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Love is Great!

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A couple months ago I was hanging out at my Mother-in-law’s place and we were talking about a wedding video Ben and I were going to make for Ben’s cousin and my Mother-in-law looks at me all serious-like and says ‘do you even care about romance?’.  She really thought I wasn’t a romantic and it made me laugh.  I’m not really into super white weddings and traditional (boring) stuff like that, but I love love.  I really do.

Ben and I met in a forest, in the dead of the night, foam swords clutched tightly in our hands. We were at a Live Action Role Playing game and I had gone there to find love.  When I was searching for Ben I worked my ass off to find love.  I went on on a million dates (and rejected all of them) and I refused to settle for anything less than true love.  Ben tells me when he first saw my bleach blonde hair that night in the forest it was like a beacon, drawing him home.  I still get shivers thinking about it.  At the end of the weekend in good heroic knightly fashion Ben ‘gave me his sword’.  Two weeks later he moved in and we haven’t been apart ever since.  Love is fucking awesome.

I love love so much in fact that stories without it don’t really do it for me.  The love story doesn’t have to be a main storyline or anything, but if it’s not there I get kind of bored and my attention wanders.

Hell I love love so much I even wrote a Harlequin once.  It was the story of a woman named Kara.  Kara’s husband cheated on her (and hit her) and she had to take off to England to escape (because why not?).  She met some guy there and they fell in love but she didn’t know his secret and unfortunately neither did I (I think he might have been a prince or something), which was the reason I stopped writing 25,000 words in.  I didn’t know the plot and I also didn’t know what to do after they had sex.  It was a failed effort and I tried it when I like 20 years old or something, but it was fun because it was love.

I’ve heard people say that love isn’t important in a story and that makes me laugh.  I think people have a perception that love isn’t serious enough sometimes, or that it’s somehow frivolous.  Love is anything but frivolous though.  It’s about as serious as it gets because for most people I’ve ever met it is something they either strive to find or lament that they don’t have.  It’s a chemical preoccupation, an emotional drug, an absolute wonder.  The world loves love even if they don’t want to admit it.

We can scoff at romance novels and romantic comedies all we want, but who among us doesn’t smile (even just a little) when there’s a love twist thrown into the plot?  Who doesn’t cheer for the kiss that finally happens, or the hot sex we all saw coming from the beginning?

So I take this Valentine’s Day to say loud and proud that I love love and there is nothing better in the world than a sweet and wonderful love story.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone, I hope the cupid’s arrow finds you whoever and wherever you are!

Bonus: The word of the day on dictionary.com is ‘Schatzi’ which means darling or sweetheart!

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Self-promotion & networking

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Writing is a business.

Whether you’re penning the next bestseller or writing copy for websites about car parts, writing is a business and you (as a writer) are a business person.

So this means you have to sell, sell, sell yourself.  Self-promotion is the other half of writing.  Once the document is closed or the pen is down (or in the case of freelancing before you even start) you have to find a way to get your words out there.

Since deciding to be a writer (for reals) I’ve done a bunch of research on the subject of how to break into the world of writing.  There are (obviously) different rules for freelancing than there are for being a novelist, but the idea is the same.  Here’s some knowledge on the subject I have accumulated whilst researching.

Platform

Agents like a platform, so do readers.  A platform is basically a soapbox upon which you stand to blast your message out into the virtual world.  It could involve a blog, twitter feed, facebook page and linkedin profile, ideally with thousands of followers who are super interested in the words you have to say.  A lot of writers write about writing (like this blog for example) and themselves, they write about their books and engage with fans.  If you are an unpublished writer like myself (for the moment) it is a good place to get your voice out there and say stuff.  For self-publishers, a platform is a good way to sell people on your writing and get yourself out to the public, it also allows you a place to sell your books and build your brand.  For freelancers, a platform is sweet because it allows you a place to send potential clients to give them a taste of how you write and also link them to your portfolio.  Having a well rounded platform is a launch pad for greatness in the future and gives you a place online to send all your adoring fans as they pile up after you publish your first book.

Why not?  Start a blog about your life and interests.  Make yourself a twitter feed for short, but sweet messages to the world.  Start a facebook page and invite your friends to ‘like’ you.

Talk your face off

Gone are the days of being a reclusive writer, shunning the world and swooning alone in the darkness to your own sweet prose.  It’s a self-promotional world out there and even if you’re not super net-savvy you should still be getting out there and meeting people.  Conferences and writing festivals are awesome ways to get your face out there, shake hands and take numbers.  Lots of agents and publishers go to conferences and festivals to check out the new blood and it’s always good to make yourself known (agents might be more likely to look at the work of someone they meet in person).  There are also local events you can take part in, reading nights, writing groups etc…where you can get loads of information on what’s happening in the writing world.  Get out there and get involved.  Also, if you are a published author a book tour/signing or at the very least a launch party is always a good thing.  People want to see the writer who wrote the words they love.  For freelancers, get to know your market.  If you’re a medical writer, get out there to conferences and meet some doctors, talk shop and keep on top of updating your language and voice.  Shaking hands is always more memorable than e-mail.

Why not?  Look up some conferences and festivals nearby and make a plan to head out to one.  Find a local writing group and join.  Find local readings and see if you can sign up.

Look good doing it

This is a personal preference of course, but I find it’s easier to be memorable if you look good at whatever you are doing.  If you’re rocking a medical conference, dress the part, don’t walk around in your old raggedy jeans and expect people to want to do business with you.  Same goes for being an author.  If you are a romance writer, put a little oomph into your outfit.  Sci-fi writers, would a dash of silver really hurt?  Overall your presentation should match how you want people to see you and the best impressions are always made when you give it some effort.  Just because you spend 99% of your time behind a computer doesn’t mean your style can’t be snappy folks.

Why not?  Put together a couple of stellar outfits to wear to conferences and book signings.  Choose a style that reflects the type of writing you do.  Create your own personal look that is distinct and creative.

Discuss

There are loads of writing forums and blogs out there that you can get involved in.  They offer basic writing discussion as well as feedback opportunities for your work.  Forums can be a great way to meet other writers and get your name out there.  Be careful though because they can also be a time sink for your creativity.  Always remember your own writing should come first before all your pals on the boards!

Why not?  Check out some writing forums and join in the conversation.

Don’t just promote

A lot of people think social media is about promoting yourself non-stop.  You see them all the time on twitter, tweeting the same links over and over and generally driving you crazy with in-your-face promotion.  Social media is called ‘social’ for a reason.  It’s a place to discuss and engage, not shove your product into someone’s face.  You want to learn to be part of the conversation, otherwise people will just tune you out.  Saying something relevant and helpful is good, commenting on other posts or tweets is good and not overdoing the links to your books is also good.  Just think of it like a normal conversation in real life, if you just sit there repeating the same sentence over and over at people they will eventually get bored and walk away.

Why not?  Find some way to engage your community with helpful hints or personal anecdotes.  Stop tweeting the same message over and over.  Join in the conversation.

If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all

I was at a writing talk at Ryerson the other day and there was an agent there.  After all the talk of social networking and self-promotion she made sure to add in that sometimes saying something poorly is worse than not saying anything at all.  Ain’t it the truth?  Maybe you just have a knack for writing fiction and really suck at self-promotion, if that’s the case that’s okay.  There’s still the more traditional route of publishing for those who don’t want to get out there online and yammer away.  So take heart if none of the above sound like you, you can still write your heart out, get it published and be a bestseller.  At some point you may be invited to talk at conferences with or without self-promotion and at that point, the talk your face off and look good doing it points will still apply to you.

Why not? Stick to what you’re good at and just keep writing.

Anything to add?  Did I miss anything?  Let me know!

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This is a post for www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge.  One blog post a day for all of June!  Check it out at the website or on twitter: @sofluid or #wpad!

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Let’s talk about Sex (baby)

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Sex is awesome.

It’s dynamic, sexy and it makes things more interesting pretty much every time.

I have recently been writing an novel/la that involves a bunch of sex and I’ve been learning as I go about the ways in which I want to approach it.  I don’t read a lot of erotica or romance novels or even loads of stories in which there is a lot of sex, but I’ve still read enough to know what I like and what I don’t.

So here’s Star’s Dos & Don’ts for sex in stories:

Don’t

Don’t use terms like throbbing member or glistening folds or heaving bosom.  I’m sure the first time someone wrote that it was novel and maybe even evocative (probably not though) but by now it’s just dumb.

Don’t make sex sound pedestrian or clinical.  Anyone can use the words penis and vagina and tits and ass, but if you use the words too much they’re excessive and if you use them only once in awhile then they can be jarring.  There are always exceptions of course, like if you’re meaning to be shocking or you’re writing about medical kinks.

Don’t make sex a toss away.  Don’t just throw it in to be evocative, make it mean something.  Even if that something is that it means nothing, that’s better than just sticking it in where it otherwise might not belong.

Do

Remember your most exciting sexual experiences, what do you recall?  Was it the tension of the moment before the electric union?  Was it the thrill of a glance across a room?  Was it a subtle gesture?  Was it the fun after a particularly cerebral relationship?   Don’t be shy, use your experiences and your fantasies to your benefit and focus in on the things that matter most.

Think outside yourself.  Now that we have you thinking about your own experiences, think beyond that (unless of course you’re sex connoisseur and have tried everything imaginable).  Don’t be afraid of experimenting with orgies and same sex partners, kinks and fantasies.  Don’t go overboard (unless you’re writing erotica) but don’t be afraid to add a little extra.

Use sexy language.  I don’t mean dirty talk ‘ooh ooh you are such a sexy beast’, I mean find the poetry in the moment.  Think about metaphor and rhythm and try to match your tone to the pace you want to achieve.  Remember you are a wordsmith and you have free reign over the language, explore it, get sexy and have fun!

Finally and most importantly, investigate the relationships and how your characters interact.  Explore more than their physiological feelings in the moment and see what happens.  Sometimes the best sex is with someone you’ve known and loved for years, other times that could be fraught with problems.  Find out what motivates the sex and that will set the tone.  It doesn’t always have to be super passionate and steamy, it can be lonely, painful, meaningful, joyful, fun, desperate.  All of this depends on your characters relationships with themselves or others though, so dig in and go wild!

Have I missed a spot?

Let me know!