Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Hindsight: Guest Post by Incy Black

I'm starting a new blog series. I'm nosy and was curious about the advice writers would give themselves three years ago. This is the first post. So, let's give a warm welcome to Incy Black!

The very slightly scary Melissa Blue (yes, she is that good), asked on Facebook: As a writer what advice would we have given ourselves three years ago, knowing what we do now? And of course, I had to pitch in with my nickel’s worth. Next thing I know, she’s got me pinned down for a blog post—told you she was good—which is more my map to surviving the route to getting published, than a guide to ‘must-know’ craft tips.

1.       Bite down hard, and assume the position – because as sure as water’s       wet, you are going to get your arse spanked with a nail studded paddle, and yes, it is going to hurt. Expect criticism, sometimes kind, sometimes downright cruel. Survive by taking what you want from the thrashing then, with all the dignity you can muster, pro-offer the other cheek.
  1. Write for yourself first, the publishing house thereafter – it is one thing to allow a few of your words to be changed, quite another to allow anyone to change the cadence/essence of your writing, your ‘voice’. Your voice is unique, your best shot of rising above the choir for a solo spot. Rough and untrained as it might be,(trust me, with persistence it will develop) if it doesn’t fit, move on. Find a choir where it will. Hell, set up your own band if necessary, but have sufficient integrity to protect what you love, what you would want to read. Ban the Bland!
  1. If you’re British (that would be me), accept the fact Americans can’t spell – Damn, do they hate double Ls. I had the hideous experience of having to call a friend to break it to her gently that the cover of her newly published book had a typo. ‘Unravelling’ has two Ls, I said stroking her with kid gloves. Bollock’s to that, was her reply, I’m writing American. Our US buddies aren’t fussed about Us either (colour/color, favour/favor), but jeez, do they love their Zs (realize/realize, magazine/magazine)…and what the hell is it with that word ‘gotten’? Poor use of English but it rocks in America, so unknot your panties (I had to discard mine altogether), America, after all, is the bigger market.
  1. Learn Publishing o’clock – time moves very, very slowly on Planet Contracted. Hours become days, days become weeks, weeks become months (if you’re lucky), months become years. Learn patience. I’m told it’s a virtue.
  1. Just because someone blogs with authority, it doesn’t mean they are an authority – intimidation is the serial killer of creativity, don’t become one of its victims. Don’t be afraid to disagree, trust your own instincts, break the bloody rules if you want to. Try and remember those who appear to know what they are doing are most likely lurching like a drunken sailor on the high seas we call craft, just like the rest of us.
I could go on, but I won’t. That wet nurse they call experience is shared by many, and I have no wish to hog the teat.

Thanks Mel, for inviting me to post. I so needed the reminder of all the occasions I’ve fallen on my arse. The only thing guaranteed, is that these are bruises I will continue to accrue…anyone offering to pucker up and kiss the booboo?

Author Bio:
To escape the frenzy of three children aged under 4 years, two mad dogs and four very odd cats, Incy committed to a law degree (University College, London), first to piss off those who said she didn’t stand a chance, and second, because she’s never learned to walk a hill when there are mountains to be climbed.

Armed with said law degree (of which she’s really rather proud), Incy works as a Marketing Director with a history in advertising agencies, property, publishing and education. (She also fitted in two more kids along the way, preferring with her final son, that people dismissed her as fat rather than careless).

In her spare time Incy writes fast-paced romantic suspense and thrillers. Contracted to write for Entangled Publishing in 2012 (well, January 2013, but she’s superstitious), her whoop could be heard across the British Isles where she leads a ‘quiet’ life.

* You can find Incy Black occasionally pouring out her heart (and sometimes her venom) at incyblack.weebly.com

Friday, July 26, 2013

The One I Want: Out Now (Mostly)

It's out! (For the most part.) (You can also check out the Pinterest board for this story. It has Idris. Yum.)

When Farrah Kane comes home from New York she doesn't plan to fall into bed with Micah Stamps. He's demanding, stubborn, her boss and...her best friend. Except she makes the mistake of agreeing to be his roommate as well as his co-worker for the next three months. It's not long before their days are filled with work and their nights filled with passion. The question is whether their friendship will survive the heat and his stubborn ways. She wants to take her time getting settled into home and their new relationship. He seems to have other plans in mind...

There's no getting around the fact that Micah's best friend makes his blood run hot. Their platonic relationship could die a slow death as far as he's concerned. The year she spent in New York made him realize two things: He missed his best friend more than he should have and he never wanted to live without her again. Now that she is in his grasp—in his home—for three months, there's no sense in waiting to take the next step. Micah only has to convince his impulsive friend to settle down with him.

Their work and home life brings out all the differences between them and drags them to the forefront. Their hearts get in the way of their their well-laid plans. Now, they have to figure out if it's possible to be friends now that they've become lovers.


The Chapter: Behind the Scenes

I've thought of a million things I could tell you about The One I Want. It's a failed Harlequin. All my books prior to this one came from characters, a piece of dialogue, a bigger picture I wanted to write. And, honestly, that's hard as hell to submit. (Yes, I wrote this book when I was still actively submitting to publishers.) This process of writing is pretty much looking at the book you wrote and trying to find the square peg it could possibly fit into, instead of the other way around. So, I came up with a friends-to-lovers story that could find a home with Harlequin, or anyone for that matter.

That's not enough for a blog post. So, I figured I'd talk about Alpha males and how I prefer Betas. Still, I ended up with about a paragraph of blog. And, really, my writing preference wouldn't tell you much about this story. It wouldn't give you a behind the scenes look.

So, I'm going to talk about The Chapter. The one I pretty much have in every book that's my favorite chapter. I could read that sucker out of context and still sigh or giggle or go Oooooooooh or restore my faith that I can write myself out of a brown paper bag.

In this book it's chapter six. During revisions, edits and proofing I could not wait until I got to this chapter. It's the chapter the characters kiss for the first time. Well, the first time they both remember, but that's a long story. Go with it. It's written from the Micah's POV. He's reached his breaking point when it comes to not touching Farrah like he wants to. It's the chapter I've pretty much nicknamed Shit Gets Real. Up until that point they are friends transitioning to lovers, but this chapter cleanly severs any doubt that they should be way more than friends.

I do not encourage skipping because you need all the book, but, uh, yeah, I won't be mad if you just skip to chapter six. (Psst. All the really dirty parts happen in chapter 10 and 13.)  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Books Are For The Faint of Heart

I've considered putting a warning in all my blurbs like I've done with two of my shortest stories. Back when I sought out reviews, I kept seeing complaints on these stories. They were too short. They were ridiculous, far-fetched, etc. My internal reaction was, “Well, yeah. That's the point.” And then I got the bright idea to let people know beyond the blurb and title what they were getting. Expectations can seriously make or break a work of fiction. Sometimes you can get lucky and a reader goes into the book with certain expectations, yet, they walk away pleasantly surprised by what actually happens. That's rare though.

So, I put this in front of my two shortest stories that boarder on slightly ridiculous and far-fetched:

Caveat: This is a short story. Like short. Let's say for instance you're at work on a break, and then that co-worker you really don't like to talk to has made eye contact. You know deep in your gut that the next ten to fifteen minutes you had is going to be wasted having an awkward conversation that neither of you really want. But, they've made eye contact and now they have to say something. Otherwise, if you look away or they do, it's just going to get even more awkward.

This book will save you from that conversation. Put a look of consternation on your face as though you're answering a Very Important Text Message and read this sucker. Now, I'm not tooting my own horn here, but I'll hazard a guess and say reading this short will be better than those awkward ten to fifteen minutes talking about the weather.”

I think folks get a pretty good idea of what they are buying. If short and ridiculous isn't what they want they can avoid these two books like the plague. If short and ridiculous is what they are looking for booyah! And the thing is my books are exactly that kind of read, for the most part. I wouldn't categorize them as tearjerks or dark and angsty. If folks walk into How Much You Want to Bet? thinking “I'm going to read a serious take on women working in a field that is dominated by men”...Oh, hell.

Even though Everything He Dreamed takes on domestic abuse, it's a light book filled with banter and hot sex. By no means do I treat the abuse lightly. I did worry that dropping a subject like that in a light book would kill it dead in the water, but humor is how I tell stories. It's how I deal with dark stuff. Sometimes I take a plot that is beyond unbelievable and play around it. My books are light and frothy. They may have a deep, emotional core, but even then it's balanced with humor. Sometimes I just skip the ugly, weighty subjects and have fun with a romp.

My books are for the faint of heart. After dealing with an emotional and sometimes heartbreaking subject, I whip out a book that's meant to cleanse my palate and hope that it does the same for the reader. No, seriously, go into my books with a grain of salt. At some point I might even ask you to toss it over your shoulder because even that isn't necessary.

So, consider this post my blurb warning from here on out. My books are likely to be filled with graphic sex, dick jokes, dark humor, unbelievable plots, likeable and unlikeable characters and hopefully, overall, entertaining reads. Grain of salt not required.

***This post inspired by accepting what I write.