotry to truly propagate. This argument feels contradictory.
While I truly do like this essay there is a certain judgmental nature to it, and I don’t mean that as an insult, but the bottom line of this essay is feminists don’t write YA, read YA, and if you’re a feminist you should stand opposed to it. The nature of literature of any kind is far more complex than that, and I sense the author know that, but is sacrificing it for the sake of this paper. The core belief of feminism is female choice and rights…and to be judged fairly, but it seems unfair to say Kristen Stewart or any actress playing Bella could never be a feminist. I don’t know it feels like if I said Leo DiCaprio must be a racist for playing Colonel Candy in Django Unchained. It feels like the suggestion is every feminist must not read/like/or recommend Twilight and other YA series, which is a problematic argument and ultimately unfeminist in itself by dictating the choices of other women and feminists. Ultimately this essay begins to fall apart because it falls into the trap of promoting restricting stories which many anti-feminists and racists take as what progressives want. You suggest that having two women fight each other is anti-feminist, which is suggesting that every woman should sit around and sing peace to the world. That seems reductionist and ultimately consigns women to limited roles in text. Ultimately this essay does a lot, but it drops to ball with broad sweeping statements in order to prove its point which hurts its own arguments. I say this because As a bisexual woman of color I find myself repeatedly saying “No that’s not the problem because that puts women in as much of a box as anything else” and I don’t say it because your wrong…but because you say X is inherently wrong. The Allegiant series is wrong for having two women fight against each other, is your assertion, but saying that is problematic too. The question is how these things are done and handled.
Much like the problem of Rue being there to bolster Katniss, the problem is a lack of characterization, motive, and principle. Men fight men all the time and it isn’t a problem because men are often depicted as just being people with motives, passion, and ambition. They are complex characters not obligated to stand together or alone, and that’s how all characters should be. The solution is saying this troupe or plot is inherently anti-feminist. That’s reductionist and can be anti-feminist in itself. The solution is saying “This is why this doesn’t work. This is what makes these ideas bad”. That’s what I want to see more of and that’s what I wish this essay like so many others did more of (hence why I stopped reading The Mary-Sue unfortunately).
In short this essay and its arguments would be more convincing with specifics about why these things are problematic instead of saying they’re wholesale problematic. By just saying this white girl saves this black girl, that YA is the problem without separating the industry from the author from the audience, by just saying women fighting each other as men watch is the problem you make broad sweeping statements that limit stories and are honestly a wee bit offensive to other feminists, and quite frankly miss a lot of what is wrong about these issues. It is not that they exist. I’m a black woman the white hierarchy exists and I live it. Acknowledge it. That doesn’t mean the author is endorsing racism or anything by recognizing it. It fact I welcome it because that is my lived experience, and so long as it is done in a thoughtful way it is usually fine. The problem with YA is ignorance, and a fascination with white cis-gender femaleness so when authors do try to do more they make exotic Native American beasts, they make a black girl a symbol not a character, and we all lose. When you refuse to acknowledge people as characters, as feminists, and feminism as complex, as how women/other marginalized people relate to characters as complex you ultimately cripple a good portion of your argument by doing the progressive version of what you critique. And to be honest a lot of this paper reminds me of talking to white people who just don’t get the difference between showing black people all as the same stereotypes and acknowledging that there are black people who live in the ghetto. If this was acknowledged as a core issue this essay would have soared.
BUT the fact that you were willing to tread in these waters at all, and dig into many of the problems of the YA industry, genre, and audience demonstrates a thoughtful intelligence that makes me excited to read more. The wonderful thing about the internet is being able to engage with so many wonderful thinkers and people.
Can you believe in yourself while acknowledging your limitations? I think a lot of people assert that you cannot when the reality is, so long as we are fair and compassionate to ourselves, we truly can. We often forget to be kind to ourselves because we notice our flaws more than we ever realize. We must accept critique with grace, but remember to never let those critiques define us or undermine our self-confidence. No one is perfect, and we must not only recognize that, but accept it as part of our reality as we grow as people. It is hard, but the effort is worth it.
“‘This wasn’t planned’. That wasn’t true. It was planned but Lita never imagined it could go this far.”
Offered a chance to explore her deepest and darkest fantasies with her most trusted friend, the confident and handsome if somewhat unpredictable Jon, Lita finds herself submitting to things she could never imagine. However a world of self-consciousness has held her back for so long that going through with it may be harder than she ever imagined. This only gets harder when she realizes Jon’s love is as intense as his dominant side. Love and lust can be frightening things, but anyone worth their salt knows one is far easier than the other. Will she succumb to her fears of the unknown, or surrender to the wiles of love, passion, and the depths of submission?
A Lita Loves Tale. In fact this is the first of this realistic and sensual series!
The Lita Loves Tales are an erotic fiction series for a mature audience. White Hot Room features rough intimate scenes of bondage, spanking, flogging, curvaceous women, male domination and female submission. The Lita Loves Tales proudly proclaims to be a series with interracial romance and intercourse without any odd racializing found in other stories. Sensual, hot, and tinged with Miss Ruthers desire to capture the complexities of sex and intimacy White Hot Room promises to bring something new to e-readers everywhere.
White Hot Room
One thing was certain about Lita and that was nothing was 100% certain with her. Her father used to tell people that the “2.99% of uncertainty will get you if you aren’t careful”. Though she liked her comfortable life and usual routine, something in her always managed to surprise people…even herself. Still every single inch of her was no better than a pile of nerves in that hallway despite the fact that deep down she yearned for Jon to take her to another level; another level that lined up with odd thoughts that always lurked in her dirty mind and made her feel not just good, but like living fire and also the calmest ocean. Tonight came as one of those little astonishing circumstances, one of those little moments that fell under the 2.99%. Lita hoped things would go smoothly, but they hadn’t even started and fear glued her in place. So much remained unknown and could only be known by exploration. That gave way to anticipation which meant nerves and hesitation. With every ounce of trepidation that resounded inside her as she looked at Jon there was this grand sort of rush building in her stomach. Nerves. Part of her liked the nerves even as another part of her felt like fleeing. This moment would never come around again. These nerves. These sensations. These thoughts. All of it made for a powerful part of the game they were going to play, and she had to play it. She said she would and she knew if she didn’t she’d regret it for the rest of her life.
Something told her she had to savor everything rolling around inside her, and that meant, in their mutual silence, reminding herself that sex didn’t get them there.
This game always seemed to be about sex, but it was so much more intimate if it was done right. He told her that “I don’t just play with anyone…I can, but it’s not the same, but I’d like to try with you,” but he didn’t seem to believe she’d say yes that night. There in the hall the joyous look in his eyes remained tempered by the sort of nervousness she’d only seen him have when their friends kept hinting at getting him an ‘epic’ birthday present despite their funds. He didn’t want to get his hopes up and yet…hope was there lurking around in his eyes. Still he remained composed, watching her, meeting her gaze with his own.
“I worried you would choose…not this.” He motioned to himself and then from his back pocket pulled something out. A split second later Jon held up a dangling patent red collar. The glimmer of light reflecting off the shinnying faux leather made her heart skip. “Or this.”
Relax, meditate, and take a breath
Write words that come to your mind.
Write lines that pop into your head.
Don’t worry about spelling or perfection.
Just start writing and don’t stop for five minutes.
Even if you just have random words on the page don’t stop.
Originally posted on Lit World Interviews: When numbering the pages of your paperback manuscript, the thing quite a lot of Indies have trouble with is that they use Page Breaks rather than Section Breaks. A Page Break is just that—starting a new page within the same section of a book. With a Section Break you…
My mother used to watch Bionic Woman, but I could never get into it until now. That chick, the bionic woman, had complete control of her body. Her limbs moved like an Olympic athlete, her body was tough as steel, and she could do things others couldn’t. That show was on when my mom wasn’t even born, but she watched them because her grandfather watched them. We often do things because we see them, because we can, and because we experience fleeting joy. Guess that’s just how it goes.
“As I think these things I lose track of time” I mutter as I pull back my hand again. Twelve dozen servos click and lock beneath my pseudo-human meat flesh. Pop. Snickt. Pop. It is quiet, but I hear it. It is three and one half servo rotations away from how my hips react to making love. The difference between one movement and the next is minimal to most people, but folks like me notice everything. Some adapt entirely, but others just end up here.Pop. Pop. Snickt. Wrr. It is quieter than the way this artificial hand pounds into skin and the flesh of the man who now lays in a pool of blood. He looked at me like I was the devil earlier. Hell he even asked. “Then the devil must have excellent taste in fashion” I said. It was a good one. Then he got what he got coming.
The money that was in his pocket surrounds us like thrown confetti at a party if confetti was $8,000. It waffles in the wind, but it won’t get away. It’s already a tad wet. This guy took that money from Miss Loretta’s fundraiser, and that really pisses me off. Her school does a lot that the public schools will not or can not, and besides that I don’t suffer theft in my presence. The nerve of this dirty ass turkey. He’s as dark as I am, dressed in a suit and tie, but underneath his nails and on his skin there is a fine grime. They dressed him up, but he still walked like a guy who didn’t know anything of real value but knew where to bum a Mercedes. Someone, I reason as I land another punch causing a loud crack in the man’s jaw, put him up to this. I grab the man’s collar and land several more punches until the man is a mass of swollen purple meat bubbling up blood. I’m not sore or tired though and though I should be out of breath my lungs remain steady. Later when they ask me I will say “I beat him because he was a bad man. I kept beating him because I enjoyed it.”
There are no secrets here anymore.
“Gretchen,” Louis says. My heart flutters like butterflies have filled it up. I swear my womanity is escaping and I want it back. It belongs in this neat little jar I have that I only bring out for Sex and saturday nights. Little s on saturday, and big on Sex. That’s how it goes. Even without looking that ebony Adonis is grimacing and I know it. He has never liked my methods. The turkey drops to the wet cement like a sack of garbage and I turn around to Louis. He’s a tricky fellow, mostly because he is honest. Most people never believe where we met. We were actors in Othello. Yeah, two classically trained black actors. The world needs more of those right? Eventually I stepped out of the spotlight but Louis with his neatly trimmed inch thick afro and his immaculate burgundy leather jacket was forced. Too much attitude and too tired of playing bit parts. It wasn’t choice. He just wasn’t and isn’t grateful enough. White folk expect it from us, black folk always accuse us of not having enough when we give it. I didn’t mind, but Louis did and let it be known. So his fine ass self ended up there with me, but I don’t think he minded too much. Men like him were tall and powerful, built for both speed and strength. He needed to use his body somehow even if most times he let me do the work.
“I count all that’s missing.” Louis looked at the man, shook his head, then cracked his back. As we stood between those two towering buildings he looked like he didn’t belong for a second. Irony being of course that he was and is more street than I’ll ever be. He’s really not my type, but he’s smarter than most and he only does what he knows he has to. We were very different.
“You good?” He asks, and all I do is nod. It doesn’t matter if I am or not because punching time is done. Nothing blocks out the world anymore and I slowly exit my bionic limbs and come back into my organic body. My allergies are starting to kick up and I suddenly become aware of the pressure at the front of my skull. I can taste the cold wet air and smell the meat wafting on the wind. I can feel the tightness in my shoulder’s from being so tense and I relax with a slow steady breath. Louis hands me a thick navy blue handkerchief. I wipe the blood from my knuckles. If there were real nerves and blood behind those knuckles how would it feel? I never punched someone before my…upgrade. I was a good girl after all. I begin to hand the handkerchief back to him but he just snatches it and like he’s some worried parent he begins wiping my cheeks. I thought it was just stray drops of wet, but I must have just been ignoring the blood splatter. He drops the cloth back in my hands as though wanting nothing to do with it then looks at the bloodied man with irritation.
“Come on then.” And like nothing happened we walk out of that alley with our heads held high. The cops standing near the alley entrance stand up straighten and stop leaning on their cars. We give them a solemn nod then step aside so they can go get that piece of garbage I left on the ground. They look us over carefully, and then with big beaming smiles say:
“Have a good one guys.”
It takes me ten years to get to this. I wish I knew what this was.
Whenever we get back to the office Louis takes off his coat and if I’ve been busy while we’re out I’ll take a shower. It is nice that we had an office shower, but really it is only because it used to be an apartment. Kinda still is considering how often Louis slept there. I toss my coat on the rack, walk past our desks and down the hall past that annoyingly tiny galley kitchen and hit the bathroom. Peeling off these sweaty clothes feels amazing. The cool air hits my skin and within moments the chill roles over me. The thing about prosthesis is that the nerve feeling isn’t the same. Every time something new touches you then you have to readjust, to remember that not all of you is you even if it belongs to you, and then accept it. I just sigh most days, turn on the shower, step inside and get clean.
It is no surprise when I turn my head and see Louis standing there in boxers, watching me with a smile.
“Can I join you?”
He doesn’t need to ask. Its just the routine. So he takes me in the shower from behind, grabbing my hair hard, and grunting in my ear. We don’t know how this got started. One day after a particularly hard job we started drinking then started doing more talking than drinking. As though we both feared we said too much we decided to do something else. We haven’t talked as much since that night and I think he prefers it that way. As he thrusts his thickness into my depths, forcing soft lustful moans from me I realized I could not care. I like Louis and he does like me, but love ain’t the game. Sometimes when I’m filing our cases I catch him watching like he does want that to be the game. Then sometimes when we’re fucking in the shower, and his hands are on my hips he says “I wish I could…I want this all the time”. I’m the only woman he does it bareback with. I know I usually run his errands with mine. He dates a number of cute girls. I’ve stolen one or two away from him without any hard feelings, so he gets plenty of action. But he thrusts in me without hesitation and with such relish his whole body shivers. Sometimes I wonder if he does it because part of him hopes I’ll get pregnant, that it will force him to be open with me. The risk just gets me off. He always finishes first and leaves me with that incredible warmth inside, but he is a gentleman and keeps going until I’m satisfied as well.
Usually we’ll be back at it again by nightfall in another room, on a desk or chair, once on the kitchen counter. But I can already tell by how he strokes my neck afterwards that tonight won’t be one of those days. He’s feeling something inside himself tonight. I can’t help with that.
An hour later we’re at our desks. He researches a case while I make sure our files are once again in order. He’s been quiet even for him, and I guess it bugs me when he gets like that.
“You got plans tonight?” I ask.
“Nah, well, I’m gonna see.”
“Date?” He always got awkward about that sort of thing, but he knew he didn’t have to.
Never a good sign with him. After three years I knew that meant he took some sorta case on the side or got mixed up with some shit. At this point all I could do is laugh, and he looked up at me like I’d lost my damn mind
“Gonna need me to save your ass?”
He chuckled and leaned back in his chair, tucking his hands behind his head like he had some grand master plan. Whatever it could be probably meant me getting involved at some point.
“No. Not tonight. You should take it easy.” He looks at me real hard like I’m some sort of enigma for a second. The hallmarks of some rare and distant sympathy flickered in his chestnut eyes as though he were recalling some long forgotten thing. He always reminds me of the men I saw growing up, but unlike their fragile insecurities that gave them an aura of false pride Louis turned inward into some sort of ancient seer. Now his confidence radiated erratically and his whole demeanor shifts on thoughts I will never know. Through it all he looks at me softly as though he has words to say, but all he can do is put them aside for a better time. As quickly as it came in it vanished. Part of me aches. I yearn to see what it is. I yearn to take him apart. Mystery is a weakness we share. “If things get rough I’ll call you.”
“Yeah, do that then.”
I do not know what else to say. With him I rarely do. * Not sure if I’ll keep this story going. I have some ideas but I don’t know.
Riddle me this, dear reader, how many articles on publishing e-books have you read that actually give specific advice? I have read roughly 50 articles and one and a half books. My rough estimate is about five or six of them actually break down the advice they give. Don’t get me wrong I get why that happens. As a writer you want to give advice that can be applied to numerous situations and ,let’s be real, you want to keep some tricks in your pocket despite wanting others to succeed. However after reading these articles I just have been left with an overwhelming feeling of their own inadequacy. Once again I’m not saying these articles lack all redeeming value. I have found them incredibly helpful in my self-publishing journey. However they say to “market” and that “marketing” includes email lists, blogging, facebooking, and joining forums. Now that last one I think is the easiest for me, as a techie, who joined her first forum as a young teen to understand. However I just gave you the sum total of what 90% of those articles I’ve read advocate. The rest of those articles are usually all persuasive speeches convincing writers, who notoriously hate marketing as a group, why they should market. When you take out the having to convince people that those things matter. Yeah, it sums it up.
So I’m left with a question, perhaps you’ve thought the same…”How should I and do I do any of those things?” Now, this post is going to focus on blogging from this point on, but I can and will get into those other things in the future. Oh I’m excited for it dear reader.
“Well, What the Hell Do I Blog?”
I often believe that these article authors tell you to blog without specifics in an effort to keep their ideas from influencing you and from becoming too common if their article should become popular. However by not explaining why blogging works beyond “you develop an audience who likes what you do.” you do a disservice to a certain extent. How do you blog as a writer? I do not claim to be an expert, but I can claim to be an avid blog reader and a writer who has been paid for guest blogs and essays. There is a method to blogging that begins with being Organically You even if you are presenting a particular brand of you.
As a writer you do have to present a brand that has a theme and/or message. That theme can be “Let me take you into my life, so you can understand my books better,” or “Here is a blog about salsa and OH YEAH I wrote a book about it…here it is,” or “I have ideas and thoughts about nerd culture that you may like.”
So here you begin. You figure out what blog would best serve you as an author and what you’ll start writing about to begin with. I know that must be confused because I asked what you write about. So I’m going to explain with an example. I write short stories and novels that tend to be very romance centered if they are not romantic or erotic books. So from there I began researching blogs and how blogging works as marketing.
The trick is you can’t so much marketing. You are producing. Don’t blog forty posts about your book in one week, but do blog about the process of writing, about exciting scenes or character, and about overall joy you find in writing. The key isn’t to market, but to 1) convince people your content has value 2) Producing content that has value 3) Producing content that has value, which then invites people to your priced content by demonstrating value thus convincing those people your priced content is worth it. Your goal is to enjoy yourself personally, but the goal in regards to your career comes down to this formula:
Production= Demonstration +/- quality = Content Value which is <, >, or equal to your persuasion
Or another method of breaking this down:
(Demonstration +/-Quality)= Convincing*Word of mouth = Sales
That gets you to the bottom line. When you understand those things you aren’t “selling out” you are understanding how money, audience, and your writing work together. Sales in that formula can be equal to reads or downloads. It doesn’t matter.
Now what is that content going to be? Well it does vary, but for writers quality content relevant to your subject matter is paramount. I detailed this earlier but here are examples of what writers can blog about:
How to write
Their writing process
How to get through writers block
How their personal life impacts writing
Reviews of other stories/books
Serials not suited for publishing (which can eventually be gathered into a book)
Writing with family and other obligations
Prompts, writing challenges, etc.
Politics can even work if you’re willing to go there and tread carefully
That list is my reference, but I will tell you it is no where near all I will and can blog (or have blogged on not defunct blogging sites.). Within every single one of these categories I can list three to five specific articles I plan to produce here. You are a clever person, and you will no doubt be able to build on this list and go beyond it.
**I carry a little notebook with me and I often jot down blog ideas, titles, or prompts that would add to this blog. Sometimes I’ll give some of them away to interested friends or people I feel would be better suited to write**
On Blogging Personal Life Details.
Plenty of articles say blogging or making statuses about your life is unprofessional, but that depends on what you write and your relationship with your audience. I know very successful writers who blog politically all the time. I know others who blogged politically and half their audience dropped. Same thing happened with blogging about their kids. It really varies. My belief is that you have to set limits in regards to how much you blog about your life, when you blog about your life, what events will make you blog about your life, and if blogging about your life is helping to build your persona and/or demonstrate to the world who you are. Blog honestly, in moderation unless you are consistently putting out twenty articles of content or five photo albums of content (read VALUABLE content) a day. I’m not an overtly open writer. I am very private. I live quietly. But I will tell you sexual interests OR what is outside of my sexual and how I use them to inform my story because that is part of my writing process and I want to give you an inside peek. You do have to draw a line about how much of your life is open to the public and how much the public wants to know. You will only know that by taking yourself seriously as a blogger and putting yourself in the shoes of your readers.
All this being said you can and should vary your content a bit, but make sure your readers know what to expect. I had a tumblr for a bit, and the problem with tumblr is that it is too much, too entertaining, and it becomes very easy for even diligent tumblrites to begin sharing things beyond the scope of what their blog originally focused on. One artist I used to follow got into an argument with a good friend of mine over child rearing. That artist, whom my friend still vaguely respects but not vice versa, lost 40% of her followers. Not because some of those followers didn’t agree with her, but because they didn’t follower her for her feelings on raising kids and quite frankly they didn’t like how she responded to my friend. My friend, as a result, got a ton of “pity follows” that turned into 100 or so real follows because she began reblogging other artists in place of the one who bad mouthed her. One stuck to a theme and the other stuck to a theme…but less so. That friend ultimately began reblogging a bit too much and lost 60 followers. You should never be afraid to be forward and honest.
You should be aware of how people can react to what you say, do, and reveal about yourself. That isn’t political correctness or paranoia. That is being smart.
The internet is fickle as hell, but the reason is because people are inundate with constant information. We all have to pick and choose what does and doesn’t irritate you. Your best bet is to be consistent, however don’t be afraid of changing things up, inform your readers if your expanding your subject matter, REACH OUT to those readers for input, and then listen to what is happening in response to new content.
As bloggers we have to give interesting content from perspectives that feel honest, content that hooks a reader, content that offers insight, content that presents the person we want people to know, and we as writers can’t just tell each other to go blog. Blogging is hard. Coming up with regular content is hard.
That is why I’m offering this…if you want help figuring out how to blog then message me, leave a comment, or shoot me an email. I will be your brain storming buddy. I will be your extra set of eyes. Every single writer needs that, and though I’m doing this journey alone I want to help others feel a bit less so. This is just one article, unproofed, unedited, because I want you to see me for who and how I am in regards to this subject because I am not perfect. I am not the best blogger. I am not the most articulate person. However, I am a friend if you will let me be one. This article isn’t the last on this subject, and it isn’t the last response to other articles on how to market. This article is merely one in a series. It may not be every day, but there will be more.
For a long time there has been debate about what makes a book fit into the romance genre, and a large part of that has been predicated on the idea of happy endings. This has always fascinated me because I do love happy endings, but I find myself struggling with them as I’ve gotten older. I don’t think I’m alone. In my lifetime I have participated in over ten different workshops for writing in all genres, and in my recent observations of what people write and enjoy there is something happening. As a social scientist and part-time psychologist I have begun to notice that ,on average, happy endings seem more acceptable and believable to older members of a workshop. However people who would be classified as Millennials (or perhaps more broadly people younger than 33) tend to give more critical opinions on stories that are tied up with a neat little bow. Oddly enough millennials can readily defend and understand why those endings happen, and generally speaking they do defend them (unless a person is a stereotypical ThatGuyinYourMFA type). There can be debate, understanding, and even agreement on the ending. However the reaction from those under 33 tends to be one of disenchantment. It is as though the happy ending just doesn’t convince those readers to embrace it, accept it, and believe in it no matter how they love it. I can’t help but wonder if there is a change in our perception of happy endings based on how we see our own potential happy ending and that of those we relate to. If so then this can’t be ignored.
My theory is that happy endings do feel false to a lot of people who went through and were affected by the recession and the economic downturns of the last 15 years in the U.S. Much like the Great Depression the affects of going from relative stability, even immense wealth, to instability leave lingering affects. Younger people have a deeper skepticism of capitalism, and in much the same way after the Great Depression many young adults redefined capitalism(because they assumed socialism was bad) or drifted towards socialism in order to get worker protections. Whether it was unionizing, demanding fair work hours, or demanding better pay and insurance these ideas became accepted as common place in many minds. The national perspective accepted ideas that ensured stability even if they were considered “red” by redefining them as simply worker rights, status quo. Regardless of how you feel about that the fact is people changed. Death of a Salesman is an American play that reflects a lot of those changes. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof does just about the same in different ways. These aren’t just plays, they reflect the life and times of their author and thus the world. Why? When society experiences a trauma, or perhaps a general wide spread disappointment, it manifests in what we make. As authors we should be aware of how it manifests in how we, and others read.
What manifests in our response to love stories, to happy endings, and everything being tied up in a neat little bow may be our disbelief in that being possible anymore. My mother moved out on her own at 19 and got a job. She got a soundproof apartment, a car in her mid twenties(she lived in a city so didn’t really need one), took regular vacations, and had a large group of friends who did the same with ease. That isn’t possible anymore unless you get a great job and/or come from a family where you have high inheritance(parents can help pay bills, buy you a car, keep you on insurance, buy your kids clothes, can watch your kids, etc.).
The world we are moving through and the experiences we have disconnects us from characters who may be 25 with a sprawling one bedroom loft, working as an assistant to a CEO, who then meets the perfect man. She’s never had to really worry about rent. Chances are she’s never had to worry about much of anything beyond her personal relationships. I can’t even buy myself a car, so how much can I believe in love always winning? How much of a positive response can I give you in our writing workshop when I’m a barista with a degree in clinical psychology? With all those things how can I respond to your book without a voice going ‘That’s just not possible anymore. Its not realistic and I don’t believe it’? As writers this may very well be what we’re fighting and it isn’t the readers being self-centered. This mindset is about the readers believing in your story and the possibilities within. If they do not they will question it, not with the knowing and loving laugh many women have given romance books for generations, but with world weary and jaded skepticism.
It isn’t that millennials have gotten weak or weaker than people in the past. Every single person in every generation thought that about the next generation. You and your parents aren’t unique if you’re rolling your eyes at this article. That whole reaction serves evolution. If you think a bit less of youngsters then it encourages you to do everything you can to help them move forward and get stronger. Unfortunately, people use this excuse to get upset over the fact that young people are sick of pretending everything is fine all the time. We care less about decorum, formality, and more about facts, honesty regardless of consequence(not inherently good), and wanting to change the status quo. It isn’t that more people have anxiety per se. No, we probably have the exact same levels of anxiety post-depression young people had combined with national war fatigue. Why do you think so many people are invested in what was once considered nerd crap? It is all escapism. In fact I suspect that many of the stories that ended happily that my peers call unrelatable wouldn’t get that comment if they were transported to the future or an Adventure Time like landscape. In a world of super humans a well executed story of love triumphing no matter what may just be believable because happy endings may just be super natural to us normal humans in a world of divorce.
Let’s Get Real
Books provide a level of escapism, but there caveats. There may be a stipulation that things don’t feel ‘real’ once you turn your brain on, and that’s what all authors should want because if I think about your book I’m going to talk about your book. What do I mean by feel ‘real’? Well, I mean your story doesn’t always feel relatable even if the story was over all satisfying. Even if your goal is to put up a bit of wall, or dabble in the surreal there has to be a certain level of penetrability in your book. For romance stories it 100% has to be there.
From home ownership to student loans there is a sense of immobility in my generation that is often baffling to those who are outside of my generation. While some people feel we need to go back to a mythical golden age others simply have stopped believing that doing your best and being good enough means anything. Truth is my generation followed every step we were told. We finished school in record rates, went to college in record rates, and then found ourselves underemployed and called lazy whiners for asking why. We’re disenchanted.
Are Young People Just Jaded?
It is possible that younger people overall are more drawn to angst or cynicism? Truthfully, I believe that is the case. As you become more of an adult you realize, if you have lived a relatively stable life, that the adults around you don’t know everything, can lie, and are just trying to live their lives as best they can.That is very jarring and before you accept that you begin to question and distrust everything people told you to be true. However that doesn’t explain how dramatic the difference from what I can see. Essentially you realize adults are people and change is inevitable. So sad endings, angst, ambiguity, and stories that end with melancholy become more relatable as you navigate the world. They become expected and relatable resulting with you connecting with those stories.
The Importance of Telegraphing Your Love
One of the most important things to do in writing is telegraphing. You have to subtly and carefully telegraph the happy ending and fluffy side of stories ahead of time. The possibility of the theory that young people have pulled away from romantic happy endings due to experiencing the recession, loan debt, educational shifts, and current economic shifts being true makes subtly telegraphing your stories possible directions even more important.
I will be the first to say that I could be completely wrong in suggesting a feeling of disconnect exists between one generation and the concept of happy endings. Maybe the response from people my age is how we respond to different character relationships in different stories. I’ve heard from different writers that some people respond AGGRESSIVELY to characters not getting together. That isn’t an age restricted thing because when a story doesn’t do what you believed it would or doesn’t do it well the story doesn’t feel successful to you. As writers we have to do everything we can to make sure as many people as possible find our stories successful. If it doesn’t work out some people completely decide the book they otherwise adored basically betrayed them. That isn’t something I do, but you can’t deny it is a disappointment.
Sometimes it is because they believe all romance stories should end happily because that is just what the genre does. Sometimes it is because they believe this romance story was moving towards a particular happy ending. I don’t think it is a matter of the author deceiving the reader, but ultimately everything I’ve spoken about is expectations. People want what they want, and you have to make sure they know they’re going to get, or that their not getting what they want will make sense.
Plenty of stories I see in workshops that end happily set the reader up for one or two endings. The thing that always makes or breaks a story is how well an author sets up the conclusion they choose. You can end a story anyway you want, but you damn well better make sure that you make that ending make sense. If two characters commit the ultimate betrayal they can’t just get over it because it is convenient. The ending of The Graduate isn’t a legend because it is sad. It works because it understands expectations, and ends the romance with the reality the film built towards: “How can this story end happily?” you wonder throughout the film, and the director nods and says “It can’t. Not really”.
How Do Expectations Work?
The trick is that expectations don’t just start with a book, but with the author and the world they live in. How many times have you assumed an character was the same gender as the author? How many times have you avoided an erotica novel by a man? All of those things affect our expectations. Numerous times I’ve been told by non-black people that my characters didn’t seem black or that they didn’t realize a character was black because they broke expectations. That is my intention, but when something like that happens with the plot we have to understand why. What expectations are people bringing to our stories, to your stories? How can you begin using those expectations and subverting them?
Caroline B. Cooney’s Janey Series has a long woven love story throughout, and **SPOILER** in the third book(I believe), The Voice On the Radio, the protagonist’s love interest betrays her trust by taking the intimate details of her life and using them for fodder on his college radio show. The core of this is also that she expects people to know that being separated from a partner due to college is added stress to a relationship. It isn’t out of character for him, we have that expectation, and their relationship came about and flourished under stress but ,now, her life is consumed by that stress. The themes of the series are about the angst, the lies people tell young people, and deceptions we make ourselves believe. So when we get to book three his turn is well telegraphed, and not unexpected. So you don’t necessarily begin to root for their relationship to work out. After all the actions they take constantly keep you from believing a full fledged happy ending is possible. The reason this book still works over a decade later is that it like many well loved stories builds an expectation…and concludes the lover story on neutral ground. What keeps this love story from becoming the romance book of the series isn’t the greater mystery elements, but those expectations .
Idolizing Love as an Alternative to Reality.
Now, I do think feeling social, economic, political, or basic life pressure can in some circumstances spark a very strong gravitation towards happy endings and ideals. When you examine rap lyrics from different eras you find a glorification of an ideal life style. Violence isn’t just tied to feelings of alienation and telling where people came from. Just as often violence isn’t itself the object of admiration. What is the subject of admiration is power and freedom which is paralleled in the sound and lyrics of heavy metal. The often superficial notions of money(not wealth), cars(not quality), women(not relationships), loyalty and acceptance reflect a strong desire for an ideal. When we look at romance novels, films, and even poetry we often see an idealize state and narrative. The latter is that “Love conquers all, all we need is love, and when we have each other we have everything” and the state is “Happily Ever After”. In the black community there is a strong gravitation towards romance novels because they promise us a look at Black people being in love, and living that narrative. People often don’t realize that until fairly recently black people holding hands inspired thoughts of sex, sin, and immorality, because we were, and to a certain extent still are, interpreted as hyper sexual. In part because of that the idea of a loving black relationship, especially due to welfare reforms in the ’70s that essentially pushed black men out of the household, isn’t seen as normal on its own. Reading those stories provides a look into hope, into vicariously living through characters we come to love in situations that are far more interesting and dramatic then our every day lives.
So What Does This Mean?
I don’t know. I really wish I did. At the moment my feeling is that we’re between a rock and a hard place. Escapism and happily ever afters will always draw people in. I’m not saying those things are going to go away, in fact they may become more prominent, but how your readers interpret and respond to those things may happen in ways we can only begin to expect and understand. Those are things we have to think about. Things that may affect the entire meaning of what we write. As I said I don’t claim this to be 100% the truth nor the truth for everyone everywhere, but my experiences in workshop, my own life, and that of those around me lead me to these conclusions. When we write romance we should keep this in mind regardless of the genre because not only does this impact our writing, but it does say something about where an entire generation of people are emotionally and how they may perceive the world.
Now what do you guys think? **If I made any editing errors please politely inform me. I only got one set of eyes…two with my glasses. Have a great one readers!