My co-author Von is teaching one of our coworkers how to crochet. Wanting nothing to do with crafts whatsoever, I can’t help but watch in fascination whenever Erica visits Von’s desk. I may not want to be bothered with it, but I respect the art.
With much patience, Von instructs her on how to hold the crochet needle and what stitches to use. Since they’ve started Erica’s lessons, she’s made much progress on the pot holder or whatever she’s attempting to make. Much to my horror, the last time Erica visited for a lesson, Von cruelly laughed and ripped the stitches apart, destroying her work. Well, maybe she didn’t laugh, but all that hard work was unraveled back into a ball of yarn. It may seem mean, but Von says taking it apart is the best way for Erica to learn.
The same lesson can be applies to our writing. About two months ago, we were working on our fourth project when things just didn’t feel right. I hadn’t told her, but I felt bored and the writing felt stale. Chalking it up to exhaustion, I’d leave the project alone for a couple days, come back and feel the same way. I talked to her about what I was feeling and much to my surprise, she felt the same way. We’re both under the philosophy that if it isn’t right, we’re not going to publish it. Though it was painful, we went back over what we thought was complete, ripped it apart at the seams and started from scratch.
Our main problem was that we were dumbing down two very intelligent supporting characters. Knowing that these two important people would already know what was going on, we took it from there. The stone that we thought things were set in was shattered and we started back from the beginning. Starting from scratch was exactly what we needed. Along the way we’ve stitched in material that makes for a more interesting read. Now we’re both happy with the nearly finished product.
Though it may hurt, sometimes taking things apart and starting fresh is exactly what you need.
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.
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. : )
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.
I didn’t start out like this. I laughed at and sneered at the crazy people who just couldn’t get enough of their pets, treating them like children. Then I met my loving adorable husband. He was a feline aficionado, a rare quality in a man to say the least. He never denied his love of cats even to other men, secure in his own masculinity to say I love….Cats. We’ll save the other euphemism for another time. 😉
Now I am an animal lover myself don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t till I was on my own and had an apartment that I discovered all things feline. I was bound and determined to raise them with dignity, no cooing and coddling, they would grow to be the adult cats with the respect they deserved.
I worked with a woman at that time who had a Shih Tzu named Charlie. It was one of those mop dogs, the kind you wanted to stick a pole up its bum and mop the floor with it. Supposedly a cute small yipper. Charlie went everywhere with her and it was Charlie this and Charlie that. Charlie had to get his hair cut, She had to go right home and make Charlie’s dinner ect… I’m not joking when I say this, for the first six months I knew her, I thought Charlie was her husband till one day she comes into work and mentions Dave.
My world spun! how could this middle-aged woman be cheating on Charlie? I was aghast in horror! till another co-worker who snickered and laughed at me said Charlie was her freaking pooch!
Now this part is sad I’ll warn you. Charlie developed cancer and mercifully was given the gift of a peaceful death. My friend was devastated of course and she announced Charlie’s funeral would be held in two days for all those who would like to attend.
Wait, What? A funeral for a Swiffer?
My eyes rolled and I shook my head. Thankfully, I thought to myself, that I had to work and couldn’t attend, but I was lucky enough to share in the pictures of Charlie lying in his little doggie casket at his viewing. He was buried lovingly in a pet cemetery.
This whole melodrama was foreign to me. I was brought up that pets are animals and we may cry when they leave us but it is after all an animal and we move on. I believed that till my McTavish. I had Mctavish before I was married and he was a gift from a dear friend. Living alone I appreciated his company, his constant need for attention taking my mind off of the fact that I lived alone. He was a Scottish Fold and my constant companion.
When I married my husband, the feline aficionado, remarked that McTavish was my ‘first’ husband since a lot of my daily concern was for my aging cat. I was slowly starting on my journey to being one of ‘those’. We had by then added to our family several more feline children and as the years progressed on, our decisions even ones where to live centered around the cats. McTavish was by now an old man in cat years approaching 80 + years and I’m positive he appreciated that we moved somewhere that was one level only and I to this day believe it’s the reason he lived to 18 human yrs ,101+ feline, but even then I still hadn’t completely transformed into one of ‘those’ quite yet.
Then ‘they’ came.
The two bundles of lil’ dog love that insidiously completed the transformation and it all started with the first sweater I bought them. It was January in Detroit after all. The frozen north and the two little ones who weighed no more than a pound a piece when I brought them home needed extra warmth. They are after all Chihuahua’s and barely had fur.
They had to have coats!
Now there is nothing cuter than Chihuahua’s in hoodie parka’s except maybe this
and of course this
So now every time I go to PetCo and PetSmart passing by the mini coats, sweaters, booties, sundresses and team jerseys, I call my sponsor from Pet Clothes are Just Too Damn Cute Anonymous. My sponsor is my husband who says only one word. “NO” 😦
Though recently he did have to admit they did look awful cute in their hoodies.
Now if I can only get him to let me have one of these!
Have a sweaterific day!