I’ve Moved!

You might remember that I’ve mentioned several times that I planned a major overhaul of my blog. After deliberating about it for several months, I’ve moved it to a self-hosted site.

The flexibility offered by self-hosting better meets my needs as a writer, despite the amount of time required to execute the move when I already have sooo many commitments, both professionally and personally. I keep telling myself that in the long run, it’ll save time, and I think it will. I’ll have a solid foundation in place when I find a publisher, and be ready to go full steam ahead with the whirl of social networking, marketing and promo, while continuing to write new stuff.

If you’re a follower, please go to my new site and subscribe there to continue getting updates. The site is still in development, but the blog is up and running, with all the posts and comments from here imported. I have lots of great content planned for the whole site, not just the blog. I hope you’ll all come along for the ride! 😀

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Pirates Without Ships: Are You A Pirate?

Remember the stories of swashbuckling pirates sailing the high seas? Taking ships and stealing the property of others? Buried treasures and tropical islands?

Some of today’s pirates still sail the seas in order to steal from others. But there are far more pirates out there, surfing the uncharted waters of the internet, stealing property left and right.

And many don’t even realize they’re pirates, or that they’re stealing from someone else!

Are YOU A Pirate??

Have you ever downloaded a song, book, movie, etc., from a file sharing site? You know, that new release that you can’t wait to get your hands on, and suddenly, it pops up free online? So of course, you download it, and tell a couple hundred of your closest Facebook friends it’s there, right? Of course you do. Why shouldn’t you?

Well, here’s why. If that book or song or movie isn’t free from the creator or licensed distributor, then you’re stealing it.

With all the recent attention on SOPA/PIPA, I wanted to let everyone know why some sort of legislation that protects Intellectual Property from being stolen needs to be enacted, until such time as the creators of Intellectual Property are compensated for their work, regardless of who’s downloading and who’s distributing copies.

Everyone Does It…

Yes, many people do. That doesn’t make it right. It’s still theft.

Okay, so it’s a crime. But it’s victimless, right? So who cares. Everyone knows authors and musicians are rich. They aren’t going to miss that couple of bucks. WRONG!

A few authors earn big money. They are not the average! Most earn a few hundred dollars for each book they write. Gone are the days of big advances from publishers. The few that still offer advances have cut them down to an average of $3-5k, and that comes in 3 separate parts, usually months apart. And guess what! That advance has to be paid back! It’s an advance against the book’s future earnings.

So, if the author’s contract stipulates that royalties will be 15% (about average for a traditional publisher) of the net profit (after the publishers expenses – offices, editors, artists, secretaries, actual publication costs, and who knows what else – and the distributor, the people who get it from the publisher to the bookstore shelves, take 50% right off the top), then depending on the cover price, each copy sold earns the author from a few cents to maybe $3 (for a hardcover at full price) at most. The book has to sell enough copies to earn back that $3-5k advance, one dollar at a time, before the author sees a penny of the royalties. And that can be for months, or even years, of work! So, every single copy sold is important to the author. And so is every single copy stolen.

Yeah, but…

One of the arguments used to justify this kind of piracy is to compare it to a library. Not the same thing at all. A library purchases a copy. That one copy gets lent to one person at a time. If each person keeps it 2 weeks, and it’s immediately checked out again, that one copy is viewed a total of 26 times a year.

But, if that one copy is uploaded to a file sharing site, it can be downloaded thousands of times a day! And that’s just that one original copy. Each of those thousands of copies can potentially be uploaded to file sharing sites, and each of them downloaded thousands of times a day. And each of those thousands… You get the idea.

Another argument is that the people who download pirated copies wouldn’t purchase a copy anyway. Well, maybe. Maybe not. You see, there are unscrupulous pirates out there. They charge visitors to their sites a subscription fee, or a download fee, or whatever they want to call it. Essentially, they steal copies of a book, share them however many times, and charge the people downloading that stolen copy. The pirates are getting paid for what doesn’t belong to them. What’s the world coming to, when criminals cheat?!

The downloaders actually bought their copy, just not from the person who created it. They bought it from thieves. So, at least some of those people would have purchased it from the creator, even thought they did.

Do YOU want to work for NOTHING?

So, here’s the thing. If you want your favorite authors, artists, musicians, etc., to continue to produce the entertainment you enjoy, please don’t steal from them. If they can’t earn a decent living for their families doing what they love, they’ll have to devote more time and energy to a regular job. Most authors do have dayjobs, writing the books you enjoy in the evenings and on weekends, giving up most leisure activities in favor of entertaining you. They can’t feed their children and keep a roof over their heads if their work is always stolen, and they can’t continue to devote the kind of time and focus it takes to write a book if they’re not going to get paid for it. Would you work a second job for free? Didn’t think so.

If you want to read you favorite author’s books, shell out the 5 or 6 bucks so she gets paid for the 3 or more months of hard work she spent creating it. If you seriously can’t afford to buy it, there are lots of legitimate ways to get free copies. Authors and publishers often have a couple of days where the book is free to download. Watch the author’s blog, they often host giveaways on other blogs in order to promote the book. Sometimes the book will be included in a huge giveaway where the winner receives a dozen or more books for free. Become a reviewer – larger review sites often need new people to read and review books, and normally, they provide the books.

Let other people know that not only is downloading pirated copies illegal,  it isn’t just stealing from some faceless corporation. Encourage people to borrow from the library. Several ereaders allow the owner to lend copies of books they own. Suggest a couple of friends go together and buy a paperback copy.

When you download a free book, make sure it’s legitimately free. Download for the author’s site, the publisher’s site, or an authorized retailer’s site. If you doubt whether the book might actually be free, check with the author or publisher. If you come across pirate copies available online, notify the author or publisher so they can take action to stop the illegal downloading.

Do the right thing. It’s not that difficult. Really.

Author Spotlight: Azure Boone and the MotherFugnWriters

I’ve mentioned my friend and critique partner, Azure Boone, several times here on the blog. I’ve told you she’s an amazing writer, and a wonderful person. Well, today, you get to meet the lady herself! I know you’ll be as crazy about her as I am. Please join me in welcoming Azure Boone, in her guise as the…

MOTHERFUGNWRITER!

Kenra: So, Azure, readers have to know – what the hell *is* a motherfugnwriter?

Azure: Well, it’s a title for the Mother and Wife Writer. The –fugn- part (which I’ve told my husband is German for love and pronounced few-gen, LOL) represents two things to me: that thing we do as “wives”, and the bad-ass women we actually ARE. The original phrase was “Mother Fucking Writer”. But, virgin ears and all….

Kenra: Let’s all hope Azure’s hubby never gets curious enough to look that word up! Or mention it to someone who knows German… Azure, what made you start motherfugnwriters?

Azure: Umm, well, mainly to form a cyber-place where mom/wife writers could relax and meet other women they could relate to. Motherfugnwriters often feel alone, despite having children. We’re behind the scenes doing all the necessary shit nobody else wants to do. I thought it would be nice to have a place where we could let our hair down – maybe even cuss a lot, since we play a saint all day long.

We talk about the things we don’t have anyone else to talk to about. Which is one of the reasons my posts are often of a “wifely/writerly” nature, as well as motherly.

Kenra: Tell us about this Zazzle store you’ve been burning the midnight oil to set up.

Azure: I create products that would make great gifts for writers – T-shirts, mugs, hats and shit with funny writer slogans that highlight the secret and alien life of Writers. So I decided to set them up in an online store.

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Kenra: What inspires your posts? Some of them are a bit… ahem… unique.

Azure: Gosh, my posts seem to be PMS inspired I think. Like a random stream of conscious, wherever my life takes me, that’s what’s getting posted. I usually keep it geared to Writing, which is easy, since it’s what I love doing and studying.

Kenra: What do you do in real life? What’s your day-in-the-life of a MFW?

Azure: Well it’s LOUD, for one thing. I have 8 kids, 9 if I count my grandson.  But don’t panic, 3 of them take care of themselves, so that leaves me with… err 5, sometimes 6. I home school 3, soon to be 4, of the 5 right now. The challenge, which I’ve kinda overcome, was juggling it all.

We all work together. My kids do laundry – yes, washing, drying, and folding – they do dishes, everything except mop the floors and clean the toilets, in fact.

Kenra: What 3 of your posts would you most like to share with readers here?

Azure: I’m partial to the last one I did, Killing The Erotic Muse, and I liked Getting Wet And Ready about getting in the mood… Oh, and I liked Naked Bare Back Muse Riders For Hire. I know, I love these wacky titles.

Kenra: Where else can we find you online?

Azure: Here’s my author blog, Google Plus, Facebook Page, and Twitter.

Kenra: One final thing. Azure’s Paranormal Romance, Devil Wants A China Doll, will soon be available. Her main character, Rone, is possessed by the demon of Lust and Rage. He manages to live life because he has a  psychic shield that prevents the demon from contaminating anyone he has contact with – important because the demon can make a person commit suicide by sex. Then he meets Sheeku, with big problems of her own. Sheeku bypasses Rone’s shields and lives to tell the tale. For a while, anyway.

Azure, will you share a little with us?

Azure: You know I will! This is a make-up scene, after Sheeku thinks Rone cheated on her with another woman.

I kissed her teary cheek softly.

Her hand was suddenly in my hair, sliding on my face.

Oh God, no, please… don’t do that.  Not now, I won’t stop…

            She slowly turned her face to me and no force in Heaven could move me away.  And there she was, staring up at me with glittery blue eyes, offering a chance to redeem myself.  Make it better, please do it.  Make it better.

            The burning stab in my chest combined with the fire in my groin.  I closed my eyes.  Shield was on tight, but what if this was the demon’s doing?

            She slowly sat up and my body matched her every move, magnetized, trapped in her pull.  So much need to fill, and pain to erase.  And she wanted me to do it.  The nice guy with the soul-eating devil.

            I could only watch as she put her hands on my shoulders and climbed into my lap, facing me.  My hands clamped on her waist as heat bolts shot through my groin.  I wrapped her in a hard embrace, wanting to feel her completely, no, prevent her from doing more, prevent me from ripping her clothes off.

I pressed my face to her chest, listening to the frantic life calling for me.  I embraced her closer, wanting her to be real.  Fuck, she was, she was so real.

In one push, the buried man inside me broke free.  I dug hungry fingers into firm muscle at the junction of her jeaned thighs.  Her breath drew in sharp and the sound struck the demon’s cell.  The demon struck back hard, and I strained my mind, solidifying the quiver in his cell while sliding my hands slowly and firmly up, feeling her body beneath the light t-shirt.

I wanted that satiny skin beneath it more than ever.  “Sheeku.” My fingertips pressed on their way back down.  Down, until I filled my hands with her perfect ass.  I squeezed hard and pressed her tight to my stomach.

            “Rone.”

The desire in her voice slammed me with terror.  I waited for her to call my demon’s name next.

She didn’t.

            My hands surged back up her body, the man in me knowing the time was short.  He hurried to take before being locked away, one hand pressing those perfectly shaped breasts into my chest, those bite-me nipples driving me to the point of orgasm. Hunger purred up my throat as I wrapped the base of her hair with trembling fingers.

            I pulled her head back and stared at her slender neck.  Her nails dug into my shoulder blades and desire raced on fiery currents through my veins.  I studied the creamy column.  She was life and I would die if I didn’t taste her.  Just once.

            I opened my mouth and leaned with a groan.  I licked the satin, slow and hard.  Salty… sweet… fucking delicious. “Sheeeeeku,” I breathed into her neck.

            Then it was there, bitter and biting into my gut.  Her fear.

“Stop, please,” she gasped.

Keep checking back here for updates on Azure’s work!

Too Real For Fiction?

 

A Fact Checker Is Born

I’ve always been geeky, more so at some phases of my life than others. Back in the late 90s, when I finally gave in and started internet service for my work computer, I was instantaneously hooked. All that lovely information out there, right at my fingertips! Suddenly, I could easily and quickly access facts about any subject I chose, no matter how obscure.

Besides being geeky, I’ve also always expected authors to know at least basic information about their settings, and other elements of their books. Put a key Civil War battle in the wrong location, call a mare ‘he’, or place a wild animal outside its possible ecological range, and the book turned into a wall-banger. Add the internet, and I could immediately check facts that just didn’t quite ring true.

WRONG!!!

And apparently, I wasn’t the only one. Today’s reading public is more demanding than ever for accuracy and realism in fiction. We want police procedures to ring true, manufacturer-model-caliber of firearms, medical facts accurate enough for the JAMA, and so on.

As a result of all that, countless readers criticize certain genres for being unrealistic. Make up a creature? Can’t exist, so it’s unrealistic. Alternate history? Yeah, right. A man who treats the woman he loves with respect? Absolutely not!

If you’re going to do something like those things, as an author, you’re often expected to make sure everything else in your book is accurate. No fudging historical details. No bending of physical laws. No hedging of medical details. No liberties with geography. No contriving logic. Well, you can, but someone, probably lots of them, is going to give you grief about it.

The info hound in me is glad for this insistence on accuracy. In part, because it means that as I read, I might be gathering little bits of trivia that could prove useful eventually. Also because I don’t like misinformation being distributed as what someone might mistake for truth.

Creativity v. Real

But the creative part of me wonders just how much realism and accuracy I should expect in fiction. It is, after all, fiction. Inherently not real. Do I really need the author to give the right police code for a kitten up a tree, when the responding officer is going to fall victim to the spree killer? And do I seriously care what kind of suture the surgeon uses to close the gut-spilling, as long as the hero survives it? And what the hell difference does it make whether the germ causing the pandemic is correctly named and classified, if the heroine doesn’t manage to get the cooler with the cure in it across the city so it can be put to use? Do I really care if the heroine’s ball gown is a color that won’t be widely available for another 75 years, as long as she manages to escape the evil countess’s clutches and entice the duke into falling in love with her?

Seriously?

As a reader, why do I get pissed if the author fails to correctly name an obscure object, if the characters are multi-dimensional, the plot interesting, the conflicts exciting, and all the elements of the story well-written? Is it really that important?

I’m not questioning whether the big things should be realistic, things like key battles in the wrong location in a historical novel, or sending low-slung sports cars along heavily rutted logging tracks in a contemporary novel, and that sort of thing.

I’m talking about those little insider details that no one outside a particular field of expertise would know. Do you care that the little container a tattoo artist puts the ink in when tattooing someone is called an ink cap? Or that the narrow band at the top of a horse’s hoof is the coronet? If it doesn’t matter to the story as a whole, do we need our fiction to be that real?

What’s your preference, as a reader? Do you like books filled with excruciatingly real details? Or can you tolerate a little laxness, if the story is good, and otherwise well-written? What are some of the glaring errors you’ve spotted in books?

In The Spotlight! Author Robin Badillo

Please join me in welcoming our very first Spotlight Author, Robin Badillo! As a member of my blogging network, she took pity on me when I mentioned that I needed Spotlight guests. 😀 Robin is a multi-published Paranormal Romance author, and a very busy lady.

Robin Badillo

Check this out, and you’ll see why her Midnight Beckoning just hit my TBR list!

Ford Lenox, a natural born damphyr, waited three hundred years for the phenomenon of his birth to be repeated. Many had been conceived. Many had even been born. But only a few made it to their twenty-first birthday. And none shared the same requirements as he, to assume their rightful place at his side and become his queen.

Until now.

Lauren Neil was born three hundred years to the day after Ford’s birth, and it was no coincidence that he found her only days before her twenty-first birthday. Little did she know that the damphyr lurking beneath her human surface was about to be unleashed, prominently placing her on the throne to rule over damphyr and vampire alike.

Lauren’s demonic sire slash father, Drago, an incubus, straight from the pits of hell, has other plans.

Can Ford fulfill the prophecy and save Lauren and their kind? Or will a new species be created to rule the world?

Even a match made in heaven, may have to go through hell to survive!

Buy Midnight Beckoning!

Robin, I’m thrilled you could be with us today! And thanks for your patience while I worked out details and glitches, LOL. Let’s get started, shall we? Sooner or later, every writer gets this one, and I’m sure you have, as well. Where do your ideas come from?

My ideas come to me in many shapes and forms. Most of them start out as a conversation in my head. Yes, I am one of “those” people who hear voices, but more importantly, or disturbing, depending on how you look at it, I am one of those people who actually listen and even answer back.

Once the scene is set into motion, faces, names, descriptions, angst, dilemmas and every other aspect of writing a romance story somehow falls into place. Having the issue or problem up front and center gives me the foundation to build a story around. So far, it’s working well for me.

How long did you work on Midnight Beckoning?

Midnight Beckoning took about two months to complete, edit, re-edit and tighten up.

There is a long, drawn out process after the publisher gets their hands on it, but the initial timeframe is pretty typical for most of my books.

What makes Midnight Beckoning different from others in the same sub-genre?

I always say that Midnight Beckoning has everything, but the kitchen sink. This is the first time I’ve added other paranormal entities to a story other than vampires. In this story, the main characters are Damphyr. Midnight Beckoning also has vampires, incubi, folklore, legends, Biblical indications and possibly an angel or two. Yep, that just about covers everything, but the kitchen sink.

Do you have a person, perhaps an actor or model, etc., in mind when you picture your characters? How do you decide who the character will be – all the little bits and pieces that go into a person, not just appearance?

For most of my novels, I hunt and search hundreds of stock photos and actors and actresses until one jumps out at me. I generally have an idea in my head such as build, hair color and ethnicity, so when browsing the internet for that perfect man or woman, I sort of know what to look for. Other detailed characteristics like personality, accents or attitude, develop as the story unfolds. Each character has their own way of relaying their voice to me and I do my best to pay attention and get it right.

Who influenced or encouraged you to write, and when?

Two people have influenced me more than any other people in my life when it comes to writing. My daughter, Brittany, loved vampire novels and was crazy about Twilight. I loved the series, too and it proved to be a great way to bond with her over a similar interest. That’s not always easy when dealing with teenagers.

My first trilogy was more of a young adult genre and set me on the path to what I currently write now. The best part of it though, is that at age 16, my daughter is already writing her own book and I can’t wait to see what comes of it.

My best friend, Kim Esparza, was also a great influence because she would get so excited when I sent her a new chapter. Having her squeal over the phone about a direction I had taken a character and clamoring for more of the story, was amazing motivation. She also helped me get my foot through the door by introducing me to a published author she already knew. She’s not only been my dearest friend, she’s also been my inspiration to persevere and keep on keepin’ on!!

I am truly blessed.

You truly are blessed! We wish Brittany all the best with her writing, too. I wish we had more time today, but maybe you’ll join us again soon. Best of luck with your books, Robin!

You HAVE to stop by Robin's gorgeous blog!

Be sure to check out all Robin’s other books. You can also find Robin on Twitter, her Facebook Profile, and Fan Page. Her publisher is eXtasy Books.

What The H*ll Do You Want???

What do you, as a reader, want on author blogs? I see all kinds of things, and some pretty nonsensical advice from gurus claiming to know what readers want from author blogs and websites. So, as usual when I want to know something, I decided to go straight to the horse’s mouth. BTW, if you’re a reader, that’s you. So, here goes.

Not All Readers Are Created Equal.

A large percentage of the visitors to writers/authors blogs and sites are other writers. What they want may be vastly different from what the non-writer reader wants. As a result, we each have to decide which reader we want to target. Do we go for other writers, and have a pretty much guaranteed audience? Or seek out people who might actually buy our books and enjoy them?

Or, do we perhaps try for a mix, other writers and regular readers? If we do that, how do we achieve some sort of balance, or even separation, so that everyone gets what they want, without the parts they don’t want? Separate blogs/sites, one for writers, one for readers, aren’t an uncommon solution. The writer has to split her time and efforts, often inefficiently, and often leading to one blog being of far inferior quality than the other. If we take that course, which side gets sacrificed?

Other Writers As Readers

See, while writers tend to be voracious readers, we also tend to be 1.) very selective in reading material, and 2.) often, many of us are on a pretty tight budget. We often read extensively in our own genre, sometimes with a very narrow focus within it, but not much else. Or we read lots of writing craft books. Or only authors we wish to emulate. Or… Anyway, often, we don’t look at all the carefully placed marketing materials on author blogs.

With frequently limited reading time, as we push to write our own material, we look for blogs and sites that have materials that will help us improve our writing, find an agent, get published, and sell our books. Word quickly gets around about blogs that provide such useful materials, and they develop large followings.

So, if we’re aiming our blog or site at other writers, we need to focus on materials that will help other writers be more successful.

Readers As Readers

Here’s where things get tricky. What if we want people who are looking for books to make our blog their favorite online hang-out? Of course, we’d love to have the avid reader, the one who consumes multiple books per week, reading our blog. What does she look for in an author’s blog?

Our avid reader might be up for an occasional day-in-the-life sort of post, if she’s a little curious about how and what writers actually do. Writing craft posts aren’t too likely to catch her attention, though. She might like reviews, to help her choose other books to buy, but do we want to send her to buy from the competition?

How can we keep her focus on our work? Cover art, blurbs, and buy links should probably go without saying. How else will the reader know what books we have, and how to get them? I also see excerpts on quite a few author sites, of all levels, so the conventional wisdom would seem to favor excerpts. Give the reader a little taste of the product, as it were. But where do we go from there?

Leave It To The Imagination

One author (I’m sure there are many more doing this, too.) has a page on her website dedicated to artwork related to her books. That sounds good, on the surface. The problem is, she uses these computer drawn images of her characters, which can be gorgeous, when well done. Hers aren’t. They’re very took-one-class-and-now-I’m-a-professional-artist looking, with uneven proportions and colors that resemble dog-puke together. Such things, done purposely, can work, but not in this case. It ends up making her look like an amateur, almost childish, instead of a professional author.

Maybe I’m in the minority, but even before I came back to writing fiction seriously, that sort of thing really turned me off as a reader. If the representations of characters aren’t extremely well done, I greatly prefer my imagination.

Involving Readers?

I know of one mid-list author whose fans sometimes sent her original, professionally done graphics, just to share their enthusiasm for her books. She, with the artists’ permission, used the graphics on her website, and when the collection grew, on merchandise. She has gorgeous hoodies and tees with the graphics, and short quotes and slogans, for sale on her site. I have no idea how well that’s going, but with fabulous artwork, reasonable prices, and good quality, I’d be surprised if it weren’t successful.

How that can translate to other authors, I have no idea, but it seems worth exploring.

Other authors involve readers in various ways – giveaways and contests, responding to reader questions publicly, social media interactions, interviews, blog tours, reviews, newsletters, and etc. The problem with these things is that everyone is doing them, making it tough to stand out from the crowd. We’re told by all the experts that these things will translate to book sales, and they probably do for some. But isn’t there more we can do, without wasting effort and money?

The Question, Then, Becomes:

What can writers/authors do to draw actual readers to our blogs/sites, and keep them involved and returning? Even those of us just starting out, perhaps not even published yet? What can we do to build a loyal following of readers, eagerly anticipating the release of our (next) book?

Do any of the methods listed above catch your attention as a reader, bring you to our blog/site, and keep you coming back for more? Or do they all just get lost in the shuffle? What kinds of things writers do to promote their work annoy you? Would you buy their books even if you’re a little put off by their marketing?

What can authors do to make you feel special, and valued, as an individual? What can we do to convince you to be our reader?