Productivity what it means to Today’s Authors

Recently, I had an interesting conversation with another author about productivity. She mentioned she was concerned because she was having some issues with meeting her word count goals. She told me she was disappointed in her lack of productivity. Her words got me thinking because I think a lot of the time we see ourselves as failing in our efficiency when we don’t meet the goals we set ourselves.

You can do this!!

What was the base of the issue? As we spoke at length she mentioned she’d not been idle. In fact she’d spent hours brainstorming ideas, making notes, reviewing what she’d written… and it struck me. From what I heard, she was being successful in completing writing tasks. Though perhaps not the ones she wanted to.

As I thought about it, I realized, there are more than one way to be productive in our writing. Having realistic goals is very important. The quickest way to feel we aren’t being prolific is to set ourselves an impossible goal. Setting goals for ourselves is a whole topic in of itself, and one I will discuss at length in a later blog post, but for the sake of this article, it is something to touch on. When I’m writing, I often put a sticky up and say, okay you have one hour to get ‘x’ number of words down. That’s it. Nothing fancy, don’t go back and edit, don’t focus on anything but getting those words down on the page. Is it a realistic goal? I can be if I don’t set the number too high. Can it affect how successful and fruitful the session is? You bet it can. If I set an unrealistic goal I have trouble meeting, it often leaves me feeling disjointed and angry with myself for not meeting it. This affects how productive I am.

Understanding productivity as a whole is the first step is seeing beyond the singular end goal of a word count. As an author, there is a lot of things which go into writing. Raise your hand if you do research for your book, or build the world, and get to know your characters! Now, how often do you feel that’s part of getting the book written when you sit down to work on the next scene, the next chapter?

I hear a few mutters out there. And yes, at one point I was one of those who scoffed at the idea any of those points was part of my getting my book written. Until I realized, without the steps taken to build the world I’m writing in, or fleshing out the characters, all the words in the world would not make something I could market. It took my editor at the time pointing out – if you’re working on your book in any capacity, you should consider yourself efficient in the process. An hour spent researching is still an hour spent on your book.

We as authors, need to understand and accept we are not lazy or ‘stuck’ if we don’t get a certain number of words, or pages, or chapters written in a sitting. Having the understanding each thread of work going into the book is productive, is the first step in getting away from the negativity and self-depreciation we often feel when we don’t get as far as we think we should be. Reward the hours spent making notes, brainstorming, world building, getting to know the characters…as much as meeting the word count goals you set yourself. I firmly believe doing so will help your writing, and your sense of success in the process.


Using Our History in World Building

World Building: Can we use history in paranormal books

What makes the setting of a story so unique?

The setting of your novel is one of the most obvious parts of the book. It plays a huge part in the plot, in defining our characters as well. A story with no setting is rather flat,  leaves me wondering what’s missing. There is so much detail, so many layers of depth in creating your world. It is a big part of what, I as a reader, fall into. I want to be there in the moment, in the location, the very fabric of the story. World building is as vital to a good book as the characters I’m reading about.

Building the setting can be easy or difficult, and for me, using historical time periods to build a world is in many ways harder than creating a fantasy world for my paranormal romances.

What do you mean? You ask.

The answer is complex in its simplicity. We as a global culture can look up a historical tidbit using the means available to us such as internet, libraries, universities, and so forth. If I build a world using details from say 10th century England in a story set in 15th century Russia, as a lover of Historicals, you could call bulls**t because its easy enough to look up those details. Does it happen every day, no. But its a possibility as an author, I am aware of and understand and respec. As a reader of historical romance myself, and a huge history buff, you can be darn sure I’m going to sit back and go “Okay that’s not in the time period“. The very nature of a fact-check, for me, means I want to ensure there is no change of having such a huge and obvious error.

The misrepresentation of history is, I think, the hardest part of actually building a world based on our past. It is also the easiest. The same options available to the reader are available to me as an author. Using the resources available to me, means before I sit down to write, my notebook comes out and I’m jotting down questions and ideas and checking and rechecking to be sure I have the accuracy I need.

How does that fit into writing other genres?

When we write in other genres such as Paranormal, fantasy, sci-fi, what is the first thing we do? We set out to build a world the reader can sink into. A world full of details about culture, about politics, and laws. Our ability to connect reader to the world of the story is as important as characters they can relate to, goals, motivations, challenges the character’s face. If you have a great story idea, fantastic, 3 dimensional characters, a killer plot…and no recognizable setting, you may find readers put off your book.

You build your world according to examples you know, weave in details you may not even be aware are there all with a mind on how to make the reader identify the world you’ve created. Tiny threads of obvious things such as politics, kings, queens, good, bad, justice, all bleed into the world and give it dimensions. Having a great example you can go back and forth with is such a huge help. Which is not to say the paranormal world you build is going to be a carbon copy of the world you live in, it isn’t.

Our history, our culture are simply jumping off points for us to create a setting we know people are going to love.  Trivia and tidbits from cultures around our world can play into the other genres simply because they give us an idea we can run with our and get truly creative. Understanding what makes a world so important is the first step into building that world.  When we look at history, we get a slightly skewed perspective since history is often written by the winner in a conflict. Yet there are really good clues within the pages of our past which we can use to be successful in building our setting for one book or twenty.

We can see the varying means of ruling a world, laws, cultural aspects. Even the languages used since we began to use them can aide us in creating a culture our readers can fall in love with and keep coming back for more.

 

What define’s Success

What is success?

Is it quantifiable? Or is it an elusive phantom you hunt for but don’t truly believe is real?

As an author, how do we define our successes? In the number of sales? Perhaps its in reviews? Or the steady increase in our royalty cheques? Or do we look beyond the obvious and dig down to uncover what it means to each of us as an individual? Sales, reviews, royalty increases, are all quantified means to check the success box but what if you’re a new author and struggling? What if you don’t have a marketing background, or not comfortable with promoting your work? Then how can we look to these examples as success when we may not have many sales, or have to claw our way to the front of the list to get a review.

Recently, I was reading through some discussion on social media where new authors were asking for a definition of success and it made me think.  Some of the authors were just getting started and feeling as though they were failing because they didn’t have a large number of followers, or beta readers, or people lined up to buy an advanced copy. It really hit home because I can understand how they think. I read the posts and saw myself.

It made me question my own perceptions of where I am in my career. How would an outsider look at my writing career? Would they judge me to be a success by the number of books I have out, or perhaps they’d look at me and see me as a failure because I am not graced with a large number of reviews? I do not have a large, obvious following of fans, but the ones I have are loyal and are appreciated.

On a personal level, coming to terms with how I see my successes, my failures is part of the journey.

So it made sense for me to sit down and say to myself, what makes me feel as though I am a success? What are my failures? How do I look beyond my own ideas and see the honest reflection of success, of what needs to be improved? Can we be honest with ourselves as we look at what is laid out before us. To truly understand what our definition of success is we have to be prepared to throw away the rose colored glasses and really look at our goals, our dreams, and most importantly our dedication to overcoming those challenges we face.

How do I see my career? This is the huge question which makes you and I cringe. What I see in my career has a lot of positives, and there is room for personal growth, for connecting with other authors, networking to gain the exposure I need. I don’t mean flood others with the typical “Buy my books.” but rather, engage with other authors, with readers to ensure those who read the genres I write get a chance to see my work and perhaps turn the click into a buy.

As an author, it is imperative, you understand the reality. Yes, we can make a living with our writing. Hard work, dedication, understanding your reader base, and being seen are all key ingredients in ensuring success. But, are we all going to be the next J.K. Rawling? Steven King? It is not likely, but it is an admirable goal to set for ourselves.

A dream is only a goal we have yet to reach!

Literary Pilgrimages

What was once simple, has become a more complex, in depth experience for an author. At one point going to see what held a unique, or special meaning to the author was what defined a literary pilgrimage. What is a pilgrimage? By definition is is a journey or search for moral or spiritual significance. Often it is a physical journey, yet there are ones which take place withing a person’s heart. Each must decide for themselves what they are seeking, where they are meant to be.

For some authors, their journey may not even mean leaving the comfort of their home. For me, its about rediscovering the link between the love of reading and the love of writing Its a journey of renewal, of spiritual, creative, and emotional growth. Its not always an easy thing to do. Personal commitments, family, day jobs, and obstacles put in place by the author can derail their journey.

Understanding the need for the pilgrimages, I believe is the first step. Why would one need to take that first step? I can’t answer the question beyond my own experience. My pilgrimage started because I felt compelled to reconnect with my writing. I had lost touch with it due to events and stresses which were beyond my control, and like most people I focused on my family, on the well being of others before myself. This lead me to turn from the part of my soul which is fed by writing.  I needed to recharge my spiritual batteries by allowing myself to rekindle my love of writing.

The first difficult step in the journey makes each following step more powerful, more empowering. You have to understand and accept you are meant to be challenged, to put your energy into your search for what is significant. Its designed to make you look beyond the lies we tell ourselves, the masks we wear, and the ruts we live within to dig down to the truth in our souls.

As an experience, a literary pilgrimage is both painful and exhilarating. It makes you really look at what you feel, what your heart is telling you. It is a complex and lengthy process designed to break through the barriers we erect. Pilgrimages, are something we as authors, as humans, need in our lives. They are inherently challenging, and yet they are spiritual, empowering, and really as a means of self-awareness are an invaluable journey.

 

 

 

An Author’s Journey

A warm welcome back to our guest, Raven Moon. Its a pleasure to have you back, Raven. Let’s chat about what you’ve got coming up!

A Wee Bit Wicked by the Light of the Moon

Storyteller

of

Mysterious Suspenseful Passion.

 

I’m Raven Moon, a storyteller of adult paranormal romance thrillers where destiny has one motive, Revenge.

I’m 47 years young, a wife of many of moon to my soulmate, mother of 3 grown kids, 2 daughters and a son, and grandmother to 3, soon to be 4 beautiful granddaughters. I live in Southern Indiana on a small 5-acre mini farm raising Boer goats,

I never dreamed of writing or becoming an author it just happened after I lost my dad unexpectedly in October 2014. I started a journal to help me cope with the pain of losing him then I started conjuring up stories and filling them with colorful characters. I’ve progressed quite a bit to formulating longer and more complex stories. As a professional storyteller, I’m adept at using my imaginative thinking and creative flair to bring my stories to life in engaging ways.

 

Check out my Books and follow me on Bookbub today!

 

                                                               

Spotlight Shines on author: Raven Moon

 

 

Shattered Hearts

Releasing Fall 2018

Shattered Hearts, Fate of the Witch Book 0.5

Raven Moon

 

BLURB

Rainelle Sterling’s 18th birthday is quickly approaching. Keeping true to her heritage, her mother hands her a handmade leather-bound Journal, an O’Brien family tradition dating back to the 1600’s.

Breaking free from her family, she moved to Nashville. She thought she had everything, new friends, her dream job and a new love, but fate throws her curve balls putting her life in danger. Now she is learning the real cost of

betrayal and pain as she smiles through tears plastering on a fake smile.

She is surviving to live or just living to survive?

 

Excerpt for Shattered Hearts

 

I approached a small bridge stopping for a breather bending over to ease the sharpness in my side when twigs broke against the hard ground behind me. Slowly I eased to a standing position, maneuvering my gun from my ankle holster as I rose. I jerked around taking a stance ready to fire when a gruff voice yelled my name. My mouth agape, I stared into Smokey eyes standing before me. Reed swiftly stood next to me taking the gun out of my hands, my body froze in disbelief.

Without warning, Lucian Constantine Black swept me off my feet suspending me in the air. My heart hammered in my chest. I haven’t seen him in years and never thought I’d see him again. My heart raced, stealing my breaths just like that summer I felt his love. He lowered me to my feet. Reed caught me as I stumbled backward. We made nice for a few moments, but I could tell Reed was not happy seeing the guy that stole my heart and virginity when I was fifteen. Even though three years have passed, it seems a lifetime.

My stomach flipped, and my core ached. I thought back to that summer. I felt the heat rise to my cheeks. I did the only thing I knew and lowered my face-averting his gaze. But when he lifted my chin to meet his eyes and place a stray piece of my hair behind my ear, telling me I was beautiful and his little Faelan embracing me in his strong arms taking my mouth into his, my heart melted. And in Reed fashion, he broke the connection by clearing his throat and demanding that we leave. I always knew Reed had an issue with Lucian because of what happened, but time has passed and I’m an adult now, so he needs to lay off.

After Reed made an ass of himself, Lucian stormed off. I ran after him, like so many years ago. My breath caught in my throat when he turned facing me with Amber eyes. I stood frozen staring. He blew a kiss and disappeared into the woods makes me think of the first night I saw him with those golden eyes. I always thought it was an optical illusion played off the sun, but it is cloudy today, so what in the hell did I witness?

Raven Moon’s Links to Social Media

Email rravenmoon@gmail.com

Newsletter www.authorravenmoon.com/newsletter

Google + https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RavenMoonAuthor

Amazon amazon.com/author/ravenmoon

Twitter https://twitter.com/ravenmoonauthor

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/RavenMoonAuthor

 

Rita Trevalyan, today’s special guest

Welcome to my special guest today, Rita, pull up a chair and I’ll get you a drink. Rita has been wonderful enough to sit through a rather lengthy round of questions from me. I hope you’ll enjoy the interview.

ME: What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

RITA: To visit the Change of Hobbit sciFi and Fantasy bookstore in Los Angeles, CA.  I do hope that Amazon.com hasn’t put it out of business. There is also the Other Change of Hobbit in Berkeley, CA.

ME:What is the first book that made you cry?  

RITA:I don’t remember a book that I’ve read that made me cry, but one of the books I’m currently preparing for publication did bring tears to my eyes.  One of the characters in Love on the OtheR Side of the Sun II was raped by one of the invaders, and bore a child the old-fashioned way.  She did not love that child, neglected him, and although his 2 “aunties” loved him, took care of him, and were very affectionate towards him, he wasted away.  I wept when I was writing it, and when I was telling my SO about poor little Radu, I wept again.

ME: What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?  

RITA: Agents charging their would-be clients a reading fee.

ME:Does writing energize or exhaust you?  

RITA: Energizes me because I’m doing my True Will.

ME: What are common traps for aspiring writers?  

RITA: Thinking you have to have an agent.

ME: Does a big ego help or hurt writers?  

RITA: A big ego never helps anything. A medium sized ego, however, often helps in the gathering fame part.

ME: What is your writing Kryptonite?

RITA: Writer’s block. I fight it constantly.  But I have a few remedies. One is thinking about what I’m going to write in the evening, then writing it the next morning. Another is keeping an “ugly notebook.”  Like any sport or dancing, it helps to warm yourself up before writing for the day.

ME: Have you ever gotten reader’s block?  

RITA: I don’t know what that is, so I don’t know whether I’ve ever gotten it or not.

ME: Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?  

RITA: I’ve written under a pseudonym since I was first published, 11 years ago.

ME: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?  

RITA: I like being original, and hope my readers will want what I’m saying.

ME: Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

RITA: Yes, but maybe fiction isn’t the thing for them, especially romantic fiction.

ME: What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

RITA: I’m friends with 2 other authors, both of them in the romance field.  One is the daughter of a deceased friend of mine, and she helped me meet my publishers. We discuss our stories constantly. The other I know from Renaissance. She helps me put more romance into my stories,and is often a virtual cabin mate in Camp NaNoWriMo.

ME: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

RITA: It stimulated me to write more, and keep a writing discipline.

ME: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

RITA: Several books on writing: Outwitting Writer’s Block, Structure and Plot, Dialog,  and Pirate Speak. The Element Encyclopedias.I have 10 of these.  They all are chock-full of ideas.

ME: What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?

RITA: 2 Ernest Hemingway and Stephen King.

ME: What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?  

RITA: The Writer and Writer’s Digest.

ME: What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?  

RITA: A group, actually. The other books about the Dune universe by Frank Hrbert’s son Brian and Kevin Anderson.

ME: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

RITA: The black panther or jaguar.

ME: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?  

RITA: My methods of research vary, depending upon the kin of story I’m writing. For one story, a story about vampires, I watched movies about vampires, the original 1931 Dracula, and all the Hammer films about him.  From them, I derived the rules having to do with defense against them, and destroying them.  For the story I’m writing in November’s NaNoWriMo, I’m going back in time to The Magdalenion period, which is a bridge between the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods.  Through Jean Auel’s series that started with Clan of Cave Bear, which is very well researched, by the way, I’m researching Paleolithic culture and technology.  I also do research on the Internet. Wikipedia is a stalwart resource, but the key to that resource is to read the sources the authors of the different entries used.

ME: What did you edit out of this book?  

RITA: When Takuhi’s Dream was first published, it was published as a Young Adult book, so I had to edit out all the sex scenes, and replace them with people playing 4D chess, so when the rights were returned to me, I put the bedroom scenes back In.  Also, my publisher dislikes the word  “that”, so I either remove them all and replace them with “which,” or I rewrite the sentences so they won’t need the word.  It is, after all, a four-letter word.

 

Thank you so much Rita for stopping by. Looking forward to the next book!

 

Join us and the Forsaken Realms as we celebrate.

The Forsaken Series has been a long, exciting journey, which is far from over. I’ve been working diligently with Ciara to get more of the books ready for our beloved readers, and we’ve had three releases this year with more in the works for the next while. Exploring worlds of mythological beings, creating realms, worlds, cultures, is a huge part of what makes this series so intricate and so much fun.

I’ve got the next three books plotted out, so Books, 13 – which is 2/3 written, Books 15 and 17 are plotted and I’ve begun to work on some ideas/notes for book 19! Familiar characters will make appearances, friends and foes will face challenges, and throughout it all, love will guide the just to their future and save lives.

As well, the series continues to grow and expand. We’ve already begun the process of getting the books adapted into screenplays and have after months, years, of hard work, dedication…and an amazing agent secured an options agreement with a production company to see Book One Forsaken Heart made into a feature length film. While we don’t have an exact time line – its safe to say production should hopefully start within the next couple of years! Stay tuned for further details.

Book Eleven is coming August 20th, 2018!!!

Book Eleven in the Forsaken series, the second of the series featuring a m/m pairing will be available for purchase August 20, 2018 from Beachwalk Press. Super excited to have this book out as it is such an exciting story featuring the vampire realm, two alpha heroes with secrets, dark magic…and more than a few surprises.

Amid the turmoil of war, an outcast will rise to save the one his heart yearns for.

Within a vampire village a young male is reduced to nothing more than bloody entertainment. Feared for his terrifying visions and hated for his difference in appearance, Kassiel has been forced to fight in the arena from a young age. Now half-starved and with no hope of freedom or a life beyond the fights, he waits for the mercy of death.

On the cusp of death, he’s thrown from the village. Kassiel is saved by a dragon shifter who takes him back to the caves of his leader.

Fierce, loyal, governed by the rules of his god, Mali’x hunts for followers who will help in the fight for the future of all immortals. When he stumbles upon the young vampire, starved and clinging to life, Mali’x is horrified by the cruelty of the villagers. The torture and abuse Kassiel suffered sets Mali’x’s teeth on edge, and he swears justice will be served. In the eyes of this outcast vampire, Mali’x sees himself in the not so distant past.

What Mali’x doesn’t know is that in Kassiel he will find not only a powerful ally, but perhaps the other half of his soul. However, dark magic conspires to keep them apart. Kassiel will have to face his greatest fears and find a way to save not only himself but his lover.

Content Warning: male/male sex, strong language, and violence

Genre(s): Male/Male, Erotic Paranormal Romance

 

 

Exciting news

I’m super excited to announce Fall, book nine of the Forsaken series is in edits and slated for release later this year. Its the first m/m of the series and features a demon seeking to be left alone to plot the demise of the goddess responsible for the death of his lover centuries earlier.

Its a story of finding oneself and seeing what you want isn’t always what you need.

As well we’ve submitted the screenplays for the first few books to a production company for review. We’re hopeful they’ll pick it up as an option.