Today I'm on the Archaeolibrarian blog, sharing a typical day in my fascinating life. And yes, that is said with a hefty dose of sarcasm.
Today I'm on the Unabridged Andra blog talking about my vacillating outlook on aging. Come see us!
Come join me on BooksChatter today where I share my playlist for Vegas to Varanasi and we do a Q&A. I love the way they put it together! :D
This week's stop on my Fortytude tour is The Reading Addict, where I share a little poem I wrote a few years back for my fifth graders about bullying. Why the topic of bullying, you ask? Well, poor Kiran was a habitual victim of bullying growing up and still bears the scars. Hope you'll stop by!
Author Jacey Holbrand hosts me on her blog today, where she asks what's the best and most rewarding thing about being a writer. Stop by and see us! :)
Greetings! Through January, the Fortytude series will be on tour with Goddess Fish Promotions, so I will be sharing links to various blogs who have been gracious enough to host me. Today I'm featured on author Christine Young's site with a brief interview. I'd love it if you came by and said hello on her blog. :)
Everyone has varying comfort levels when it comes to sex scenes in novels. There are two main reasons I steer clear of explicit sex in my stories. One, I'm a middle school teacher who uses her real name on her books, so writing descriptive sex would likely be problematic. Even without the graphic sex, I still try to keep the fact that I'm an author from my students. Not that any of them would have interest in reading the stuff I write, but if one or two of them did, it would just be... weird. Two, I write chick lit/romcoms, and to me steamy sex kind of seems out of place in that genre. However, I'm sure there are authors who pull it off quite successfully.
That being said, I do like to include at least one romantic/sexy/amusing scene between my hero and heroine, and you know what? It's really hard to do without getting explicit, and sometimes it's tempting to go there. But as much as I like to keep a light, whimsical tone when I write, I'm still a romantic at heart. I LOVE to read and write about the build-up that leads to the hot sex.
Don't get me wrong. I enjoy a well-written steamy read as much as the next girl. Which by the way, I recently read Lindy Dale's Seven Days, and all I have to say is hooooooooeeeeey! You better have a bucket of ice water on hand if you choose to indulge in that one.
Now what was I saying? Oh yes. Romantic at heart. Build-up to steam. Difficult to convey.
Maybe it comes easy for other writers, but not for me. The reason being is that sexy, romantic scenes involve talking about eyes a lot. And hands. And fingertips. Then back to the eyes. Throw in a collarbone and neck. Lips. Mouths (essentially recycling the word lips). Then we're back to the eyes again. Are you catching my drift? There are only so many romantic gestures one can come up with without repeating yourself, and if you want to make the scene as lengthy and satisfying for the reader as possible, you start running out of ways to show interactions that we take for granted when watching films.
In movies and TV it's easier because we can just watch the dreamy couple share that romantic dance for a full minute or two without hearing the narration. "He looked deeply into her eyes and brushed her cheek with his thumb. She lowered her gaze before looking into his eyes again." Blah, blah, blah...
I will always remember when I wrote my first book, which I never published because—just no. I asked my closest friend to read and comment on it. She is an amazing writer, by the way. Anyhow, I wasn't aware of how often I used the generic phrases he looked at her... she looked at him, etc. To this day, I distinctly remember her comment in the margin which said something to the effect, "Geez. There's a whole lotta lookin' goin' on," with a little smiley face next to it. Remember, Michelle? Heh heh. I was like, "Oh my gosh! All they do is look at each other!"
I've spent the last couple of days working on my one romantic/sexy/amusing scene in my work in progress, and I'm praying that readers will find it romantic/sexy/amusing. Not "OMG! This scene just goes on and on and repeats the same crap over and over. And then I get to the end of it, and there's no graphic sex? WTF?"
Only time will tell.
As usual, I got a little sidetracked from my opening and I'm wondering what level of sexual detail others prefer in their novels. I was quite surprised when one of the reviewers for Menopause to Matrimony said the sex scenes made her extremely uncomfortable. She had agreed to review it for me and was kind enough to finish the book despite the fact that it made her uneasy, but I was taken off guard because to me, the sex in my books—what little there is of it—is pretty vanilla.
So I guess like anything else, it's all a matter of perspective. :)
UPDATE: Here's the link to a guest post I wrote from a couple years ago on a similar topic, if you'd like to have a look-see.
Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s Book Blog, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-aug-2015
I apologize in advance for having no clear focus to this post. I guess I just want this to be kind of a fun/tribute/reflection kind of rambling. How's that sound for a heads up?
I'm currently working on the third book in the Fortytude series. What is the Fortytude series, you ask? Good question, because up until a couple of weeks ago, the series had no name. It was only when I scheduled a blog tour for Vegas to Varanasi and Menopause to Matrimony, and the tour coordinator asked me the name of the series, that I decided I should probably come up with one. So Fortytude it is.
Anyhoo, in this third book, which will be titled Harmony to Heartburn, there will be quite a bit of Anna's father. As some of you may know, I like to envision certain celebrities for my characters so I have a better feel for their personalities, appearance, and/or mannerisms. Right around the period I began creating Anna's father was the awful time that Robin Williams died, bringing him to the forefront of my mind.
His death hit me really hard, and it made me realize how much I've always adored him. It seems I don't realize my love for a public figure until they're taken from us, and it takes me by surprise. I remember it was the same when Princess Diana died. Of course I loved and admired her, as many did, however when she died I was surprised to find myself crying for days! I never knew it was in me.
John Ritter was another one. John Ritter? What the hell? I never gave John Ritter a second thought, but I remember exactly where I was when I saw it on TV, and I immediately started crying--not for days like Princess Diana, but still.
Michael Jackson. Ugh! I was heartbroken when he left us. Just devastated. That one didn't really surprise me though. There were definitely a few days of boo-hooing over him, and to this day I can still get a little misty when I think on the fact that he's gone.
Obviously, I don't do this every time a celebrity dies. We lose celebrities every day, but I find it odd when a death hits me particularly hard. Which brings me back to Robin Williams. Not only do I feel his death was a tremendous loss because of his humor and compassion, but it was especially tragic that he spent his life bringing so much joy and laughter to others, while inside he was a tortured soul. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.
I always thought his blue eyes were so full of playfulness and kindness, but after he died, I remember others saying they felt his eyes often hinted a deep sadness. I never saw it. I was in complete shock to learn he'd taken his life. I dearly hope he now has the peace he failed to find while he was still with us.
The reason I mention Robin is because he is who I modeled Anna's father after in Menopause to Matrimony. As I said earlier, I'm currently working on the third book, in which I've included a scene where Anna and her father, Everett, ride the Voodoo Zipline together here in Las Vegas. Everett's the adventurous one; Anna is terrified.
Given that up until today I hadn't been on the ride, I figured I'd better check it out if I was going to have any idea what I was talking about. I have watched several YouTube videos of people riding, some quite hilarious I might add, but it's not the same as experiencing it firsthand when you have the opportunity to do so. And it's a good thing I did, otherwise I would have gotten a few of the details wrong.
I wasn't crazy about the idea of doing this, because with age I've become increasingly fearful of heights. Luckily it turns out it really wasn't all that bad. The anticipation was definitely the worst part. In fact, when the Rio Tower came into view as I was driving down the freeway, the butterflies started immediately as I contemplated the height of that building!
It wasn't so much the ride itself that scared me sh*tless--it was my irrational fears. Visions of the cable suddenly splitting and unraveling. Or a nearby helicopter malfunctioning, careening into our line and taking us with it. A faulty seatbelt disconnecting, dropping me and my daughter to our deaths. I know, I know... Been watching too many movies.
Anyway, I hope that my rather aimless post wasn't too bothersome. For now, I will leave you with the video footage I posted on Facebook of my daughter and I riding the zipline. If you're ever in Vegas, you should give it a go. If I can do it, you can! ;)
Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s Book Blog, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-july-2015
How do we deal with a difficult personality? Specifically, a passive aggressive personality? You know the type—the one who comes off as friendly and easy-going, while simultaneously saying things or acting in ways which are hurtful or make you feel inferior.
Normally, I just do my best to steer clear of this type of person, but unfortunately, due to circumstances I can’t completely do that in this case.
I’m going to keep this as vague as possible, on the off-chance this person—who I’ll call Apple—ever reads this.
What makes this situation especially hard for me to take is that the target of Apple’s aggression is one of my children. In an effort to keep this post as vague as possible to protect all identities, I’m going to refer to my child as Banana. Are you following so far?
Apple is the parent of one of Banana’s very close friends—I’ll call this person Carrot. (I apologize in advance for the repeated fruit/vegetable names in place of pronouns. Just my paranoia kicking in, and I've asked Bridget to do the same in her response.)
I have been in Apple's company on several occasions and have always been very friendly and agreeable with Apple. However, over the past couple of years, Banana has told me several unkind remarks that Apple has said to Carrot about Banana. I have no idea why Carrot would feel the need to tell Banana these things, except for the fact that Carrot really doesn’t get along with Apple either, and has also been the subject of Apple’s unkind words. Maybe Carrot just wants to form an alliance with Banana against Apple. I don’t know.
All along I have tried not to let much of this drama get to me. However, you can only hear bad things being said about your child for so long before you’ve had enough. Yes, yes… I realize I haven’t heard these things first-hand, and that young people can often twist or exaggerate things, but I have been around Apple enough times to witness this passive aggressive personality and believe it’s not much of a stretch of the imagination.
So after this last piece of nastiness Apple supposedly said about Banana, I just lost it. I really don’t know what to do because all of these things are being said behind Banana’s back, and I don’t even know how true they are. But at the same time, if they really are being said, I want nothing more to do with Apple. I can’t continue being friendly with someone who repeatedly talks smack about my kid.
As I said at the beginning of this post, normally I would just write such a person off. But Banana and Carrot’s close friendship makes this almost impossible, and I don’t want to behave in a way that makes things harder for them.
So… I reached out to my friend and communications guru, Bridget Sampson, for some feedback and advice. Bridget knows all of the details and specifics that unfortunately I’m not able to provide here, and I asked her if she would be willing to share some insights about difficult personalities that might help me, as well as others who may be in a similar situation. You'll find after reading them, they make perfect sense after removing emotion from the situation, which is always the hardest part!
Bridget also has an upcoming book--Communication Secrets for Success (working title)—in which she shares her expertise in communicating with the various people in our lives, from our romantic partners to our children to our bosses. I’ve had the pleasure of previewing it, and though not yet finished reading it, have already received some very useful tips and insights from the book. Please be sure to check it out once published!
Thanks for welcoming me to your blog to discuss this challenging issue, Shelly! As a communication professor and consultant, it’s exactly the kind of thing I love to chew on.
I want to start by commending you for your willingness to examine this situation from different perspectives.
I recently binge-watched this great show on Showtime called The Affair. One of the reasons I love it is because the first half of the show presents events from one main character’s perspective and the second half presents the same events from the vantage point of the other main character. It’s fascinating to watch how different the accounts are because it points out that we’re probably all living in our own separate realities.
I share this because I believe, and I’m sure you would agree, that there must be much more going on in this situation than you are aware of. I find this to be true in most cases that involve a person who is considered “difficult.” We could guess at Carrot’s motives for telling Banana the unkind things Apple has said about Banana. But we’d probably be wrong. We could also try to analyze the reasons why Apple might say the things Apple does about Banana, Carrot, and others. But the truth is we don’t really know Apple very well, so again, we would likely be way off base.
Attribution theory tells us that when we try to attribute meaning to others’ choices without really knowing their side of the story, we’re almost always wrong. So I try to steer people away from this kind of stressful speculation. That’s my first tip. Don’t try to figure other people out without hearing directly from them.
Now, for the hardest part of this dilemma… how to deal with your feelings about the hurtful things Apple has (supposedly) said about your beloved child, Banana. I had to add that qualifier to the last sentence, because as you acknowledged, this information has mostly come to you third-hand, which almost always means that it has been distorted in some way. Just play the game telephone to see what I mean. I play it in classes and it’s hysterically funny to see how dramatically a message can change each time it passes from one person to the next.
I happen to have inside information pointing to the fact that Banana is an exceptional human being. Banana has been a very high-achiever in school and is an ethical, kind, and loving individual. I know this. You know this. Everyone who knows Banana knows this, including Apple. We’ll never know why Apple may have made negative comments about Banana. But we can rest assured that they are not true. We also have evidence that Apple makes harsh comments about others on a regular basis, including Apple's own child, Carrot. This reduces the credibility of Apple's opinion of others down to almost nothing, in my view. So why fret about it?
We cannot live a life free of interactions and relationships with difficult people. But we can always choose how we respond to them and how much we allow them to affect us. Our time and energy are precious and limited. They should not be wasted on worrying about things people say that are untrue or may have been exaggerated due to ulterior motives we are not even aware of.
The bottom line: Continue to be pleasant to Apple when you see Apple. When you hear third-hand accounts of things Apple has said about Banana, Carrot, or others, which you know are not true, ignore them and encourage everyone involved to do the same.
I hope that was helpful and I look forward to future conversations about life and relationships! Thanks, Shelly!
Bio: Bridget Sampson is the owner of Sampson Communication Consulting (SCC) and has been a lecturer in the Communication Studies department at California State University, Northridge for over twenty years. SCC is dedicated to developing and facilitating cutting-edge professional development programs for corporations and educational institutions. Their clients include Google, Mattel, and The Los Angeles Alliance for Children’s Rights. Bridget lives in Southern California with her husband, their two sons, two silly dogs, and a variety of other pets.
SCC Website: http://sampsoncommunicationconsulting.com
CSUN’s Communication Studies Lecturer Page: http://www.csun.edu/mike-curb-arts-media-communication/communication-studies/part-time-faculty-0
Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s Book Blog, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-june-2015/
Aside from letting you in on book promotions, I don’t often use my blog to talk specifically about the writing or marketing process. In general, I usually just ramble on about life stuff. However, today I’m going to talk about writing. Actually, I'm going to talk about emotional attachment to your writing.
I have written four books and recently realized I’ve made consistent efforts to gain new readers for my last three, but I’ve pretty much ignored my first baby, and had to ask myself why. I’ve always reasoned that its genre is just too difficult to pinpoint, so who exactly is the market for my lonely little novella? Whenever you submit your book to a promotional site, you must provide its genre.
Believe is a story that deals with grief, spirituality, loss of faith, and forgiveness. I would say the strongest element is the spiritual aspect, but spirituality is often associated with religion. How many times have we heard someone say, “I consider myself spiritual, but not necessarily religious,” or something of that nature? If there wasn’t a close association between the two, why would someone feel the need to make such a statement?
So spiritual fiction and religious fiction are often lumped together, and the problem with that is many readers expect their religious fiction to follow very strict guidelines. Well, I’m telling you right now Believe has a few naughty words in it, so readers of religious fiction generally don’t appreciate that. I know because one reader said she was permanently removing the book from her Kindle because of the potty mouth language. (Okay, I’m making an assumption that she was expecting religious fiction—I don’t know that for a fact.) In any case, she was certainly entitled to those feelings.
But going back to genre placement, let’s scratch religious fiction, or even spiritual fiction because of its close association with religious fiction.
Then there’s women’s fiction or plain ol’ contemporary fiction, which I have used in the past for promotional purposes for lack of something more appropriate. However, contemporary fiction is so vague. And women’s fiction? It’s an okay choice for the story, but still not great.
By now you’re probably thinking, “Alright, enough already about the genres! We get it. You can’t figure out what your book is. Can we move on?”
So here’s the real truth about my reluctance about promoting this book. It has very little to do with the proper label and everything to do with its content and what it means to me. Every author has a certain amount of emotional attachment to each of her works, for varying reasons, but because this book was my way of working through the death of my daughter, I get very nervous about how it’s received by readers.
I’ll admit the writing wasn’t as polished as it hopefully is now. After all, it was my first work and as writers we all hope to improve our craft with each book. Not long after it was published, I ran a free promotion that resulted in several unfavorable reviews on Goodreads. After that, I was afraid to put it out there again.
All authors need to learn how to deal with negative feedback, especially first time authors, but because this book was so painfully personal, any criticism against the writing felt like invalidation—not only of my experience, but more importantly, my daughter’s. It’s quite ridiculous, really. It sounds like I’m saying the topic in and of itself should have exempted the book from judgment.
Subconsciously, that may have been what I thought, because as I went on to write my other books, I pretty much gave up on trying to put Believe in front of readers with any amount of oomph. I wanted people to read it, but at the same time I kinda didn’t. Low ratings and/or meh reviews of my other works weren't exactly fun, but they didn’t feel as personal. Not only do those stories have lighter themes, but with each book comes the acceptance that you won't please everyone.
I’m nearing the end of a three-day free run of Believe in which the number of downloads at the time of this writing is just over two thousand. And no, that doesn’t mean a whole lot because there are lots of people who download free books and never read them. Expecting fifty reads out of two thousand is being extremely optimistic. In any case, I do have a little bit of a sick feeling in my stomach, anticipating reader response. In a writing group I belong to, I once asked if anyone else still gets a little anxious when discovering a new review. A fellow author described it best when she said she does a little cringe with a one-eyed peek. Yep. Perfect depiction.
However, my skin has become a bit thicker since I first released Believe. There will inevitably be readers who won't like it, or it won't speak to them in any way, and that's okay. At the same time, occasionally that review comes in when it’s clear your reader just “got it.” They got exactly what it was you were trying to accomplish.
And that, my friend, makes all the fear and apprehension worthwhile. :)
Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s Book Blog, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hopapril-2015/
Writing about the everyday, wishing to give you a smile in the end.