My (minor) obsession with Star Wars

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This is Jango Fett.  Yeah, he doesn’t look much like the guy in the Star Wars movies, but he’s smart, tough, and willing to die for what he believes in.  Jango was adopted as a puppy from a rescue along with his brother Boba Fett.  Like good little bounty hunters, the boys promptly picked their targets and claimed their person.  Jango is my constant companion.  Boba is my husband’s.

Lucky for us, my job is dog-friendly.  Jango comes to work a few times a week (I only work part time) and hangs out with the other dogs in the building.  So, just like when we’re at home, he assists by keeping my feet warm while I’m on the computer or phone.  He also makes sure that no bad guys can sneak in behind me, that his “baby” is always with him, and that all the dog chewies get stashed in his secret hidey hole.

Now, don’t ask me what kind of dog he is.  My best guess is a pit bull-dachshund cross, but I can’t prove that.  Considering that his brother and littermate looks NOTHING like him?  Not willing to put money on it.  Lucky for him, I have always had a weakness for the bully breeds, regardless of what they are, so his little boxy head is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.  Well, one of them…

2016-06-15 (1)Because this little guy is really damned cute, too.  Look at that wrinkled nose!  I mean, how could I possibly resist that cuteness?

Ok, I tried.  When I mentioned the idea to my husband, and he said, “Oh, he’s cute,” instead of, “we don’t need another dog,” I had to have him.  Little Darth Revan has now joined our family.  The poor guy was an unwanted puppy (Spay and neuter your pets, people!) who needed to find a new home “by the end of the day” according to the woman giving them away.  Looking at him, I honestly believe that.  So now, he’s a part of mine.  His littermate and brother went home with my good friend and fellow author Kitty Cox.  I’m trying to convince her that her guy needs a nice Star Wars name, too.

But the best part?  Jango LIKES him!  I thought there’d be a little jealousy when I brought a new baby home.  Sure, there’s a bit of disruption in our routine, but while Boba isn’t sure about the rat, Jango has always had a fondness for his stuffed animals.  Revan isn’t that much different, and it’s his mom’s baby, which makes it better!  Granted, there’s a little doggy weirdness about Revan trying to suck on Jango’s legs, but he won’t be doing that for too much longer.

Now, when I got Revan his own stuffed animal?  Oh!  The jealousy appeared!  So, Jango got yet another toy to keep him entertained.  Dogs!  They’re like children, I swear!

For the next two weeks, Revan will be splitting work duties with Jango.  Monday and Friday, Revan goes to work while Jango stays home and helps my husband around the house.  Jango gets the rest of the time.  Together, we all get to play growly games and kiss the nose (those are their favorites).

And me?  I’ve lost a few days of writing, but it has been so worth it!  My cute little boys make me very happy, and it’s kinda nice to get that puppy smell again!  The dark side is strong in my house.

 

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Darth Revan chewing on his brother during their play date.

 

 

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The secret to my success…

Corsair-K95

Yes, that is a keyboard.  It’s a very pretty version of what I use, and while I don’t get any kickbacks (I really should with as much as I hype this thing) I think every author should know that this pricey keyboard DOUBLED my typing speed.  Yes.  Doubled.

I type fast anyway.  On a typical laptop, I hit around 90 – 120 words per minute.  On my Corsair keyboard, I can hit 210 without straining.  I can finally type as fast as I think!  Why?  Because the mechanical keys with brown cherry mx switches (technical stuff there) require less pressure.  Each keystroke is, therefore, faster – and it really does add up.

Oh sure, the above keyboard (Corsair K95) sells for anywhere from 160 to 240 dollars (US).  If you don’t need all the fancy function keys on the left (those G keys) you can get a K70 (same thing with less buttons) for about 80 bucks (US).  But here’s the best part… they really do last forever!

Most authors type enough to destroy a keyboard.  The repetitive presses of each key required to make a 100,000 word novel is about all the thin plastic keys can take.  For me (who writes stupid amounts) I wear out a cheap keyboard in about a month.  Literally wear out.  Like holes in the space bar, no letters on the keys, certain letters stop working kind of wear out.  To date, I have written 30 books, with at least another 10 books worth of cut scenes, and have only used 2 Corsair keyboards, a K95 and a K70.  My second one is still pretty darned shiny and new, too.

Now, if you’re playing at writing a book – and it seems most people are – then this isn’t something you need to worry about.  But for all those people who ask how I can write so much, so fast, and keep pumping out the books?  Well, this really is my greatest secret.  A good keyboard is the tool of our trade.  It’s the method our thoughts use to reach the “paper”.  Having to stop, backspace, and fix a missed letter?  That’s breaking the line of thought, the intensity of action, and it does show.  The way we feel when writing comes across in the nouns, verbs, and descriptive words we unconsciously choose to make a statement.  Having to stop and think about where we were in the action kills the mood as quickly as parents do with infatuated teenagers: in its tracks.

A good quality mechanical keyboard is most often sold as a gaming keyboard.  That’s because gamers are so competitive, and they realize that a millisecond difference in keystroke could be what drops them to second place.  The need for longevity, tolerable pricing (because most teens aren’t rich) and the ability to withstand coffee/mountain dew spilled in the keys means that it works perfectly for the frazzled author.  For me, the brown switches (the types are named after colors) work best, but many prefer red.  Thankfully, these are the two most popular options.  Blue is a bit mushy for my tastes.

So yes, keyboard buying can get rather intimidating, but if you have questions, feel free to message me on Twitter (@aurynhadley) or ask me on facebook (www.facebook.com/AurynHadleyAuthor).  I’m always happy to geek out for a moment.

Now, if I could just figure out how to get those kickbacks.

 

Rape as a plot device – Don’t do it!

sad-623848That tragic past.  That wound that can’t ever be explained.  We all read stories in the news (like the Stanford rape case recently) that make us want to dive into the potential for character angst, suffering, and personal recovery.  On the surface, it’s the perfect tragedy to write about, because it comes with few physical disabilities to keep track of.  The pain is all internal.  She (or he, because plenty of men get raped) can still be beautiful, alluring, yet damaged so badly in their psyche that plots spring forth in our minds.

Don’t do it.

Now, let me add a few caveats to that – since my own upcoming book, FLAWED, deals with this.  It’s not that you can’t write about a rape survivor.  It’s that you shouldn’t write the rape scene.  With some studies citing 80%, others 66% of women fantasize about rape, you can see how quickly this could go wrong.  (Granted, if you’re writing in taboo erotica, none of this applies, because, uh, taboo!).

The problem with writing the rape scene is that while it may be a very powerful piece of imagery, you just made it titillation.  You just turned the horror story into erotica for a significant portion of the audience – whether they intend for it to happen or not.  Never mind that 1 in 5 of your female readers has (statistically) suffered through it.  You remove the power of that scene simply because we have so many strong social connotations wrapped around it.  Nothing you can do will make it the horror you intended.  But the aftermath?

That is where the story truly lies.  In my opinion, it’s much more powerful to leave the reader wondering.  She rounds a corner and… darkness.  She looks up at her boyfriend, and he grabs her, smothering her shocked cry with his hand.  FADE TO BLACK.  Next chapter opens with her crying.  Him trying to hide the evidence so he won’t be shamed by his guy friends. Her struggling to remember what happened and why she’s here.  This leaves the author free to use the mental struggles without carrying the burden of the titillation.  Just make sure you do justice to the crime as if it is, uh… a CRIME!

BUT!  but but but but but but but but but (have I said it enough to get your attention?)

cartera

Do not EVER make rape into a plot device.  Sure, it can be one character’s motivation (if you follow the above rules), but it shouldn’t be used to encourage some strong man (or determined woman) to save the object of their desire.  Rape isn’t something that the victim can ever just say, “Oh, that was last week.  I’m all better now.”  It’s also not something that should be tossed about as if it doesn’t matter.   What does that tell 1 in 5 of your readers?  That she (or he) is only good to make someone “stronger” do the right thing?  That they are just living to be an aside in someone else’s big story?  That their nightmares, their insecurities, the ruination of their entire life is good for, oh, about a chapter?  Anyone who thinks that’s ok is an asshole.

How about when we write about tragedy, we let the survivors tell their own story – not someone else’s?  Maybe it’s time that we show the horrors of recovery from such a traumatic crime, and not the act itself.  It isn’t the handful of minutes (20, according to the Stanford rapist’s father) that is the story.  It’s the years that come after that.  It’s something that never goes away, and if you can’t write a character that is broken and will stay broken – and figure out how to give them their power back – then pick another tragedy for your hero/heroine.

Oh, and find a survivor to beta your book before you put it out.  Trust me, that’s the only way you’ll know if you’re respecting the atrocities of it all.

Back to the Editor

frog-prince-book-artSome books have a wonderful story but atrocious writing.  It takes a good editor to find the diamond in the manure pile.  Needless to say, that’s where I’m at right now.  Because the books I’m releasing were written quite a while ago, they are “early” writing, and have a few mistakes I now can’t stand.

In other words, Rise of the Iliri 3 needs help.  A lot more of it than I expected.  Flawed, my joint-project with Kitty Cox, is still on schedule for the end of June (Hopefully, there will be a big release date announcement soon – we’re just making sure we got it right).  My July book, however, is putting a wrench in the works.  It needs more fixing.

Is it strange that I’m not ashamed to admit that it’s not perfect?  I honestly have no idea.  To me, this fact only says one thing: I’ve grown as an author.  I can no longer tolerate simplistic dialogue tags, weak action, or repetitive verbal ticks.  They must be corrected, simply because my readers deserve the best book I can give them.

Unfortunately, it’s breaking my (rather precarious) schedule.  I’m hoping to keep up with releasing a book a month, but the next few novels will come at the end of the month rather than the beginning.  I think a delay of a couple of weeks should be acceptable if it means my fans are getting a quality book for their money.  I mean, even if it’s just the price of a cup of coffee, I know I wouldn’t just throw my money away.  That’s what I feel like happens when I buy a crappy book.

But, with enough hacking, slashing, a re-writing, I plan to make all of my books into a prince out of the frog they started life as.  And yes, I’m still working on all those sequels you all have been demanding.  From gladiators, iliri, and gamers, plus a few tattoo artists, there are days when my release schedule becomes mind boggling.  I think I will plan on simply releasing the next book when it’s good and ready to awe the readers.

But first, I need to polish this rock.  I think there’s a very good chance it’s going to shine… eventually.