Saturday, March 21, 2009

Is it me?

I recently did a book signing event that had an author meet-and-greet session before the signing event. I told a crowd of folks about myself as an author, the books I've written and what I have coming up. One person asked me after I talked about my BDSM titles how I did my research. Of course there was a ripple of giggles going through the audience. So I was honest. I told them that I hung out with a local BDSM group that taught me the ropes, pun intended, about BDSM. That little revelation quieted the group.

A week or so after the event, I attended a luncheon with my BDSM buddies. As always, there was a demonstration after the luncheon. The demonstration consisted of stringing up a couple of submissives to a huge man-made spiderweb contraption and spanking, flogging, whipping and paddling them.

My Domme friends are never content with me just watching the action. So they put a flogger in my hand and showed me how to flog a submissive. For me, the feeling felt odd. To me, I was hurting this submissive, which is not my personal thing. To the submissive, he loved ever minute of it. He told me so afterward and even went so far as to kiss my feet (through my sneakers). When I turned around, my BDSM buds all had smiles on their faces. My Domme's submissive said that he thinks that I'm really a Domme in the closet.

I don't think I am. When I do my research, and I'm asking people who are actively involved in the Lifestyle about how they feel and the appeal of it, I understand it. I get it. I konw that they feed off of their submissive's reaction just as the submissive feeds off their Dom and Domme's power.

Here are my questions: for the readers, when an author writes something contemporary, why is it that readers think the author lives that lifestyle? No one ever asks an author who writes murder mysteries or horror if they've killed someone or if they have someone bound in their basement. Why is that? Why is one more possible than the other?

The other thing I want to ask is why is it that other people can see something in me that I don't think is really there? Maybe it's something they're projecting, something they wish I could personally produce. Do I need to necessarily live that life to write it successfully? I hope not. I'd like to think the world is my oyster as far as writing subjects. I just want to give you my pearls!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"You like really like me!"

Every time I get a rejection from a publisher, or hear about another writer getting rejected, I'm always reminded of that famous line from Sally Field when she won the Oscar (see above title if you've never heard it).

That one memorable line sums up what all human beings have wanted since the beginning of time: acceptance. And writers and other artists are especially neurotic about it. Given that we're all in businesses in which success is largely based upon subjectivity; it's only natural that we would be.

I know of three authors who have gotten rejections from publishers in the last 24 hours--less than actually. How they deal with that rejection depends on who the author is (and, no I won't mention any names). But no matter how they deal with it--with humor, nonchalance, fetal position in a dark corner... rejection still hurts.

The bottom line is as writers we want people to like our work enough to buy it so we can feel like Sally Field felt on that day back in 1985 when she uttered those words. Well, she actually said something else, but I like the misquote better. And even though I never say the words aloud, I won't deny thinking them, or some facsimile thereof, when the occasional book or two of mine sells.
I mean, gosh, I just feel so proud and a little awed that people actually want to spend money to read something I've written. On the other hand, I also usually believe that what I've written is awesome and infinitely entertaining. Doesn't everyone? Otherwise, why send it out into the world in the first place? So, yes, rejection hurts, even if just for a little while.

But there's also another famous quote: "If at first you don't succeed..."
I'm sure all of you who have felt the sting of rejection can finish the line for me.

Lisa G.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Second part of, WHY I WRITE

Good morning,

Happy Friday the 13th. It's kind of cool that I'm blogging for the second time on Friday the 13th. Bill and I have of course done our early morning running and I'm still full of energy. I had a Reiki treatment last Sunday and I swear I feel much better than I have in months. In fact we're going roller skating this afternoon.

Okay, I know my private life isn't the title you saw in my subject line so let's continue where we left off last month. I was telling you of my reasons for writing.

I have another family, we mostly talk on my yahoo group. But I talk to them everyday and in many ways they feel closer than blood. A few days ago one of the family members wanted to ask some questions about Adam and Eve, my characters from my vampire series. Let me tell you this discussion became serious, funny and intense.

This is the reason for my being a writer, to move people in one way or another, to have dialogue about the things that are in my head and make their way to paper. The fact that I could write a story that elicit emotions thrill me beyond belief. Whether you hate a character for whatever reason, I have still done what a writer tries to do and that is to involve you enough so that the story has some impact on you. My aim is to make readers think, to question, to wonder, to learn.

And the fact that my Yahoo family fought so hard with me, makes me even happier as a person and a writer. They understand that they are valued by me and that their opinions count. They are not afraid to voice their opinions and tell me what MY characters really meant. I love it. I love that we talk about the characters as though they are real. I love that they get angry with them and want to try and change their minds and influence them. The truth of it is I don't want anyone agreeing with me for the sake of agreeing with me. That's not who I am.

Now here we go back to the contrariness that Lisa G, thinks I indulge in on a regular basis. If everyone agreed with me I would do something to change that. For instance if I thought the sky was a beautiful orange and everyone agreed I would then say, "you know what I think it's yellow." I love to argue for the sake of argument, it's true. But I like honesty and honest opinions. I like people who stand firm by their beliefs even if their beliefs differ with mine on characters that I created. This is why I write.

And then of course we know that as much as I like to win the argument I like it even more that people find what I write and the ability to tell me face to face (sort of) to be the icing on the cake. The reason I can enjoy all of this is simple. If I don't like what my Yahoo family has to say and if they don't agree with me in the end, after all of my compelling arguments, I can simply write a scene and kill them off. That's why I write. LOL. Next month I'll share with you what readers expect from writers and why I can't give it. I hope I have you curious. See you next month.

Happy Friday the 13th


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Character Chart

Here's simple character chart that can give readers an idea of how we use the information from the psychology of character. Nothing complicated. Just a simple tool to help us organize our thoughts.

Character Sketch Material

This is not a comprehensive list. You’ll need to adapt it to reflect your character’s personality.

Name of Character:

Physical Characteristics
General Appearance, or impressions (good-looking, clean, neat, untidySex
Hair Color
Eye Color
Skin Color
Voice Quality (breathless, gruff, stuttering, accent, regional dialect)
Shape of Head, face, Limbs, Posture
Unusual Physical Characteristics (scars, disabilities, birthmarks, etc.)
Nervous Habit

Sociological Characteristics

Social Class
Home Life (relationships with family members)
Sex Life
Marital Status/Children
Place in Community

Psychological Characteristics

Dominant Trait
Temperament (aggressive, passive, friendly, etc.)
Attitude toward life (pessimist, optimist, militant)
Strength or Abilities (IQ, judgement, taste, poise, miserly, generous, etc.)
Weaknesses, Character Flaws
Frustrations, Disappointments
Defense Mechanism (rationalization, procrastination, anger, etc.)
Sexual attitudes

From J.M. Jeffries

It took me all morning to get into Blogger. And typing today is going to take longer, my grandson insists I wear a Batman bandage on my cut finger. Makes typing really hard because my finger can't feel the keys and I'm a touch typist.

Jackie and I are always delighted to be here. It's a beautiful day in sunny SoCal, but cold. Okay, relative to the rest of the country it's a balmy 65 degrees today, but I'm cold. If you ask Jackie I'm cold in the middle of the summer when the temp is 110 in the shade.

The other day Jackie and I were brainstorming a new story and ended up talking about creating characters. I don't do much teaching anymore, but I got to thinking that maybe people here would like to know what we do to create our characters. I call it the psychology of character.

There are four main elements of creating a character that lives and breathes on the page: name, sociological profile, physical profile and psychological profile.

NAME: Every character must have a name and not just any name, but one that suits the character, the period of time the character lives in (the ever present now or the past), and global location (characters who were born and grew up in France, or Greece, are going to have very different names than characters who lived and grew up in California or even Texas). Names are important. When you are at a party, the first thing you say when you meet someone is to say, "Hi, my name is..." Your characters need to do the same thing. They should introduce themselves to the reader as soon as possible because writing a book is entering into a contract with a reader. Part of the contract is the process of bonding the character to the reader and to do that you first need a name. Make it a good name. Who can forget Scarlett O'Hara, or Jack Ryan, or Indiana Jones? These are names that will live on for a long, long time. Ebenezer Scrooge. Daffy Duck. Micky Mouse. Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Oliver Twist, Fagin. Choose your names with care because they speak directly to the reader and start the first step of the bonding process.

PHYSICAL PROFILE: What does your character look like? What color eyes, hair, skin tone? Height? Weight? Gender? How does your character dress? Everything about how the character looks should enhance the character in some way. Step two is probably the most simple element and the easiest to create.

SOCIOLOGICAL PROFILE: Step three is your character's relationship with all the other characters populating the story as well as past relationships and the development of future relationships. Characters will have different relationships with different characters. Their relationships with family members and parents will be quite different than business relationships or social relationships.

PSYCHOLOGICAL PROFILE: What is your character like inside? What makes them tick? How do they problem solve? This profile is about your character's relationship with him or herself. A writer needs to know everything that goes on inside a character's head and how past influences impact on current events in the character's life. How is your character going to react? Feel? Think? What will your character do now or do next? This final step regarding your character is the most powerful and complex part in creating a lasting bond with the reader and requires the most work for the author.

Many writers create character charts, others find photos of what they perceive their character looks likes. Many writers will create binders about their character and enter every detail of the character that comes to them. In this manner they have their information in front of them when they are writing. Character charts, simple or elaborate, help writers keep information organized. Not every writer creates a chart, but even before they sit down to write, they know their characters inside and out. A friend likes to imagine what his character's closet looks like. He sits down on the floor and imagines all the things that would be in that closet and why the character purchased them, or kept them past their usefulness. This is a good exercise for every writer.

Characters are like onions, you peel a layer away and another deeper, more profound layer emerges until you've peeled all the layers away and the core emerges. So go create a character and let your imagination run with this information.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Too Hot to Handle (It's Only Research!)

I’m a “police and thief” fan – CSI, Law & Order, The Closer and Burn Notice are some of my favorite shows. Often there’s a brainiac computer whiz who scours the suspect’s hard drive and comes up with enough damning evidence to send him or her straight to the Big House.

One day soon I plan to buy a new laptop. Mine has done yeoman’s duty for two and a half years. It gives me what I want, but takes too long to get it. And unless I can figure out a way to wipe it as clean as a whistle, I won’t be donating this one to charity. My hard drive is too hot to handle (lol).

When I was ghost writing for a few publications, the storylines had to be smoking hot. But even the most vivid imagination can go but so far. I needed to do a virtual “walk on the wild side.” And what a trip – type in a few key words and anything is bound to pop up. Some made me laugh out loud. Others made me want to slam my laptop shut and take a long hot shower.

One of the laughs-out-loud was a guy who had (1) been anatomically Photoshopped or (2) walked with his third leg dragging the ground. He gripped his equipment with great pride. But the come-hither picture was a dud – instead of sexy he looked like a goofy Animal Planet host who’d just discovered the world’s longest albino snake.

Maybe that’s why I get a spate of spam: “turn your trouser mouse into an anaconda!” “Find jungle passion!” And the German spam – what in the heck is “Blasen Blasen (Kein Sex)?” Maybe that one isn’t German, but I’ve gotten so much in the language that I may soon become fluent enough to get in trouble in a German bar.

More than once I’ve had to close my computer down when one of my sons was visiting. I think they suspect me of closet freakiness anyway. One night I had fallen asleep during a PG Cinemax movie, only to be awakened by a shocked “what are you looking at?” Since I was asleep it couldn’t have been more than sheep jumping over logs. Imagine my surprise when I sat up to see the girl with the pearls in “Pimps Up, Hos Down.” Instead of keeping the entire collection of Bronze Thrills, Black Romance and True Romance magazines for which I had written, I tore out my stories and stapled them together with the cover. One day my sons were helping me move a desk and the pile fell over. “How to Striptease” turned up. It was on the back of my story; I told them as much, but I don’t think they believed me. And if I told them it was only research, they’d still be laughing.

So…what’s on your hard drive? Any research stories of your own?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

And How Are You Doing?

Sometimes we fail to stop and ask ourselves this simple yet important question. Our lives are cluttered with responsibilities as we struggle to keep up with life's busy demands, in return making us unaware of our very own well being. We find ourselves caught up in society's pressures of being the perfect husband, the perfect wife, father, mother, boss,employee and the list goes on and on. We find ourselves taking on the superman or superwoman role of I can do everything and come out on top, not realizing the damage we are doing to our innerman. Mentally and physically we become drain. When was the last time you became the perfect you? Have you taken the time to get enough rest, eat healthier, excercise or gone to a spa? What about a physical checkup? Do you remember the last time you took a day do what you wanted to do or to do nothing at all? Can you remember the last time you read a good book or watch one of your favorite movies? When was the last time you took a long walk, or a long ride for that matter and it wasn't in busy traffic on your way to work? When was the last time you had a vacation? Finally distressing and taking the time to relax is an equal part of becoming the perfect you. Now I ask you again. And How Are You Doing?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Raise your Voice

I went to my local chapter meeting this weekend and listened to our speaker, Tracy Wolff. She raised some very interesting points....Her topic was about "voice" and it got me thinking about how important it is.

I'm not one of those writers who only reads the genre in which I write. Contrary, I indulge in everything from historical, paranormal to women's fiction. What I love is finding the right voice and storytelling that would sweep me away from reality for a few hours. I like to be entertained and I'll know in the first few pages if I'm going to want to finish the book. There are some voices that I don't care much for, no matter how many endorsement from friends. It's really a matter of preference. This doesn't mean I won't give the book a try, but it got me thinking. Editors are the same way. They know what they like, what they're looking for, and they want more of whatever it is that grabs them. Maybe my storyline or writing style doesn't resonate with some editors, but it may with others. That's the beauty in diversity and individualism of writers. Every author has a specific imprint in their storytelling and certain phrases or nuances in writing reminds the reader that it's them. When an author's writing voice reaches the right person, you've got a new friend. Someone who will follow you through your next few dozen or hundred books. That's what makes each writer unique and identifiable. That's why it's important for an author to stick to the style that fits them, represents them. When your writing voice is distinct, no matter what genre you write, you're going to captivate your audience.

The Multi-Ethnic and Multicultural market is proving that voice is important and it's making a difference. There's something refreshing and new that comes out of a writer who can share their cultural lifestyle with their readers in an informative, yet entertaining way. I've often frequented bookstores, anywhere from chain to independents, and I smile knowing that diversity is being celebrated. It's becoming more acceptable and generating interest with readers who may not have read our books otherwise. There are a lot of East Indian, Asian, African American and Latino books available, more so than in past years. Because these types of books are more visible, it's reaching a wider demographic, even paving the way for our youth to enjoy all the unique writing voices out there.

I could have stuck to writing books that focuses on Caucasian heroes and heroines, yet I chose to write Multi-Ethnic stories because it's a celebration of my cultural background and my love for both worlds, Eastern and Western. My writing voice is very 'me' and not necessarily focused on race. I think that's what will make me stand out. I'm not afraid to admit that I am a mix of two incredible worlds and I hope I am one of the many new voices of this generation...where race is not the focal point but the storytelling and the showcasing of who I am in these books.