Tuesday, January 31, 2012

ePublishing: Can A Good Story Make Up for Bad Editing?

A few weeks ago I read a book with a great story, but the editing was horrible. There were so many omitted words that it was distracting and it took me out of the story. I went to the author's blog and was shocked to see that she'd posted a list of people that she wanted to thank for being her proofreaders. There were about five of them. How could that many people miss so many errors?

This brings up a couple of points. First, just because someone can read doesn't mean they can proofread.
Second, can a good story make up for bad editing?

I'm torn. I've found typos in traditionally published books and I'm sure there are a couple in my own book. I'm not happy about it, but I'm realistic. Where I think the line needs to be drawn is when the amount of typos is so significant that the reader is no longer engaged in the story but is busy thinking "who the hell proofread this?"

What do you think? Am I being too harsh? Should readers overlook typos, especially in books that only cost $2.99 (or less). Does a low price give a writer the right to put out a book that needs better editing?

Or, do we all need to up our game a little bit?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Epublishing: 5 Reasons I Like Free Samples Better Than Reviews

I love my kindle. I have read a ton of books since I got it. I love the instant delivery of books at all hours of the day and night. I like all of the free and low priced books that are available. I like supporting indie publishers.

But, with so many titles available (and more each day), how do I choose?

1. Reading reviews can be frustrating. I used to go by the reviews on Amazon, but I found that for every book that I thought stunk, there would be a ton of people giving it 5 stars and raving about what a great book it was. In addition to being frustrated by reading a bad book, I was even more frustrated thinking about all the stupid people out there who thought it was great. (I can be a little judgmental.)

2.  Free samples let me decide for myself. I find this more satisfying than the reviews because instead of relying on others, I can decide for myself.

3. Free samples help me avoid my pet peeves. I have a number of pet peeves when it comes to books. One is typos and the other is head popping---changing point of view from character to character in the same scene. If a story is particularly good, I'll keep going and overlook either my pet peeves. But, too many of either of these annoying features will cause me to stop reading and probably write a bad review.

4. Free samples give me a real sense of what the book is about. Often the descriptions of books are very short and aren't always as descriptive as they could be. But, a free sample gives a real sense of what the book is about and what the tone of the book is. I've read a couple of Christian novels (which I knew had a Christian theme when I bought them). Many reviewers dinged those same books because they didn't feel that the Christian theme was made clear in the description so they felt like they'd been blindsided when they read the book and the Christian theme became more clear.

5. Free samples save me time and money. I've read some free samples and made a decision to either buy or stop reading within a page or two. With others, I'll read several pages and if I decide that I'd like to see what happens next, I'll buy. In either case, I've saved myself from buying books that I don't like and I save myself from spending the time to read books that aren't worth my time.

Next time you're wondering whether or not to buy an ebook, read the free sample. It's not as good as the free samples at the bakery, but it won't make you fat either.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Writer's Dilemma: Self-Promotion

I'm not shy. But I do dislike self-promotion. It seems boastful and that seems wrong.

But, if I want people to read my stories (or my blog), I need to let them know I'm here. And I'm the only one who can do that.

Maybe it's my age, but it seems wrong to wave a flag and say "Look what I did!"

But, if I don't, who will?

I still don't like it, but I've decided to take a different approach. Instead of thinking of it as self-promotion, I've decided to think of it as getting to know others in my community. And I'm bold enough to think that others in the community will be glad to know me.

I hope I'm right.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Book Review: The Boss's Pet: The Contract

I downloaded a copy of Tonya Kinzer's The Boss's Pet: The Contract a few days ago. I've been following Tonya on Twitter and know that she has several books in The Boss's Pet series, so decided to start at the beginning.

The Boss's Pet follows the adventures of Sondra and her employer, Nick. What starts out as a professional relationship eventually evolves into a romance. Nick introduces Sondra to a whole lifestyle of which she was unaware. This book, which is the first in the series, follows their relationship as they move from employer/employee to lovers and eventually to discussions of a dom/sub relationship.

I thought that the author handled the process of someone considering this lifestyle in a very plausible way. Sondra was thoughtful, but curious, in her exploration of the lifestyle and her own thoughts about it. The story is told from the point of view of both Sondra and Nick and this enables us to see Nick's thoughts as well---including the fact that he cares about Sondra and is concerned about moving at a pace that is comfortable for her. The fact that he's rich, handsome and an incredible lover doesn't hurt either!

The sex and bondage scenes were very erotic and full of emotion. I really felt like I was experiencing the same things as Sondra (well...almost).

I enjoyed this book and plan to buy and read the rest of the series. I suggest you do the same.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Writing Tips: Character Names

I'll admit it. I'm terrible at coming up with names for my characters. When I look back through my short stories I see that I tend to repeat certain names, especially mens names. Mac seems to be popular with me. I'm not sure why.

For men, names with a K sound seem sexy and strong. Kirk, Dirk, the previously mentioned Mac, Curt, and Cord, for example.

For women, it's a little harder. If she's someone sort of cute, then I think she needs a name that is kind of cute which usually means something with a y-sound ending: Marcie, Darcy, Penny or Cici. If she's a little more business-like, then she might have a short name like Kate, Anne, or Liz. Or maybe a name that sounds sort of tomboy-ish like Ronnie, Ricki, or Joey.

Sure, I could go against character and have a very silly woman who is named Margaret, but when you write short stories, I think you need to use a few of these stereotypes to make your point since you don't have a lot of space.

One exception might be, though, someone who laments their name. Maybe a fun loving free spirit named Margaret who wishes everyone would call her Maggie or Meg and gets frustrated when they call her Margaret.

My problem is that I'll be writing along and decide that I need to add a secondary character but I can't think of a good name for them so I'll stop writing and think about names, maybe I'll even look through the phone book for a good name. This lack of planning causes me to stop writing and get distracted from my story.

How do I solve this problem? If I can't come up with a name quickly, I just leave a blank line ______ where there name should be as a reminder to myself that I need a name there. Don't just leave a blank space because you might not remember to come back and fix it.

The other thing that I'm going to start doing is to keep a list of possible character names where I'll write down interesting names either when I hear them or think of them. That way, I'll already have a ready supply of possible names.

What about you? How do you come up with names for your characters? As a reader, how important are names to you? Do you get annoyed with a story where everyone has an unusual name or a quirky nickname?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Writing Advice: What if I'm Embarrassed About Things I've Written in the Past?

A few days ago, not being sure of what to post on my new blog, I included an excerpt from my very first published story. I think I wrote it about 8 years ago. At the time, especially when it was published on Discipline and Desire, I was so excited and proud.

I still am, but when I re-read it a few days ago, I was a little bit embarrassed too. Parts of it made me cringe. I suppose I could have edited it for the post, but that seemed deceitful because if anyone bought my book, they'd see that the story as printed there would be different from the edited version on the blog. I know...I'm probably the only one who cares about that sort of thing, but I do and it's my blog, so there.

It's sort of like looking back at photos from high school, especially the ones that you thought made you look really good at the time and now realizing that you looked hideous. I'm sure you didn't look hideous. You were probably attractive all the time, but I looked hideous and I'm sure that any of your friends who were also in the picture with you looked hideous (especially in comparison to your loveliness). :)

As much as parts of that first story make me cringe, I also look at it in much the same way that I look at my high school self---with a little bit of compassion for who that person was at the time and with a little bit of pride that I've moved on from there.

What about you? Do you throw away those horrible pictures (or stories) from the past, or do you think of them as little reminders of where you've been?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Erotica Writer's Secret Life: How Do You Account For Your Time?

Are you a writer of erotic fiction? Would you like to be? Here's one of my dilemmas---how do I account for my time when I'm engaged in my secret life?

More specifically, here's my problem. In addition to writing erotic spanking stories, I also write funny chick lit type stories. None of them have been published yet (stay tuned) but I do want to work on getting them to a publishable state. I have a friend who also writes mainstream fiction and we often read each others work etc.

Her head would pop off if she knew about my secret life. I'm not kidding. So, for her sanity and my own, I will never tell her about my work as the mysterious Celeste Jones. (ha!)

That's all background to get to the time issue. My friend knows that I have quite a bit of time for writing these days, but as far as she knows, I have nothing to show for it. In actuality, I'm close to 12K words in a great three chapter story, but she doesn't know that. It's not like she's competitive or I need to account to her for what I do, but it's sort of weird when she tells me that she's edited five chapters of her book this week and she knows that I've had plenty of time to write, but I don't have anything to tell her about.

I have been feigning a cold in order to excuse my lack of productivity, but that can only last so long.

One idea might be to work on both stories at the same time, but I'm just not very good at dividing my attention that way, especially when one story is really getting good. Plus, I've made a New Year's Resolution to finish every story I start, no matter how bad it is, so I want to finish the spanking story that I'm working on before I move on to the next thing.

What about the rest of you? Do you keep your erotic writing secret? What are some of the challenges? Do you have any advice for me?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Writer's Revenge: Writing About Your Enemies

Yesterday's topic was writing about your friends. Today, I'll address the issue of using your enemies in your fiction.

I like it!

Now, I don't write specifically about people I don't like or include details about their life which would be identifiable. I don't want to open myself up to liability and I also don't expect that they will read my work anyway so it's not like I'll get that great "gotcha" when they see that they are the subject of ridicule in my story.

So, I use them for inspiration. A group of women that I found annoying become the bitches who get wine spilled on them in Dinner at the Club. A chronic bed wetter is named for a man who was rude to me at work. Relatives who were mean to me because of my weight get called out at a family wedding in Branches of the Family Tree (soon to be published on Discipline and Desire).

See? It's a profitable replacement for therapy.

What about you? How do you use your enemies to inspire your writing?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Writer's Dilemma: Is it Ok to write about your friends?

Only a few of my friends know about my secret life as a writer of erotic spanking stories. In a way, the secrecy makes the writing more fun.

It also gives me the freedom to use them as inspiration without worrying about them ever finding out...because if I do use them for inspiration it's usually to mock them.

Aren't I a great friend?

For example---one of my friends is an unbelievable snob and social climber. Although she's very successful, she still worries about impressing others. Basically, she's a starf*cker.

I'm not sure whether to be annoyed at her shallowness or to feel sad for her because she is so insecure.

I used some of her real life statements as the basis for two of my stories which were published on Discipline and Desire Judge Not: Class Reunion and Judge Not: Family Gathering.

I do have one "rule" though---I make my characters physically very different from my friends because it really freaks me out to write a sex scene where the characters resemble my friends.

Fortunately, even when a character is based on someone that I know, they still take on their own persona so that by the time I get to writing the erotic parts of the story, it's about the characters and my friends are long forgotten.

What about you? Do you ever include your friends in stories? If so, do you tell them? Do you have any "rules" that you follow about friends in your writing?

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Updates at Discipline and Desire

It's Monday. And that means the latest updates are available at Discipline and Desire! Be sure to scroll down for the free samples of two different stories. And don't forget to check out all of the ebooks that are available from the writers at Discipline and Desire. Many of these books are also available on Amazon, if that's your preferred method for getting ebooks.

Discipline and Desire features romantic spanking stories between men and women. The stories are updated every week and there is an extensive library available to members. Check it out!

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Greetings! And Welcome to my blog.

I'm very excited that you have stopped by. Thank you. Writing is such a personal thing that when someone does take the time to read what I've written, I am flattered. I'll try to make it worth your while so you'll come back often.

I write short stories which are published on Discipline and Desire. Most of my stories are single chapters and they usually have humor in them. Sort of a chick lit meets a firm hand kind of thing.

I also have a book of my short stories, which is available on Amazon (see link).

More soon. Stay tuned.