audience, Author, Drama, Fiction, Indie Author, writing

Reel Them Back In

Von was just minding her own business, going to the break room at our job when she was accosted by one of our readers. She’d just finished reading our third book and demanded to know what would happen next. She begged and begged, promising to buy our next book, she just had to have the answer. Like we always do, Von told her she would have to wait until the next book is out.

We’ve been bribed, extorted and threatened by readers/coworkers who after reading the ending of one book, wants to know how the cliffhanger is going to be resolved in the next. I think it’s one thing as authors we’ve gotten right. Every one of our books end with bait to get the reader to buy the next one.

If you’re an author with one off books with unconnected stories it won’t work. But if you’re planning a series you may want to give your readers extra incentive to come back. A cliffhanger doesn’t have to be the damsel in distress tied to the railroad tracks. It could be as simple as will they or won’t they get together, which of the characters is hiding a pregnancy, or what’s in the briefcase the villain has been carrying around.

Whatever you decide, don’t be shocked if your readers get confrontational and want to know what happens next.

 

 

 

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audience, Author, Fiction, Indie Author, writing

Bursting the Bubble

One of our readers asked if we ever considered the possibility of hiring models to pose as our main characters for the cover of our books, The Body Hunters. We politely said no, it wasn’t something we would consider.

Reading is about imagination and fantasy. My vision of what Danielle Labouleaux and that fine hunk of a man, Aiden Stone look like may be different from my co-author’s vision of them, which is different from our reader’s vision of what the couple looks like.  Putting two models on the cover could be disruptive to the reader’s experience and may turn them off if the model’s appearance is not what they had in mind.

I confess that the same thing happened to me with a series of novels I read. The series was briefly turned into a TV series. Now the male protagonist got a pass, he looked like I would imagine his character to be. His female partner was not. The actress was blond while the character was a brunette. She looked Hollywood glamorous while in the books the character was a bit of a tomboy and an athlete. For whatever reason I just couldn’t fall in love with the show like I wanted and the changes in appearance may have been why. Now I’m afraid to pick up the next book in the series because I think the show may have ruined it for me.

It’s something to consider as an author when the time comes around to design your book covers. Sometimes letting your audience use their own imagination is the best policy. Besides, the actor I envision as Aiden Stone is a little too busy making movies to worry about a book cover shoot. : )

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audience, Author, customer service, customers, life lessons, money, shopping, Uncategorized, writing

First Impressions

Last week my job ordered lunch for our team from an upscale pizzeria, Buddy’s. Another location of the same chain opened about two weeks on my street and I was wondering how the food would taste. Needless to say I was disappointed. Other than the lasagna, which was delicious, the rest of the pasta was flat and tasteless and the salad looked like someone just opened one of those instant salads you can buy at the grocery store. The restaurant which could have gained me as a customer failed to impress me, so I’ll be spending my money elsewhere.

The same is true for me and my relationship with Sonic restaurants. I tried them at first three years ago when one opened around the corner from me. I ordered a chili dog and got home to discovered a bun with nothing but chili in it which completely turned me off the restaurant chain. I haven’t visited since.

These restaurant’s loss of my business is the reason first impressions are important, no matter what type of business you run.  So go all out. Don’t be shy. Dare to impress your potential clientele. If you don’t wow your customer or your reader from the start, chances are you’ve lost them for good.

 

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audience, Author, etiquette, Indie Author, Social Media, Twitter, Uncategorized

What is Twitter Etiquette?

As indie author’s one of the most powerful tools for getting our name and product out there is social media. It’s been a learning process over the past year, but we’ve finally got it down. I’m not sure about Von, but my favorite social media tool is Twitter. It’s short and sweet, no need for extraneous content, 140 characters and you’re done. If I happen to find an interesting article or picture, I just click on the blue bird, it’s miniaturized to Shrinky Dink size and posted to our Twitter page, easy enough.

As our Twitter followers have grown over the past few months, so have our interactions, or Retweets. At first, we would send a Thank You tweet, thanking them for thinking of us, but we soon discovered that retweeting the retweeters content was even better to return the favor.  If an author happens to follow us then we make it a point to follow them back. It’s a good way to grow your network and interact with other people trying to do the same thing you’re doing.

I got quite a shock, one day while trying to thank one of our retweeters. I clicked on that author’s name to find a profile page full of nudity, whips, chains, and handcuffs. Okay, if we’re not comfortable even looking at this person’s page, do we have to retweet their material because they retweeted ours?

Another question concerns serial retweeters. If we know they retweet our stuff almost automatically, sometimes several times a day, do we retweet their stuff multiple time also?

What about Followers who speak an entirely different language? Do I follow someone even though I don’t have a clue what they’re saying?

It’s not like someone wrote a handbook on proper Twitter etiquette. I hate being rude and don’t want our Followers to think we’re trying to snub them. So we had to make up our own rules.

If a Follower is into something risque that we’re not quite comfortable sharing on our page, we’ll send a thank you Tweet or retweet something safe they’ve retweeted from someone else.

For the serial retweeters, we retweet them once or twice. Anything more and you’re caught in a vicious, repeating loop.

The rest is just play it by ear and stick with our own judgment.  If we’re not comfortable with something, than the best course of action is to leave it alone. Over time you’ll gain Followers and you’ll lose Followers, that’s just the way Twitter goes.

 

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audience, Author, biracial, Chicklit, Drama, Fiction, Indie Author, writing

Build Your Mythology

Readers, myself included don’t like cookie cutter, cardboard cutouts as characters.  If a character is boring or not dysfunctional enough, I’m putting the book down.

As a writer I learned that the more layers a character has, the better your audience receives the character. That character’s bio doesn’t have to be explained in detail in the book, but it may be something you want to keep in the back of you head as you’re writing.

What’s their favorite food? What are their hobbies? What was their relationship with their parents? Do they have tattoos? Did they serve in the military? What type of movies do they like? Who’s their best friend? Where did they grow up? Do they have money? If so how much?

The answers to all those questions and everything else you can dream up for your character will influence every challenge they have to face, just like what you faced in the past affects who you are today.

For example, our main character in The Body Hunters, Danielle Labouleaux or Danny as she prefers to be called is biracial and grew up in New Orleans where she had a somewhat antagonistic relationship with her parents in her teens and early twenties. She was bullied as a child, not only for being biracial and also for a zipper scar that bisects her chest from heart surgery when she was six. She has a penchant for hot rods, especially her candy apple red Camaro, named Lucille. She loves to cook, which she learned from her Grandmere and she hangs on to friends for dear life because they were few and far between during her childhood. She also has a thing for buff, tattooed bad boys, who are really diamonds in the rough.

This is how we started our main characters and as Danielle’s story progressed, we added layers and layers of back story, fleshing her out as a character. Before long we knew what she’d say and how she’d react in any given situation.

The same technique can be used for the universe your characters exist in. It’s your universe, you make it up and mold it any way you want to.

Is it post apocalyptic? If so how did it get that way? Who’s the President? Is this the future? What happened twenty years ago?

The more believable your story and character are, the more invested your readers become in your story.

 

 

 

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audience, Author, Chicklit, Fiction, Indie Author, punishment, Uncategorized, villains, writing

The Villain Must Pay

There’s a lot of injustice in the world. All you have to do is turn on the news and here about someone being victimized. As we all know, sometimes the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. How many times have we seen someone get a slap on the wrist for some heinous crime that’s left someone badly hurt, emotionally scarred or even dead?

I once read a book that started out promising. It was a good read, up until the end when the antagonist got away with his misdeeds. The two main characters were coerced into letting him get away with a slap on the wrist. I still hold a grudge against that author for that ending. Although it may not realistic when it comes to the real world, people want to see justice rendered, especially when they’re invested in a story.

As a writer, it’s something I take into consideration. Maybe it’s some form of vigilantism, but I personally want the bad guy to suffer and I know our readers feel the same way. Even though the antagonist is nothing but a combination of ones and zeroes in my computer, I want them to get what’s coming to them. Sometimes getting carted off to jail won’t do it, sometimes the punishment has to be extreme to satisfy the reader. Sometimes for punishment you have to think outside the box. It’s Raven Newcastle’s world and she can do what she wants.

If only things in real life were so simple.

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audience, fans, molvies, superheroes, Uncategorized, women

Superheroes Aren’t Just for Geeks

thor

Last weekend, I went to the theater to see Thor. I grew up with my father reading his Silver Surfer and Spiderman comics, which got me somewhat interested in the genre. Its been decades since I’ve picked up a comic, probably around the last time I picked up a She-ra doll, but I’m very familiar with the characters. I may not read the comics anymore, but I like to watch them on the big screen.

It being the first week of release of this particular movie, I decided to get my seat early. Sitting there I had a ringside seat as the other film goers found their seat. I was quite surprised to find that probably half or over half of the patrons were women. True, some of them may have randomly picked Thor, but for the most part I think Chris Hemsworth and Idris Elba were the big draw. That would explain the gratuitous shirtless scene in the movie with Thor. That scene definitely wasn’t for the fan boys, it was a shout out for the ladies.

Going back over the super hero movies that have been released recently, the common factor is that most of them are attractive men. You’ve got Chris Evans, Hugh Jackman, and Henry Cavill as leading men. All of them good looking actors playing superheroes, all of them with a female fan base.

I for one have watched just about anything Chris Evans was in, years before he ever played Captain America. I happen to think he’s good eye candy. Anyone remember Cellular?

And the buzz with the Man of Steel from the ladies over the summer wasn’t about the action scenes, but how well Mr. Cavill looked in that Superman suit. I for one enjoyed the shirtless scenes with the manly facial scruff. ; )

My own mother practically swoons every time The Dark Knight Rises is on TV and she hears Bane’s distinctive voice. She was so crushed when I told her he wouldn’t be in the next Batman reboot.

The trend even spreads outside of the superhero movie genre. I wasn’t interested in The Fast and the Furious until they announced that The Rock would be appearing in Fast Five. As long as he’s in the franchise I’ll park my butt in the seat for every installment. Though Fast Six should be called The Fast and the Furious: Sexy, Sweaty Bald Men in Tank Tops.

I’m glad to see that film makers are paying attention to what women want when it comes to movies. We don’t all want the same predictable rom-com’s and period pieces. Sometimes we just want mindless action and a good looking man saving the day. And speaking of the Rock, he was also the only reason I went to see that awful GI Joe sequel and if he’s in the next one they can go ahead and take my money right now.

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