What an amazing release weekend!

Leyli Promo poses 1First, I have to tell everyone who read When We Were Kings and/or When We Were Dancing THANK YOU!  I mean it.  Thank you so much for taking a chance on an author you probably had never heard of before.  Thank you for buying the book, or borrowing.  Most of all, thank you to everyone who took the time to leave a review.

I know that this isn’t exactly a “hot” subject in fantasy right now.  Monarchies are over done.  Princesses saving the world?  Oh, that’s “old hat”.  So much about this series begs to be cliche – but it’s NOT.  Leyli refused to be just another princess turned warrior.  Tristan?  Yeah, he had a few of his own opinions.

And they aren’t done yet.  Granted, I’m a little burned out on gladiators right now (this always happens for a week or so after intensive editing of my books, then I’m addicted all over again).  And  it’s already starting.  So far, I’ve been locked out of WWWD for 10 days because of the publishing process.  In that time, little details about book 3 (When We Were Crowned) have become just a little more clear.  Never mind the addendum book that’s begging me to release it.

You see, it isn’t just Tristan and Leyli that are the heroes of this saga.  Haven’t any of you wondered about that birthmark on the Lyone family?  Now I wonder where something like that could have come from.  And while that’s the most obvious hint I’ve left hanging out there, it’s not the only one.  I’m waiting for someone to figure it out.  (Yes, that’s a dare).

But the release has gone so much better than I could have dreamed.  Being a pragmatist, I’m well aware that gladiators, princesses, and obscure indie authors aren’t exactly begging to become the next “megahit” of the year.  I was hoping for a solid release from my dedicated fans.  Instead….

I got so much more.  When We Were Kings hit #31 in free fantasy books, right alongside novels I’d bought myself.  When We Were Dancing reached 29k in the overall kindle store (which has like 4 million books in it)!  These numbers aren’t best seller status or anything, but it’s jaw dropping for me.

Keep in mind, I released my first book, One More Day, in September of 2015.  Less than a year later, I’m seeing sales to be proud of.  WWWK still has a perfect 5 star rating!  Reviews are ticking up, sales have been stable all weekend, and me?

I feel like an author.  Saturday evening, I had to sit down and just let it sink in.  My dream of writing a book had not only been achieved but I really, truly, honestly FEEL like an AUTHOR.  I write books that people actually read.  Not just crap to fill up the kindle listings, but books with good reviews, solid sales, and a fan base that is growing.  I have an audience to keep feeding my stories.  I have a reason to do this.  I have achieved a dream…

And I wish that I could tell each of you how much I appreciate it.  For you, my readers, it may have been a book you picked up on a whim.  For me, the author, this has been a dream come true.

And I’m not at all ready to stop.  I have two more series to release this year, and the Wolf of Oberhame…. yes, there’s still more of her story to tell.  It’s going to be a wild ride.

 

What if the trolls knew where you lived?

smartphone-friends-internet-connectionA few decades ago, setting up the perfect chance for things to go wrong in a book was easy.  One girl, one dark alley, and she’d be isolated.  Today, not so much.

Everyone has a cell phone.  Most have GPS locating apps, find friend/family, or such.  Walking home?  I’d be shocked if the girl didn’t have a flashlight app on, while texting to her bestie.  This is the constantly connected world we live in, and portraying it in literature makes a few things a bit… less easy.

Now add in social media, video games, mobile games, voice to text, blue tooth, and more.  It’s exciting.  It’s amazing and common place all at the same time.  So how do you keep the feel of the stories we loved, while embracing the modern world that is consuming us?  It’s a question I’ve had a lot of fun playing with.

You see, the internet offers a lot of anonymity.  Games offer a break from reality.  The massive amount of tech that most people carry on them is staggering, but it offers authors a chance to look at old problems in new ways.  And THAT is what I have done with the Eternal Combat series.

Gamers living like real people

shift9441PopAs I’ve said many times, we’re all gamers.  From Solitaire to Call of Duty, almost everyone I know has a game to whittle away the time.  Maybe they play it on their phone while riding the bus, maybe they rush home after school to log in with their friends in WOW, or maybe the Wii counts as exercise.  We all do it.

Then there’s the dark side of this hobby: sexism.  Oh, it’s not all inclusive.  It still exists, and the more male dominated the genre of games, the more likely someone is to run into it headlong.  Even my husband has suffered because of it – while running one of my characters around.  Private messages to do disgusting things, random pictures sent to the email address I used for guild forums (yeah, I did keep that picture of your penis for future blackmail, bud!) and the threats.  Oh, there’s always the threats.

I’d say that 95% of the guys I know online are great.  Maybe 20% of those  are protective of the girls in their guild/friends list.  Then there’s that special group of idiots.  Doesn’t matter if it’s the guy who says he’ll rape me because I got a good kill, the one who keeps telling me to shut up because I should be seen and not heard, or the butt-munch who heard me on the guild stream and now stalks me across the map wanting to be friends.

Imagine what would happen if that last layer of anonymity was stripped away.  What if the world knew that QQ was named Riley Andrews, lived in small town Texas, and her face was plastered everywhere.  What happens when being a “girl gamer” means you suddenly have to do twice as good to prove a guy isn’t carrying you through the game?  How do you combat this?  How do you fight back?  Do you even bother?

And what would you do when the threats become real?  How can you tell the difference between some troll mouthing off online and the guy who honestly wants to see you die?  How can you be sure that “I’m gonna rape you!” is a joke and not a real threat?  When the harassment crosses the  line from virtual to real, and the privacy protections of the internet provide your attacker with one more layer of protection while isolating you from the support systems that were meant to keep you safe, what do you do?

What if it was your daughter that had to deal with this?  Your mother?  Your best friend?

Because it happens all the time.  Sure, it’s usually a joke, but sometimes it’s not.  The Eternal Combat series mixes the joys of our virtual lifestyle with the horrors.  Love, friendships, and stalking are all a part of the new world we’re immersed in.  The old threats have adapted.  The dark alley is a place we gleefully log into, to see what our friends and family are doing.  All across the world, teenagers are harassing each other, stalking, bullying, and destroying people while sitting comfortably at a computer in the safety of their homes.  The atrocities I grew up with have been given a healthy dose of steroids.  The virtual world has become both the best and the worst of society.

I think it’s time for storytelling to take all of this into consideration without setting it up as a far-flung future that we will never see, because it’s real.  It’s here.  It isn’t the AI in those games we should fear.  It isn’t the companies that make them.  It’s the handful of mentally deranged sociopaths who are cloaked in anonymity, handed their victims on a streaming virtual platter.

How to be an Author

books-are-magicIt seems everyone wants to do it.  No one knows the rules.  Some say there’s money out there for the taking.  Let me tell ya the truth.

Being an author is like a job.

Yeah, it may be a fun job, but there’s still some responsibilities and deadlines that have to be met.  Sometimes, there’s even a few bits that kinda suck to do.  So, let me give you a very brief overview of what you need to consider before you press “publish” on KDP.

First, you need a story.  I’m not talking about some interaction between two smoking hot people, who you wish one of them was you.  I’m talking about a story that can be set up in a single sentence.  Here’s a few examples:

  • Mackenzie just found out she has cancer and is determined to become a survivor.
  • Since a man isn’t going to come save her, Leyli plans to become a successful gladiator so she can save herself.
  • The Heir to the throne has never been a woman before, but that won’t stop her from doing what she must to protect her country, even if she hates it.
  • The PLG may be a boy’s club, but Riley is determined to be the first woman to become a professional gamer and destroy the glass ceiling.
  • Salryc may be a beast, but that doesn’t mean she’s worse than a human, and she’ll do whatever it takes to show the world that iliri are people, too.

Now, if you’re paying close attention, you might notice that those are MY books (and that 2 of them have yet to be released…enjoy).  Naturally, I didn’t start with a one-liner.  I start with an idea, and end up with the sentence.  It doesn’t matter how you get there.  The point is that your story must start somewhere, move through obstacles of some kind, and reach a solution.  Happy, sad, good, or bad, it doesn’t matter, but you must END the story.

Next, you must pick a perspective.

lauren-dicioccio-book-art-3First person.  Third person limited.  Omniscient.  Even second person if you’re feeling a little psychotic and want to have people cuss at you.  Now, if you don’t know what these phrases mean, try Google.  Research.  Learn.  Treat yourself like an artist trying to improve the craft.

As an aside: head hopping is evil.  Do not do it.  If you try to say it’s “omniscient” perspective, then just slap your own face for the rest of us.  We’ll want to, if that manuscript ever sees the light of day.  Omniscient has no inner thoughts and relies on ONLY mannerisms and descriptions of what can be seen, heard, felt, etc.  Third person limited is what you’re thinking of, and if you switch whose head you’re inside, well, you have rules.  Yeah… Google them.

When you finish – if you do – read it again.

Cruel point here.  Many writers never have the guts to actually finish a novel.  I hear it’s hard.  Personally, I think it’s due to confusion.  They want to write a GOOD book.  Unfortunately, no one has ever done that.  Many of us write books that “aren’t bad” but they still need help to become GOOD.  The first step, though, is to write a bad one.

When that is done, read it.  Highlight the bits that bother you.  Fix the typos (now, not while you’re trying to finish).  Watch out for things like now/not or chance/change.  Spell check won’t see those.  Make things tolerable enough while you read it, looking at the details.  Did her dress change colors?  Did an extra hand appear in that sex scene?  Is her brother suddenly her father, and then turns into her cousin?  Was his hair always brown?  Thought she left on a Tuesday at 9 am, so how did she arrive on a Monday at noon?  Fix it, highlight it, make notes in red, or margins, or whatever you need to do, but read it and don’t say “I’ll go back and fix that”.  Nope, this is when you fix it.

When you’re done with all of that, read it again.

And then someone else needs to read it.

Not your mom.  Not your best friend (usually, although mine is a writer so that doesn’t really count).  You don’t want the moron down the street to read this love child you’ve created.  Nope.  This is where you pick the smartest, meanest, most cruel-hearted person you know, who might possibly do you a favor.  Beg.  Do whatever it takes, and give them a red pen with the understanding that you want their HONEST opinion.

Then, go home and cry.  You don’t have to tell us you did that, but you will.  When the work comes back, mutilated by this asshole who thinks she knows what it took to make this into a work of art, then you can beat that cum guzzling gutter snipe back into the stone ages with the research you did and how you’re sure that they are wrong.  Er.  Um.  I mean… When the critique partner gives it back, you will probably feel a bit hurt, shocked, and embarrassed at how many things slipped past.  Have another good cry, a few beers, but make sure you lock up the guns first, because killing this person is still not a good idea.  Trust me, you’ll need them (the person, not the guns) again later on.

Now, you let it cook for a while.

frog-prince-book-artIs this your first book?  Great!  Set it aside for a week.  Don’t read it.  Don’t talk to it.  Don’t fix anything.  Start another book, either writing or reading, I don’t care.  Just do not touch it, or you will ruin the process.  Think about ANYTHING else (like that family you ignored while you were writing.  Yeah, your infant just started college, hate to break it to ya, you missed a bit.)

After a week (month is better) read that stupid book you wrote again.

Because cancer/gladiators/gamers/fantasy alien monsters was a horrible idea.  It’s so last decade.  What were you thinking?  Gah, this thing sucks, but you will still read it ONE MORE TIME.  You’ll also find mistakes that made it past you, the others who have read it, and – if you’re lucky/smart – the editor.  Typos happen.  Commas always end up in the wrong place.  Read it again and you WILL find them.  If you think you can write a book, make a cover, and get rich, well, you’re wrong.

If you can handle that…

Then you might be able to become an author.  What I have outlined here is kinda the bare minimum of what it takes to write a book.  You will need to put your pride in a box somewhere and bury it, because you will not be seeing it for a long time.  There are no insta-riches.  There isn’t some easy trick to becoming a multi-millionaire.  This is art.  Yes, it takes an inherent talent, but it can be trained.  Not even Picasso started off as a brilliant artist.  He had to learn, get critiques, and try again.  We all do.

The trick is to realize that your book is not you.  It is a single grain of sand in what makes up the person who wrote it.  Yes, you may love it, but that doesn’t make it great, and if you protect it from all harm, all you will do is ruin it.  Your book will become the pampered child who everyone hates because it’s got a filthy mouth, bad manners, and a helicopter mom.  Your book needs to bleed, to laugh, and to grow up.  Without a few hard knocks, it can never become the beloved novel that is hidden in the pile of shit that was born when you first typed…

The End.

Feminism (or lack of) in Romance

pexels-photo (3)The past few days I’ve been trying to get a little reading in, but can’t.  I’m just sick of the sexism.  Even worse, most of it comes from WOMEN.  Gah.  I love a good romance novel.  I really do.  The problem is finding one.  All too often, the woman is portrayed as an idiot, a gold digger, or worse.  The men are usually rich jerks, who treat their love interest as worse than crap, and we’re supposed to swoon over it.

This makes me wonder if women really find this sexy or if we’re so conditioned to a male dominated society that we simply THINK we should find it hot.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a strong man as much as the next girl.  Confidence is sexy as hell.  A guy willing to protect and care for his girl?  Oh yeah.  But enough with the rich thing already.  Don’t make that his ONLY defining characteristic.  Ok, rich with abs, sorry.

If I want erotica, then I want the woman to have at least as much control over the situation as the guy.  Now, maybe they are both whisked away with hormonal passion and do stupid things — but don’t make her useless while he gets to be the smart, sensible, and powerful one.  If you’re writing an uneven power scale into the story, you’re already halfway to domestic violence.  This is NOT something we want to ingrain in the public as “perfectly ok”.  It is NOT a turn-on to me.

Why not turn the tables?  Why isn’t it sexy for a woman to decide she wants a guy, knock him off his feet with how much he “needs” her, and enjoy the conquest?  Why not make it a power struggle between them?  That’s some pretty good conflict, right there.  Or how about a couple where the man is a feminist, and does everything to lift her up.  THAT would be sexy as hell.  (And yes, I’ve read a few of those.  Thank you to the authors who write them).

Our society has ingrained some horrible things into our female brains, though.  A few examples: there’s no male equivalent for mistress.  Why can men have a piece on the side, and society makes that ok, but there isn’t even a word for when women do it.  Lover?  Uh, what if it’s just sex?  Friends with benefits?  What if it isn’t really a friend, just a relationship of mutual benefit, and she doesn’t want to TALK to him?

How about the whole “the man is always experienced, and the girl is always innocent, or nearly so” thing?  In a very non-scientific poll of my male friends, they assure me that blushing and timid women are rarely a turn on.  A woman in control, with her own power, who relinquishes a bit because she desires HIM is much hotter.  Why are powerful women ugly, and powerless women lovely?  Why is HE always the boss, and not her?  If she is, she’s usually the villain.

Most of all, why is rape considered the shortcut to writing a woman with a dark past?  Ugh!  Stop it already!  Men get raped, too, people.  Consider how that might play out.

So, I’m challenging all authors to change this antiquated dynamic.  Make some sexy women who aren’t as weak as a wet paper bag.  Make strong women become something sexy, while keeping their feminism.  Make men gentle and caring without emasculating them.  Write something hot as hell with a little equality.  Try it, and I bet you’ll see just how many sexist tropes we’ve all fallen into using because it’s just so damned easy.

Go ahead.  Write it.  I dare you.  I double dog dare you.

(and to all those authors who have already done this, you are my inspiration.  Yours are the books I don’t quit reading halfway through!)

The New World of Books

Magic-of-Books-8I love reading.  I think I love it almost as much as writing!  The digital revolution has released millions of books to the public which otherwise would have been stuck in a drawer somewhere.  It’s given us such gems as The Martian, and broken down barriers with mainstream erotica, as in Fifty Shades of Grey (which I still couldn’t finish).  It’s also made it hard to find all the little fishes in this massive ocean of little fish.  Without a miracle – or some brilliant marketing and a whole butt-load of good luck – even the best books are still lost to the readers.

Some of this has to do with the barrier between reader and author, I think.  We find books on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and other social media sites.  We can “talk to” the author.  We read their comments, get a feel for their personality, and start to humanize them.  Then we read the piece of crap they are so very proud of…. and can’t bring ourselves to leave a bad review.

I’ve done it.  I’ve lamented for days over whether I should leave the 1 star review I thought the book deserved, a 3 star with kindly phrased suggestions to give the author hope, or a standard “I don’t have the guts to be honest” 5 star review.  No longer are we just reviewing the product, but also the person who made it – and all of us know that.

But it doesn’t matter.  If we pander to overly sensitive feelings and ill prepared authors, the new wave of books will just decrease in quality.  The gate-keepers are gone.  It’s up to us, the readers, to control quality.  The best tool we have for this are the reviews.  I say this as both a reader and an author.

I keep waiting for my first 1 star review.  Somewhere, someone will hate my work.

I get 5 star reviews that point out glaring mistakes I’ve made.  Yes, I’m embarrassed, but only because I let that make it to “print” and not because the mistake makes me a bad person.

I squeal in delight over the 4 star reviews.  The more critique is mixed with the praise, the happier I am.  This is how the readers teach me.  This is how I learn.  THIS, the honest review, is how I become a better author.  I want to become the best.

See, I realize that the best promotions I can get are those little reviews.  The number beside my book’s listing that says (9 reviews) or (17 reviews) or (342 reviews) …  Those are what subconsciously drive readers to check out my blurb.  It gives them justification to learn more and hopefully be drawn in.  Book blogs are no longer the ultimate marketing tool.  There’s so many that, like books, each of them is lost in the sea of fish.  The internet, and most social media sites are flooded with promotions pages that toss your book out to wallow in its death throws with others who have already succumbed.  Only authors visit those sites.  Readers tend to find their books other ways.

When I stop and think about it, I realize I’m no different.  When I want a book, I shop on my twitter feed.  I prefer listings from the authors, not a book spam service.  I find books in the Amazon store, by clicking on little thumbnails or searching for phrases.  I find books because a friend said it was awesome, and I should read it.  I don’t get newsletters, I don’t spend hours trying to wade through some cheaply made book listing site (why, when Amazon does the same thing!).  I find books the same way I always have, just online instead of in the library.  I shop.  I’m pulled in by a good cover.  I stay for a good blurb.  I give up fast due to bad writing.

And now, as of today, I will no longer be leaving sympathetic reviews.  I don’t have to be mean to be honest, but I will continue to read, and I will say what I think.  Ask me to review your book at your own risk.  I do not promise to give it a wonderful rating.  I promise to help the readers wade through the deep waters of literature in our amazing digital rennaissance of reading.

When Science Fiction isn’t

 

5327836749_4a97cdd488_bFacial recognition.  Automated social media.  Global position tracking.  Satelite monitoring.  Consumer data analysis.  Handheld scanners.  Does this sound like science fiction?

It’s all available today.  There’s no need to wonder about when this stuff will come to pass.  It’s here.  Now.  Today.  Facebook tags our faces for us.  Our phones have buddy locators.  Drones survey just about everything.  Signal detectors, handheld scanners, and communications devices are all common apps on our phones.  We text, video call, and have synthetic voices speak for us, all without batting an eye.  We are living in the future.

From genetic modification to network data carriers, the things of books happen all around us, yet so many people aren’t even aware that it’s not only possible but something they are USING right now.  This is science fiction… yet it’s not.

I’m wallowing in a series about gamers, hacktivists, geeks, and social expectations.  It’s all set in the modern day.  All of the tech is out there, and cheap.  I’m not talking about google glass or anything.  I’m talking about the free apps you can download in seconds.  Here’s the problem…

What the hell genre am I writing?

I took a modern drama plot, wrapped it up in the story arc style commonly seen in romances, and filled it with amazing science that sucks the reader right in.  Unlike most video game books, where the story is about how games are taking over our lives, this one goes the other way.  People with real life issues trying to hide away in a virtual escape.  People who want to be forgotten, and find “their own type” as pixels in their games.  People who come together, from all walks of life, because they share a hobby.  Whether it’s motocross, rock music, or horseback riding, this concept isn’t unique.  Sadly, I’m having trouble finding any books about gamers where the game isn’t either a sentient being or a plot device created by the villain.  Ready, Player One is an example of what I mean.

And so, I’m stressing myself out (if you can’t tell by the recent theme lately) about getting it right.  I want to put the book where people will find it.  I want to shelve it so people have a chance at enjoying what they read.  Sadly, I have no clue where that is.  It’s not literary.  This story is total genre.  It’s not really suspense.  It’s contemporary drama… but that shelf doesn’t fit.

*sigh*  I’m gonna be bald by the time I figure this out!

The Genre

photo-1429032021766-c6a53949594fReaders tend to find books by genre.  This leads to certain expectations.  Romances have beautiful women and bare-chested men.  Fantasy has horses and swords.  Horror is dark and mysterious, thrillers have blood, and urban fantasy has some chick wielding magic or outdated weapons.  We expect this.  We think nothing of it, until the cover is for the wrong genre.

Imagine a military suspense with some bare-chested man and nothing else.  How about a romance with a blood-splattered cover?  Yeah, you see what I mean.

So, what about those crossovers?  Not only is cover art hard to figure out, but so is finding the right home.  From review sites to which shelf to use, it’s maddening for the author and publishing company.  And here’s where the problem lies.  I do this… a lot.

One More Day is probably my easiest book to categorize.  When We Were Kings and When We Were Dancing aren’t that much worse.  One romance and two low fantasy novels.  Now, the novels I have in the works?  Oh my!

Challenge Accepted is a story of a girl-gamer trying to break into the professional scene while fighting the sexism she sees in the industry.  It has traits of romance, drama, contemporary fiction, and a touch of thriller (but just a touch).  It’s not more of any one than the others, though.  This is NOT a true romance.  There’s a happy for now ending, a love story that moves through it (and is very much not traditional) and a few other standards, but that’s more like a heavy subplot, and not the main story line.  Rather, it’s about Riley Andrews, and her struggles to stop sabotaging her place in life, while still succeeding.  It’s a coming of age story, for a very headstrong woman who’s had more crap thrown at her than anyone deserves.  It’s inspirational, based on the idea of getting knocked down seven times and standing up either.  It’s not really romance, but it sure as hell isn’t literary.  There’s way too much cussing… and video games.

The next book, BloodLust, is about an indigenous species of humanoids in a world where humans have lived for more than three thousand years.  There’s specism (because they aren’t a race), discrimination, military, fantasy, and on and on.  It has a romantic story arc (or two) but those aren’t the story.  It has magic – that is all science based.  It reads more like fantasy than science fiction, but in reality, it’s more science fiction than fantasy.  Thankfully, there’s a category for this.

And then I look at the rest of my backlist.  Oh. My. God.  Seems I never stopped to worry about genre before.  I’m having a momentary panic about how to classify these books so my audience can find them.  That’s all that matters.  No one cares about why I chose to write the way I did, they just want a good story that they can find to enjoy.  Talk about some serious pressure for an indie author!

 

Promoting a book

12486228674_5663b9e7f6_bAs I have mentioned before, the trick to becoming a successful author is getting discovered.  It isn’t about writing a good book, having a great cover, or any of those other things.  If you have the best book in the world, but no one knows about it, then you still can’t get success.

And so, I’m going to be experimenting.  I will be tracking my results from a few promotions sites.  I’m going to keep this in the reasonable price (i.e. $50 USD or less, on average) just to see if there’s anything that works better than advertising with Amazon directly.

My book for this experiment is When We Were Kings, which has had moderate success.  Unfortunately, my other book tends to vary widely, so it would be impossible to know if One More Day sales are due to a whim or promotions.

Rather than wondering, wishing, or wasting my money repeatedly, I’m hitting this head on, with a scientific method.  Should be a little interesting!

Believe in your own work

Book Covers Shadows LeftAll too often, I see amazing indie authors floundering in the sea of kindle books.  They have something worth reading, but no one knows about it for one simple reason – the author hasn’t pushed.

Then, I turn around and see countless pieces of crap, books I can’t make it halfway through before wishing I could throw them against the wall (but don’t want to ruin my tablet to get that gratification).  WHY?  Why do people pay for such crap and convince the authors to pump out more?  Normally, sex.  Often, it’s a simple case of marketing.

You see, the readers can’t FIND your book if they don’t know to look for it.  They can’t fall in love with it, tell their friends, complain about how they wish it HAD ended, and all of that.  The entire reading experience hinges on one thing: they have to be able to read the book.

With over 4 million books on kindle at this time (and growing fast), becoming an indie author is easy.  Everyone out there talks about how to do it, how much crap is filling the lists, and how to spend hard earned money to make it.  No one talks about the most important thing.  Love your OWN book.

And if you don’t?

Then fix that shit!  Sorry, but if you don’t even love your own book, then why the hell do you have it out there?  If you want to get rich, play the lottery.  The odds are probably better than becoming a kindle millionaire.  If you want to be an AUTHOR, then do your work, write a damned good book that YOU want to read over and over, and then be proud of that book enough to tell the entire world you wrote it.  Let your mother read that sex scene (pretty sure she knows sex happens, since um… you).  Let your brother see how you portrayed his teen years (because really, that’s how we create villlains).  Let your best friend know about this secret and embarrassing addiciton you have been hiding.  Share the work, listen to feedback, and beg your readers to be harsh – because without real criticism, our work ends up as more crap to add to that pile.

Leyli Tristan posesYes, right now I don’t want to even THINK about gladiators.  I just finished up book 2 of the Wolf of Oberhame series, and it’s out of my hands.  I don’t need to talk to them, listen to them, or be involved in their political crap again until the book comes out…. then I’ll read it just as voraciously as my fans.  I write these books because I want to read them.  I write them because I want to see characters like this, worlds like this, and can’t find anyone else doing it.  I write it because I love these stories enough to read them until the cover falls off (or my screen cracks, as the case may be).

And my fans seem to agree, because they keep asking for more.