14 Oct

Scenes. Again.

From the interwebs:

My book is a romance, not erotica, because you can take out the sex scenes without affecting the plot!

If you can take out any scene without the whole plot falling apart, it’s a bad scene.

In romance, sex scenes are markers of relationship development. In many books, the characters are intimately involved for a prolonged period, but not every boning session during that time warrants page time—only the ones at points of change. A few examples:

  • The first time is obviously a change from a platonic status to a sexual one.
  • A subsequent encounter triggers the realization in a vulnerable moment that pants feelings have changed to heart feelings.
  • An encounter that’s more _______ (rough, tender, spontaneous, daring) than the usual reveals there’s another side to a character or relationship to explore further.
  • Make-up sex after a fight or reconciliation sex after a split signifies new understanding and appreciation of each other.
  • My favorite is always the combo of relationship-building sex and external plot events: “While you were busy screwing, A Bad Thing™ happened that you could have easily prevented if you’d been here, so I hope the orgasm was worth the guilt and angst you’ll be wallowing in for the rest of your days.”

The crucial point in all of these is SOMETHING HAS CHANGED. Every scene that follows should be about the situation post-change. Behavior should adjust accordingly. If you “just take out the sex scenes,” there should be an obvious, logic-destroying gap in how they got from point A to point C.

BECAUSE SEX SCENES HAVE THE SAME TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS AS EVERY OTHER SCENE.

With the exception of friends-to-fuckbuddies, it’s possible to show the above changes without sex. Just as when the change you want is to remove the protagonist’s Obi-Wan so he has to fend for himself, you have creative options to choose from: kill sensei, have him leave in anger, send him off on another mission. You choose based on what consequences you want to set in motion because the scene doesn’t exist in isolation. The action in the scene matters less than the change it causes. If you choose sex as the action that creates the change, the scene is no more disposable than any other chosen action would have been.

If your sex scenes don’t matter to the plot, it’s not because it’s a romance. It’s because the scenes aren’t doing their job. That’s not a romance issue—that’s a writing issue.

13 Oct

Twitter Quitter

Funny how you use one hashtag on Twitter and people who never had anything to do with you before descend on your blog comments and inbox en masse to criticize your life choices. Gosh, I’ll miss it so much!

Since my last tweet apparently wasn’t self-explanatory for some, allow me to elaborate. I decided independently yesterday morning that I’d had enough. I deleted the app from my tablet. I was shutting down the app I use on my laptop when the boycott hashtag popped up, so I did my small part to support the sentiment.

It has since become evident that a lot of people don’t know what a boycott is (or pretend not to so they can make snide comments). The point of boycotting a social media platform (or a store or a television show or anything else) isn’t to make a devastating sacrifice on the part of the protestors—the point is to hit the wallet of the business being boycotted.

If you think Twitter isn’t a business because it doesn’t sell anything, I have some bad news for you. When a business lets you use its product for free, you are the product it’s selling, and advertisers and investors are buying you. (How Does Twitter Make Money?)

Let’s just say, for lack of better data, half of Twitter’s 328 million users are women. If their inventory of people was cut in half (by, for instance, a sustained boycott), their business would be destroyed. They would be forced to make changes to get those 164 million users back or lose everything.

That’s obviously not going to happen for any number of reasons, but as a hypothetical, a boycott could be an effective agent of change.

But I’m actually not boycotting for a day. I won’t be back on Saturday. I’m simply done.

My decision isn’t in response to a single incident. I’ve had to block over 70,000 accounts to make Twitter almost bearable to use, and that didn’t all happen this week. This week is just the final straw on a back-breaking load that’s been building for years. What I saw this week was brave women coming forward about abuse, being exposed to an outpouring of additional abuse, and Twitter maintaining their commitment to doing nothing because, hey, you say stuff in public and people gonna people, babe.

I would never advocate women being silent. I’m not going to be silent. But I’m not doing my speaking on their shitty, abusive platform and contributing to the “engagement” stats they use to generate revenue. Twitter no longer gets to use me as an asset to sell advertising while rape/death threats, Nazis, and abuse bots run unchecked and those being attacked get suspended because their attackers are organized and report harmless tweets in sufficient numbers to trigger an algorithm. (More about Twitter’s longstanding love affair with abusers and bots.)

I’ve never seen anyone become enlightened on Twitter. You’re either preaching to the choir or attracting the attention of people thoroughly entrenched in their hatred of you, so there’s nothing to be gained from “debating” your humanity and right to exist in that environment.

What I have seen is good people spiraling into depression as shitty people harass them. I’ve seen good people driven into setting even their business accounts to private. I’ve seen good people disappear without a trace.

It’s a dumpster at this point. If the trash wants it, the trash can have it. There are innumerable better places to have those important discussions, free from the stench of the garbage barge.

This isn’t much of a statement. I’m a terrible Twitter user. Nobody’s going to miss me and my riveting tea-tasting adventures. I’ve blocked as much of the platform’s data-gathering as humanly possible, so I wasn’t even a high-value marketing asset. I’m quitting for myself. That’s one less place I have to encounter bullshit from every side when I’m just trying to have a good time, and there’s a teeny tiny kernel of satisfaction that however many views I contributed to the Look How Prosperous We Are Report is now reduced to zero.

That’s it. I’m not trying to convert anybody. I wouldn’t have even mentioned it if it hadn’t attracted such a flood of diarrhea flowing from the source of the problem.

Comments will be off for a while until the fetid tide goes back to the loving embrace of its unmoderated abyss.

28 Sep

Temporary Description for Silent Song

Silent Song Cover

“Whatever it looked like from the outside, there’s only ever been one woman.”—Lex Perry

I had it all. Fame. Fortune. A once-in-ten-lifetimes love with a brilliant, beautiful, battle-scarred goddess. And an addiction that was done sharing my attention. I survived. My fall from grace never stopped fans from throwing money and panties at me. All I lost for my weakness was the heart Gin—the woman, not the booze—took with her when she left.

“His recovery began the moment I walked out of his life. He’s thrived without me.”—Gin Greene

I pushed the man I loved to the brink of death and abandoned him there. Now, I want to exploit his extraordinary talent to boost my career. In his shoes, I’d tell me to go to hell, but Lex charges to my rescue as if he’s been waiting for me to need him. As if there are no hard feelings. As if what I did to him can ever be forgiven.

The old walls between us crumble as our relentless attraction pulls us back together. But he’s not the only man from my past who wants a second shot at me, and that unfinished business could destroy us both…


I may completely trash this before publication, but it’s what I’m working with for placeholder purposes. The Good: It’s within the 200-word limit and hits key points (they used to be together, why it didn’t work last time, why they’re reuniting, and the danger element, which is why I mentioned she has preexisting scars). The Bad: Everything else. Writing descriptions is the worst, and screwing it up can kill a book. But no pressure!

The format nods at a pull-quote scheme I aspired to in the early days of writing this story, which I subsequently abandoned because (a) it was hard to come up with enough of them that were chapter-relevant and (b) I don’t want to interrupt your reading flow with a gimmick. Chapter numbers are practically invisible. Pull quotes make you stop and read and wonder how/if they’re going to matter, and meanwhile, you’ve lost any enthusiasm you had leaving the previous chapter. Since I abandoned it inside, I don’t necessarily love it here.

There are so many wrong impressions to be made at the description stage, I can’t even distinguish legitimate issues from paranoia anymore, so I’ll open the mic to you in regard to my first-person description (I, I, I) concern.

Does a book description written in first person POV make you believe the book's contents are in first person?

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21 Sep

The Billionaire Beast by Jackie Ashenden, and Other Thoughts

This week, I read The Billionaire Beast by Jackie Ashenden, which is a Beauty and the Beast-inspired romance in which “beast” means “going through some shit” rather than merely “is an asshat for no reason.”

I have Thoughts and Feelings that extend far beyond this individual book, so this will be part book review and part a long, rambling post about romance in general and writing and humanity and myself and maybe some other stuff. Because the spiel as a whole takes some negative turns, I want to make it clear up front that my feelings toward the book itself are overall positive. When I finished reading it, I immediately went and bought two other books in the series, which I don’t do if I’m even slightly meh about a book. I’m going to talk about some things that might make it a no for some people. It wasn’t a magically perfect book for me, either, so this isn’t a Unicorn Review, and I’m aware some of my positive bent is because it was a thought-provoking read and my head is full of stuff to chew on, and I like that more than I didn’t like the things I didn’t like. But if you were exactly like me, I would recommend this book to you without reservation.

Read More

29 Aug

Covers Refreshed

I’ve wanted a brighter cover for 10KH since about five minutes after publication. While I was changing that, I made some minor tweaks to WCAD to make the text less flat and help with brand consistency.

Someday maybe I’ll upgrade to mantitty, but I have a really hard time finding stock photos of men that don’t make me cringe (is there somewhere I can donate combs and razors for disadvantaged and unkempt models?), so for the time being, the not-to-market abstractions will continue.

11 Aug

The Sentence-Writing Book

Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark is a Kindle Daily Deal for $2.99, price matched at B&N, Kobo, and Apple. Since I can never remember the name, I call this “the sentence-writing book.” Whether you’re writing letters, memos, homework, articles, blog posts, or fiction, this book is filled with strategies to tweak your writing to be more effective at the sentence level. Clark explains at length why old writing chestnuts typically presented as “NEVER DO THIS THING” are indeed problematic when carelessly done but can be wielded to good effect with intent. Once you understand the effect of passive voice and adverbs and so forth, you can make an informed decision about whether that technique belongs in a sentence or needs to be eliminated with a rewrite.

I give paper copies to students, writers, and everyone else I know who has occasion to communicate via the written word. If you fall under any of those headings, I recommend grabbing this helpful guide digitally while it’s cheap.

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  iBooks

14 Jun

Procrastibaking

I’m working on the revision of the first chapter of New Book. Chapter One being the root of all evil/virtue makes it a particularly challenging puzzle, and staring at the words while debating overlong whether I’ve said too much or too little or skimped on setting or misplaced a hook or done some other disastrous thing that will cause the rest of the book to dissolve into a puddle of bubbling slime can be just a teensy bit demoralizing.

Bread always helps. Bread is always the answer. Bread is a steadfast friend in the darkest hour.

Today’s bread buddy takes the form of a dozen chewy homemade English muffins from The Model Bakery Cookbook (which also brought us Croissants, Y’all!) Mine aren’t anywhere near as pretty as theirs, but all dough fried in clarified butter is beautiful in its own special way. And now that I’m familiar with biga, I whipped up another batch to add to pizza dough for tonight’s dinner.

Morning-After Update: These make amazing English muffin pizzas (especially the bottoms, which soaked up most of the frying butter and subsequently emerge from a 10-minute pizza bake crunchy and sizzling as a pan pizza). They’re also bigger than the feeble little bagged version in the bread aisle at the grocer, so you get a meal instead of a snack.

Faith in my basic life skills competence restored, I brazenly return to the task that scares the everloving crap out of me…

22 May

Crap Draft Accomplished!

I had my doubts this day would ever arrive (it’s been a rough seven months in many, many respects), but I finally scrounged up enough oomph to blast through the last 20,000 words or so and reached the finish line of the first full draft of New Book.

(I wrote a similar post about 10KH on May 13 of last year, so despite what has often felt like backward progress, I’m actually not that far behind where I expected to be.)

Back when I started with 40,000 words of partial scenes and dialogue snippets, I predicted this draft would be about 80,000 words, and I was pretty darn close.

Considering I barely write full sentences on the first pass, that’s a lot of words. Some of them will get cut, but I’ll have to add a lot more to put some meat on the bare bones.

What now? Well, right now, it’s late and I’m having the book shakes, so after I post this, I’m calling it a night. Tomorrow, I’ll overheat my printer and use up a toner cartridge printing out the manuscript because I prefer words I can touch to words on a screen. Then, I’ll let the story rest for a few days while I reread my craft notebooks and my go-to how-to-write books to refresh my skills and jog loose ideas for the work that lies ahead. Then, armed with a stack of notes, a plan, and a mighty pen, I’ll rewrite until the story is as good as Ren 2017 can make it. (After that will come editors and more revision and proofreading and formatting and the boring parts of publishing. The cover, at least, is pretty much done already, so that’s one less thing to extend the delay.)

Let’s see, what can I tell you about it without violating my NOBODY LOOKS AT THE PRECIOUUUUUUUUS policy? I already gave you one hint in an earlier post.

So… Hint #2: Being in the public eye carries with it an element of risk, which adds a suspense subplot—not enough that I’d dare categorize it in Romantic Suspense, but there’s definitely some physical peril in addition to the emotional ups and downs.

AND THAT’S ALL YOU GET OF THE PRECIOUUUUUUUUUUS FOR NOW! If you have any questions about this book or writing or menstrual cups or whatever, drop them in the comments. I’ll only evade and hiss at some of them.

09 May

May Sale

WE’RE OVERSTOCKED ON ALL CAPS, BOLDS, AND EXCLAMATION POINTS, SO WE’RE PRACTICALLY GIVING THEM AWAY!!!!!!!

I made a mistake, so the US-only Countdown Deal originally planned for May 9-15 and the UK-only Countdown Deal the following week are now one MEGA INTERNATIONAL 7-DAY WORLDWIDE SALE, MAY 9 THROUGH MAY 15, 2017!

In the US, a sleazier marketer than I might exploit the proximity to the Hallmark holiday by calling it a MEGA INTERNATIONAL 7-DAY EXTENDED PRE-MOTHER’S DAY WORLDWIDE SALE!

🌺 💝 📚 MOM! 📚 💝 🌺

This will be the first price drop on Ten Thousand Hours since the preorder/early adopter discount back in November, and EVERYBODY GETS THE DEAL!

US $0.99

Canada $0.99

Australia $0.99

UK £0.99

France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and Spain €0.99

Japan ¥99

India ₹99

Brazil $2.99

Mexico $17.99

And everywhere that is not one of those countries but has the ability to buy from one of those Amazon stores!

Lest you think I’m shafting our friends to the south, prices listed reflect the currency exchange on $0.99 USD rounded down to the nearest 99. When I say EVERYBODY GETS THE DEAL, I mean EVERYBODY GETS THE DEAL, even if it looks like SOMEBODY GETS GOUGED!

I’ve booked plenty of third-party promo to spread the word, but if anyone who read the book and liked it (or read it and has a scathing, GIF-laden review hilarious enough to drum up interest) would care to further boost the signal, below is a link that should localize to the appropriate Amazon store for any clicker worldwide (courtesy of BestAzon):

http://bit.ly/2oRDGxV

Copy and paste at will! Or visit the product page and grab your own affiliate-coded link if you’re into that sort of thing. No reason you shouldn’t pick up a few pennies, too!

MY LOSS IS YOUR BAR-GAIN! EVERY BOOK MUST GO, GO, GO! SUPPLIES ARE NOT LIMITED, BUT THE DURATION OF THE SALE IS, SO ACT TODAY OR AT LEAST NO LATER THAN MAY 15!