SUMMARY: Now that he’s
living with Sam Stein, Zach Cohen is finally ready to move on from his unhappy
past. His days are filled with wedding preparations, yet he still finds time to
make plans and decisions without consulting Sam and his mother, firmly
believing he knows best. Sam is ready to
settle in for the perfect life with Zach but years of bad habits have come back
to haunt him. Struggling to accept himself and his future, he chooses not to
share his fears, unwilling to look weak in Zach’s eyes. Real life gets in the way of the best
intentions and when their secrets explode, the aftermath challenges the
foundation of a relationship both believed unshakeable. Falling in love is the
easy part, and Zach and Sam discover that only with honesty can they overcome
what threatens to tear them apart.
The topic of a writer’s voice has come up a few times in the
blogosphere lately, in different forms, so I’d like to revisit the topic here.
Writers are often told by industry professionals that one of the things they’re
really looking for is someone with a “great voice”, but what does this mean for
you the writer?
First of all, know right now, you will not find your voice
particularly “great”. You won’t realize it’s unique or hear it as anything
special. You might not even know you have a “voice”. Because your voice is the
thing you hear in your head all the time.
Your voice is you. And you’re used to you, so you don’t necessarily see the way
your voice is interesting.
But it is interesting. The way you choose words and the order you put
them in, the rhythms and flow of sentences, paragraphs, and chapters, the way
you use things like ellipsis and semicolons—all this is part of your voice.
Simply writing in the way that feels natural, like the sound of your own voice
in your head, is your voice as a
You can hone this voice, make it stronger and more distinct in your
writing, by learning your craft, by studying and practicing your art, and by
filling your writer’s toolbox with as many techniques as possible so you have
lots of things to choose from when coming to the page.
You can also bury your voice by following too many writing “rules”. There are an infinite number of supposed
rules that get bandied about. There is always someone around to tell you what you
can and can’t do in your fiction. The problem is, most of these supposed rules
are just style choices and those choices will change.
In the past, the omniscient viewpoint was used all the time in
fiction. Now people will tell you it’s bad writing. It’s not. It’s just a style
that’s out of favor. That doesn’t mean you can’t use it. It just means a lot of
people aren’t used to it anymore and they may have a knee-jerk reaction to it.
The poor little oxford comma causes all kinds of debate because some people
will tell you it is absolutely “wrong” to use it, while others will tell you
it’s absolutely “wrong” to leave it out. Actually, this is just another style
choice as both ways of approaching the oxford comma are considered correct.
Writers could drive themselves crazy trying to follow every rule
someone decides we should follow. And in doing so, you’ll drown out that
uniqueness that only you can bring to your stories.
The rules are important to know and understand because they are often
what is expected. But they’re not carved in stone. If you want to use a
semicolon, then bloody well use a semicolon. If you hate them, don’t bother.
Now there’s a difference between grammar, craft, and these “rules” I’m
talking about. Learning basic grammar is
important because you’re trying to convey images via the written word in a
specific language—you’re hoping to transfer the story in your head, as closely
as possible, to a perfect stranger’s head. There are some very basic tools used
to ensure clear communication between individuals using the same language.
Those are your grammar rules.
Craft is a broader topic that deals with how you use grammar and
language to build pictures and manipulate emotions in your readers. It’s full
of choices and tools, things that help you get what’s in your head out onto the
page in the most effective way possible. Whereas grammar does have some hard
and fast rules to keep language from being nonsensical, craft is the study of
techniques, not all of which will be used at any given point in time or on
every single story.
It’s the craft of writing, which tools you utilize and how, that
really brings out your voice, and this is where the art of writing comes from. But then there are the writer
workshop/critique group rules: you must
use third person limited point of view; you must
change chapters or at least use a line break to change POV; you can’t mix first and third point of view
in a single story; you can’t use
semicolons, or parenthesis, or ellipsis; you can’t use the same word twice on the same page.
Anytime someone tells you you can’t use one of the tools in your
toolbox or you have to use other
tools all the time, give that supposed rule the side-eye.
These are suggestions. These are techniques that are in particular
favor right now. These are elements that might be more accessible to modern
audiences. They might even help your flow and readability. They could help
bring out the strength of your voice.
But they are not rules. They
are style choices, like every other style choice. And if your voice calls for
using conjunctions to start a sentence, then toss out the “rule” that claims
you can’t (as I do all the time).
Always remember these are your stories, this is your writing, and your
voice. If you’re most comfortable telling stories from multiple points of view
and in both first and third, then learn how to do that in an effective way, and
ignore the people telling you it’s not possible. If you do it well, people will
read your fiction and love it because no one else could have told the story in
just that way.
Keep in mind, not everyone will like your style choices, and not
everyone will love your voice. That’s just the way it is. Some voices will suit
some people’s tastes better than others. You’re not writing to please everyone.
That’s impossible anyway. You’re writing to tell your stories in the best way
you know how. Some people will love them and others simply won’t. But that’s
not because you’ve broken some arbitrary rule laid down by a critique group.
as much about the craft as possible, and keep learning. Practice with every
story you write. Study storytelling. Read a lot. Watch a lot of movies and TV
shows. The more you know, the better you’ll be at writing from your strengths
and your individual voice. Then protect that voice for all your worth. It’s
what makes your stories yours. And it’s that uniqueness that will draw readers
to your books.♥
Isabo Kelly is
the author of multiple, award winning science fiction and fantasy romances.
Under the name Kat Simons, she also writes bestselling paranormal romances. For
more on Isabo or Kat, visit www.isabokelly.com or www.katsimons.com.
hopping is an unforgivable sin that no author should ever commit! In the voice
of my bestie, Faith, “Lies you tell.”Head hopping is when you bounce from one character’s point of view to another
within a scene or chapter.I’ve read
many “how to” articles on craft that frequently frown upon the act of head
hopping.The logic for this opinion is
that it confuses readers by shocking them out of the story when an author
abruptly jumps from one character’s point of view to another.
this point I will agree that authors shouldn’t skip from one POV to another
with no warning and especially in the middle of a scene. However, head hopping—when done correctly—can
offer an enriching experience for your reader, allowing them to see the same
story from several sides of the page.
my opinion, the most effective way to head hop is by making certain a scene is
finished—meaning there is a distinguishable conclusion to that character’s
perspective during the scene. Once
you’ve done that, place a scene break symbol (three to five asterisks: ***) on
a line between the end of the paragraph expressing the first character’s
perspective and the paragraph where the new character’s perspective
begins. Read the excerpt from my novel, POWER
PRIVILEGE & PLEASURE: QKB4 to see an example of how I use head hopping in
my books. (Excerpt at end of this article.)
maybe it’s just my particular brand of crazy, but I really enjoy the
opportunity to see inside both protagonists’ heads/emotions/desires. This is especially true when there’s an, “I
love you, but I hate you,” sort of theme running throughout the story. Ultimately it helps provide yet another level
of understanding of how the characters actually relate to one another. In this case, the reader gets to see what
both characters have been thinking before this encounter. They each want each other, but both fight as
if they hate each other. Neither
revealing to one another the depths of which their desire runs. Isn’t that so much fun?
subsequent reason to consider using alternating perspectives when writing is it
can unlock unexpected needs, desires, and motivations of your characters,
bringing a new depth to your story you might not have anticipated. For instance, if you know exactly what you’re
supposed to be writing, but can’t seem to get the words to align correctly on
the page, try changing the character point of view. Maybe the current character’s perspective
isn’t the vantage point that will provide that scene or chapter with the
greatest emotional or physical depth possible.
Just remember when you choose the perspective or point of view, the
character that brings the greatest depth of emotion and description to the
scene is the one who wins the head hop.
for spending a little time with me. This
is LaQuette, your friendly erotic romance author, embracing my crazy…one
character at a time.♥
2015 Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award
Finalist in Erotic Romance, 2015 Swirl Awards Finalist in Romantic Suspense,
bestselling erotic romance author, LaQuette, is a native of Brooklyn, New
York. She spends her time catering to
her three distinct personalities: Wife, Mother, and Educator. LaQuette loves hearing from readers
and discussing the crazy characters that are running around in her head causing
so much trouble. Contact her on Facebook, Twitter, @LaQuetteLikes, her website,
www.NovelsbyLaQuette.com, Amazon, her Facebook group, LaQuette's Lounge, and
via email at NovelsbyLaQuette@gmail.com.
“You have the sexiest f#*@ing mouth I’ve ever seen,” he
growled. “It would look so much prettier
stretched around my c#@k than spewing the venom you insist on spitting.”
He waited for the slap that he knew was coming. If he’d been on the receiving end of a
statement like that he’d certainly have been looking to hit someone. But she didn’t hit him, even though she had
every right to. Instead, she stepped
closer into his space and spread those f#*@able lips into the most alluring
“If you think you’re man enough to get me to put my mouth
to use like that, Quillen, then make me.
Or are you just all talk?”
Finally! After all
these f#*@ing years he’s finally catching on.
A.J. pressed herself into Alan’s personal space. She hoped she didn’t have to give him much
more of a clue. Shouldn’t her body
pressed against his be enough of an obvious statement that he’d get the
hint? Well if it wasn’t, for damn sure
she was only two seconds away from spelling her desires out frankly and
The heated exchange they shared was the closest she’d
ever come to letting him see what she’d been aching for all this time. She’d known from day one she couldn’t have
him, so she’d set out to make him as miserable as his sex appeal made her. She’d decided that the quiet calm he always
seemed to be cloaked in was the one pressure point she could attack until he
finally exploded. No way was she going
to be the only one frustrated in this scenario.
If she couldn’t get the d#*k she wanted so terribly, then he couldn’t
keep that blessed peace he walked around with every day.###
Being an indie author
sounds so “cool”, but is it? Self-publishing means you become a publisher. Here
are ten responsibilities publishers handle that get dumped on your plate when
Sounds so great to sign up for pre-order on Amazon – easy peasy, right? Amazon
gives you a drop dead date. Your final, perfect manuscript must be uploaded by their
drop dead date or you lose the privilege of pre-orders for a year. That’s
right, a year! So that means you have to have your book back from the editor
and proofreader and do your final read through by a certain date. Or else! What
happens if your editor or proofer gets sick? What if other obligations keep you
from giving that final polish? Your book goes out unfinished or you can’t
brings me to the editor and proofreader. You do have those folks lined up,
don’t you? You have to pay for those services. Some small indie publishers give
the editors a percentage of sales. If you do that, then you’ll have to keep
track of how much you owe them and pay them every month. And then there are
forms to fill out for the IRS, like a 1099 to send to your editor and proofer
no later than February 1 of the following year.
not going to use an editor? Yikes! No publisher puts out an unedited book. If
you do that, you will have reviewers crawling up your butt complaining and
readers who will vow never to read your books again. Not using a professional
editor, and, no, mom and your best friend don’t qualify –neither do beta
readers, is the mark of an unprofessional writer. Make sure to list editor and
proofer on the page where you have your copyright, so readers know your book
has been edited
page – you are getting a government copyright, aren’t you? You can do it online
and the fee is only $35.00. Don’t fall for that line that as soon as you write
something, it’s copyrighted. That won’t do you much good in a court of law if
you have to prove a story is yours. Big Five publishers pay for the copyrights
for their authors.
you’re edited, proofed and ready to go. Where do you upload your book? Do you
put it exclusively in Kindle Unlimited or go “wide”—uploading it to other
sites? These are important questions. Kindle Unlimited has reduced the pay-out
percentage every month for the last three months. Payout dropped 11% in
February, 16% in January. If you put your book there, you are captive and
cannot list it with any other sales site for three months.
what about the cover? If your cover doesn’t look professional, your sales will
suffer. If your cover doesn’t grab readers, they move on. Publishers provide
covers at their own expense. If you’re self-publishing, you have to find a
great cover artist and pay for the cover yourself. If you have excellent design
abilities and know what makes up a good cover, then you might try to create one
yourself. You’ll still have to buy photos from a stock photo site.
do you find sites to put your book on? Research. I’m fortunate to be in an
indie Facebook group where I made a friend who knows everything about
self-publishing. He has given me places to put my book that I never would have
dreamed of, including a site in China that has translated a book for me, free,
and is selling it there. Belonging to a good indie Fb group is essential – not
one where authors are dumping promos every day, but one with real, meaty
discussions about self-publishing.
so now you’ve got your book up on six or seven sites. What about print? Of
course you want your book in print. Createspace is the place to go for print.
But you will have to reformat your book and create a print cover. Or hire your
cover artist to do one for you. This is also something your publisher would pay
for that’s now coming out of your wallet. This is POD, or print-on-demand,
meaning your book will not go to bookstores.
about audiobooks? Translations into foreign languages? And marketing? These are
three areas you may have to tackle on your own, even with a publisher. A Big
Five publisher will probably put your books into audio and maybe even get some
translations done, if your book is a big seller. Smaller indie pubs don’t
usually handle these tasks. Add these tasks onto a plate that’s already full
and when will you find time to write? Ever notice that most publishers aren’t
writers? Perhaps they don’t have the time.
now, you’re probably pointing a finger at me and saying “But you self-publish!”
Yes, I do. At first, I only did about five books because my publisher couldn’t
get them into her schedule. For the past five years, I’ve been with a small
press. During that time I learned about many of the tasks I mentioned earlier.
When my publisher closed her doors, I was ready to take on her responsibilities
myself. Do I get overwhelmed? Of course.
But I’ve chosen to accept these responsibilities, sometimes amid cursing and
copious amounts of wine, rather than go to a fourth publisher. I’m happy
self-publishing. I enjoy the control and endless possibilities. I also write
and self-publish full time –it’s my only job.
I do believe in self-publishing, but
authors should go into it fully aware of the workload. When asked, I usually
recommend that new authors go to a publisher first and learn the ropes before
going indie. Every writer has to make that choice on his or her own. I hope
you’ll consider all the facts when you do. ♥
Jean Joachim is a best-selling romance fiction
author, with books hitting the Amazon Top 100 list since 2012. She writes
mostly contemporary romance, which includes sports romance and romantic
suspense. Dangerous Love Lost &
Found, First Place winner in the 2015 Oklahoma Romance Writers of
America, International Digital Award contest. The
Renovated Heart won Best Novel of the Year from Love Romances Café. Lovers & Liars was a RomCon
finalist in 2013. And The Marriage List
tied for third place as Best Contemporary Romance from the Gulf Coast RWA. To Love or Not to Love tied for second
place in the 2014 New England Chapter of Romance Writers of America Reader’s
Choice contest. She was chosen Author of the Year in 2012 by the New York City
chapter of RWA. Married and the mother
of two sons, Jean lives in New York City. Early in the morning, you’ll find her
at her computer, writing, with a cup of tea, her rescued pug, Homer, by her
side and a secret stash of black licorice. Jean has 30+ books, novellas and short
stories published. Find them here: http://www.jeanjoachimbooks.com. Sign up for
her newsletter, on her website, here:
Blanco is a legend on the Brooklyn Eagles, but time and injuries have taken
their toll. With his career nearing its end, he’s almost made it to retirement
without anyone learning his biggest secret: he’s gay in a profession not
particularly known for its tolerance. Iggy
Rodriquez is the hot new rookie in town, landing a position in the starting
lineup of the team of his dreams and playing alongside his idol, Matt Blanco.
Iggy doesn’t think it can get any better, until an unexpected encounter in the
locker room with Matt proves him wrong.
relationship—and everything it could reveal—has never been in the cards for
Matt, but Iggy has him rethinking his priorities. They fall hard for each
other, struggling to make it through trades, endorsement deals, and the threat
of retirement. Ultimately they will be faced with a choice: love or baseball?
Since people have been
telling stories, the hero has been larger than life. He is stronger, smarter
and better looking than the villain. And, even if he never held a gun before,
he always has the ability to shoot a weapon from the villain's hand from one
hundred yards away.
Because of the stories
that are told and eventually portrayed on television and the movies, people
expect certain things from the good guys or, more specifically, the police.
Civilians usually believe police officers spend the day in high speed car
chases, shootouts with bad guys, and foot chases through yards, over fences and
across roofs. They also expect detectives to investigate and solve crimes, with
the use of DNA and other forensic evidence, in less than forty-eight hours.
A former police officer
told me that during her career she had been run over, shot and stabbed, yet the
thing she remembered most was the paperwork.
The hours of paperwork required by police officers is never depicted on
television. Even on the rare occasion an officer in a drama sits down at his
desk, he is interrupted for something more exciting (i.e. another crime only he
can solve needs his attention; a witness will only speak to him or someone
manages to make it past all check points in the police station and takes
everyone hostage and only he can negotiate with the distraught individual).
Authors, however, need
to remember that the majority of what is depicted on television has been
exaggerated for entertainment purposes. If they do not take the time to
research the correct procedures, they run the risk of losing potential readers. Mystery Writers of America and
Sisters-in-Crime occasionally arrange for experts in the field of law
enforcement to speak to their members. The New York chapter in SinC also
organize field trips; include one excursion to the Office of the Chief Medical
For a more hands-on
experience, authors can attend The Writers’ Police Academy (http://www.writerspoliceacademy.com/).
There, they can train with police officers, fire fighters and EMTs, and hear
lectures from forensic experts and lawyers.
If a trip to The
Writers’ Police Academy is not in the budget, authors can inquire with their
local police department about the Civilian Police Academy. The FBI also conducts
Citizens Academies at their field offices.
It is easy to rely on
what is seen on television and in the movies. However, the scriptwriters use
artistic license to increase the drama. If an author wants to attract and
retain readers, she should strive to blend realism with drama.♥
Ursula Renée writes historical romances and
mysteries. When she is not writing, she enjoys photography, stone carving and
drawing. Find out more about Ursula by visiting her website at