Happy Friggin’ Monday!

A thread over at goodreads.com got me thinking…for me the essential quality in an alpha male a has little to do with physique. Sure, he’s got that too, but for me it’s almost all about the face. Specifically the look. That one that says “Oh, honey, the things I’m going to do to you…” Cocky, mischievous, hard…with fangs, of course.

Two of my favorite examples from the big screen are:

Keifer Sutherland – David in The Lost Boys
http://www.imdb.com/media/rm1917113088/tt0093437?ref_=ttmi_mi_all_pbl_73

If not for my high school crush on David, I might never have met and married my husband, who reminded me (and every other girl he dated in his 20s) of Keifer Sutherland and still manages to pull off the ‘I’m gonna eat you for breakfast’ look well enough to make me late for work.

Colin Farrell – Jerry in Fright Night
http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3635460096/tt1438176?ref_=ttmi_mi_all_sf_25

I don’t know if I have ever seen an actor look like he was having more fun with a role. Good Lord, that grin!

As for my favorite vampire, he’s been in my head for the last two decades.  Happy to introduce you…

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Why I Love Editing (and No, Not Just Because I am a Masochist)

Yep… even especially this kind of editing…

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BLOOD TOY will be in copy editing April 27, and I am so stinkin’ excited about it! I know a lot of authors hate editing. They guard their words behind the sacrosanct label of ‘art’, reluctant to kill even one of their darlings. Not me. This may be my favorite part of writing. The way I look at it is this: when my novel makes it to the hands of an editor, it is the best I can possibly make it. Thankfully I learned early on it will be infinitely better with knowledgable critique.

As I detailed in my Letter From The Author, my first editor did not read past page four of my novel until I had revised it completely three times. When I got back the first complete edit, there was a thick, red line through one chapter, punctuated at the end with this explanation: Well, Bippity Boppity Boo!

The point was spot on. My heroine got out of an impossible situation with little more than luck and snarky one-liners. He further critiqued: This entire chapter is repetitive and, quite frankly, boring. Again, spot on. I had written virtually the same character interaction in a different setting in the previous chapter. Neither story or character arc was improved in any way by the rehashing of it.

I read a old blog this morning from Mike Wells about developing a thick skin. http://mikewellsblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/developing-thick-skin.html. While this quality is essential in a writer, it doesn’t mean what we usually think it means. Have a thick skin means being able to see past emotional attachment and pride to gauge every criticism for its potential merit.

Maybe someone just doesn’t like the story. Tough. It’s my story. They should probably find another one to read. But maybe my story (my writing!) suffers from slow spots, rough dialogue, repetition, or cliche phrases. Maybe my story could be better! If that’s the case, you damn well better believe I will listen to anybody who has genuine advice for making it so.

PS.  Mike’s got a lot more to say on this subject.  You should definitely check it out!

Image credit:  By Phoebe (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

A Writer Writes When She Runs Out of Things to Read

I read Heidi in the summer before first grade. I  asked my parents “What does this word mean?” a dozen times before I finished reading the first page. My dad gave me a dictionary and told me, if I didn’t know a word, look it up. Which I did. Then looked up words I didn’t know in the definitions of words I had to look up in the first place. By the time I finished the book, I had absolutely no idea what the hell happened in it, but I had a much stronger vocabulary to show for my efforts.

During elementary school, I spent every day after school in the library. I rarely used the card catalogue (yeah, that’s what we used back then), rather started at one end of a row and read through it until I was finished.  One day when I was 10 or 11, I ran out of reading material at home and turned to my mother’s bookshelf for something to tide me over. I was in the mood for an easy read, so chose the thinnest volume on her shelves. Which turned out to be Nine and a Half Weeks. Yep, I read what was quite possibly the most popular BDSM novel in the pre-50 Shades era before I hit puberty. After that, my taste in literature favored dominant, male villains. Though I rarely read books without a female heroine.

Through middle and high school, I spent my lunch period in the library.  Even when I went to the mall, it was to browse the horror and fantasy sections of B. Dalton Bookseller. After a time, I was reading a book a day.  At $8.99 a pop.  While my parents tried to support my reading habit as best they could, one day my father told me, “You’re breaking me, B. Instead of reading all of these books, why don’t you try writing one?”

As it were, there was a certain type of story I was searching for–with a certain type of character–that I never could quite find on the shelves. If you are an author, you know the one.  The one you end up writing.

Book_shelves_UWI_Library

Networking, Marketing & Pretending To Know What I’m Doing

It’s easier than I thought it would be to create a person on the web, though perhaps a lot more work. In less than two weeks, I have created an author persona with a Facebook page, Twitter account, and a blog. B.K. Raine is also on Pinterest, Google+ and Goodreads. All of this based on the recommendation of few dozen blogs about marketing for indie/self published authors. I’ll try anything once. My brand is still in its infancy. I have three months to build reach.

I am, so far, pleased with my engagement on my blog, which is ultimately where I want readers to get to know me. Users are, on average, consuming 3 pieces of content per visit. Hell, I work in media, and know plenty of websites with a whole staff of writers creating content that would be thrilled with those numbers.

I thought I would post a blog about what I am doing now to spread the word and what’s working because, while I have been able to find a ton of vague advice out there, what I haven’t found is a concrete timeline and primer for progress. Maybe my trials and errors will be of help to (or a source of amusement for) others.  This is where I am now. Check back in a few weeks to see how things are coming along….

  • Facebook: No doubt, Facebook is the biggest traffic driver for me. I only have 9 followers right now (hard to build a following when you don’t want your neighbors and colleagues knowing you are an author just yet!), but Facebook has generated more than 3Xs the page views of any other source.
  • Forums: Goodreads.com is my next biggest traffic driver, which is surprising since I only started posting there this morning. I am really interested to explore that community. Seems to be a great place to connect and collaborate with other writers…and readers! Eventually I’d like to have those.
  • Twitter: While Twitter is the easiest platform to amass followers (about 25 on average daily), engagement is a challenge. So far I have more luck getting folks to reply back when I comment on their tweets vs. getting anybody to comment on mine. One of my favorite authors, Annabel Joseph, tweeted back to one of my comments yesterday though, which made do a fist pump. Note to self: 38 year olds should NOT fist pump.
  • Google+: What do people do on Google+?
  • Pinterest: I have a couple of boards. Eh.

Next on my ‘to-do’ list:

  • Build more content. My aim is to blog daily. I will post progress, character interviews, marketing updates (like this one), lots of teasers and random stuff that pops in my head about writing, vampires, chicks that kick ass and bad guys that we love to hate.
  • Build my profiles. While I wish I looked like Diane (the chick ready to kick ass on my cover), I don’t. I am trying to figure out how to take a headshot that reveals my personality and puts a face on B.K. Raine, but is not too identifiable. Something like Ann Livi Andrews does here: https://www.facebook.com/AnnLiviAndrews?fref=pb&hc_location=profile_browser
  • Build my community: While I admire many authors, I don’t know any of them. That’s going to change.
  • Find readers!  Think you can hide?  I WILL find you….

3D_Full_Spectrum_Unity_Holding_Hands_Concept

Image credit:  thegoldguys.blogspot.com/  By lumaxart (3D Full Spectrum Unity Holding Hands Concept) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0) or CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I Made You A Mix Tape (For Channeling Your Inner Weird Girl)

I am surprisingly ordinary for a writer. I actually have a pretty awesome 9 to 5 (ok, sometimes 9 to 8, occasionally 9 to midnight) career in advertising. I have been happily married for almost 13 years and have been Mom to an amazing 12 year old daughter for the last two. I drive a Volvo ferchristsakes.

When I was in high school, I was known as the ‘weird girl in the trench coat’ because I believed my flowing, black ankle-length duster went with everything. It was more of a cape than a trench, but…eh.  I had a lot of bullies.  Weird girls in trench coats usually do. I stalked them around campus writing their character sketches, so I could put them in my novels. And kill them off. (Poor, poor Trina.)

Naturally, when I write, I channel my inner cape-wearing weird girl vs. the Volvo-driving soccer mom. I even have a process for doing it:

  1. I make coffee.  I have no idea how I drank so much of the stuff in my twenties and ever managed to sleep.  I am ashamed to say I stick to decaf now after 5pm.  But still…coffee.
  2. I listen to nostalgia music.  Check out my mix tape playlist for channeling maximum inner angst.
  • Silent Lucidity – Queensryche, 1990
  • Sailing – Christopher Cross, 1979
  • Into the Mystic – Van Morrison, 1970
  • Wind of Change – Scorpions, 1990
  • Crucify – Tori Amos, 1992
  • Carnival – Natalie Merchant, 1995
  • These Dreams – Heart, 1985
  • Witchy Woman – Eagles, 1972
  • Whispers – Elton John 1989
  • I’ve Got Dreams to Remember – Otis Redding, 1968
  • Sweet Dreams – Eurythmics, 1983
  • Right Here, Right Now – Jesus Jones, 1990
  • Eye of the Tiger – Survivor, 1982

Obviously my inner weird girl has impeccable, if somewhat…er…eclectic taste in music.  Your’e welcome.

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