Posts Tagged With: writers

Chasing the sun

First things first, thank you Layna for covering for me on the 23rd, feel better real soon Mia, congratulations Tari Lynn, and welcome new followers! It’s gonna take a moment to get to know you all. 😉

And hi, my name is Dita, and I’m not the silent partner, I’ve been on the road, traveling the west coast of Thailand. The sun is in short supply but great demand this time of year up here (Scandinavia), so we travel in search of it as often as we can. Plus the world may be cruel and crazy, but it’s also full of beauty and wonder and I grab every chance of seeing it, warts and all!

Spot the differences, or should I say similarities, if you can find any. Last week (sorry for the blotches, taken in water):

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This week:

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It’s been snowing ever since we returned so there’s no going out without seven layers of clothing and Hubby, who’s been mucho macho about removing everything by hand, is eyeing some heavy-duty snow blowers. No wonder, we’re jet-lagged and travel-worn and I’m having serious trouble getting my game on, but I find it a good tired, a happy tired where your head swims with all you’ve seen and heard, smelled, touched and tasted.

I don’t think a writer’s mind ever vacations. Without even noticing, you’re always on a hunting and gathering expedition, taking in the world with all your senses and tucking things away for later use. Some new/renewed sights and sensations gathered along the way:

Sand fine as flour, white as talc

A tangerine sun setting over azure waters

Stars by the thousands (Living in a city, you never really get to see them.)

Fish in every color you care to imagine (I found Nemo!)

Sea snakes and baby sharks

Sharing your toilet with ants, spiders and mosquitoes, and feeling you’re the intruder (Obviously their turf and trail until someone built a toilet on it.)

Locust concertos, as if conducted. Crescendo, furioso, diminuendo.

Curry. Red, yellow and green. Chili, lemongrass and kaffir lime. (Yummy and oh so hot.)

Beer (which I rarely drink). There’s not always water to be had but there’s always, always, beer. Seriously. (No, the kids didn’t have beer, they had colas in a pinch, but the recipe was so artificially syrupy I chose beer.)

Fruit, the way it’s supposed to taste (Papaya so ripe it smells like barf but tastes like sugary butter. Hmm-mmm.)

Jellyfish burns (Have managed to avoid them all my life. Well, they got me now.)

The silence of the sea, interrupted by fish nibbling on coral (You can totally hear it. You can! I have footage!! Recordings!!!)

Falling asleep to the crashing waves

A police boat in the middle of a field, tossed way inland by the tsunami of 2004

The smell of puke mixing with engine fumes, and seventy more minutes to go (Makes even the strongest stomach roil.)

The salty breeze. Balm to the skin, balm to the soul.

Holding on for dear life in the back of a pickup truck going 55 mph/90 kmh. Your ride.

Tropical thunderstorms. There’s rain and then there’s Rain.

One of my Hydroterra Shandals dying on me at a Really Bad Moment

Sweating up a mountainside. “Madam follow trail.” (Madam couldn’t see a trail, only a barely there path in the jungle. The view was totally worth the grime and climb.)

And a myriad other things waiting to be digested. I wish I could report I had some awesome holiday sex, but no such luck this time around, we traveled with kids in tow 24/7, and you bet it was frustrating having my hot man from the cold parade his half-naked self around me all day long. It was a tease of a two weeks, but we’re home now and uh oh look a the word count, I’m tiring you all out, aren’t I?

Travel heightens your capability for and sense of wonder because you’re removed from the common and comfortable and taken Elsewhere where they do things differently. The farther removed from your everyday existence the better, methinks. But more on that on my blog later today, if and when I get my thoughts in order. By the 23rd, I should have gotten my smut on. And you can take that any way you like because that’s what you’ll do anyway. 😉

Until then, have a sexcellent carnival weekend, 69ers!

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When authors attack

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Authors have been behaving badly lately, have you noticed? They’ve been caught creating fake online identities to praise themselves and trash others. Some have been busted for buying positive reviews for their books while one-starring and bad-mouthing the competition. One jilted author attacked an agent, IRL, and that is no laughing matter, that is plain scary.

Unfortunately, this sort of behavior is nothing new, and it certainly isn’t restricted to writers. Through the ages, politicians, reporters, artists, academics, companies, whole governments have deployed immoral and unethical tactics to promote themselves, demote others, conceal the truth, bend it or rewrite it. Words carry immense power, as anyone ever moved, enraged, galvanized or consoled by them will tell you. They are a vehicle for truth, lies, change and unrest. And rarely something you can overlook when they are aimed straight at you.

When my debut with Ellora’s Cave released, I had no idea what sort of reviews it would garner, if any. EC has a rating system for registered users. And what was the first rating Alex Rising received and fast? An anonymous two stars out of five, meaning, Could be better. No explanation as to what exactly Ms./Mr. Anonymous objected to. Fair enough, I thought. It wasn’t to their taste but hey, at least they gave it a try. Plus leaving a rating without elaborating is not very helpful to other readers, so maybe it wouldn’t hurt the book.

Sabotage, my friends screamed, but how would that work? It might discourage someone from buying my book but not make readers buy yours unless you had a sock puppet recommend, “For a great ménage, read Author X instead.” But I’m not going to lie. I felt bad that was all that stood there for the longest time until a reader voiced their opinion, then a review site, then more readers.

All I could hope for was that most readers felt like I do. I’ve disagreed with reviews so many times, I’ve stopped paying too much attention to them, unless all of them state the book is seriously flawed on some elemental level, e.g. so poorly edited it’s distracting. Taste is a subjective issue. Online reviews are for the most part someone’s personal opinion. But in the light of all that has been revealed lately, are professional, seemingly more objective sites and reviewers any more trustworthy than the anonymous rave or rant?

Bottom line: Do reviews matter? Do you trust them or question them? What influences your decision to buy a book, especially if it’s a new to you author? Is it the

Blurb
Cover
Excerpt/Teasers
(Sub-)Genre/Subject matter
Book length
Buzz
Word of mouth/Recommendations
Reviews
Awards
Ranking
Price
Discount/Offer
Other (what?)

A new to just about everyone author would love to know, so please have your say in comments.

P.S. If there is one thing I would like to ask of everyone posting reviews, it’s this: Pls pls pls no spoilers, m’kay? No. Spoilers. At least alert your fellow readers to the fact you’re about to dish out, m’kay? M’kay. Smexy Sunday. And thanks for playing.

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Words are all we have*

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Some things in this life you never get to experience. Because you’re a man and not a woman or vice versa. Because you’ll never travel to other galaxies or the other side of the globe. Because some things are illegal. Out of bounds, for whatever reason. Still, you’d love to know what it feels like. Enter time machine, travel agency and magic carpet number one: art. Special Mention: books.

Movie makers go on location. Theater makes use of props. Writers build worlds using words. Good actors make you forget they’re imitating life. Good writers do the same with dialogue and description. Photographers snap a shot, painters paint a picture. Writers can fit all creation into a single sentence.

Words are our tool and make believe is our trade. Still much of that make believe is based on or was inspired by actual fact. Real countries and cities, historical figures and incidents, scientific findings, visions for the future. Some draw upon personal experience and write about their field of expertise, some depend on the knowledge gathered by others and imagine the rest.

Imagining is the fun part. And it’s the tricky part. Unless you’re writing sci-fi, speculative, fantasy or paranormal, you have to get a fair amount of facts right. Geography, history and the laws of nature…mess with those too much and risk the wrath of many a disgruntled reader. I know how that feels. I’m a reader, and a viewer. There are currently two TV ads playing over here that supposedly take place in Brazil. And everyone speaks Spanish. Spanish! Brazilians speak Portuguese!! It drives me up the wall.

Seeking information has never been easier than in our day and age. It’s also never been easier to be led astray, to be misinformed, if you go to the wrong source. Moral of the story: Don’t assume anything. Check the facts. Double-check them. And if you bend the truth, be prepared to be slapped for it. I love researching stuff for my books because I’m so damn curious. You never know what you may find! You learn a lot on the way, things you may need later. Then again, very little of what you dig up may end up in your book. Still, most of it helps you get in the mood, create an overall feel, and pass it on to your readers.

And what of inner sceneries? I’ve always thought writing is a lot like acting with the exception that you don’t have a role to play, you play them all. (Plus direct after writing the script, do costume and set design, dialect coach… The whole shebang, really.) Every character has a history that colors everything they do. They have individual strengths and weaknesses, their own objectives, wants and needs, and different strategies to overcome obstacles. Imagine building all those inner sceneries, keeping them at the front of your mind all the time but never letting it show. That’s good acting. And that’s good writing.

In Perpetual Pleasure, I got to imagine what it would feel like to be immortal, never changing or aging. I got to live the life of a professional stunt performer. I got to be an old gent in a magical city three hundred years in the making. And the sex I got to have…holy hell! It all took quite a bit of research and a fair amount of imagination. And putting it all together is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. Speaking of which…

Hey lady! Where’s my smut? It’s coming August 31 from Ellora’s Cave, thanks for asking! Since I now have the final copy, and since you’ve all read the official excerpt, right *hint hint wink wink*, I want to treat you to a new one, one that picks up where the first left off. But first I want to ask you something.

Readers! What sort of things kill a book for you, crash the magic carpet? Have you ever wanted to write an author and explain to them everything you believe they got wrong in a book? Did you write them? Scribes! Have you taken liberties with facts, knowingly or unaware, and been slapped for it? Do you enjoy researching your books or does it sometimes feel like a necessary evil? Inquiring minds want to know.

Sexcellent weekend, everyone!

*Samuel Beckett

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