Saturday, January 26, 2013

Why I write

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I often get the question about why I write. Honestly? I write because I have to. It almost sounds like I'm doing something I don't like when I put it that way, doesn't it? But that's not the case at all. The fact is I have always written in one form or another. Granted before age five I couldn't really write but even then I told stories, or drew pictures that told stories. Just because I didn't know how to write words didn't mean I didn't write. I've always written. Words are compelling for me.

Another reason I write is because I have a very vivid imagination. I have always had a movie running in my head. I can easily see scenes from my books and even feel what my characters are feeling. Being able to write down the movie in my head makes it possible for me to share my vivid imagination with others.

I love to tell stories. There is just something so rewarding about telling a story and keeping people on the edge of their seat to find out what is going to happen next that is quite simply addicting. One of my favorite things about writing is figuring out how myself and my characters are going to both fool and engage the reader. I say fool because when you're writing fiction you can't make it too easy. Personally I am not a fan of books where I can figure out who the bad guy is or who the heroine is going to marry or whatever the case may be in the first couple of chapters. I've been known to put those books down and never pick them up again, so I work hard to make sure there are enough surprises to keep my readers interested.

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And I write to educate. As someone of Native American heritage, there is so much information out there about Native Americans that is incorrect that I use my fiction to educate, as well as, to entertain. Stereotypes abound when it comes to Native Americans, all you have to do is watch a movie from the 1950's with Indians in it and you'll see what I mean. The whole idea of Indians being savage, or stoic, or wearing full feather head dresses (not all tribes had these, this is mainly the plains tribes only) and it's not hard to see how easy it is to be misinformed. So, several of my stories have Native Americans and other Indigenous Peoples as main characters, and rather than using stereotypes to explain their actions and their lives, I use my own knowledge of my people to tell their stories. What I don't know I carefully research and whenever possible talk to members of the tribe that my characters come from so I am certain that what I write is accurate.

And finally it's fun! Writing stories and even non-fiction like this article for example is fun for me and relaxing. Weird I suppose for those non-writers out there, but ultimately writing for me is the same as say someone who enjoys skiing wanting to hit the slopes every weekend during the winter.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

How to Get More Readers to Your Author's Blog

As an author this is something I think about pretty often. How do I get readers both new and old to read my author's blog. I've tried a number of different things over the years, and like most authors I've had a lull from time to time with my blog, but I love to write and sooner or later I find myself coming back and writing again. Of course I also write for my own entertainment as crazy as that might sound, there's just something about writing that makes me keep typing words onto the page. So, how do you get more readers to your blog? Here are the things I've found that work best for me.

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1. Schedule Guest Bloggers. That's right, offer your blog up to other authors to guest blog on. But it doesn't just have to be guest bloggers, it can also be other people in the publishing industry such as editors, owners of promotions companies, cover artists, and video book trailer makers. The more fun and interesting posts you have on your blog, the more this will help drive traffic to your blog and get new readers and new fans to both your blog and your books. Because let's face it, the more you blog, the more people are going to come and the more someone is going to be curious about just what it is you write, besides your blog that is! LOL

2. Engage your readers. Ask questions, invite readers to comment, make it worth your reader's while to comment by responding in a timely fashion when they do.

3. Comment on other author and publishing industry blogs. Don't just comment to get traffic, and don't just type some inane comment like "Nice post." and then put your blog address after it. That's too much like spamming to be taken seriously by anyone that is reading the comments including the blog owner. It blatantly screams, "I'm trying to get traffic to my blog, I don't really care about your blog." You don't want that. If you can't type a thoughtful and honest comment then find another blog that you can post an honest and thought comment on.

4. Have regular contests. I love to hold contests! Contests are a great way to bring readers to your blog, plus when you give away something useful and or fun, readers are more likely to remember you and come back for more. Plus once you get them to your blog and they see how entertaining and fun your posts are, they will come back not just for the contests (although those are fun too!) but because they enjoy reading what you and your guest bloggers have written.

5. Post sneak peaks of currently published books and works in progress. One of the things I love most about visiting author's blogs is reading sneak peaks, or excerpts as some call them. If a sneak peak is good enough I'll even buy the book!

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6. Let the world know when you've written a post or when one of your guest bloggers has posted. It always amazes me when authors add a post to their blog and then don't tell anyone. With the number of social media available to authors these days, there are all sorts of ways to get the word out. With a few clicks you can add a link to Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. And if you Tweetdeck you can actually post to both Facebook and Twitter at the same time!

Do you have a tip to help authors get more readers to their author blog? (Hint: You don't have to be an author to post a comment, maybe as a reader you know something to help too!) Post it in the comments and get a chance to win something cool! The best tip wins a $10.00 gift certificate to the Coffee Time Romance E-bookstore! Contest ends on February 14, 2013.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Writing the Virtus

Writing the Virtus Saga is a real challenge, particularly since I’m still not sure on how to go about creating a series. Mine, believe it or not, built and developed on its own starting from a concept and a recurring image. Simply worded, the concept is:

As part of a vast social experiment, the planet Sendar is controlled by a technologically advanced mechanical device that channels people's aggression into sex, which guarantees their feudal society knows no violence.

As for the recurring image, it was of a lone rider, lost in a place he should have known like the back of his hand, who finds shelter from a coming thunderstorm in a beautiful woman’s run-down shack. Too familiar to be a stranger, she feels like she belongs to him, yet he has no memory of ever having seen her or of knowing her name. And why does she look like his twin, even if he’s sure there’s no blood relation between them?

Makes no sense, right? Well, it didn’t to me either, but I kept writing, hoping things would clear up eventually, and oddly they did. As the plot thickened, details added up, fitting inside a structure I had not thought out beforehand. As incredible as it sounds, it felt like I was reading it, rather than creating it. Yes, like any other reader starting from Book 1, The Sex, I had no idea where I was going or why characters behaved the way they did. Thus came Book 2 The Game, then Book 3 The Festival, Book 4 The Leader, Book 5 The Pledge and Book 6 The Heat, all currently released by eXtasy Books and available at major bookstores including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

Still, Virtus is far from over. All those who read it know The Heat ends with yet another cliff hanger, which requires a Book 7, The Princess, and also a Book 8, The Demon, the final chapter on Prince Duncan Caldwell, his lover Lord Christopher Templeton, and their woman, Lady Ylianor Templeton.

Of course, by now I do have a sharper idea on where my characters are headed, but until I’ve written the words The End, I’m not betting on it LOL. Safe to say, my husband, who has read the entire saga so far, has a greater grasp on my characters, knows them far better than I do, and is also pointing to the ending that is most logical with the premises. When he told me about it, I couldn’t believe it!!! All I had was a concept and an image, while he had the whole story down pat. Go figure!

In a way, though, he’s right. It was the characters themselves who guided each and every twist and turn, so it shouldn’t have surprised me they would point to their own ending. After the first image, they continued to play inside my head until the lone rider turned out to be a handsome, dark-haired prince, his long raven black hair flying wild as he dares nature’s hostile elements on his black horse, until a trembling candlelight draws him to the woman he’s destined to meet again, Ylianor Meyer. And she’s not a sibling, not a twin, not a blood relation at all no matter how similar she looks to him. Still, she is someone he’s grown up with, so why can’t he remember her at all, as though his memory had been wiped clean of her?

Like any other reader, I found the answer to this riddle, as well as to the similarity without blood relation, in Book 4 The Leader and Book 5 The Pledge, which proves how little the characters shared while I was writing, telling me only what they wanted me to know when they wanted me to know it, no earlier. From the first line to the last, I just received pieces of a puzzle that eventually made up a great story that still amazes me for its complexity.

Christopher Templeton is the key to the whole design, although he came to me after Duncan falls for Ylianor. With his blond good looks, erotic elegance and cat-like sensuality, he quickly overshadowed every other character. Being the egotistical narcissist he is, he would have done anything to have the most eligible, powerful and handsome man aroundPrince Duncan Caldwell, Leader of the High Counciland kept everyone else, women in particular, away from his beloved prince’s heart. Yes, he’s a tad jealous and has been since the phase, but then his love for the dark-haired heir of the Caldwells is so strong and deep, it overpowers any other feeling, especially since it’s combined with one of the strongest powers or Virts on the planet Sendar.

In time, I’ve come to love how Chris defends his territory, fiercely eliminating competition, doing his dammed best to make sure things stay the way they are. Yet, he’s also the first to anticipate the changes he can’t stop, adapting to them even if they mean having to share the person who is the very reason of life itself with a woman. It’s what makes Lord Templeton so intriguing and attractive in his own demon-like styleunpredictably evil at times, terribly open-hearted at others, capable of a love so all encompassing he’d be willing to sacrifice everything to it, his life included. Such depth of feelings turns the story around, and only after I was writing it for a while, did I understand what the Virtus Saga was really all about.

If you strip off the sex, the fantasy trappings, the Virts and the power, what’s left is the slow, painful and very real making of a trio. Building a successful ménage is no easy task. The three have to overcome their separate resistances. They have to smooth out their rough edges. They have to compromise and silence their egotistical drives. And they have to share in the love and understanding. So their goal is to be one whilst being three, keeping their individual identities while at the same time blending into a single being greater than its parts, not because they have to save the world or any such catastrophic event, rather because they want to become better persons. And that’s a goal we could all have in our ordinary, day-to-day lives here on planet Earth.