Tag Archives: writing

The #1 Question Authors Get

 

When people find out that I’m an author I get comments  that I bet many authors get like:

“I’ve never heard of you.”  Um, it’s Anna Kyle, I just introduced myself (I say silently, people, silently)

“Oh, I only read NYT bestsellers/nonfiction/thrillers.” Nod and smile.

Sometimes it’s a simple “that’s nice” before they move on to someone more exciting. And that’s totally okay.

But the really interested people, the ones whose eyes brighten and you know instantly that they love reading and writing and possibly yearn in their heart of hearts to be published, will ask questions and the #1 question is a version of “How do you do it/What’s your process?”

I love talking to them. My answer will be different from other authors simply because I’m me. Everyone’s journey in life is different and writing is no exception. My writing process is constantly evolving but some things remain constant.

WRITE WHEN YOU FEEL PRODUCTIVE. I write best in the morning so I like to wake up early on my late start days for work and write a bit. My alarm goes off every morning at 5 a.m. even on weekends. Yes, that’s the ass-crack of dawn today and the middle of the night during winter. I’d be lying if I said I write every morning, but I do it a lot. I’ve become a morning person. In my days after college I’d stay up writing until 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning writing fast and furious. Not so much anymore. Work, life, responsibilities have transformed this night owl into a grumpy morning lark.

OMG GET YOUR IDEAS DOWN. I write down all my ideas, well, the good ones. Readers and writers are cut from the same cloth or two sides of the same coin, in my opinion. By that I mean we both have active, fertile imaginations. Ideas are fleeting, ephemeral. When one sparks, write it down because you WILL forget it.  And yes, I keep a pad and pen by my bed but tbh, I only used it twice.

WRITE A LOT. I also don’t usually write every day (four to six days a week depending on the week). Unless a deadline is zooming toward me, then, yes, I write every day

LEARN IT. There is no substitute for learning the craft of writing. I have a writing background as a reporter and later freelance writer but I found out quickly that fiction is another beast entirely. I attended workshops and read tons of books on the subject and, if asked, that would be my #1 nugget of wisdom to readers aspiring to be authors.

Thanks for having me, Night Owl. It’s been a hoot (ugh sorry, not like you haven’t heard that one ten thousand times and cringe L I’ll show myself out 🙁 )

This post originally appeared at nightowlreviews.com in June 2016

WRITE ON;

Book One of the Wolf King series

The Writer’s Job Description

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WANTED: Writer

The world is looking for an organized and motivated writer to entertain, inform, and affect us. Candidate should be able to elicit a wide range of emotions at the stroke of a few keys.

Skills and Abilities:

Must be proficient in a wide range of plot choices and tropes as well as character quirks and flaws – but make sure they aren’t  too flawed or quirky.

Self motivated, independent and highly-driven to get the words just right is strongly preferred…in the editing stage. In actual writing the eh-eff-it-it’s-good-enough-for-now words are, well, good enough for now.

.An aversion to adverb-filled dialogue tags and purple prose is a plus.

Capability to slaughter your darlings mercilessly with minimal tears is required. And by slaughter I mean move to a Cut or Delete file to use on another WIP. Jeez, we’re not monsters here.

Duties:

  • Maintain extensive knowledge of your characters’ jobs, quirks, personalities, nicknames, clothing preferences, hair and eye colors from two books ago if writing a series.
  • If writing romance, ability to keep track of body parts is a must (avoid the oops he’s got three hands scene). If writing sci-fi, ability to keep track of species, planets, etc. is a must. If writing fantasy, ability to…you get the picture.
  • Elicit customer satisfaction on the endings – if you’re gonna leave a reader hanging on a cliff, a heads up is essential. You can leave them crying or leave them laughing, just leave them satisfied.

Qualifications/Requirements:

Familiarity with grammarology is required. They’re/their/there are not interchangeable.  Ditto for your/you’re.  Those who think otherwise need not apply. You may also silently correct other people’s grammar. To do it out loud is a writer faux pas, also known as being an asshole.

Must be proficient in Word or Scrivener or similar writing program. Long hand scribbling on yellow legal paper is fine but no editor or agent will touch that, so learn it, love it, and BACK THAT SHIT UP. Trust me.  *sighs* June 27, 2016, the day I lost it all (well, most).

Words that strike fear into a writer’s heart: hard drive unreadable. Omg BACK UP YOUR SHIT

 

Must be able to lift 30 pounds of ideas daily and discard 29 pounds nightly without crying…much.

Flexibility to work nights, days, weekends, and lunch hours at our day job for little pay. Enjoy!

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Ability to go days without showering. Maybe that’s just me?

Must maintain plentiful stash of coffee, brain food i.e. peanut M&Ms, and a variety of alcoholic beverages on hand during the sprint to deadline. This task can be passed off to family members who may be frightened of you during this time and looking for an escape anyway.

Proven experience leading and implementing a project across multiple locations, fancy talk for extensive travel to coffee shops, backyards, and libraries with laptop (or yellow legal pads and multiple pens) will be required.

But that moment when the story comes together – omg

It. Is. Bliss.

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That makes it the best job in the world.  Lucky, lucky us.

WRITE ON;

This (now updated) post originally appeared on the awesome Em Shotwell’s blog June 2016. She’s the author of Blackbird Summer. Check her out at emshotwell.com

“Long Live The Delicious Paranormal Romance”

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Thanks for giving me an opportunity to rant a bit.

When I was close to finishing the first draft of my paranormal romance, Omega Rising, back in late 2013/early 2014, the world (meaning a lot of agents, editors, and bloggers I respected) declared the paranormal romance dead. “Can’t sell PNRs anymore.”  The articles came fast and furious. “Glut.” “Market oversaturation.” “Twilight was the beginning of the end.” On and on they went. But…but I love reading PNRs. How come suddenly no one else did?

Let me back up a second. I’m an avid reader of romances. Well, I’m an avid reader of everything but romances have been my favorite ever since I picked up one of my mom’s Harlequin Presents as a teenager. I looked forward to sneaking away with those white covers with bright pops of color when she was done reading. Those stories took me to far off places like the deserts of Arabia, the mountains in Switzerland with handsome heroes and beautiful heroines. They solved mysteries, wrestled with accidents and amnesia and their feelings, they took down the bad guy, confessed their lies (it seemed there was always a big lie being told) then eventually confessed their love for each other. The Happy Ever After. Hooked.

Then about eight years ago I picked up my first paranormal romance (by Christina Dodd, who I’d never heard of before) and read it one sitting. Amazing. Fantastic.  Delicious. I bought the whole series and gobbled them up, too, and hunted for more books. The stakes were higher in paranormals, the heroes hotter and heroines sexier, the romances steamier. Yes yes yes. More, please.

Paranormal writers used words real men and women used every day, like cock and wet (no more petals opening, no more manhood or gods forbid manroot – hooray). The heroines were strong, flawed, their orgasms important, like in real life. Even with the fantasy element of vampires or shapeshifters or witches, the stories, the romances, were more authentic. I was so IN.

Okay, back to when PNRs were declared dead. On an  open Twitter chat with one of the publishers where I planned to submit the manuscript once polished, their reps confirmed what I’d been reading. I was blindsided, heartbroken, sick to my stomach. I had just spent a considerable amount of time and tears on my first novel that would never sell.

Might as well flush this thing I created and loved down the toilet. I stumbled through the rest of that day, berating myself one minute then the next wondering if I could change my novel and eliminate the paranormal element.

That made me feel even worse because paranormal added a level of complexity and tension and steaminess that, in my view anyway, not just couldn’t but shouldn’t be cut out like an unwanted defect. An unsalable defect. I wrote what I loved but no one wanted to read PNRs anymore?  Because I sure did.

The next morning I woke up and looked at my TBR stack and some books I just finished reading. A healthy number of those books were paranormals. I checked the pub dates – all new. Huh. Wtf. They weren’t dead after all.  HOORAY and AWWW YEAH!!

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After filing that bit of news under “dammit, don’t believe everything you read’ I went right back to my manuscript to revise, rewrite, edit and revise some more. Less than a year later I had two books under contract and my editor helped make my books even stronger.

My theory is that for a while there was a glut of paranormal romances and some books that slipped through were…less than good (you know what I’m talking about). The market listened to annoyed readers, including myself, who plunked down hard earned cash only to find a story that didn’t live up to the high expectations the genre demands.

Because of this, I believe, the big publishers, small presses, and   authors tightened their standards and better stories resulted. Savvy readers want a good story, a hot romance, and a reason to keep turning the pages.

Good for the genre, good for the reader.

Long live the delicious paranormal romance!

(Anna here: this is an updated version of a guest post I wrote for the awesome blog Foreplay and Fangs on June 9, 2016)

You can check out my delicious paranormal romances Omega Rising and Skye Falling at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, AllRomanceebooks, etc.

WRITE ON;

Tackling the rejection blues

Confession: Hi everyone. I’m a writer and I have an inner running back.

It’s not a peduncled growth scooting along on my body. Good guess, but no. It’s a position on a football team and I have an imaginary one.

I was able to make the leap from writer to author because my inner running back wouldn’t let me give into the rejection blues. My second book, Omega Rising, wouldn’t be coming out in two weeks without it.

Oh no, you’re thinking, this post is about football about which I care diddly-squat. First of all, football and writing are surprisingly connected. And second, football is awesome.  GO BEARS!

In football, the running backs take a lot of punishment in pursuit of their ultimate goal – scoring. Their job is to take the hand-off from the quarterback and find a way through the defense, whose job it is to stop the run.  It’s called grind-it-out football. Yes, it’s a thing. Google it. A running back gets tackled a lot. A helluva lot.

I see you are beginning to make the connection.

Succeeding at writing is freaking hard. Writers get tackled. Perhaps not body slammed to the turf by several 280-pound angry men in pads and helmets (if that is the case with you I must point out you are doing this writing thing ALL WRONG), but tackled nonetheless.

Rejections = tackles. Rejections bruise our pride and rattle our confidence. It can have the emotional impact of being steam-rolled by a defensive line. Writing is hard. We are rejected. Running backs are rejected at the line of scrimmage ALL THE TIME.

It takes courage to submit our words out there then wait to deemed worthy or unworthy by strangers. The fact you can do this at all makes you a badass already. Take a bow. You’ve earned it.

It’s hard to remember that a rejection is a business decision. It is simply a no-thank-you-it’s-not-right-for-us-at-this-time. Or in the case of a RB, no-you-shall-not-gain-yards-on-this-play-in-fact-you-lose-yards-now-haha-boom.

(For those non-football folks still reading that’s a terrible outcome for your team which causes people to throw down their chicken wings in disgust and yell at the TV)

It is NOT omg-what-in-the-name-of-all-that’s-holy-was-this-hot-garbage-you-submitted-we-vomited-after-reading-it-you’re-awful.

Your inner running back already knows rejection, while sucky, isn’t personal.   Do RBs give up? Um, big fat NO THEY DO NOT. They get back into the huddle to grind it out a few yards at a time.

And yes I know they get paid millions but they also have a love of the game and a burn to succeed, just like…wait for it, you know it’s coming… writers who want to be successful authors.

My personal inner RB drops an F-bomb or a ten after a rejection because it clears my angst allowing me to evaluate the “no thanks”, learn from it if someone took the time to offer encouragement, then put it aside and write on. You can take a page from Stephen King and nail those rejections to the wall. Shoot at ’em with a staple gun. Let your dog eat them then excavate the paper from a steaming turd pile and offer it to the poop muse. Whatever.

It can’t stop you because you are a badass. Try again. Practice harder. Get better. Get back in the huddle. Try again. And again. Until you find that hole in the defense  and slip through. Get your end zone dance ready.

LET’S GET READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL AND

WRITE ON;