Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I Don't Have Enough Family!

Am I the only one who doesn't have a mammoth family? I have my mom and my sister and a cousin who apparently didn't buy my book because she didn't want her kids to see the cover. (What?!...flimsy.)

I've talked about the frustration of Blog Snobbery. Where someone constantly touts themselves but never visits other websites or blogs.

But what about the more painful kind of "snobbery"? The, "I'm too good to buy your book", snobbery.

I recently received my monthly statement (though it is being redone I believe) for From The Ruins and had to fight disappointment when I learned that I still hadn't run out my advance. Considering the advance money only covered a minimum payment on a credit card, I assumed it would be paid back the first week of my release. After all, there were tons of people that swore they couldn't wait to buy my book when it came out.

I was wrong.

When I received the May statement, I called a few "friends" and acquaintances questioning their lack of purchasing power. The majority swore again that they would "make it up" to me.

I stared at the June spreadsheet for a while like I had done in May and counted how many acquaintances I have...that are lying their asses off.


With the amount of promises I received...the advance would have been paid out THAT DAY. Release day! But it wasn't. I ranted, I raved, I had a bunch of people saying they bought it and my company is stealing from me.

Nice try.

The real problem is...I don't have "best friends" up the wazoo and I don't have family members outside of my mom and sis really. So everyone I depended on were friends of Dan's or Internet friends. Acquaintances that really could careless if they have broken a promise to me.

I used to be annoyed. But now that my focus is broadening, I'm okay with the knowledge that I don't have a 50 person group of friends and relatives that will push the sales of my book along. I'm okay with the knowledge that I'm going to have to depend strictly on talent, a publishing house's marketing as well as my own, and strangers who love my writing, to make it to the top.

I guess at least I'll know how I got there. Right?....right?

Unfortunately, it makes more work for me. ::Sighs:: There are times when I wish I had more family. ::grins::


Thursday, July 9, 2009

What's In A Name?

In a word?


Today I remembered something my mother said to me, or maybe it was my sister, or my distant cousin from my father's side. I babble. Back to the point...someone asked me "How do you come up with these names?"

The question is easy to blow off with a "they just come to me" but in truth, there is method to my madness.

When I think of naming a character, the first thing I do is think of what I want to name the character for short or if I want a short name at all.

Let me take a new WIP I'm working on. It's a mer-folk book and I wanted the heroine's name to flow as if through water. Not hard consonant to gum up the works but soft, watery sounds. I came up with Aeraeeania (Pronounced Air-uh-ee-on-ya) and I call her Aera (Air-uh like Era).

But what about non fish-folk? What is my criteria for them?

First, I don't want a name that is common. No Jennys, no Brittanys, no Emilys, no Julies. Why?

Well this might sound ridiculous to some but... I don't want someone to put my book down because the name of my heroine, is the name of their exes new girlfriend, or the name of the 20-year-old their husband just cheated on them with.

On the flip side of sister, Rachel, will pick up a book if the heroine's name is Rachel so maybe I'll lose out on that dollar.

Nah. I've come up with a hybrid!

When I pick a name that is popular I spell it different or mix two names together.

For my erotics, written under this pen name, I have two WIPS in the works. The heroine for my space opera, Maiden Voyage, is named Lilene. (A mixture of Lillian and Marlene.) In my M/M/F shifter story, my heroine's name is Jayna. (A mixture of Kayla and Jane.)

What about men? I give less thought about male names than I do women names. Oddly enough, given what I know about relationships and women (and being a good listener over the years)...we'll torture ourselves by buying a book with our exes name in it. Very rarely do we hate enough to put a book down but even then, we eventually "forgive" the name. (Okay, maybe not ALWAYS.)

Now if a fellow woman does us wrong... FORGET IT. That name is doomed for all eternity...or until we find a woman with that name that becomes a good enough friend of ours to negate the negativity surrounding that blasphemous name.

You may or may not agree, but this is my theory and therefore, why I "come up with" the names that I do.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Contest Woes

If you belong to any RWA loops, you'll often hear about contests. Off loop, you don't hear about them as much but every once in a while someone will gripe about one.

I'm not talking about free e-book contests or free print books when you twitter a jingle twisted to sound like a romance novel.

No, the contests I speak of are the ones where those of us who have written a book, submit some pages for other non-published and published authors to critique in hopes of winning recognition or a read from an agent or editor.

I'm not here to slam these contests. I want to make that clear up front. I've joined a few of them with a horrible book I wrote, and then joined a few more with my agented book.

Contests should be handled like critique. The comments are mostly the opinion of the reader and not necessarily always true. HOWEVER, if you receive mirrored feedback from the different judges, chances are they are seeing what you cannot and you should take the advice to heart and work to improve your writing.

Having said this, I would like to state that joining a scene specific contest isn't for the faint of heart or anyone with high blood-pressure.


I've had a few friends complain about the comments they have received and I am jumping on the bandwagon. Not because I'm angry. I'm not. The work I'm referencing as an example has been revised and has an agent and some of the points made in the contest I'm referencing helped get me to where I am. I am very PRO-CONTESTS. However, we all need to realize the subjective comments are to be brushed off and laughed at. We all get them! Moreso with contests that have scenes in the middle of the novel. Below are some of my more annoying contest comments from the most recent entrance.

My Example:

The contest I entered wanted my best make-up or break-up scene with a set-up synopsis unjudged. Sweet! How fun is that? After submitting my story, I had my edits on From The Ruins and realized I had a passive voice problem. Because of those edits, I knew I wouldn't win any of the contests I had just entered but I still couldn't wait for the feedback.

The synopsis "unjudged", required for the contest, covered from the beginning of the story to the scene to be judged with vague descriptions that let them know why my heroine was attacking the hero. Nothing overly specific considering I only had two double-spaced pages to walk them to the near end of the book where the to-be-judged scene took place.

I didn't describe the actual room my characters were in or the clothes they were wearing or why my heroine had a gun. I thought the point of the synopsis was to build up to the scene for story purposes. I'm still not sure how I should have done it differently, so if you're looking for a how-to on synopsis for contests you won't find it here. LOL

Comment Example (real comments in quotes): In the entered scene there is reference to a paper shirt the heroine's wearing and baggy pants. The judge (Who is marked unpublished and non-PRO but "trained".)asked a lot of questions. "We don't know what she's wearing. I'm assuming you cover it before this scene but with this scene, I'm lost as to why she's wearing a paper shirt. Did she escape from a hospital? Where did she get the gun? These kinds of contests are hard for this reason." ....and she marked me down.

FACT: In the scene prior to the one she judged...guess what it explains? The heroine's escape from a type of hospital and why she is wearing the baggy pants as well. It also explains where she picked up the gun. **It is important to note, this was a 10 page contest. The beginning of the scene where she walks into the warehouse and the description is heavier, is missing. I start straight in with the action and I don't let go until page 10 where they cut me off with their restrictions. (Which are necessary, granted.)

Comment Example: This judge seemed horrified by my sensual couple. "I do not read a lot of erotica and I am very picky about what works for me."
& "If this is an erotic (and I can't imagine it's not)..."

FACT: I entered the contest with a level 5 heat rating and it is a contest where they wanted your best make-up or break-up. I figured sexual tension or hot lovin' would be expected. But my book is NOT an erotic. It is a paranormal romance that would have a Scorcher or Hot rating in Romantic Times should I ever be so lucky.

She scored me quite low. Out of 120 points I received 91. Ouch.

Second Judge:

Unpublished but trained PRO judge didn't score me much better. 95.

Comments: "It's always tough picking up in the middle. I may have missed some things." I got a medium to low score for good sense of time and place with the comment "Again, coming in mid story alot of this may have been in place."

Fact: Since I'm unsure what "alot of this" is, I can't really say if my story covers what she has a problem with prior to the scene.

At this point I became annoyed not because I thought my marks should be higher (though maybe they should have been) but for why I was getting marked down. It seemed like the judeges scored me based on assumptions instead of content.

They assumed I didn't describe the room prior to the action portion of the scene. They assumed my heroine didn't have an explanation as to why she wore a paper shirt and baggy pants. Even the third judge (who was published, trained, contest finalist/winner, and PRO) had a moment where she made an assumption and I LOVED almost all of her opinions. She gave me a solid critique and a bunch of suggestions I implemented during my passive voice revisions.

Still, she marked me down in believability with this sentence: "How did she find him without his knowing?" The opening scene is the heroine walking into the hero's loft office.

Fact: Earlier in the story they set up a rendezvous point where she failed to show at their agreed time. (The loft office.) This is where she goes to meet him once she is able in the judged scene. No need for detective work, she simply shows where she is supposed to. The gun she's packing is the surprise.

Sooooo...why am I typing all of this out? Am I bitter? I know it might come off that way but I'm really not. I liked a lot of the feedback I gained and because of it, maybe I'll clarify some things in the chapter and see if my agent likes it better.

I also received a few little tidbits here and there that I wouldn't have noticed if not for the contest like typos. A dangling modifier. A repetitive word.

I think entering a contest is a great thing...even a middle-of-the-book one though you'll have to put up with assumptions. ::grins::

BUT, for those of you who have asked me about why I put up money to get crappy comments, I have to say it is all for the critiquing, NOT a win and not all of the comments are crappy. LOL These judges are very much like our audience with a dash of delusional grandeur. Weed out the good tidbits and your writing WILL be stronger.

That's my 2% or a dollar anyway.

I would love to hear contest stories, good and bad.