There is a writer in all of us

Posted by: Yosha

I am fascinated by people who can actually figure out stories, write them down and get them published. I started to wonder – does everybody have a novel in them, and they just need to get it down on paper? Do I? I decided to test myself.

I wrote my own first novel and yes, I actually finished it. I gave it to friends to read, and they liked it. So far, so good!

Then I submitted it to a publisher. No guts, no glory, right? I got back a lukewarm response, but not a flat out no. The editor gave me some suggestions and said rewrite and resubmit.

Now I find myself staring at the words I wrote, and for the life of me, I can’t actually get new words down on the paper. They just won’t come out. I know published authors write and rewrite and rework, in order to get their books published, but I just can’t seem to do it.

So, what makes authors different from the rest of us? From me? What is the creative process going on in their head that lends itself to this process?

Do you have a story in your head? Have you ever tried to write it down? Have you tried to get it published?

I’d love to hear about your thoughts or experiences, whether you are an author or a reader.

Yosha

How to Save a Life Without Really Trying

Posted by: Belinda McBride

This morning, I was on the telephone, making an appointment to take my niece to visit her social worker.  Once we’d settled on a date, I had to change the time, remembering that was my regular day to donate platelets through Apheresis.  

To my surprise, she didn’t know anything about donating blood, and was even more mystified that I would take several hours out of my day every two weeks to undergo Apheresis, the procedure that separates platelets from blood.  

I began to donate blood a few years back, going in to the blood center maybe two or three times a year.  And then one day, I overheard one of the nurses mention that some of the cancer patients at local hospitals were literally dying because they couldn’t get enough platelet donors.  I asked about the procedure, was tested for my platelet count, and to my surprise, discovered that I was an ideal donor.  In fact, with my high platelet count, I am able to do triple donations twice a month.  That means six very ill patients receive life-saving platelets from me every month!

What does this have to do with writing?  Well, I spend about ninety minutes in a recliner while the Apheresis procedure takes place, and my mind wanders.  Once, I was thinking of a new idea for a story; the setting was clear, the story would take place in post-earthquake San Francisco.  I had the title: Dragon’s Blood.  But the plot just wouldn’t gel. 

I looked around the room at all of the donors and thought of a future where a mysterious disease had taken hold of the human population.  A future where donated blood became a rare and precious commodity.  This disease became a major plot point in the Black Planet series, and will continue to re-emerge in future books in that series.  In my current release, Tiger Eyes, the heroine is afflicted with the disease called Dragon’s Blood, and is rapidly dying.  Grace fights valiantly to stay alive in this story; she’s an amazingly strong character.

Over the course of my life, I’ve seen many lives saved by the donations of others.  My friend Mo received bone marrow transplants which extended her life during her battle with cancer.   My brother received whole blood following a devastating injury.  My co-worker Melissa made the stunning and selfless decision to donate her kidney to a friend, and literally saved that woman’s life.  

You too can save lives; simply call your local blood center to see if you are eligible to donate.  It takes a little time, and next to no effort.  To learn more about Platelet Apheresis, visit the American Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/services/biomed/0,1082,0_554_,00.html

Black Planet: Tiger Eyes is now available at Changeling Press:

http://www.changelingpress.com/product.php?&upt=book&ubid=1027

Belinda McBride
http://www.belindamcbride.com/ 

Tiger Eyes by Belinda McBride

Black Planet: Tiger Eyes by Belinda McBride

Reviewing is Easy, Right?

Posted by: Sabine

For many people who have never done it, writing a review seems really easy. After all, you just need to ask for a review copy of a book you’re interested in, read the story and tell everyone you liked it or you didn’t, right?

Not so much.

I’ve been reviewing books for several years and have learned, by trial and error, some of the requirements for a good review as well as some of the best practices of being a reviewer. Do note that there are no universal “rules” for reviewing. This just happens to be my own list and my own rules, not that of Wild On Books or any other review site.

To be a good reviewer, you need to:

  1. Communicate your opinion. Everything hinges on good communication skills. If those reading your review can’t make sense of it, what’s the point?
  2. Read and enjoy the genre. It’s very difficult to judge a story if you are not well read in the genre and if you don’t like the genre, it will show. Always. Reviewing a book whose genre you don’t like tends to lead to unfair reviews and reflects badly on yourself and the site you review for.
  3. Actually READ the book. There are some reviewers that I, personally, do not believe actually read the story they review. The glaring errors and track record says it all and these reviewers have lost all respect, if not become a laughingstock.
  4. Distill the book into a short summary. You need to be able to summarize the story of the book without giving away plot points or spoilers that can cause readers of the review to either be angry at the spoiler or not buy a good book because you’ve told them what will happen. This is an area where there is disagreement. Some reviewers will throw the whole story in their review and analyze it but I don’t like that, really. Especially if the book is a good book, I want them to enjoy the story from the beginning and buy the book to do so. Otherwise it would be like watching a movie after someone told you the whole plot. It’s never going to have the same impact.
  5. Understand and examine your own reactions. You need to be able to read the story and, at the same time, analyze your reactions to the story. When you’re done reading it, you need to be able to tell readers of the review things you liked, didn’t like, etc. This can be difficult when you feel strongly about a story, both postively and negatively. There has been a few times I’ve had to re-read a story because I forgot to make mental notes and had gotten sucked into the story as just a reader.
  6. Be constructive and not cruel. This is especially so for the authors whose books your review. Many authors read their books’ reviews carefully to look for ideas of what they need to work on more and what people did or didn’t like. The best thing you can offer the author is constructive feedback. If you don’t like something, be sure you can say why. If you like something, praise it and say why it resonated with you. I know there are a few reviews who make a practice of doing “snarky” reviews. Personally, I think these are unnecessarily cruel and I don’t do it.
  7. Know and respect your own biases. There are times you will read a story that you love except for one aspect of it. You should be able to set that aside and not damn the whole book because it hit a hot button for you, though you might choose to mention the hot button issues if it’s not a spoiler. Some people get so upset at some things that they just can’t do a fair review. All reviewers have had this happen to them at least once and it’s a good idea to turn the book back in and decline to do the review if you can’t separate the story from your hot buttons.
  8. Keep your commitments. You need to be dependable and honor your promises. If you take a book for review, you need to follow through with the review in some sort of reasonable timeframe. Most review sites have guidelines to follow that outline expectations.
  9. Be honest. If your reviews aren’t honest or you love or hate everything you review, your reviews lose impact and really don’t help the author or the readers. No one pays much attention to reviews that aren’t honest.

So if you think you want to write reviews, many review sites are aquiring reviews all the time. They can be a great training ground but you also might want to just post reviews on your own blog or MySpace where the only rules are your own. But read a lot of other reviews first and get a feel for what approach you want to take and how others are phrasing things.

It’s a great way to get a few free reads, but it IS a job.

The Writer-Reader Relationship

Posted by: Devon Ellington

The relationship between writer and reader is extraordinarily intimate.  When a reader finishes a well-written book, there is a sense of living the story thanks to the writer’s skill.  There’s a sense of connection completely different that the experience of watching something on the screen. 

But what happens between readers and writers off the page?  If a reader enjoys a book, very often the reader expresses appreciation to the writer via the website or a letter or going out to buy more of the writer’s books.  The writer, in turn, appreciates the response, and often thanks the reader and heads back to the desk to write an even better book to please the readers. 

What happens when readers try to dictate what writers write?  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle faced this issue when he had to resurrect Sherlock Holmes, and it continues today.  Some so-called fans grow furious or hysterical if a writer ends a series and chooses to go in a different direction.  They send vicious emails or even threats.   

Truly, all they have to do is not purchase the books.  

Sometimes, readers have good suggestions.  A close friend of mine wandered into a live chat on which I was featured a few weeks ago, about my book HEX BREAKER and the Jain Lazarus Adventures in general.  I answered questions about process and vision for the series, etc., and my friend tossed out an idea of something he’d like to see happen in the course of the series.  The idea was a good one, caught my attention, and we brainstormed back and forth enough so that I can go away and outline it.  Will the final book be the same as we discussed?  Highly unlikely, although that spark of inspiration will have fueled it (and I’ll dedicate it to him).  And why did it catch my attention, rather than raising my hackles as usually happens when the gist of a conversation is “You should write . . .” 

There are two reasons this was a positive rather than a negative.  First, the idea came from someone I trust, someone who is one of my Trusted Readers, understands my work and also my bad habits.  Second, the idea was in keeping with the vision of the series.   

Too often, reader suggestions have to do more with fan fic, in the sense of putting themselves in the context of the story rather than staying true to the vision of the story.  Only the writer truly knows the overall vision (add in the editor and maybe the agent once the writer shares that vision).  When I talk to people about writing for television series, I explain that they have to remember each episode has to carry forward the story and strengths of the regular cast and the guest stars are just that—guests.  If the episode becomes more about the guest than the star of the show, unless you’re a well-known writer with an “A” list guest star – the episode will be rejected.  In fiction, there’s a little more leeway – secondary characters have a chance for their moment in the sun.  But, far too often, reader suggestions focus on introducing a new central character to represent the reader that interferes with rather than enhances the writer’s vision for the series.  Without knowing the full arc of a series, a reader can’t know how his or her “great idea” will hurt the rest of it.  I’ve also noticed those who are the most vehement about forcing their ideas into other people’s work are those who “would write if I had time” but never “get around to it.”  It’s often a case of creative constipation used to punish a writer.  

Those would-be writers need to get over their own fears, put pen to paper, and explore those ideas themselves.  Not only would they have a creative outlet, they might gain an understanding of what it means to write a book, and all the different elements involved. 

As a reader, I love it when writers whose work I admire try something new.  I am not a fan of ”branding” or “niche”.  Far too many churned out books start to feel like all the writer did was hit “global replace” for character name and setting.  The only thing I need to know is that the quality of the writing is good.  I want the writer to try new things, explore different kinds of writing.  Supporting a writer’s forays into new territory is, to me, part of being a fan. 

As a writer, I listen to suggestions from readers, but I remain true to my vision for my work.  Unless I’m doing a work-for-hire to someone else’s specs, I need to remain true to my own stories and my own characters.   By doing so, I retain the integrity to my creative process and to the readers who were drawn to the work in the first place. 

Devon Ellington publishes under a half a dozen names in both fiction and non-fiction.  Her blog on the writing life is Ink in My Coffee:  http://devonellington.wordpress.com.  You can read an excerpt of HEX BREAKER at http://hexbreaker.devonellingtonwork.com.

Sexual Fantasy and Romance Novels

Posted by: Jennifer A. Ray

Sexual fantasies.  We all have them.  Whether we admit to them or not, well that’s another story altogether.  Are they too embarrassing?  Too extreme?  Or are we just too shy or reserved to fess up to what we really want with our partner?

So we have our romance novels, which are chock full of every kind of fantasy and fetish you can imagine.  The question is, where do you draw the line between what fantasies you enjoy reading about and what you really want to try in your own love life?

I’ll admit it, I love reading menage romances – most often with two men focused on one very lucky woman.  The idea of that is very heady and makes for some extremely steamy reading.  The reality?  If I suddenly found myself in that situation, I’d probably run from the room as fast as I could.  Do I frown on the practice?  Nope, not for consenting adults.  I just don’t think I could personally handle the emotional ramifications.  Not to mention the double load of dirty socks on the floor…  LOL

And I love reading BDSM romance.  Do I really want to be whipped?  Not on your life, but I enjoy reading it when it is well-written.  The act of total submission in real life would probably not work for me.  But the idea of completely letting go and giving your trust to a special guy who knows just what you need even before you do is very erotic.  So I read about it.

But enough about me…  I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the subject.  Where do you draw the line?  Are there things you enjoy reading that you would absolutely never try in real life?  Has that boundary expanded a bit after reading a certain book?

Whether you post anonymously or under your real name, we’re interested in your opinion and as to whether or not reading romance has added to your fantasies?  Are there any specific books that have inspired new fantasies for you?

I’m guest blogging at Romance Vagabonds!

Posted by: Jennifer A. Ray

I was very honored to be invited to guest blog by the Romance Vagabonds!

Head over to their blog and chime in with your comments or questions… 

Jennifer A. Ray
www.jenaray.com
www.wildonbooks.com
www.messageboard.wildonbooks.com

We are live!

Posted by: admin

Welcome to the Wild on Books blog!  We are now officially live, although we will be tweaking the graphics and whatnot on the site for a little while.  We have reviews posted on the site already, but they are all reposts of old reviews I wrote and published elsewhere previously.

I’ll be posting the first brand new review for the Wild on Books website this week!  Of course, I’ll post a notice on this blog when I do… 

I hope you all enjoy the site, and of course we welcome comments if you have them.

Jennifer A. Ray
Reviews: http://www.wildonbooks.com
Personal: http://www.jenaray.com