There’s no denying a writer’s psyche is fragile. We may not want to admit it, but writers dream of endless honey sweet words of praise and support for our creative efforts or at least someone that truly gets us.
That’s hardly realistic.
No matter who we are or how high we soar in our creative endeavors — we shall always have our haters, detractors and critics. It comes with the territory of being a writer.
When you write a book about controversial and unconventional subjects as I have in my recent novel Monogamy Sucks, you become even more a lightening rod for criticism. You have to develop a thick skin quick. Sure, a bad review hurts initially, but such barbs will only make you a stronger and better writer over the long run.
My advice to my fellow writers: get over it and don’t take bad reviews personally.
Even more importantly, don’t allow such criticism prevent you from achieving your writing dreams. The criticism will pass, but so will your opportunities if you become paralyzed with creative fear.
I recently received a couple of tough, harsh reviews for my novel. One reviewer even went as far as to call my character and writing “ignorant” and “sexist.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
I personally don’t think either reviewer understood what I was trying to achieve with my novel. It was intended to be a raw, unflinching diary account of a swinger’s bizarre, funny and sexy journey toward finding some sexual peace of mind in his life, and not a dry literary tome about the subject. I wanted there to be no doubt about what my male character was thinking and experiencing during his sexual exploration.
Still, the reviewers had some valid, cogent points about my novel and writing style that I will take into consideration for my next books.
I remember reading about a famous director who said he never read his bad reviews because they stuck with him and tainted his feelings about his positive notices. I think you should take all of the reviews — good and bad – with a large grain of salt and move on. If you only dwell on your good reviews, then you won’t realize potential flaws in your approach. At the same time, only believing your lousy reviews blinds you to your potential gifts as a writer.
As the saying goes, you can’t please everyone so you might as please yourself.
Despite recent criticism, I am more determined than ever to tackle controversial topics such as swinging, troubles with monogamy, relationships, marriage and sex in my writing. These subjects continue to fascinate me and many others as I am realizing.
And I really think I’ve struck a nerve with my novel as evidenced by the virulent nature of my book’s criticism.
Fortunately, I’ve discovered through Twitter that I have a lot supporters of this blog, my novel and even my poetry in my fellow writers and Twitter friends. This still humbles and inspires me each day. They are exceptional talents who have shown me great kindness this year.
With exception of my best friend (who is also a writer), I never showed my writing to anyone for much of the past decade. To find those who believe in my vision as a writer is such an incredible boost to my writer’s confidence. The isolation and fear that used to rule my writing life has disappeared. I am no longer fearful to share my work online or anywhere.
This has been a watershed year for me in finally getting my novel out in the world after 12 long years. As I move forward into 2011, it will be with a newfound resolve to face the haters and pursue my writing dreams no matter what. Yet it is the supportive words of my true friends and supporters that will continue to stick with me and guide my way. I can’t thank them enough for joining me on my writer’s journey.
Happy New Year,
Today my blog tour in support of my novel Monogamy Sucks continued with a guest post on the blog of Twitter friend Alex Lieberman. Alex, whose blog is entitled “Alex The Reluctant Escort,” hosted an excerpt of the second chapter of my novel. In this chapter, my novel’s character Jake Dalmas — driven by lust and curiosity – contacts almost every call girl in an adult magazine and later begins his journey into the hidden world of swinging when placing his own classified ad seeking casual sex.
Alex writes about her funny and provocative adventures working as a call girl in Atlanta. It is more than worth checking out. I am very grateful for her generosity in hosting me on her blog.
Look here for more stops on my blog tour for my novel early next year.
These past several weeks I’ve learned an enlightening lesson in the power of social media with my blog tour in support of my novel Monogamy Sucks.
This week I had my 13th blog interview on the blog of Twitter friend Alex Lieberman (@alexlieberman on Twitter). Alex, whose blog is entitled “Alex The Reluctant Escort,” hosted an excerpt of the second chapter of my novel. In this chapter, my novel’s character Jake Dalmas — driven by lust and curiosity – contacts every call girl in a sex rag and later begins his journey into the hidden world of swinging when placing his own classified ad seeking sex.
Last week I had a blog interview on the blog of Twitter friend Ritu Bhanot
It was an interesting interview as she asked off beat and intriguing questions. Actually, I am very grateful for the support of my friends on Twitter who have reached out to me and have kindly hosted me and my story on their blogs. I shudder to think where I would be without them. The mainstream press has pretty much ignored my book and story. The content may be too controversial for them. I am not sure. I am hoping to change that and spread the word about my book more in the mainstream media in the coming year.
In the meantime, I wanted to share once again the highlights and links of my blog interview tour for Monogamy Sucks so far.
Here are links to the rest of my blog tour for 2010.These are all blog interviews except for my radio interview with Renegade Talk.
My Love of Reading: Twitter friend Hayley Sale interviewed me as a part of her 12 days of Lazy Days Publishing Authors promotion. I also wrapped up the promotion with a guest post about how Lazy Day Publishing made my publishing dream come true.
Jessica Kristie: My fellow writer and friend I also met on Twitter (who is @jesskristie) also hosted me on her blog with an another interview and authors page. Her interview is notable as it explores other area such as the influence of music on my writing not covered in the other interviews. She also hosted an excerpt from my novel’s third chapter.
Rebecca Tsaros Dickson: Rebecca who I also met on Twitter interviewed me and posted a link to excerpt of my first chapter. She is @thinking2hard13 on Twitter. She asked some tough questions and brought out some of my best interview answers during my blog tour.
Look here for more interviews early next year.
I have finally found and posted an interesting 30-minute interview I did last June on Montreal radio program “Passion” (CJAD, 800 am) about my novel “Monogamy Sucks.” This was before I received my book offer from Lazy Day Publishing. This interview is still of note as it contains an intriguing discussion about the roots and viability of monogamy as it pertains to the development of my blog and novel.
The show, which is one of top rated radio programs in Montreal, is hosted by Dr. Laurie Betito, noted psychologist and sex therapist. Dr. Laurie asked probing and thoughtful questions and I enjoyed our conversation.
Last week, my book trailer for my novel “Monogamy Sucks” was unveiled on You Tube. It was an interesting collaboration between myself, my publisher Lazy Day Publisher and composer Ehron VonAllen. This trailer with its sexy images combined with a provocative soundtrack that exudes sex and mystery, perfectly captures the erotic nature of my novel. This was a breakthrough of sorts for me. It was my first time writing book trailer copy. I actually developed copy for four different book trailers as I couldn’t settle on one.
You can be the judge if we succeeded in creating a compelling book trailer.
Yesterday I was interviewed on Renegade Talk radio as a guest of writer, blogger Patti Sommer, who has her own blog Empowered Sex. We talked about my novel “Monogamy Sucks.” It was a wild, crazy, raunchy and fun interview.
Here a link to the interview.
Just a warning that there are explicit parts to this interview. It’s not for the faint of heart.
My blog interview tour continued yesterday with a stop at fellow writer Ranee Dillon’s blog.
I met Ranee on twitter. She is a Los Angeles-area based writer and poet and one of the more supportive writers I’ve met on Twitter. You can find her @raneedillon. Well, worth following.
Look for my blog tours next week.
Interview with Mik Wilkens, author of fantasy novel “The Silver Cage” out this week by Lazy Day Publishing
Meet Mik Wilkens, author of the fantasy novel The Silver Cage. Her novel was released this week by Lazy Day Publishing as an e-book. The interview below is past of an ongoing series of featuring my fellow Lazy Day Publishing authors on my blog. Enjoy.
What is your most recent book? Tell us about it.
The Silver Cage is a fantasy novel. It’s about David Conner, a down-to-earth guy who has everything going for him: he’s got a great job, he has plenty of money, and he’s just met Jennasara, quite literally the woman of his dreams. But David’s world is turned upside-down when he finds himself on Lucasia, a world where magic is a force of nature and creatures of myth are real. To save Jennasara, David must learn the ways of the strange world he finds himself on, master its magic, and decide who is his friend and who is his enemy.
Tell us something about yourself. (Where are you from, what is your background, how long have you been writing or anything we might find interesting about you.)
I started writing when I was about 11 or 12 years old. At the time, all I read were stories about animals, either fiction or nonfiction. So that was what I wrote: stories about animals, told from the animals’ point of view. I read a lot, too, so it only took me a couple of years to read all of the animal books in our local library (we lived in a very small town). After that, I needed to find a new type of book to read. That’s when I discovered science fiction and fantasy. I started writing science fiction and fantasy stories soon after, and that’s what I’ve been writing ever since.
What inspired you to write the fantasy novel The Silver Cage?
My inspiration was twofold. One of my favorite fantasy authors is Katherine Kurtz. Her novels inspired me to try writing books of my own. They also taught me the importance of having a logical magic system in a fantasy story. Rather than just having some intangible force called “magic,” there needs to be a source of the power and some kind of rules that the characters have to follow to use that power. That idea was one of the driving forces behind The Silver Cage.
The other inspiration was my desire to write a modern fairy tale that could be enjoyed by adults whether they were fans of fantasy fiction or not. By ‘fairy tale,’ I don’t mean the traditional, short folk tales written for children. Instead, I use the term as defined by Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien in his essay ‘On Fairy-Stories.’ Tolkien said that fairy tales are not stories about fairies or other fantastic creatures; rather they are about the interaction between humans and such beings. David, a sensible, modern-day businessman, is the human that interacts with the fantastic creatures.
Does the location depicted in your novel have an impact on the characters and your book’s overall theme?
Since The Silver Cage is about a person from today’s world who finds himself on a fantasy world, the location has just about everything to do with what happens to the main character as well as to the characters he meets as he explores Lucasia, investigates how and why he ended up there, and uncovers the layers of intrigue that surround the lives of the world’s inhabitants.
How did you choose the title?
The title actually has at least three different meanings in the story. I don’t want to say what they are; I’d rather let the reader figure it out.
What do you think is unique about your book? What are some of the more unique themes you explore in this novel?
The concept of a modern person being transported to a fantasy world is not new, so I had to approach the subject in a fresh way. To do that, I put familiar fantasy elements such as unicorns, werewolves, dragons, and magic swords into the story, but I gave each a twist that makes it different from similar elements found in other fantasy stories. I also gave a modern feel to most of the characters. I hoped that by doing that, the story would appeal not only to people who are already fans of fantasy novels, but also to people who just like to read a fun story. It seems to be working. Several people who aren’t fantasy fans have read the novel and really enjoyed it, including my editor at LazyDay Publishing, Staci (Helling, co-owner of Lazy Day).
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
Usually the names just come to me, but if I’m having trouble coming up with an idea for a name (usually for minor characters), there are few name sites online that I use.
Tell about creating your own book trailer? Was it very difficult to do? What did you learn through doing it? Are you happy with the end result?
When I decided to make my own book trailer, I did some online research about how to do it. Most of the sites suggested using Windows Movie Maker since it came with Windows XP. I had my doubts about using a free program to do something as complex as creating a video, but Windows Movie Maker surprised me. It has easy-to-use storyboard and timeline views and comes with a good selection of video effects and transitions.
The first thing I did for my book trailer was write a script. I then sketched out a storyboard so I had an idea of the images I would need. Next, I used Photoshop to create the images from royalty-free pictures I collected online. I imported all of the images into Movie Maker and used the storyboard view to put them in the correct order. Then I experimented with timing, video effects, and the different transitions until I had the trailer roughed out.
My publisher had hired a professional musician to write music for the book trailers, so I sent my rough cut to them so they could show it to the musician and let him write music for it. After I got the music, I added it to the trailer, then tweaked the video to line up with the music. Once I had it timed just the way I wanted it, I uploaded the file to YouTube, which was a surprisingly fast and easy process. Now that it’s on YouTube, I can embed the trailer in blogs and on websites, and I can submit it to the different book trailer sites.
I had a great time making the trailer, and I love the way it turned out. I’m really looking forward to creating a trailer for my next book, and I’m even thinking about offering to make trailers for other books.
The one sad thing to come of the experience, is that I got a new computer recently that has Windows 7 instead of XP. Sadly, Microsoft completely rewrote Movie Maker for Windows 7, and to put it bluntly, it sucks. So when I create my next book trailer, I’m going to be using different software.
Here’s a link to the finished trailer on The Silver Cage website: http://www.thesilvercage.com/trailer.php
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started? Were you influenced by fantasy writers growing up?
I fell in love with writing in the sixth grade. We had a sort of free period once a week during which we could choose from several different activities. One of the activities was to write a story based on a couple of sentences printed on an index card that was drawn randomly out of a box. I always chose that activity. Once I started doing that, I realized how much I loved to write.
A lot of science fiction and fantasy writers have influenced me. As I mentioned above, Katherine Kurtz was the author who had the biggest influence on my decision to become a writer. Other writers that have influenced me are Piers Anthony, Anne Rice, and Mercedes Lackey, to name just a few.
Do you have any writing rituals? Ever experienced the dreaded writer’s block?
If so, how did you breakthrough it?
I don’t have any rituals per se, but I do write most of my first drafts by hand. I have favorite pads and favorite pens, but anything will do in a pinch. When I’m in a writing mood, I carry around a pad of paper everywhere I go and write every chance I get. Fortunately, I have a very tolerant husband who doesn’t mind me writing when we go out to dinner or go for a drive.
I don’t get writers block very often. Instead, I get out of a writing mood. When that happens, I haven’t found much that I can do about it. Until my muse decides to come back, I usually just pursue other creative outlets.
What did you learn from writing this book?
I learned that I can’t write from outlines. I wrote a very detailed outline for the first ten or so chapters of The Silver Cage, but when I sat down to start writing the novel, I changed almost everything except for the names.
Are you excited to be part of the e-book revolution? How is it working with a new digital publisher?
Since I’ve never liked print books, I love the e-book revolution. (When I say I don’t like books, I do like reading them, I just don’t like owning them.) Now I’m working on convincing everybody I know to get an e-book reader, either a dedicated one like a Kindle or Nook or an e-reader app for their computer.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
Nothing that I can think of.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I’m working on several books right now. I’m almost finished with the sequel to The Silver Cage. It’s called The Golden Drake, and it pretty much starts right where The Silver Cage ends. Actually, the first chapter starts a little bit before The Silver Cage ends. I’m also almost done writing another fantasy novel called The Greyhounds of Aeravon, which is the first book in a series of novels I plan to use to raise money to support the adoption of retired racing greyhounds. I’m also working on a science fiction trilogy. All three of the books in the trilogy are finished in rough draft form. I’m doing the final edits on the first book, and then I’ll start on the other two. Finally, I’m finishing the edits on a science fiction novella called Esora, which is a follow-up story to another science fiction novella I have coming out in 2011 called The Price of Conquest.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Never give up. Keep writing. Study writing. Write some more. Get help from fellow writers if you need it. Trust yourself.
Who is the ideal reader for your book?
The Silver Cage is aimed at adults, but it doesn’t have any mature themes or content that would keep it from being enjoyed by older children. Several people who don’t normally like reading fantasy stories have really liked the story, so you don’t necessarily have to be a fan of fantasy fiction to enjoy it. I think anyone who wants to read a fun escape story with a lot of great characters and some really interesting and funny situations will enjoy the book.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
Interview with Melissa Ecker, author of Memory Grove Erotica Series of Novels Released by Lazy Day Publishing This week
As a part of my ongoing series of interviews with my fellow Lazy Day Publishing authors, today I would like to introduce you to Melissa Ecker, author of the Memory Grove series of novels — Pull the Trigger, Mount Up and Feed the Fire. She is well-known on Twitter as @melissaecker and offers her fans a taste of her writing in tweets. You should follow her if you are on Twitter. Below is her interview.
Tell us about your Seduction in Memory Grove series of novels — “Pull the Trigger,” Mount Up,” and “Feed the Fire.”
These are the stories of three very different women living in this small Arkansas town. My goal was to embody their romantic relationships and the impact that love has on their lives and their individual struggles to achieve their happily-ever-afters.
How did your series develop? Were you working on these books for a long time? Did they have any previous incarnations as other novels or short stories?
I actually started writing the first book in the series, Pull the Trigger, as a ménage between Rebecca, Justin and Luke. However, once the story began to unfold it became clear that there was no place for a third in this relationship. Once I ousted Luke, I felt compelled to tell his story which led to Mount Up. Feed the Fire was crafted from secondary characters in the first two books. My characters are so real to me and when they need to say something, I’m compelled to give them their voice.
Tell us a little something about yourself.
Let’s see…I’m a wife and a mom. I’m a freelance legal assistant and copy editor and I’m an author. I enjoy reading and writing and spending time with family and friends. I’m prone to bouts of sarcasm, love to laugh and tell dirty stories!
Have you always written erotica? What about writing erotica intrigues you?
I’m actually new to the erotica genre. I hadn’t even read an erotic novel until earlier this year. I think I’m drawn to this particular genre because I enjoy exploring all the depths of my characters’ relationships and sex and passion are so paramount to the human condition.
Do you think the locations depicted in your novel have an impact on the characters and your books overall themes?
Absolutely. I specifically created a fictional small town, very much like the one I live in, where the people are neighborly and down to earth and everybody looks out for each other. I wanted my characters to embody that simple charm.
Tell us about Memory Grove? What was inspiration for creating this setting for your novels?
Like I mentioned above, I really wanted a small town atmosphere with a closer knit community. I felt like this environment would work well with my characters’ conflicts and I just love sleepy, small towns with wide open spaces!
Who is the typical Memory Grove character?
I’m not sure there is a typical Memory Grove character. They are all unique but they do share the Southern hospitality traits that I adore.
How did you choose your book’s titles?
My book titles for this series were crafted around the careers of the heroes. In the Pull the Trigger, the hero is a police officer. In Mount Up, we have the rodeo cowboy and Feed the Fire features a hot fireman.
What is about Stephen King’s and Judy Blume’s writing that so influenced you?
Stephen King scared the crap out of me and I loved it! Judy Blume wrote about the things girls my age were going through, so she made me feel understood and not so awkward.
Also what was it about the movie “the Shining” that sparked you as such a young age to consider writing?
That movie scared the daylights out of me and I started thinking about how I could do the same to other people. Not a lot of deep thinking going on at seven years old.
It wasn’t until 2008, after your move to Central Arkansas, that you finally had the opportunity to write. Was the desire to write burning inside of you all those years? Did you always know you were eventually going to do it?
I’ve always wanted to write but life got in the way for so many years. I will say that I knew, at some point, I would put the proverbial pen to paper and get it done and here I am.
How do you come up with your characters? Were and are they composites of people you know or knew?
The heroines in my stories tend to have some traits from people I know or have read about. My heroes develop strictly out of my imagination which explains their undeniable hotness!
What was the most difficult aspect of writing your books? Were there times you felt uncomfortable exploring the erotica scenes? Do you get a lot of inquiries from people wondering if your erotic depictions are from your real life?
Actually, I haven’t had anyone ask me if the depictions are from real life, thank goodness! At times, it is difficult to write erotica. The hardest part to overcome for me was the thought, “What will people think?” I quickly got over that when I realized how popular this particular genre is and for every erotica writer, there are tons of people who enjoy reading it.
Sometimes on Twitter you will give your fans a taste of your erotic prose. How has Twitter been for you overall in attracting potential readers and meeting fellow writers?
Twitter has been awesome! I’ve made so many new friends, both readers and writers and the response to my work has been very positive. I’m attending the Authors After Dark conference in Philadelphia next year where I will have the opportunity to meet a lot of those folks! I’m really excited about that!
You are also working on an erotica anthology with fellow Lazy Day Publishing authors Amy LeBlanc and Alta Hensley. How did that come about and when will it come out?
Deep in the Heat of Texas came about during a Twitter conversation between the three of us. We were just bouncing ideas around and one of us said, “Hey, we should totally write this!” So, we collectively went to the drawing board and plotted it out, developed our characters and pitched it to Lazy Day. They accepted our pitch and the Lazy Day Dirty Girls Club was born!
Do you have any writing rituals? How do you deal with the dreaded writer’s block?
I always have to have my coffee while I’m writing and I have to have socks on. I know, I know…go ahead and laugh, but for some odd reason I can’t write barefoot. When my brain doesn’t cooperate with me, I take a break. I’ll read something for pleasure or go outside and walk around. I find that if I stop trying really hard, my muse comes back to me.
What do you think about e-books? Are you excited to be a part of this new publishing revolution? How is it working with a new digital publisher?
I think e-books are great, especially since I just bought my first Kindle. Talk about instant gratification for a voracious reader! I’m so pleased with Lazy Day Publishing. Every step of the way has been fantastic.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
Honestly, I don’t know I would do anything different. This worked out pretty well!
Are you working on your next book or books? What can you tell us about it?
I have a few projects in the works. My paranormal romance novel, Giving Up the Ghost, is in the editing process and will be released from Turquoise Morning Press on April 25, 2011. I’m currently writing Taken in Texas for the Deep in the Heat of Texas anthology. I’m about half way finished with a second paranormal romance, Murder in Romance, due out next summer. I’m pretty busy right now.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Keep writing. I wrote three books before I landed my first contract. If you finish one, move on to a new project while it’s being considered. Always try to learn from constructive criticism and don’t give up.
Who is the ideal reader for your books?
Anyone (18+) who enjoys good romance, hot sex and paranormal phenomena! Let me clarify that I write erotica and paranormal romance separately. My erotica is super hot and graphic and my paranormal romance novels are very steamy.
You recently received some early excellent reviews for your Memory Grove series? Can you tell us about that?
I was so nervous waiting for the reviews to come in but they have been fabulous! I have a page set up on my website with links to all the reviews. I’m really humbled by all the wonderful things they’ve said.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
Details about both me and my books can be found on my website at www.melissaecker.com and I can be found lurking about the Twitterverse @MelissaEcker
Thank you, George, for taking the time to talk to me and highlight my work. It’s always a pleasure to be in your company!
My blog interview tour continues today with a stop at the Writing Insight Web site. Please read my Blooming Authors feature about my novel Monogamy Sucks that was released today by Lazy Day Publishing.
Look for more interviews soon.