Friday, April 18, 2014

How Hard Is It To Cheat On Your Favorite Authors?

I'll admit it: I've always been a monogamous reader. Not dedicated to one author exclusively, but to a harem of authors I adore, both male and female. These are the authors I pant for, the ones whose writing makes me clutch my book buying money in my grubby little fist from the time I finish their most recent novel until the next one comes out. I love these authors so much I re-read them while I wait.

Who are these authors? For me, it's always been a short list stacked with thriller, mystery, and the occasional horror writer, including Karin Slaughter, Mo Hayder, John Connolly, Daniel Silva, Stephen King and a few other recognizable names. I'd grudgingly allow new writers onto my list based on recommendations from highly respected sources, and rarely kick anyone off. (It almost happened to you, Elizabeth George, when you killed one of my favorite characters and then wrote a book about how that killer came to kill her. I don't care what came before he shot her. I want my character back.)

If you're an avid reader, I'll bet you have a list, too. One you treasure and guard. After all, the big names are reliable. But what if you decided to cheat? Could your reading life ever be the same? If you adore reading, are the kind of person who disappears into a book, you might be surprised at how good a little promiscuity feels.

Over the last couple of years I've become reckless with my reading relationships and strayed from my favorites. It was hard at first, deciding to cheat on the authors who had given me so many characters to love, new places to explore, and clever plots to untangle. I practiced safe reading when I first started to cheat, selecting a new author only occasionally and always reading a sample before I dug in deep. Now I'm downright promiscuous when it comes to finding new authors, and will happily pick up a book by an author I've never read before.

Why did it happen? you ask. How could you betray those you love? 

It's simple: I started meeting other indie authors on Twitter and Facebook. They're interesting and accessible. They love talking about their characters, their ideas, the way they write, and what they've got in the pipeline. Before I pick up one of their books I have an idea of the voice I'll hear, the passion that feeds the story, the wild ride they'll provide. Sometimes I'm disappointed, but more often I'm pleased that I've found a book by a new writer and rush to grab the next one they publish.

Having so many new authors in my reading stable means I never have a reading dry spell. When I'm in between books, all I have to do is ask for a recommendation and we're off to the races again! And there's no jealousy from the big names - they have no idea I'm frolicking with a new author. you decide to try a little safe cheating, check out the serialized novels on Venture Galleries (click the badge to go to the site). You can sneak a sample or read the whole book for free - your choice. Then check out The Book of the Moment Club - another free way to find books. After you find new authors to love, remember that books by indie authors are reasonably priced, meaning your book buying money goes farther. Leaving you plenty of cash to buy the latest book by the big names on your list...

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Have Your Characters Ever Gone Missing?

The main character in the new series I'm writing has gone AWOL and I think I know why: she's not getting enough attention.

Her name is Maxine Leverman and she's a moody creature, even a bit of a diva. She first made herself known in AVENGERS OF BLOOD, book two of the Cass Elliot series, and hasn't shut up since. She's caused such a ruckus that I shelved plans for the third Cass Elliot novel and started working on a new series featuring Maxine. Why would someone who loves center stage disappear? I think she's in a huff because she's not front and center, so she's pouting in silence. (Not very mature, granted, but that's part of her beauty - and it gives her great room to grow.)

Life is exhausting at the moment, due to the family-type stuff we all go through, and to tax season. ("It's just math," someone said recently. I shuddered. It is math, but not as we know it, Jim. It's a soul-sucking blend of addition, subtraction, and the occasional venture into astrophysics when calculating deductions. But I digress...) Suffice to say that my time to write and my emotional capacity to even ponder this current book is limited.

And so Maxine has wandered off.

I was a little freaked out when I couldn't find my main character and ran around like a frantic parent, scouring my consciousness for any sign of her, but she wouldn't appear. Then I tried ignoring her, glancing sideways when I thought she might not be looking, but no luck there, either. I've also tried thinking about her as I fall asleep, hoping to lure her out of my subconscious, but she's not having any part of my dreams.

This current book is about Maxine's foray into the world of private detectivedom. Without her, does the story still exist? Probably not. But thankfully, there's been a surprising benefit while she's been gone: when I do have time to write or ponder, the other characters are demanding to be heard. They're spilling all kinds of good gossip about the main character and her history, and they're adding morsels about their own pasts. This story is gaining depth from unexpected angles, which is great news.

Although I'm not as frantic as I was when she first went missing, there is that nagging worry that she won't come back at all, and this book will be kaput. I hope that with a little love and attention after tax season - and maybe a new pair of Jimmy Choos (Maxine'll do almost anything for expensive shoes) - she'll decide it's worthwhile to stalk back onto the page and take the limelight again. But only time will tell.

What do you do when your characters go silent, if they do? How do you find them? Do they eventually come back and grace you with their presence, or are they gone for good?

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