Monday, December 28, 2015

Dominating Her Intern Audio Book is Live!

I'm a little late on this one! Dominating Her Intern is now an audio book! While some of the narrator's other stuff I didn't care for, I thought she was a perfect fit for a femdom book. Her voice is smokey and husky, a little deep, and just perfect for a mistress. Of course, most of the Dominating books are from the male POV, and this IS a female narrator... I think it's a great choice as the men who may be listening will want to hear their mistress' voice! You can purchase the audio book direct from Audible or from Amazon.


Hump on Inn LIVE on Amazon!

The next book in the "Witches of Back End" series Hump on Inn is LIVE on Amazon! Instead of having a single lead character, I'm choosing to have several leads with this one, no more than three or four at the most. It gives me a little bit of variety in the same series without deviating from the storyline, which is being given in bits and pieces. There's definitely something afoot in the sleepy town of Back End! We'll find out bit by bit.

I'm not sure how long this series will end up being. It does have a definite end. It may only be five or six books... or it may be a dozen. It just depends on how long I take to get to it!

Anyway, in this book we center on Selena, who we saw in Knob Jobs and Broomsticks. She's the owner and operator of the Beltane, the local bed and breakfast in Back End which just happens to be situated on the beginning of a ley line of lust. When the protective wards go down around it and faerie folk start having their wicked way with guests of the inn, can Selena use her witchy wiles to stop them?

It was a fun write, and a good palette cleanser after The Prince of Cups. That was dark. Dark, dark, dark. Now we go to another dark series: Delilah. But, for now, enjoy the light hearted romp!


Friday, December 18, 2015

Smut for Your Ears

Villainess: The Queen of Swords AUDIObook went live today, which was amazing. It was a lot of fun working with the producer, who nailed Caprice's voice completely, I think. Jotham did up a audio book cover for it since the dimensions are different than an ebook. Now I REALLY need to investigate putting a sidebar up on here to show all the different buy links! Just really, really busy at work at my day job and in writing.

For those who don't know, I am writing a story set in the Villainess world except told from Nosferatu's POV. I'm tentatively calling it "The Razor's Edge" and it's being written for an erotica anthology. The central theme of the anthology is "erotic transformation", and I thought a guy who transforms into a vampire is a pretty good transformation, right? I have a deadline on that one, so I have to get that done first before publishing anything else on my own.

The next one I'm working on is about half done though, and the cover is 99% done, so it should be out fast! This would be the next Witches of Back End book, and after that the next Delilah Devilshot. Then, all of my series will have at least two books out thus indicating to the people who read them that yes, I am planning on continuing all of them... because I am.

I am going to probably put a hard limit on a couple of the series though.


  • Villainess has 16 books. No more, no less. The reason for this is because I am writing the books based on the courts of the tarot. There are 16 court cards, thus, 16 books.
  • Rock Hardin will probably have 9 or 10. It depends on how many covers Jotham has done. I am not one to waste his work, and while my illustrator dictates what it's about and the name of the book, I still write it. He just made all of these REALLY awesome covers, and I want to use them! So far he's only made 9 or 10, and I'm going to try to keep him to JUST 9 or 10!
  • The Janus Key Chronicles will end on a zero: 20/30/40 etc. The reason for that is the bundling I have planned for them... it only works if it ends on a zero. If I run out of steam on it, then it'll be 20. I'm guessing it'll probably be around book 30 that I finally quit the JKC. It's fun to write, cute, and stress relieving for me. Plus I have a ton of titles for it planned. 
  • The Delilah Devilshot series will go until there's no more story to tell. I have NO idea when that will be. However, since I know it'll be about six books until she gets the guns she'll be known for... and there's seven riders to track down who killed her family... plus stuff I have in my head and I can't spoil for you guys... it could be a long, long series. I'm going to aim for novellas for those, if not novels, but they'll be as long as they'll be.
  • The Witches of Back End I'm not sure on. It would be symmetrical to have it be 9, but I just don't know. There's sort of a metaplot, but not really? It's a light write too, so it's not like heavy and plot intensive. I'm guessing 9 will likely be my cut off, right around there, but that one is really up in the air.
Now I do have other series, anthology series, which may get added to as time goes on. Dominating Her Man is done. That one is finito, end of story. I would be ok with leaving Wantonly Wicked where it is, but I have other ideas for erotic horror which may come up. I really want at LEAST one more Cosmic Erotic so I can make a bundle of the three. Mythic Erotica is slow writing, because they are all bunches of short stories put together. I have started the next one, but the starting is research. It'll be a while before I start writing that one. While it will continue, each of those could stand as stand alones simply because they are so different, exploring different cultures and legends.

Bryce and I have some ideas for a collaboration, but we're still both writing our own stuff, without much time to actually collaborate. Hopefully after things slow down here IRL I will be able to be more with it to knock ideas around again and get them down on paper.

That be it for now!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Prince of Cups Release Event News Report

Yes, I get Dark Phoenix, eater of
asparagus people.
Well.... not really news, but sorta? I guess as much news as this blog gets.

The Prince of Cups is out! (PS--go buy it!) I think the event went pretty well. Seven other authors came to help with takeovers, and they were all pretty nice. One was Bryce, of course, who is my writer BFF, but I'd consider a few of the others as friends too, or at least getting to be.

"Bloom" = Poison Ivy. DO YOU
GET IT YET?!
One thing that I want to give a shout out right now is to Kim, who is my biggest supporter. If you were there at the event, you saw her all gung ho not just on my posts, but on other authors as well. That was really awesome of her. And when I make a street team (which will be SOON, Jebus, I have to get organized!), she'll be like the dictatoress. I'll just give her shit to read and let her go. XD

I also want to give a big shout out to Bryce, who poked and prodded me into doing it. Without his prodding, it wouldn't have happened, and I wouldn't have had my biggest sales day ever. Which was seven books. Two of which were Operation: Thrustmaster, so I'm still WTFing over that since I haven't advertised it in months, save for the Cyber Monday sale I had.

The Black Queen may not be as well known as the
White Queen, but she's sexier IMO. Plus, she eats people.
And is telekinetic. And was worshipped as a goddess in
Nova Roma. Selene just kicks ass.
So, in doing this event, I had decided I was going to make "welcome" images for each of the authors (including myself) and each one would be a villainess, in keeping with the theme! Since I'm a comic book geek, and Villainess draws heavily from comic culture, I went with Marvel and DC villainesses. The pics I made are scattered through out the post here, so it's not just a big block of fucking text.

Cathy Jackson started off the event, and I was real excited... everyone's energy was up, and it was like really fun! And then she kept doing giveaways and I was like, "But I wanna know about your book...." She got Poison Ivy cause her book series was named "Bloom"... get it? Poison Ivy? Bloom?Anyway, the giveaways are nice, but I honestly just didn't know anything about her writing at all, so I was a bit disappointed to leave still not knowing about it.

Hey, she takes on the Green Lantern, so... you know.
Bad ass. PLUS IT'S PRETTY.
JC Winchester came next, and I think all of our energy died down after the first OMG EVENT push, so I'm thinking the first spot in an event is a really important one. If they weren't so early and if I didn't have to always work overnights, I would try to get a first spot. I gave him Selene, the Black Queen, and then had the amusement of explaining to Bryce who Selene was, telling him she was in the Hellfire Club with the White Queen in days gone by, and he thought the White Queen was just an Alice in Wonderland reference. So noted not to take anyone's knowledge of things for granted!

I could have found a "sexier" picture of Catwoman,
but I liked this one.
I thought JC's section went pretty well. It was during this time that Sakura messaged me saying she was going to be about ten minutes late. Well... that derped me for a second until I thought of Bryce's live writing event, so I thought I'd blather on for ten minutes while Sakura picked up her partner and got home. I gave her Star Sapphire, and was disappointed she didn't know who she was! But she liked the picture, and I think she'd like Star Sapphire too. Plus, she wrote some kinky sci-fi space opera erotica that I really enjoyed, so a space villainess made sense to me.

I think at this point people were getting into the groove of the takeover, even some of us (myself included) are still inexperienced at it. The day of the event I had a work meeting at 9 AM to go to, which lasted an hour and a half. That gave me an hour and half after I got home to prepare, no big, right? Well, I forgot to write my introductions for people, so the ten minutes before the event started I was researching the authors like MAD trying to get something together. The first hour was spent getting the rest of their introductions written, and trying to keep up with people's postings. Whether people noticed that I liked every comment and posted on nearly every post an author posted or not, I felt it was polite and right to do so.

Anyway, with Sakura I was glad BJ was there to help support her too. And she mentioned the review I gave her as a Naughty Book Snitch, which was cool as that highlighted both of us. And lol, I guess people trust my opinion? XD I hope so! If not, well, fuck 'em.

After Sakura was Reed James, who's a big sweetheart. He's written a billion books. I'm serious! If you count them all, and know his pen names, he's written a billion of them. He has to be the fastest writer I know, and I'm not a slow writer. From what I gathered, he's been doing this for a couple years, so he's an old hat at publishing. I haven't seen too much promotion on Facebook yet, but I could have been missing it too. He also does his own covers. Reed pulled out a fantastic idea of making a quiz based on his own books, which I thought was brilliant. It encourages people to check his books out.

MYSTIQUE WAS NOT GOOD
ENOUGH FOR YOLANDA. wtf. T.T
(kidding)
After Reed was Mary, who like Cathy, was a practical stranger for me. From what I've seen she's a romance author, or erotic romance author. Still not quite sure. And the reason I'm not quite sure is because this was where my not-much-sleep-early-rising self was starting to get loopy. I'm really sorry about that, but looking at the posts, I don't think I embarrassed myself too much.

After Mary was Yolanda Olson. Now I peg Yolanda as a horror writer, but she writes erotic horror. She's got an event coming up that's an erotic horror "motorcycle club" book... and I'm wtfing on how that's going to be done. However, looking at the shit I've written--ghouls, I mean, really me? Ghouls? With romance? And sexy times?--I can't really say anything. I still think of her as a horror writer, after having read Hollow. I wasn't impressed with the plot, because it was a bit disjointed, but the mood was fucking dark and creepy and sad as hell, and that part I loved. Once I get through my pile of TBR books (which keeps growing), I have to pick up another of hers to check it out more thoroughly.

Anyway, I would consider her a friend just because we do have so much in common. Like seriously, this serial killer party idea is a great one. I would totally go. Yolanda's another "old hat" at the events, and she surprised me by saying she just kinda goes with the flow and doesn't have anything necessarily preplanned out! I was surprised because it seemed like she went pretty well, and it was all professional like. Her people also came out to support her, and you could really see the different having a set of people who enjoy your books supporting you vocally looks like. Her fan group, Arsenic & Lace, is pretty active and it shows that you don't have to have an alliteration name for a fan group name. Yes, that's what I'm still stuck on myself. I know it's dumb.

One of the things she did which made me go "AWWW" was that she gave away one of MY books, which was like, "Aw, damn girl!" When I asked her about it, she said she felt it was the polite thing to do, and that it was the least she could do. That was awesome of her. Really nice.

Last, before me, was Bryce. He got Harley since he's got a thing for her. :P That's when Yolanda said she was jellies, heh. As always, he was smooth, and he went over his Octogirl series since that's my favorite of his (and it is). Bryce was there on and off during the event. He would have been there more, but he was sick, which is perfectly understandable. I'm still waiting for his review of Prince, but there's no rush. I think that might be my downfall for self-promotion. "Oh, yes, it would be lovely if you bought my stuff, but no rush." He's one of my biggest supporters, and I am saving the message he sent me when he got his ARC of Prince: "holy fucking shitballs. I guess it's my turn to be jealous of you." Reviews are good, sales are good, but man... that compliment was awesome. XD

Then, my turn. Alex and Mindy, two of my other biggest supporters, made sure to show up at this time. I chat with Alex off and on at work, as he's in Australia so we share the same schedule. XD Mindy is Mindy Book Snitch, she of the funny and awesome reviews. I feel really lucky to have people support me like that, and not just them, but everyone mentioned. One thing I can say I've observed about the indie author community is that for the most part, people are really supportive of each other. Sometimes to the point of mutual masturbation, but still. Supportive.

I like that. I think it's a good environment to foster creativity, so long as criticism keeps its place. The day you get yelled at for being critical is the day that growth dies. That's one thing I do get scared of sometimes, because I have an acid tongue especially when it comes to concrit (constructive criticism). I am trying to be nicer about it, but still critical. I don't give out five stars unless I really and truly think the author deserves it. I don't do one stars that often either.

However, when it comes to promotion? Yeah, you want people who are going to rave and gush over your stuff, who will say positive things. And those who bring criticism to an event? No. Big ass no. That's just shooting yourself in the foot, and it's a dick thing to do. So even though I haven't read Cathy's or Mary's or JC's stuff, I still put a positive spin on what I DID know of them, to try and help people get excited!

Overall observations was that it went well, but I should have done some more prep. I think some authors were much better at presenting themselves than others. I also think that while games and shit are fun, when you're selling a book... sell the fucking book. I always put a giveaway attached to the "name your favorite villain" game, try to get people to Like my page, and interact with them as well. I think those things are the whole point. You're there to get people to like your shit, to sell your books, and to interact with people and make them fans.

I think I've covered all of this to infinity and beyond, so I'm out for now.







Villainess #2: The Prince of Cups is LIVE on Amazon!

I was so busy running the event for its opening that I forgot to post here that it was live! Yes, Villainess #2: The Prince of Cups is LIVE on Amazon. Now that I'm calming down from meeting the deadline, I'm going through and actually reading it and being kind of amazed that it came out so smoothly. I don't know if other authors have that sensation? Of course, now that I'm not trying to be critical, I see things I want to change as I'm reading, heh. I just make note of it, and move on.

The cover is beautiful. It's not as nice as the Queen of Swords one, but it's in the same style. It may change slightly, as I'm not quite 100% satisfied with it. I think it's alright though, and I'm still proud to say that my illustrator makes the best covers ever.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Running Your Event on Facebook

Boring title. Ah, well.

Now that I've come down off of the high and madness of getting The Prince of Cups released, I can share some of my observations from this whole self-promotion thing from both sides of the event thing: attending an author takeover at someone else's event, and running your own.

Author Takeover
Bryce has a blog, and he's listed a lot of the tips and hints there that I will repeat.


  • Invite everyone. Even if it's just for an hour... invite them. That's why you're friends with them on Facebook. The thing is...I know it feels like spam. It does. But the thing is I get invited to them all the time. I check to see who is going, and what time it is (I have a very narrow window for these things), and as an author, I check to see if any event spots are still open. So, if you are an author on Facebook and you have a takeover, invite everyone... especially if there are slots still open. You are helping other authors too that way!
  • Prewrite the segments you are going to go over. Have them in a separate document ready to go. I usually attach a picture to them when I post them so I know which is which when I see the pop-ups. Write an introduction, A THANK YOU FOR THE AUTHOR HOSTING THE EVENT (we'll go more on that later), the segments for your book(s), have your excerpt ready to go, and another thank you. If you have it ready, it's much easier to simply copy and paste it.
  • Pic out the books you are going to promote. If, like me, you have a lot... pick a couple series and stick with it. Focus on one or two things and it'll be more effective.
  • If you are having a giveaway, be sure to keep track of who enters and whatnot... and make them DO SHIT for entering. Usually I have them give my author page a like. Other authors have them sign up for a mailing list (I don't have one yet, which is another thing I need to change, sigh). If they are not somehow helping you to promote yourself, don't do a giveaway. There are a couple of ways you can do it. The first is gifting through Amazon. This runs the chance they may take the money from the gift and buy something else. It's happened to me a couple times. However, if they don't, it does help with your book rank on Amazon. This also costs you money, so the second option is to email them a .mobi or .doc file of your book. This costs you nothing! As a bonus, if they have a kindle, you can send it directly to their kindle via their kindle email address.
  • Don't forget to list all of your contact info: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. 
  • PACE YOURSELF. You want to run a more or less constant stream of information, but not so much that it overwhelms the readers, especially when you post something long like an excerpt. Give yourself time between posts to respond to people who are posting on your stuff, and stay interactive!
  • Bring people to the event. This goes back to inviting everyone. Even if it's just your BFF saying how awesome you are, it's good for people to see you being interactive and other people responding to that. The aim is to get people want to buy your book, so having friends in your corner cheering you on helps a lot.

Running an Event
  • You have all day. After a while, it gets tedious, trust me. Don't sweat taking a break for a few minutes.
  • At the same time, you need to be interactive. It's YOUR event. Ideally it's highlighting what you are doing or selling, and so people need to see you doing stuff and responding. Plus, it's nice to support the other authors, especially if they didn't bring people with them to the event. 
  • Be prepared for people to be late or not show. I've seen people do "reverse takeovers" during an hour where an author didn't show up to some success, and I know Bryce has done a live writing event before that went over pretty well. If nothing else, you can talk about why you're there and sell your stuff, or maybe take questions until the author shows.
  • Be sure to thank each author for showing up at the beginning and end of their hour, while you are introducing the next one. You don't HAVE to have a welcome and good bye pic, but it's good if you do.
  • Prewrite any introductions you do make, just like for a takeover of your own. If you have them ready, you will be less prone to being scatterbrained. 
  • Most of the author takeover stuff listed above also applies here to an extent. 
I don't know if anyone will read this and find this useful, but these are things I've found. And I can't stress enough that I learned everything I did by either learning from Bryce, or just doing it, but mostly the first. Ask questions of other authors you know, and find out what works for them so you can create your own style!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Independent Publishing Vs. Traditional Publishing

It occurs to me that there's really one or two big differences between indie publishing and traditional publishing. In traditional publishing, you of course, submit your manuscript and they, the publishers, decide if they want to publish it. You have less control over your book, but you also have access to editors, which help to polish and shape your book, giving it a smooth, professional read, as well as a professionally done cover. But as a book reader? You wait forever for them to come out. It's not just the time the author takes in writing them, but sending it back and forth between the writer and the editor, making changes and resubmitting, approving the cover, and so on. It can stretch into months after the manuscript is written!

Independent authors who are self-publishing pretty much do everything on their own. I think they're a bit more frazzled, but a lot more in control. Unless they hire an illustrator and a publicist, they do their own covers, and their own promotions. Unless they hire an editor or have a friend do it for them, they do their own editing, which means a book may not be as polished and smooth as it could be. However, they can turn around and put several books out a year, since they can spend their time writing, and don't have to wait for the editor's say so on what needs to be changed or not. THEY decide what needs to be changed. They decide how much promotion to put in. They decide on the cover. They are a lot more involved with their book, from beginning to end. In general, they are able to put out books faster than in traditional publishing.

I don't know which is better. I would love to be popular enough to get a contract with one of the big five, but I'm good doing it all myself too (and Jotham, of course). I like being in control of the entire project, from start to finish, but it would be nice to have someone else take over and do the promotion stuff (I am really bad at it, but I'm getting better).

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Finding Your Character's Voices

This is inspired by a fellow writer's words to me, upon reading the first edited draft of The Prince of Cups. I'm going to quote part of what he said here, so that we're all on the same page.

What I find fascinating is that your characters are so different from mine, yet they're very real. Just as you're a very different person from me even though we get along well.

It's not just because they are born from separate heads, though of course that's a lot of it, but because our character's voices are vastly different. When writing from the third person limited or first person point of view, it's vitally important to find the lead character's voice, make it consistent, and make it unique. How exactly do you do that, though?

The first step is to know your character. Since I've been in Caprice's head for a month, I'm going to use her for an example. The questions I ask myself when I'm making a character go from the pretty vague to the very specific. First, what are her major personality traits? Well, she's a sociopath, but what does that mean exactly? It means she doesn't have empathy for other people. That leads to a lot of coldness in her voice, saying, "Yeah, this person is going to die. Oh well." She doesn't care. They aren't important to her, unless she needs something.

What's another trait? Well, she's vain. She knows she's good looking, and she wants to stay that way. It's not because of power or to use people, though she does use her looks to get what she wants, it's because she wants to be the best. Being the best to her means being good looking as well as powerful and smart.

Though there's more to her, those are a couple of broad strokes I can build off of. I can remember that she would be upset when someone rebukes her advances because hey, she's hot. I can put down how little she cares about someone else's pain (except to get off on, but that's another personality trait), and so on. Once I have a good sense of who she is as a person, I focus on what she does for a living. Working is a major part of a person's life. In this case, she's a hired killer or thief. Really, a hired thug for whatever dirty job. Is she picky about it? Are there things she wouldn't do? What would be her line?

If someone were say, an office worker, reasonable questions to ask about them would be if they liked their job, and why? Do they have an office romance or rivalry? Is there a task they don't like doing, but are forced to do anyway? ("Gonna need those TPS reports...") Do they steal from work? So on and so forth. Another thing to ask the character about--and by this point in my head I'm asking the character, not just myself anymore--is their family. Do they get along? Have a big family? Maybe they were an orphan. What family controversies were there, if any? What traditions? Do they miss their family, or do they talk to them?

In Caprice's case, she would answer something like, "I don't talk to my family. They don't have anything to do with who I am. I'm my own person." And she wouldn't say much more until pressed, at which point I knew she was sore about her family, for whatever reason. "I don't like my mother. She pushes, too much, too hard. She doesn't let me do things on my own. But I like my dad. He was just always there, you know? He didn't take sides. He was always there for both of us."

Now is where it gets fun. You have an idea about their life, what they do, and who is around them. Ask yourself this... what do they order for pizza? What's their favorite television show and why? What do they do for fun? Ask them any other questions you might ask someone in getting to know them. Favorite hobbies, interests, how they like their food, anything at all! In Caprice's case, she orders a large everything. She doesn't watch television, because she finds it a waste of time. And her work is fun for her... but talking about something else other than work, she likes people watching.

Getting a handle on their personality is vital to 'hearing' them. So when you get into the nitty gritty of describing their voice, you can tell if it's going to be soft or hard, whispery or loud, and so on. Do they have an accent? Are they from a particular area of the world? How they express themselves to others in the book is how they are going to express themselves to your readers. Are they guarded? Secretive? Open? Trusting? The main character's voice is going to set the whole tone for the book, and although it's important to hear all of the character's voices, the narrator is the most important.

In this case, Caprice speaks with no discernible accent, but she's confident. She doesn't have to raise her voice to be heard, but she can when she wants to. She's not particularly secretive, nor open. She has secrets that she keeps, but everything is an open book because why should she care? She knows she can take anyone down if she needs to. Her confidence spills over into arrogance, actually, which some might find endearing, and others might find bitchy. She doesn't care what they think, because the only one who matters is herself. Hence, the tone of the book is her finding the limits of her confidence and abilities. While she might get knocked down from time to time, she always comes back stronger. She's also sarcastic at times, which I get from her arrogance. She sneers at people because she views them as weaker than herself.

Might be a rambling post, but it was something I was thinking about anyway. A character's voice is only one part of a book, but it can be a major part. It's not even going into the MC being an unreliable narrator, which may lie directly to the audience. I may ramble on about that in a different post.



Monday, November 30, 2015

Cyber Monday Sale!

For Cyber Monday, I am having a sale of 22 different erotica titles! Just go to my profile and click the one your heart desires. :)

Just remember... Sexy as fuck for under a buck!




Saturday, November 28, 2015

Talent Versus Popularity

It's been a while since I wrote (and these are words which will count towards my Nano total! Nyah!) and this post has been lingering in the back of my mind for a while. When it comes to success, what is better? Talent or popularity?

Obviously, the key here is to define what "success" means to you. If being successful means making lots of money, then it's hands down popularity. If you're not popular, you will not make money. Ergo... popularity wins.

If being successful means being fulfilled personally, then I think talent would win... but only by a narrow margin. After all, it's good to read something of yours and think, "Wow, that's really good." But it's pretty fulfilling knowing that people bought and read something YOU made. It validates your time expenditure.

If being successful means critical success, ie good reviews? Then definitely talent. There are some talented as fuck writers out there who aren't making money, yet all of their reviews are glowing... and they aren't even bought reviews either! That sort of writer writes because they want to put something enjoyable to read out into the world.

For me, personally, being successful is a bit of all three. I write because it makes me happy, which fulfills me personally. I would also love to make money and be a critical success, heh. Who wouldn't want all three? The most important part of that equation is simply being happy to write though. I would be writing anyway, regardless if I got paid for it or not. Getting paid and having other people enjoy my stuff is like icing on an already delicious cake.

Really, I know this is a pretty small blog post... but it was an easy question to ask and answer. I think each writer needs to define why they write, and what would make them a success in their own eyes. Becoming popular or talented, now that's another story altogether. Talent takes work, a lot of hard, eye gouging work. But becoming popular takes a lot of dedication, especially on social media. You need to be "real" yet pimp your books, have to interact without getting personal. It's a weird thing.

I may do some more thinking on this, but that's all I've got for now. Still editing Prince of Cups. Will have another update soon.

Friday, November 13, 2015

New Naughty Book Snitch Review ~ Sorceress of Desire

Yes, finally I have gotten back on the reviewing kick after a little while of being absent. Not really absent, but I was concentrating on finishing Operation: Deep Nine and now I'm concentrating on finishing Prince of Cups. It's at 52,000 words so far... officially novel length! In two thousand words, it will officially be double the size of Queen of Swords. I'm ... really happy about that. End result? Not much time for reviewing.

Here is the review on the Naughty Book Snitch site. Check it out!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Rock Hardin: Agent of A.S.S. Operation: Deep Nine is Live on Amazon!

I'm a bit late in announcing it here on the blog because it was my anniversary weekend too. Yes, I got married on Halloween. Plus, with all the hours I was working lately, I was pretty beat. But yes, Rock Hardin: Agent of A.S.S. Operation: Deep Nine is now live!

Jotham, so excited by the sexy spy series, has made like nine covers for it already. Nine. This is a tough series for me to write, so I will poke at them slowly and when they are done, they will be done... but I can't waste nine of his covers! They are some damn awesome covers. Just takes me longer to write the stories to go with them.

Now that this book is done, after a month, I am switching gears to work on The Prince of Cups, the sequel to The Queen of Swords. Although sexual, this series is not so sex intensive. It's... well, it's plot based. Super villainy. There are, and always will be, sexy times IN it, but it's... not the point? I mean, I hope people enjoy the sexy times, but the series is always going to be plot and characterization first, sexy times second. I'm already 26K into it, and I'm guessing I'm about halfway through. It's hard to say; the plot keeps growing!

Here's the cover for Deep Nine. Jotham is the best at making them!!


Friday, October 30, 2015

How I Plot My Novels (Part IV of IV)

The last thing I want to talk about for novel plotting deals mostly with a series of novels. As I look this up on Wikipedia, I'm rather shocked the idea of a "metaplot" is only linked to role-playing games! If you look around, metaplots are everywhere. As before, this contains spoilers for The Queen of Swords, and the upcoming The Prince of Cups, and in general the Villainess series. They won't be too bad, but I would highly recommend reading the first book so you know what I'm talking about at least.

A metaplot is an overarching storyline which each of your novels in a series goes towards building. A great example of this is the Dresden Files, where each novel adds to Harry's knowledge of this secret organization which is doing...bad things. He finds out through the course of the novels that even the enemy at the very beginning (in Storm Front) was somehow attached to the "big bad". TV series do this all the time, both with the entire series (the first 5 seasons of Supernatural were supposed to be IT, everything lead up to that finale, but the show was so popular they extended it and... well, now it's season 11; another example is Babylon 5... each season builds on the last, adding more to the lore and more to the overarching plot, but sadly that show was cancelled before it got to really resolve its metaplot) and within each season. Buffy is a great example of a season to season metaplot. Each season has a "big bad" which will ultimately be defeated on the season ender. First season, the Master. 2nd, Angelus. 3rd, the Mayor. 4th, Adam, and so on. While some books may not directly touch on the metaplot directly, each book will add to the whole.

Villainess' metaplot is tied directly to the series name: it's about Caprice's journey through life as a villain. All in all, it's a series about self-discovery, and the ups and downs of it. She starts on what people would call a "down", as she's a psychopath. Not exactly heroic material. However, I think you need to start at the bottom and work your way up. I could have started at the beginning of her career, and while I might explore that later on, for the beginning I wanted her to be confident and in control. Just like with a regular story, your metaplot needs to follow the three part act: introduction/exposition, rising action, climax. It also needs to have complications and consequences, which if you do it right, will be built in with each book.

I've the vague metaplot in mind already for Villainess, and I did when I conceived the book. I almost never do a series without a metaplot in mind, other than the anthology series I do, that is. Delilah Devilshot has a definite metaplot, the Janus Key Chronicles have a metaplot, and hell, even the Witches of Back End has a metaplot. It's lighter than the others and not as needed, but it's still there. Villainess in particular I view as a comic book, with each book serving as say, issue X in a Y part limited series. This one, because of the name I chose, is going to have sixteen books. No more, and no less. Each of the titles will relate to a particular character in the novels.

For example, Caprice is the Queen of Swords. Regulus is the Prince of Cups. Those names are chosen for a reason, and each tarot card meaning directly bears on the character. I use that site in particular, because I'm using the Aleister Crowley deck of tarot, and thus the interpretations of the cards are slightly different than if you use a different deck, like the Rider-Waite one. If we were to be specific, Caprice would be a negatively accented (or perhaps reversed) Queen. To quote:

The Queen of Swords indicates a woman who is blessed (or cursed) with sharp perception, and highly honed intuition. She is acutely analytical, with a razor-sharp ability to get to the heart of a situation, seeing exactly what is, rather than what others would wish her to see. 
She is a private woman, unwilling to let people too close to her until she is satisfied she thoroughly understands their motivations. But once won as a friend, she is unfailingly loyal, honest and supportive. 
She's usually very intelligent, with a dry sense of humour. Her penetrating insight will often reveal aspects of themselves to others that they had previously been unable to grasp - thus she is a capable therapist, teacher or leader. 
The woman represented by this card will be experienced in the flow of life, understanding a great deal about both the great triumphs, and the deepest failings of the race. Her clarity and measured expression will be of great value at times of confusion and sadness. 
Sometimes in a reading, this card will turn up to indicate a woman in a particular phase of her life, where she temporarily becomes a Sword as a result of what is happening to her. In that case the card is not quite so positively defined, for it can indicate a woman left alone, and perhaps embittered. She may be a widow, or a woman passing through the aftermath of divorce. 
In this case we often see the more negative aspects of the Queen - coldness, judgementalism, criticism. At these times there is a certain sourness about her, with cynicism and sharpness making themselves felt. 
It should be said that these qualities are inherent to the woman who is a Queen of Swords by nature too - if the woman concerned has not evolved sufficiently you will often find that the card represents a person who is hard and cold toward others.

I italicized the text which applies to Caprice, and bolded the stuff that REALLY applies to her. She's intelligent and sharp, and she "deals honest" so when she knows you're trustworthy she'll defend you. Perhaps not quite to her dying breath, but still. However, she's full of rage and bitterness because of her circumstances, some of which will become more clear in Prince of Cups.

So, looking at the next book, let's take a look at our next title character, Regulus, our Prince.

Men represented by this card are complex and powerful beings. They are self-contained - even secretive - giving an impression of calmness and serenity. However under that veneer they can often be intense and volatile. They tend to hide their deepest passions, and to protect them fiercely. 
They are often creative - artistically or musically inclined, and have deep involvement in these areas. Many of the more successful artists and musicians in our lives would come up as a Prince of Cups. 
Emotionally they can sometimes be turbulent and moody, but can also often hide their emotions and refuse to share them with others. However, having a highly developed sensitivity to emotional ups and downs, they will identify yours even before you have. Talking to somebody like this about emotional matters is usually a rewarding experience, because they are highly perceptive and use their intuition readily. 
If this card comes up to indicate an alteration in a person's behaviour, it will generally indicate a man moving into a new romantic relationship and feeling somewhat troubled by this. The Knight is the card that comes up to indicate a man happily falling in love.

From the text, we can get an impression of a smooth talker who seems calm, cool, and collected on the outside, but is a hotbed of emotion underneath. He's secretive, our Prince, and while he can't hide some things from a fellow telepath, he can still hide quite a lot since lying about it is second nature to him.

The next book in the series will be based on a character who will be introduced in Prince of Cups. She's our Princess of Wands, the Nacht Sirene, or Night Siren.

This card represents dynamic passion - for life in general. If it comes up relating to an inner energy then it will indicate that you are overcoming old fears, breaking out of old patterns, and setting yourself free. There will be confidence, decisive action, an assertive leap forward into the heart of your life. It will often come up to indicate that you have broken through habitual limitations and restrictions, thereby freeing off your power to be used constructively. 
It can indicate a spiritual breakthrough, which will always include the courage to face your fears, and see them for what they truly are. One strange fact about unacknowledged fears is that they take on the darkest, most horrifying shape with which your subconscious can imbue them. Yet when you drag them out into the light of day, you suddenly realise that what you were so scared of might a) never happen; b) not be as bad as you thought it would be when you feared it; and c) you've probably got what it takes to deal with it anyway! 
If the Princess of Wands comes up to indicate a person, then she will be strong, forceful, determined, unswerving...and perhaps a touch bossy! She is a faithful and trustworthy friend, whose insight and perception will often steer you in the right direction. She will be energetic and enthusiastic about life, with a big personality. 
As a partner she's independent, sometimes a touch stubborn, but loyal and caring. These are often career women, and usually wait till later on to start families. She will be experienced, and intelligent, though regularly you find that such young women have had to learn most of their lessons the hard way. 
As an enemy she's dangerous - she's usually outspoken, and unafraid to express her anger. If you manage to make an enemy of one of these women, you need to think very carefully about how that happened. Mostly their engagement with life is so total that they don't waste time on negative pursuits. All the Wand people place morality and ethics high on their list of priorities. They are honest decent people with a strong code of behaviour to which they adhere faithfully.
From the text, you can tell the Siren is going to be another strong woman, though perhaps a bit younger sounding and a touch more uncertain of herself than Caprice, but she has still fought through a lot of pain to realize what she wants, and how she's going to get it. She wants to live life, and she's brave enough to face her worst fears and bring them out into the sun where everyone can see.

Now that we have an idea of the characters from the next couple books, what I'm doing in particular with this series is using the "starring" characters to reflect a step in Caprice's journey. During the Prince of Cups, the image of duality or a warped mirror is used, especially when she's comparing herself to Regulus. She sees in him a "spiritual stepbrother" as he aims to fulfill his needs in any way he can, much like herself. However, unlike her, he employs mind control and breaking another person's will to achieve his goals. To this end, they mirror each other, but it's not a perfect reflection. As he hides much of his own darker desires and fears from the light, letting no one in to see, so Caprice has her own secrets, some of which will be revealed as we see more of her pain and how she got to be the way she is today.

For the third book, The Princess of Wands, the idea is that now having acknowledged she has this rage inside of her, she needs to face it. In doing so, in theory, she'll take control of it, live life more fully, and decide on what path is right for her.

The next few books are The Knight of Disks, The Queen of Disks, and The Prince of Swords, which will give you hints to the next few directions the series will go. Eventually, I will go through each of the court cards, and each of those cards will have a different "starring" supporting character, some of which you have seen already!

Has this taken a lot of planning? Yes. I think about the future books a lot, and where I want to take the character. Each step is being planned, and while I haven't gotten all the books thought of yet (as things will change as they are written), it's important to see your end goal in sight. Where do you want the series to go? Is there a big climatic battle at the end, ala Lord of the Rings? Or is it a journey of self-discovery, concentrating on just one character? Are there multiple storylines to be resolved eventually? How complex are you going to make it?

In general, the more complex metaplot demands more books. But once you have reached the conclusion of the meta, then stop. Just stop. Don't let it go on (*coughcoughLaurellKHamiltoncough*) just because you want to keep writing the character. Once the conclusion has been logically reached, it's the end of the series. After that, it should be happily ever after. Or unhappily ever after.

So, how do you think of a metaplot? For Villainess, as I said before, it's a journey of self-discovery by Caprice. Others might think there's a big world devouring monster out there, or maybe a nefarious super villain organization which is bent on world domination. You can find a lot of inspiration from movies, television, and other books. Once you get a grand idea in your head, then you plot it like you'd plot your novel. The main exception is to use broader strokes.

For Villainess, the first four books are basically my introduction/exposition. We are introduced to the main characters, recurring characters like Nosferatu, Malech, and Alistair (and eventually Siren and Regulus), and we learn about the world slowly, in bits and pieces. Once the stage is set, the next is the rising action. During the next few books after that, we'll say 4-8 or so, Caprice will be built up (and fall down, she's not always a victor) and realize that she needs to change. Since it's a personal self-discovery thing, it's more internal and a little harder to fully plot. This may or may not accompany a "big bad" which she may take several books to defeat (still working on it), so it might have a metaplot within a metaplot. Submetaplot? Hrm.

The last few books will be heading towards the conclusion of her journey. What will be the deciding factor in what she chooses? Will she be able to leave her rage and hatred behind? If so, does that mean she has to be "normal"? IS it more desirable for her to be "normal" as opposed to a psychopath? Who or what will help in deciding this? Will she change for the sake of herself, or for someone else?

Again, this one is more... internal, but you can plot out the big bad just the same way. The first few books hint at a darkness rising. The middle books show more aggression, and battles won and lost, which finally reveal the main villain. The last few deal with gathering power to take down said villain and then the ultimate climax.

What's most important to keep in mind is to keep your books in line with the metaplot. Even if it only hints at it, people need to see that, yes, it was planned from the beginning. If you're clever and vague enough, you CAN go back to past books and point at things which you may not have known was there or had no reason and give it a reason. For example, in Storm Front, there is a guy who channels a lot of power, goes crazy, kills some folks, Harry stops him. It was sufficiently explained at the time where he got it. However, in a later book, it was revealed that these agents of darkness were working WITH that mad sorceror at the time, and helped him to achieve that power for their own nefarious purposes. Butcher can't go back and rewrite Storm Front to add in hints of spooky darkness, so he flipped the reason why the sorceror got his power in a later book, with an additional explanation. Was he planning it from the beginning or backwriting? I have no idea. Whichever way he went, he's definitely leading towards a metaplot climax now, and he used all of his stories to bring that in focus.

Last thing to be said, unlike the plots in the book where each word should go towards building plot, character, or mood... but especially plot... you can, of course, go off on side roads during your novels. Not every novel will directly bear on the metaplot, especially the beginning ones while you are setting it up. This gives you an opportunity to leave things open, to drop hints which you may not know WHY you are dropping them, but may give you inspiration later on. The great thing about that is that you can build without knowing exactly where you are building to, or knowing the direct path. Yeah, you have an idea of a "big bad" whatever at the end, but maybe you're not quite certain what it is during your first novel, but you have a cool idea. You drop in a line or two nodding towards the cool idea, and that's it. Maybe on book three you'll remember that idea and build on it. Maybe book five. Maybe you'll decide to go another way. Little hooks and throwaway lines can often be your subconscious talking to you about what you are planning before you even know you are planning it.

It's a little harder to keep a metaplot on track during the course of a series, but thankfully, you don't have to all the time!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How I Plot My Novels (Part III of IV)

There's an actual number now associated with these posts! This one will deal with the climax and denouement, and the last one dealing with what I call the "metaplot".

Act III: Climax
The climax is pretty easy to explain: it's the climax of the book, the big O, the main event, what everything else in the book was leading up to. In this case, it's confronting Harry about the betrayal. Being Caprice is who she is, she at first wanted to see if she could sleep with him again. It wasn't just because he was a good lay and the book has definite erotic overtones, but to test his character again. Saying flat out that his girlfriend was looking for him, and then seducing him anyway proved to her that he wasn't a "good" person. I use quotes here, because Caprice's judgment of people is rather skewed. What she means by "good" is not what you and I mean.

In both cases though, it means untrustworthy and dishonest. She even says at the end, that her father always taught her to deal honest with fellow criminals. A deal's a deal and all that. It wasn't just the betrayal, but also the fact that he didn't pay her when he did the job. It was using her to get what he wanted without being straight forward about it.

Everything in this book led up to the climax where we see how twisted she is. I am not going to write in detail about sexual sadism which is non-consensual, so I let it fade to black and let the reader's imagination take over. Some might call that a cop-out, but I don't write noncon stuff, nor torture. I may switch that up if the situation calls for it, but for now even though the series is dark, it's not THAT dark.

The last part is something people don't necessarily think about separately, which is the denouement. To use it in sexual terms, the denouement is the smoke after the big O. The book should naturally lead towards a satisfying ending, and we should see the character either changed or not changed from the experience. Traditionally, it should show the character better off than when they started. In this case, it is true. The betrayer is defeated, and Caprice has new knowledge of this mysterious group of people who are after her. Her paranoia in moving around and losing tails is justified. We see her leaving Harry's apartment while Emily enters, and taking sadistic pleasure in Emily's discovery of Harry's body, telepathically. It gives the character a satisfactory ending, at least from her point of view.

Everything in either the climax or denouement should have been built from the previous prose. This is why going back and editing to make sure your facts line up and to drop hints (ie, the clean apartment) about the ending is so vitally important. There may be loose ends and threads hanging loose, which is good if the book is a part of a series. If it is a standalone book, a single novel with no plans for future installments, then you MUST go back and eliminate or resolve any of those loose threads. They are simply not needed, period, and will leave people wondering what happened with those. For a series, it's vital to have at least a couple of threads hanging loose to continue. It gives the serial author a jumping off point for their next book, and helps to fuel the metaplot (which is discussed in the next post).

Should the protagonist always win during the climax? No. It really depends on the theme of the book, but sometimes the protagonist fails. Again, in a series, that is a great jumping off point for the next book or books, because then the protagonist must dust themselves off and retry. For a standalone book... most people would want the protagonist to win. We journeyed through the book with them, and we naturally root for the hero. That, of course, is up to the writer. People can have victory through defeat, and defeat through victory. I would almost always recommend the hero have victory in a standalone book simply because it tends to be more satisfying for the reader. For a series, it's debatable. It might be a case of 'win the battle, lose the war' sort of deal.

Much of it depends on personal taste. For Queen of Swords, I wanted Caprice to come out on top. Future books, she may not. We'll just have to see.

How I Plot My Novels (Part II of Some Number, Might be III, Might be More)

Back again with more novel plotting! I'm using my book Queen of Swords as an example, so if you haven't read it yet, there are spoilers, massive ones, so read that first, then come back and read the blog post.

Act II: Confrontation and "Rising Action"
So, now we begin act two, and in Queen of Swords, it was pretty non explosive. At this point in a movie, the big bad has been revealed and the heroes are working towards defeating it, which will be resolved in the third act or the climax of the movie. For Queen of Swords it was a little different. I think in general writing about villains is a little different because they are active while heroes are reactive. I wanted to keep Caprice active. She's working towards a goal, she's doing things, and thus I had her go out to find her sword.

I just want to stop for a moment and speak about that. Many people don't consciously realize how passive heroes are for the most part. And when heroes turn active, that's when it starts to delve into areas which speculative fiction excels. For example, Superman cannot catch criminals before they do a crime. If he were to do so, then he would be the villain because he would 1) be breaking the law and 2) turning active. There are positive ways in which heroes can affect the world, through inspiration, through community programs, and through education, but in general, all of those are passive. They sow the seeds and wait patiently for change. When Superman decides to go and change the world actively, he's seen as a tyrant who forces people into obeying the law. He's no longer a hero, but a villain. For a more complex look at this, I suggest the movie Minority Report. I haven't read the story it was based off of, but even the movie raises questions about criminalizing thoughts and behavior before it actually happens.

Anyway, even if I had decided to keep Caprice reactive, there would have been some things which would have happened anyway, spurring her to action. She would still have lost her sword, and Nosferatu would have come out once dark hit anyway... but Harry would still have been missing, and Emily would have still confronted her. Taking that line of thought further down, Emily would likely have kept harassing Caprice until Caprice decided to either end her (more likely) or found Harry (way less likely). So, for a villain, while the story would have been extended a bit more, it would not have been as provocative. For a hero, the story ends when the big bad is defeated. When the protagonist is the big bad, it's a little harder to keep them motivated and moving.

At this point, I had decided that Caprice, as all protagonists, is something special, something extra. I didn't know what exactly, so I hinted at it saying these people were trying to get her for whatever reason. I also knew she had to keep moving. To this end, I used her desire to get her sword back to lead her to Alistair. Alistair gave her the complication of it wasn't just one thing she lost, but three. The first was her sword, and this was an easy thing for her to get. Someone brought it home from work. She killed the people in the house and reclaimed it. That is a complication which bears fruit in Prince of Cups as a consequence. Using the consequence in this way too gives Caprice a realization that she can't always work alone and needs someone to watch her back, which is an opportunity for character growth.

The second thing was Nosferatu. This helped me to define his character and limitations a bit--he can only change back when he's got enough blood in his system--and made for a sexy time in the basement, sort of. They negotiated a deal, and there is another complication (and betrayal! Keeping in with the theme of our book) when she finds out that now that he's bitten her, he can find her whenever he wants. This complication will also arise in Prince of Cups, and in future books as well. The last was Harry, of course, having been captured and having the tech taken out of him. Well, that was their intent anyway, but they had to keep him alive until they could extract the nanotech, and thus he was put into a storage tank, effectively neutralizing him.

To get to this, Caprice had to sneak back in. When she rescued Harry, they did have a bit of a fight, but it wasn't too horrible, and escape. Seems like it should be the action part right? Part of this rising action? The rising action in this case is the rescue AND being confronted by Emily afterwards. Those two things make Caprice realize what is going on here, and that he sold her out in some way. After that, it leads to the climax of the book. Events that lead directly to the climax is the rising action. They should, if you can, always escalate. In this case, it actually de-escalated a bit, and while I wasn't happy with how it came out, it had to be this way. There had to be an outside source telling Caprice what was up, and the character of Emily had always been planned as the hapless girlfriend. Harry "cheating" on her tells us more about his character, and it tells us about Emily as well.

I know if I had thought of a more actiony way to do it, I would be happier with the book for it, but sometimes... there has to be a side character guiding your protagonist. Shit does just happen in real life. Coincidences, bad timing, all of that. It was bad timing for Harry, cause his secret got revealed.

However, let's say that didn't happen. Let's say Caprice rescued him and Emily didn't find her to confront her. Eventually, Caprice would have figured out she hadn't been paid, and if Harry is smart (he is pretty crafty), he would have just paid her and been done with it. Either that or try to lure her into a trap again. I think the reason why I didn't choose this option is because it avoided Emily altogether and while she's not important NOW, she will be making at least one future appearance. The second is that getting a payment is not interesting. If she had beat it out of him, sure, but the character of Harry is smart enough to know when to cut his losses. If he had tried to lure her into a trap, he would have done so in such a way she wouldn't be able to escape easily. That might have been more exciting... but in all honesty, it would have been the end to the series. These guys after her aren't fucking around. They would have been prepared. She would have been caught, and that would be that. Without back-up, operating as she did at this point in the series, no one would have missed her.

Thus, I went with the less interesting option in this particular case. It serves a purpose, and while I wish I could have come up with a better option, I stand by what I wrote.

The confrontation with Emily, of course, seems pretty one-sided, but Caprice is the narrator and we understand things from her perspective, filtered through her sight. Even though the other woman is harsh, it tells us she knows Harry's a cheat, and knew he was planning something. It also tells us that for whatever reason, Emily is his confidant. There's a more complex relationship going on there which is only hinted at, but from Caprice's POV it's one of a shrill and jealous girlfriend keeping tabs on her man.

I think I'll cover the climax in the next segment, which will probably be the last. Or second to last. I might make a separate post about the metaplot, and perhaps give away some spoilers to come in the future.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

How I Plot My Novels (Part I of I Don't Know How Many)

Although technically I haven't written any novels under this pen name yet, I have written novels. Lots of them. Some of them bad, some of them not so bad. Some might even see the light of day sometime. Bryce and I, writer BFFs that we are, were talking about The Prince of Cups, as I had given him my first draft to look over when he expressed interest. It's at around 24-25K words right now, and he read it over and gave me one of the best compliments I've ever gotten. Conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey, so you thought it was good?
Bryce: Yeah, that would be an understatement.
Me: lol Told you I only barely started touching the main plot.
Bryce: *bows before you*
Me: lol I think you're overselling me.
Bryce: My plotting is so simple.
Me: I worry I plot too much!
Bryce: Mine is just kill and fuck!
Me: But that's ok too!
Basically, the compliment was that my plot was complex for it, which is awesome! We went on to talk about it, and how I have a whole metaplot in mind for the Villainess series (like I do with Delilah as well), and that I have the first six or so books lined up. The further away from where I am now the more vague they are, but I still have the plot in mind, and a goal I'm working towards. Whether it stays the same or not over time, we'll see.

Then I said I was thinking of making a blog post about how I wrote stuff like that, and he said he'd be interested. :P I was going to write it anyway, but Bryce, this is for you. :D

First things first: you gotta have an idea. It can be as simple as "I want to write about a bad ass villain", which is kinda the basis of Villainess. Once you have the idea, figure out what appeals to you about it. I'm going to use Queen of Swords as my main example here, so if you haven't read it yet, there are spoilers in this post for the book. You've been warned.

Next, figure out your characters. I almost always start with the enemy first, the antagonist. In the case of a series here, obviously Caprice will always be the protagonist, and she'll face off against different enemies. When creating Queen of Swords, I knew EXACTLY who I wanted as an enemy, which ultimately was Harry, the deceiver. I also knew I wanted to have a couple of side characters that interested me, and to sort of expand the universe without explaining about it. It's always better to show rather than tell, and exposition is something you should try to avoid. Now, I used exposition to describe Caprice, since she's our narrator, but that was written for me to get a lock on the character. I will often write scenes or dialogues with the main protagonists so I can get into their heads, and in this case I thought I'd just leave it in, as it explained the world and the character, even if it was a bit long.

So, with Harry, I wanted him to come off as being a relatively nice guy, someone who's cute and funny, kinda dangerous but not really. Towards the end, it would be revealed that he was just manipulating her in order to get a bigger payday. Made a mistake and got screwed. Literally. Literally in a couple ways. >.>

Right away now I have an idea that they are going to somehow meet up or do something together, then he'll betray her, and because she's a bad ass villain, she'll have her revenge. Right there is the basic outline for Queen of Swords:

  1. Introduction -- introducing Caprice and the world
  2. Set-up -- her and Harry "do something" together, since they're villains it's probably going to be stealing or killing.
  3. Betrayal -- the "twist" as it is, which leads into...
  4. Her Revenge -- the climax
Every book has three main acts. Every story has three main acts. Those parts have to be addressed in order to have a satisfying story. Once I get the gist (see above) of what's going on, then I start to fill in each act on its own, in order.

The First Act: Exposition, Character Introductions, Inciting Incident

 The first act for Queen of Swords is basically Caprice getting a job from Harry to steal a gizmo. Since I'd written some words in Caprice's voice, and I had gotten to know her as a character, I started to think, "Where would she be?" Well, she'd be where she would get a contact or a job. Thus I had to start thinking about setting more. Now, in this case, I am blatantly stealing ideas and twisting them for my own purposes from City of Heroes/Villains. Yes, a video game. Because there had to be some way for criminals to get in touch with each other, and I myself am not a criminal and don't know these things, I thought about what would make the most sense. Well, like an underground network, right? Makes sense?

Taking the idea of something underground, below the radar, I stole the idea of a huge dance club for meta humans from City of Heroes: Pocket D. There are references which CoH players may get in there, and Virtueites in particular... such as not going in the bathrooms. Ew. In that game, Pocket D was an interdimensional night club that both sides could access. For a long time, that was the only way you could interact with a villain if you were a hero, and vice versa.

Now that idea didn't work for me, in the slightest. I wanted this place to be much darker, and bigger, like no one knows how big it is. No one except Malech knows, and he changes it. It is still interdimensional, but people don't' know that. They just think it's underground, which is where I got the name from: The Underground. It's not just a double entendre, but a triple one. Underground because of the criminal element which dominates, the entrances go underground in the real world... and it's actually his layer of hell, which one could consider the spiritual underground. There are private rooms for people to conduct business or fuck in. There are dance parties and dance floors and shit. There are a ton of bars. In the second book, Prince of Cups, it's actually shown the warping capabilities Malech has in his domain, as Caprice climbs up a bunch of stairs, says fuck it and turns around, and the door is there. Is it him warping space? Or warping her mind? Who knows? I haven't decided yet.

At this point I stopped and thought about the mood of the piece. I wanted it dark and sexy. Caprice is psycho, and she loves killing. She loves fucking. Along with mood, we need a theme. To go with the mood, I chose the themes of "You can't trust anyone" and "Nothing is ever free.". Without exception, everyone in the book Caprice meets or interacts with wants something from her, and may or may not be willing to go to violence to get it. Taking our examples, Michael/Nosferatu wants to fuck her (or kill her, maybe both), and fights her for dominance. When he's "trapped" in the apartment building underground, Nosferatu wants her blood in order to replenish himself. They end up brokering a deal, sort of a favor for a favor. She doesn't trust him to respect her boundaries, not that she has many other than "don't kill me".

Alistair, the mage, basically withholds his services unless she gives him her services.

Harry, of course, is the betrayer. While he hires her straight up for a job (nothing is free), he ends up arranging to turn her in to some strangers who are hunting her (can't trust anyone). After Emily runs into her (where the theme is repeated but on Emily's side... Emily was ALSO betrayed in this), then Caprice becomes a form of the betrayer in taking her revenge. She could have given him a chance to fight, but why? She does what he intended to do to her: seduce him, and then kill him.

When you figure out your theme, the more you can repeat it subtly through the book, the stronger it will be. But subtly. Don't hammer it over people's heads all the time.

Now, having some settings and ideas about the mood/theme, I concentrated on supporting characters. Caprice was introduced, and we would get to Harry by the end of the intro, but that wasn't enough. To this end, I introduced Nosferatu. I like Nos. He's one of my favorites (and may be based loosely on a friend I used to know, a long time ago). I wanted to add someone else who was a bad ass in there, on the same level or more powerful than Caprice, but who didn't care so much about money. His motivation for being a villain is completely different than hers. He's also technically two characters in one, his human host being Michael, and the vampire spirit/ghost Nosferatu. Even though it wasn't expressed explicitly, they also reflect the theme. When Michael comes back into control after Nosferatu feeds on Caprice, he states that she shouldn't have done that. When she asks why, he says that Nos can find her anywhere now. A mini-betrayal, as Nosferatu didn't tell her that. This will set up complications for later books.

I also wanted someone else, a contact for her to find information. This lead me to make Alistair, which I'll go into in the next post (as this one is getting too long). I couldn't think of anything else offhand, so I went ahead and started writing.

Much of my process is in my head. I keep track of very long plot lines and hooks because I keep telling myself the story and changing things as I see fit. Some people may find it easier to write down notes. I do this occasionally as well, but they are generally brief. However, because it's in my head, sometimes it seems easy or non-complicated until I see it all written down and go, "Yeah, this isn't going to work." Be watchful of that, and pay attention to opportunities to complicate things for your characters. The whole idea of the complication is what led me to use Alistair later on, and why I chose three things. But again, that's next post.

At this point, while I was writing, I got Nosferatu's and Harry's characteristics down. I changed some stuff as I needed while I wrote and went into the job. The question of why the job in the first place when Harry could just turn her in bothered me, so I created the reason he needed the item: he's a "meta" too, or actually, someone using super science to augment himself. Since he's a criminal, I had him steal it. But since it wasn't installed properly, he needed some widgit to fix it. Thus, when the opportunity came for a payday, he saw another opportunity to get something he wanted first by using a couple of talented individuals as well as himself to break into Titan.

By creating that reason, I created a complication for Harry. Now, it may not be important for Caprice's story since he ends up killed, but stuff like that is what I mean by creating complications. Even if it touches on a side character, how that character then acts will be changed, which may in turn affect your plot or your protagonist.

I cannot stress how important this two minute video is. It encapsulates the idea of complications and how they affect the story. Watch it. Then watch it again. Watch it over and over again and memorize this: The importance of "Therefore" and "But". Everything is either a consequence or a complication.

Using their pretty simple system, what we have for Queen of Swords actually starts with Harry, believe it or not. Harry gets an offer to turn in Caprice, BUT he needs some widget to fix himself THEREFORE he hires Caprice and Nosferatu to steal it with him BUT during a fight the trio are separated and Caprice loses her sword THEREFORE she goes to Alistair to find it BUT finds out she has "lost" other things... and so on and so on.

The end of the first act is actually where the motivation focus goes from Harry's motivation (betray Caprice/get his widget) to Caprice's motivation (find her lost sword). If you look at it in this way, the first act has three separate beats itself: Getting hired, the fight, the aftermath/sexy times/denouement in Harry's apartment. I could have stopped the story there. And for a long time I did. I wrote this in fits and spurts, and when I came to the end of the sexy times, I wasn't sure where to go with it. At this point, I didn't know Harry was going to betray Caprice, not ... like he did. I knew something else had to happen, but I wasn't sure what. So, I shelved the story and worked on other things while I figured it out.

When it hit me that "Hey, she's the lead, so she's special, right? How special IS she? Are the other people looking for her? And if so, who are they?" caused me to go back and revisit the story. This is more for the next section, but I wanted to mention that because as soon as I thought of the idea, I went back and rewrote sections of the Harry's apartment scene. Originally, it was furnished. Not well, but furnished. And dirty, as if he hadn't been there in a while. I changed it up so that it was clean and not really furnished at all, which gives the audience to think that maybe something isn't right here, yet be subtle enough people might not catch it. And again, this adds a complication for Caprice down the line, in future books.

A last thing, and this goes to editing. Everything you write should either go to character development, plot development, or theme/mood development. If a word you write doesn't add to any of those? Cut it. Some writers would say to cut the mood or theme too, as those would tie into the plot, but that's not necessarily true. I recently read a book which the plot was... not awesome, but the mood of the book was dark, and I really enjoyed that. If the author hadn't spent time building the mood, I would have put it down. I find it's more important to build mood for tragedies, horror, and romances than it is for other genres, but each have their own beats and moods to learn.




Wednesday, October 21, 2015

New NBS Review Too... Been Procrastinating in a Productive Way

At least I've been procrastinating in a productive way. I wrote a new Naught Book Snitch review, and this was for a book I really loved. It's nerdy, it's geeky, it's wordy, it's sexy... it's lots of awesome things. I give you The Adventures of Joan of Arc and Space Captain Cydd Yoshiba, Episode I: Maiden Voyage. Yes, it's a mouthful. But it is awesome.

Now, I will write. I promise!

New Teaser!

Still messing around with making teasers, now that I have a breather. I should be writing. SHOULD BE WRITING, ME. But I made a teaser instead. I don't think I have the "sexy" part down on it though.

Here it is, based off of the first Villainess book: The Queen of Swords. This one is for Nosferatu, who was a lot harder to find pictures for than I thought. Sid Vicious? No, too small. Billy Idol? Way too blonde. And just not... "right". I ended up with a side profile of a random mohawked punk. It works. I think? And of course, like Regulus, Nosferatu's got a couple different sides to him. In this case, it's two souls actually inhabiting one body, not just different personality aspects. 


Saturday, October 17, 2015

I'm in Ur Internets Taking Over Ur Bookz!

I participated in my first take over event thanks to Bryce today! It was actually kinda fun, although my hands were shaking the whole time. Yes, I know people can't see me on the computer. Doesn't matter! I could have... banged my head against the keyboard or something? I don't know... it was still nervous! But fun.

I'm not sure if it will result in sales, but that doesn't matter cause I want to support Bryce in his works. He has a different style than mine, but his stuff is so easy to read, and really smooth. Like Rico Suave smooth. I hope the new book does well. I read it and OMFG OLD ONES. Heart you forever for that, Bryce!

This all goes under self-promotion, which I'm bad at. It's like still in my head that I shouldn't brag or something. Well... maybe I should! I mean I've read some bad erotica. Really, really bad erotica. I won't say mine is like the super bestest omfg specialist ever, it's alright. I enjoy it. Most words are spelled correctly, and there's like grammar and shit all up in there. Yet, for some reason, it's still hard to choke the words out of my fingers to say, "HEY! Buy my books! You'll like them!"

Bryce also made a Delilah teaser for me earlier, which I was able to use. :) This is it here, if I didn't post it before:


Pretty nice, right? Simple, but nice. Sexy bit of text with the background and logo...pretty nice?

I decided to try my hand at making teasers! And the one I came up with looks like a Nazi propaganda poster. Well, to be fair, it started out as one. I somehow missed the point of the "sexy" teaser.


Personally, I like it. Maybe that says something about me. And yeah, Nazis in the next Villainess, because even as Regulus here says, "Who doesn't love to beat up Nazis?" Did I Godwin myself already? I guess we'll see. Anyway, this teaser like totally sums up the character of Regulus for me, though it's not sexy. It's dark. And twisted. And... yeah, so I might have missed the point a bit.

I"ll keep trying.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

On Reviewing...

There's an old saying that goes, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach." That can't be more wrong. First, in order to teach something you have to have a basic understanding of it. Second, teaching is a skill all its own. You can be smart as hell, but have no idea how to teach someone what you know. Just about everything takes a skill... reading, writing, driving, eating, tying your shoes, etc etc etc. Anything. The only thing that really isn't... is reviewing.

Stay with me here. Reviewing something is basically stating your opinion. Now, a lot of people maybe can't state it in a way that's amusing to other people, or perhaps they can't quite express their opinion clearly and get others to agree with them... but absolutely everyone can say "I like this" or "I hate this". There is absolutely no right or wrong answer when it comes to reviewing because it's an opinion and thus purely subjective.

What makes a good review though? That's a question that confounds a lot of people. In my opinion, a good review is an honest one, which lists both positives and negatives about an item, and allows people to get the most information. Ideally, this would be in a format which is amusing, as well as being easy to read. The most important part about a review is honesty. If I wanted someone to blow smoke up my butt, I can get that. Might cost extra, but I can get it. Having someone be completely honest about something I wrote is worth a thousand sycophants, especially if it holds constructive criticism in it.

Not so long ago, Nessa Dearmond reviewed Knob Jobs and Broomsticks, and gave it an average rating of 3 stars. Not bad. Honestly, that's the best I can really hope for is "Yeah, it's ok" because opinions on art especially vary so widely. When they approached me to do a review, I was like, "BE HONEST. BRUTALLY SO." They were. And it wasn't that brutal. Reading it still hurt a touch because c'mon writers... when you have people read your stuff, you expect rave reviews, don't you? Even if you're being modest, you still expect it because it's something YOU like and you expect others to like it as well. So, reading it I was like, O.O but I appreciate the honesty. Nessa said what they liked, what they didn't, and found it average. I can deal with that. It was a good eye-opener, and I appreciate that more than anything, I think.

So now that I'm reviewing a lot, or at least relatively often, I do want to keep in mind the feelings of the author, but I want to continue to be honest. I can't not be. And even when it's something I don't necessarily enjoy, I can usually find something I did like about it, or thought was clever. I try to list positives as well as negatives, and give an overall impression. For instance, in Renee Jordan's shifter book I reviewed, I was blown away by the elegant simplicity of some of the ideas she had. I was like, "OMFG why didn't I think of that?!" even though overall, I thought the book missed a few beats. Positives and negatives.

When reviewing on a five point system, I always figure out how I would score it on a ten point system and round down. It makes me a tougher reviewer, but I just can't... give away five stars easily. Hell, some of my favorite authors wouldn't get five stars from me on most of their stuff. That's just the way I am. I'm also generally reluctant to give one star on things... because often the act of creating the piece itself is enough to bump it up to two stars. Not many people follow through with their dreams and ambitions and actually WRITE. That deserves some recognition.

To sum up, what I find good in reviews is:

  • Honesty
  • Positive and negative points
  • Ease of reading
  • Amusement
The last one is really nebulous, and I think that's what makes people read one reviewer while others read another. Our senses of humor are all different, and mine is rather perverse and weird at times. Some folks like it, and some don't, and that's ok. The one thing I've learned over the years is that you just can't please everyone, and it's best to not even try to. 

Another NBS Review, Writing Block, and Man I Fucking Hate Customers (But Not You, Please Buy my Books)

I finished another review for the NBS! I abbreviate that in my head as "Naughty BitcheS" for some reason. Huh. Anyway, this time it was a bit longer than a short, but not quite a novella. I think they call them "novelettes"... at around 10K or so. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good. Read the review here.

In writing news, I have hit a block. That might have something to do with the third part of the title or me hating on customers. I absolutely do not mean my book customers. Y'all are great. I keep hearing horror stories about lady authors getting random dick pics and being harassed... yet I have not been. Hurray for fans as socially-hermitlike as I am! I mean customers IRL here at my day job. When you get screamed at for any amount of time for shit that ain't your fault, it tends to put a kink in your day and dry up your creative juices. Ah, shit, if I had only thought about this before... I would have written something bloody for Prince of Cups, but I am concentrating on Rock's next story.

Not going good. I mean, when I'm writing, it's going fine. Yet I haven't been writing the last couple of days. Busy at day job and bad days at day job means Alana sulks by shooting zombies in the head in various games. Or wolves in my wolf attack simulator, otherwise known as The Long Dark. Forcing yourself to write when the mood isn't even in the same city as you is impossible. If it's in the same house with me sulking, I can usually coax a few hundred words here and there, but sweet jebus on a cracker, customers at my day job, just fucking let it go!

Alright, venting done! Tomorrow is another day, and I am determined to get this book out. Of course, I know when I switch books the words will come smooth, yet I am determined! Jotham will have to have his own sulk party because after this Rock book, I don't think I can write another for a lil while. Either they draw bad luck, or they're hard to write, or both man.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

My Cherry Done Popped

...at being a Naughty Book Snitch! Patient Lee was the one who popped it. :P It was going to be someone else, but I'm still waiting for them to get back to me as they were on vacay. Totally understandable, but I was stuck with my writing, and I wanted to do something productive... and thus, I reviewed.

The book is Wicked Cold, and I got it for a freebie. I'd definitely say check it out, but go read the review, mother fuckers, and find out for yourselves!

In writing news, I am concentrating on Deep Nine. Other books keep trying to steal my attention, but I am not letting them. NOT LETTING THEM. I will cover my ears and sing LA LA LA real loud until they go away. In other words, I am going to finish this one if it kills me.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Officially Official at Being Unofficial!

...or something.

It's officially official I am a Naughty Book Snitch! I'm very excited about it, and can't wait to start (in between writing of course), though I'm not quite sure what it means for my reviews on this blog. What I think I will end up doing is linking it up to the Book Snitch site from here, and maybe put some extra thoughts here. I'll play it by ear. There's no hard and fast rule, of course.

That does leave this blog for actual writing stuff, which is good! Although reading and reviewing is part of the learning part for an author, it'll be good to focus on writing and promotion and other type of stuff here. Which reading that back I see that I'm already repeating myself, heh. What I MAY do is keep books which are requested for a review at the NBS, and books that I choose at random or that I want to review here.

At any rate, it'll be a lot of fun to see what kinds of stuff people have written! It might be good, it might be bad, it might be Chuck Tingle. We'll see.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Naughty Book Snitch... Alana?

Although it's not formalized yet, I applied to become one of Mindy's Naughty Book Snitches (check out the blog, I love their reviews) and Mindy got back to me tonight! The conversation went something like this:

Mindy: SQUEE!
Me: SQUEE!

Now, I've been doing reviews here for what... couple months, at most? I've reviewed stuff under my RL name of course, which shan't be given here because I am keeping my pen name and RL name separate, and I've reviewed a lot of fanfiction as I used to be a member of GAFF from days gone by. A lot... of really, really terrible fanfiction. (Agony in Pink anyone? Superman's Stump? Data Goes Ballistic? Hermoine and the Pizza Deliver Guy? Oh, and of course, Celebrian. Always Celebrian.) So, I know what bad stuff is... the question is, do I know what good stuff is?

In reality, reviews are all subjective. There's no wrong or right answer in a review. A reviewer is merely putting their opinion out there, saying what they liked and didn't like about something. When I review something, I look at things like grammar, spelling, and story construction. Yes, even in erotica. Certain genres have certain beats they need to hit, and while I may not always manage to hit them myself, I know it when I see it. I know some reviewers like to give authors a positive review--or at least a not-negative one--to help them out, but I'm not sure that's entirely helpful all the time.

I got burned a little bit when I told a reviewer to be honest... and they were. XD It wasn't a glowing review, but it wasn't bad either... however, it's the kind of review I like most. Point out stuff they like, stuff they didn't like, and weigh the pros and cons accordingly. If a reviewer is always one way or another, then it's not entirely honest. That's one reason why I like Mindy's reviews so much. When she likes something, she likes it. And when she doesn't, she tells you exactly why she doesn't, and why it doesn't work for her. It's almost always with the caveat of it may not work for her, but it might for you.

That's the kind of reviewer you can trust, and that's the kind I hope to be even if being an official snitch doesn't go through. (It might not! Just because we squee at each other a lot doesn't mean it will go through automatically!) If nothing else, I hope it's entertaining. I try, at any rate. So, we'll see! I must say I am excited at the possibility!

Also, Mindy had never heard of Chuck Tingle. This blasphemy was corrected quickly.