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Featuring The Extra Squeeze Team

February 14, 2021 by in category Featured Author of the Month, The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , , , , ,

Each week in February we’ll be featuring The Extra Squeeze Team.

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

 

Have you a question for The Extra Squeeze Team? Send them to us by using this handy link.

Dear Extra Squeeze Team, I have a story I want to tell that is loosely based on family and friends. How do I tell my story without hurting anyone?

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

Begin by writing the complete story—beginning to end—the way you truly imagine it. Write with precision honesty without the fear of hurting anyone.

When done writing, evaluate what you have created. It is in the editing stage where you will objectively be able to decide how to share the story publicly without hurting anyone. If the finished story is meant to be fiction, you can go back and make sure physical identifiers that link to nonfiction people (like a skull tattoo on the left arm above a knife scar) are changed to protect the innocent or the not-so-innocent.

If someone has inspired you to recreate their character in a fictional world, rest assured your depiction of their internal thoughts, feelings, and motivations won’t be the tipoff that the character is loosely based on this real person; it will be the physical attributes that you choose.

Most people don’t recognize themselves in someone else’s writing unless they are told the character is modeled after them or the physical facts are eerily the same: age, body build, hair color, scars, name, physical location, profession, relationships with others, or facts from exact encounters are replayed in the work.

If the story you are telling is meant to be nonfiction, you have a different issue. In a biography or a memoir, you need to tell the truth as you know it, but you must also share your truth in a way that can be formally substantiated by the research of others. If you are afraid you might hurt someone by telling the truth in your work and you are naming names across your work, you need to consult an attorney before publication because hurting feelings may result in a lawsuit.

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

 

Cue dramatic music:

Deep Voice Over: The names in this story have been changed to protect the innocent.

That’s a start. Every writer works from what they know — even if they’re writing about elves and spaceships and unicorns. Our own experiences are what we draw on to launch our imagination. And it’s the real-life situations that often give a writer the rich soil for a gripping tale.

Just write the story. When you’ve laid it all out, step away for some distance then read it with fresh eyes to spot what might be so obvious as to be hurtful. If you find the narrative is obvious, even though it is based loosely on family and friends, then consider what the compelling idea is in this tale. What was the single most gripping element that made you want to write about it in the first place? Take that compelling idea and re-write from that prospective.

Or just start with that single compelling idea rather than with the cast of friends and family. Stories have a way of charting their own course and it’s very likely, that with that shift in perspective your story will be unique enough to withstand the scrutiny of sensitive family and friends.

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

 

I have used family and friends for inspiration in many of our books. For the most part if I didn’t tell the individual who inspired me, they did not recognize themselves. If I did tell them I was going to do it, most of them were thrilled.

Then there came a time when I happily told my sister I had used our age differences as the foundational inspiration for my story. (she is fourteen years younger than I am and we were born on the same day). She was thrilled­–until she read the book. She asked, “Is this really what you think of me?” To be fair she was the bitchy, beautiful sister accused of murder, and I was the smart but downtrodden attorney who saves her.

It had nothing to do with real life other than the span in our ages. Still, when she asked that question, I understood that there was a difference between inspiration and hitting close to home including the perception of hitting close to home.

The answer was, no, the character in no way was my sister. Their physical characteristics were the same, not their character.

What you’re talking about is even more delicate. You are going to be exploring actual things that happened to you and your family. If this is an honest memoir you need to be ready for the fallout. If this is fiction, you’ll need to be very skillful when you write to navigate the hurt feelings—or worse— that might arise. Ask yourself a) is this book is necessary to your well-being and b) if you are strong enough to face any and all consequences that will come with writing it. You are the only one who knows the answers.

H. O. Charles | A Slice of Orange

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array


Ooooh *eyes widen* “awaits gossip*
I think the only way to do that is to write under a pseudonym and don’t tell them about it. People aren’t always as stupid as we hope they are. They’ll figure out it’s them in no time!

The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

Send us your questions! 

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The Extra Squeeze Team: February Featured Author

February 7, 2021 by in category Featured Author of the Month, The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , , , , , , ,

Each week in February we’ll be featuring The Extra Squeeze Team.

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

 

Have you a question for The Extra Squeeze Team? Send them to us by using this handy link.

Do I have to write in the same genre? | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Dear Extra Squeeze Team: Do I HAVE to Keep Writing in the Same Genre?

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

Switching genres is not a black and white issue but a function of the writer’s objective.

 

Writers by nature are a curious, opinionated and creative bunch. That means there is a tendency to write about whatever inspired them. Sadly this impulsive creativity wars with, and can undermine, the business of being creative.

 

So, if you are a writer whose primary concern is to explore all levels of your craft, writing in many different genres will be fulfilling. But if your primary concern were to use your writing to build a creative business, it would be wise to stick to one genre. Here is why:

 

1) Concentrating on one genre creates a dedicated fan base.

2) One genre allows the author to create a cohesive personal brand

3) Readers will know where to find you on the bookshelf whether it is in a brick and mortar or a digital bookstore.

4) Writers usually excel in one genre. To write in a completely different genre that is not as strong as your primary one only serves to dilute your brand.

 

This is not to say you can’t have diversity in your writing career. If you’re a thriller writer, it can take months to craft a 100,000-word novel. Writing shorter genre romantic suspense might satisfy your desire to write in a separate genre, allow you to bring out more books each year, and your output will still appeal to your fan base while growing a cross-over fan base in romantic suspense. Do you write fantasy? Then try magical realism. Do you write romance? Cross over to women’s fiction or sagas. Just remember to make your secondary market tangential to your primary.

 

New writers may want to try on different genres for size to find out where their strengths lie. Established authors who want to try a completely different genre may want to consider a pseudonym. Either way, the first thing to do is decide what your career objective is and then make a genre plan to meet it.

 

[tweetshare tweet=”Dear Extra Squeeze Team: Do I HAVE to keep writing in the same genre?” username=”@A_SliceofOrange”]

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

No, of course not. You can write in any genre you desire. The outcome of that would depend on how much weight you place on each side of art vs business of writing equation.

 

If you weigh in about equal between writing as your expressive art and the business of making that art pay (either recognition or income) you’re well aware of the importance of branding your work for a particular audience. You know the effort involved in creating an online author presence, beginning with a body of solid work, which is publicized and supported by blogs, reviews, interviews, twitter, newsletters, Face Book etc.  It takes time and consistent work to build an author platform and a fan base. Your fans find you and stick with you because they want to read the genre you’re writing in, they expect to read that genre and because you are good enough at that genre to either be building, or have built, a solid following.

 

Traditional publishers shy away from letting an author branch out into a different genre. They don’t want to upset an established cash cow. In that respect the traditional marketing model is similar to the Indie model. Poor A. A. Milne — he really wanted to write murder mysteries (he published one: The Red House Mystery) but his publisher would never let him taint the image of Christopher and friends.  There are major exceptions; J. K. Rowling and Anne Rice are two. Both of these fabulous authors had a huge, loyal fan base before they made the genre jump. When you write that well most of us will follow blindly! I know I do and I’ve not been disappointed.

 

If you know you have great stories in you that cross genre typing you can always publish one genre under a nom de plume. That’s very common. Eventually a well-known writer gets outed as the person behind the false moniker but by that time she’s hooked a whole new audience so everyone is happy.

 

Writing in different genres is, I think, an excellent way to exercise and grow your writing skills. Just the difference in voice between the lady of an Edwardian romance and the female warrior of a dungeons and dragons fantasy would require a major stretch of skills. Add plot mechanics, atmosphere and secondary characters and you’re running a writing marathon. That’s the kind of practice that really sharpens a writer’s eye. I’d never discourage that.

 

The important thing to remember if you want to successfully write in more than one genre is to be sure you can excel in one of them first.

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

No, you don’t have to keep writing in the same genre. But, why would you leave?

 

Over the years, authors have privately shared many reasons for making big shifts in their writing careers.

 

  • Sometimes you start out in the wrong place, and your efforts just aren’t working.
  • Sometimes you change so much as you grow professionally that your story interests carry you to a new genre.
  • Sometimes the original genre changes and you no longer feel at home creating the types of stories you once enjoyed.

 

As a writer, you are a talent-driven brand, and talent-driven brands are fueled by passion.  So, it always makes sense to follow your passion.  However, passion can sometimes be mistaken for a whim.  So, think hard about the shift you are contemplating.  Prepare for what could be ahead.

 

From a PR, Marketing, and Sales perspective think about desired outcomes before you decide to leave your readers and move.

 

  • Consider the risks and the benefits to the business side of your creativity.
  • Take a critical look at what you are building—there is more than your written work at stake.
  • In addition to the books you are creating, you are also steadily building a community of readers.  Jumping ship to another genre will be like moving from your beloved neighborhood to a new community.  The readers you got to know over here may not go with you over there when you leave.  They may like you enough to come visit, but it is likely that they won’t come by often.

PR-wise, you are starting over when you begin to write in a new genre.  Even if you keep writing for your original genre, you will still be starting over reader-wise with your new work. Still, just like in the real world with an apartment or a starter home, a simple move can be just what you needed to live happily ever after.

H. O. Charles | A Slice of Orange

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array


 

When you find out, please let me know because I am about to publish a(n) historical fiction novel (after years of writing in fantasy!).

 

There’s no reason why an author wouldn’t have the *ability* to write in another genre, as long as the enthusiasm and skill for it is there. The main thing that I’d be concerned about is audience. The audience you build up whilst writing for one genre may not enjoy your new genre, and it may be that only die-hard fans will want to make the crossing, so to speak. And if they did, the resulting reviews and sales could go either way. Essentially you’d be back at square 1, or perhaps square 1.43, in building a readership for your books.

 

I wonder if JK Rowling’s endeavour with crime fiction (Robert Galbraith) might serve as a useful source of information. The books were released under a different pseudonym (just as Nora Roberts’ publisher insisted), although this was at JK’s behest since she wanted to “go back to the beginning of a writing career in this new genre, to work without hype or expectation and to receive totally unvarnished feedback.”

 

On one hand, she received positive reviews as a ‘debut author’, but only sold 1,500 copies in the three months before her true identity was revealed (I say only – that’s not bad going for many authors out there!).

 

When it was revealed that Galbraith was Rowling, sales shot through the roof, but still only half as many people have written reviews for those books as have done so for the Potter series. From that, I would suggest that if your performance in your first genre is good, then it can only help build a readership for your new genre, but don’t expect sales to match those of your first genre. However, if your foray into your new genre is flawed for any reason, I suppose *potentially* it could negatively affect your existing reputation.

 

Without having published my non-fantasy book yet, I say go for it. It’s a great way to learn and explore new techniques, approaches, worlds and really grow as an author. I’m really enjoying doing something different.

The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

Send them your writing and publishing questions 

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February Featured Authors: The Extra Squeeze Team

February 1, 2021 by in category Featured Author of the Month, The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , , , , , , ,

Each week in February we’ll be featuring The Extra Squeeze Team.

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

 

Have you a question for The Extra Squeeze Team? Send them to us by using this handy link.

From The Extra Squeeze Archives

Is the F word a bomb?

We’ve read books with it all over the place and yet notice that readers object to it.

Does anyone really like using it?

Would another word do?

When is it necessary?

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

Is the F word a bomb?

What kind of fucking question is that?


What kind of friggin’ question is that?


What kind of question is that?

Actually, this is a great question and one I am happy to weigh in on because the use of the F-word had an impact it had on my career.

I began my career as a romance writer (I was fired from this gig because I kept killing characters before they fell in love. My editor suggested a genre change.) I never used the F-word when I wrote romance. When I moved to contemporary women’s fiction I used it sparingly in these longer, more intricately plotted books (the word was only uttered by bad guys).

 

When I upped the ante and moved into a male dominated genre – legal thrillers – everything changed. Writing became tighter, characters multi-faceted, plots ‘torn from the headlines’ were much grittier. In my writing the F-bomb was spoken by hard charging attorneys and socially marginalized criminals alike to underscore their tenacity for fighting for justice in the former instance or illustrate disdain for the system in the latter.

 

Hostile Witness* was the first book where I really let loose. Lots of male thriller writers used the word, why not me? My editor at Penguin/Putnam had no problem with it and approved the book. When the Hostile Witness was traditionally published, I received no letters of complaint.

 

Then came the Internet. I republished the first three books of the Witness Series* and readers started posting reviews as easily as they clicked their Kindle. I remember the first bad review I received because of my use of the F word. It said, “The language in this book is vile. I will never read this author again.”

 

That stopped me cold, so I went back to the files and searched how many times I had used the F-word. I was shocked and embarrassed by what I found. In my quest to establish myself as a hard-edged thriller writer, I had gone overboard. Using profanity to the degree I had took the reader out of the story at best and offended them at worst. I asked myself, was there a better way to write a scene? A better way to inform a character? Had I been a lazy author and fallen back on a word rather than my skill to get a point across?

 

The answer to all these questions was yes. Now I use the word friggin’ or cut the word off at Fu­ — and let the reader’s mind fill in the blank. Bottom line, I took the review to heart, objectively looked at my work and made an informed decision before I re-edited the book. Did I lose anything by banning the F-word?

(F-word deleted) no.

 

*Hostile Witness is Free to readers.

**Sign up for my mailing list and get Hostile Witness and the Spotlight Novella, Hannah’s Diary, Free.

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

The Urban Dictionary defines ‘F-bomb’ as “the strongest weapon in one’s verbal arsenal” (a bit extreme, but it makes the point). Is it necessary to use in fiction? No, not necessary, but sometimes appropriate. The plot, the scene, the character, the action, the tone can all come together to make the F-word the only adjective or expletive that works. In that case, it should be a shocker – a strong, realistic part of the narrative rhythm. The word should be chosen with consideration and, by all the writing gods, don’t overuse it. Repetition strips the word of any value; it just becomes distasteful, silly and embarrassingly adolescent.

It wasn’t long ago a writer would never consider using the word, nor would a publisher let them, although the F word was understood to have the strength of a bomb.

from The Maltese Falcon (Dashiell Hammett, 1930)

The boy spoke two words, the first a short guttural verb, the second ”you”.

“People lose teeth talking like that.” Spade’s voice was still amiable though his face had become wooden.

Great, right!? There are so many options for word smithing around the F-word but that requires thought and skill. Too many authors take the easy way out and use it as verb, adjective and noun. That’s just lazy or the mark of a poor writer.

I recently ran across this Amazon review:

I gave it 5 stars, because the writing, the sense of humor the detective has, and the story! All great! In fact, you are such a good writer, you don’t need to use the “F” word as much as you do! Your characters are great without it!

Such a good writer…you don’t need to use… the reviewer said. That’s exactly what I mean.

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array


Well, a bomb is something designed to explode on impact, so I guess if you want to f-bomb effectively, it needs to be unexpected! In that case, it’ll only detonate properly in the most delicate, sweetest and appeasing of godly novels! But, of course, readers don’t always like to be shocked so hard that they fall off their chairs, and using language that is not in-keeping with the story will only make it jar, in my opinion. As writers, we aim to torture and make our readers emotional from time to time, but there’s intent and then there’s intent.

 

I don’t mind using swear words – their offensiveness changes over time, and the F-bomb (being polite for you all here), is hardly the most offensive word or phrase out there at the moment. In some novels it’s absolutely appropriate to include swearing, and the target readership will reflect that. I do think over-reliance on a single swear word is a negative thing though. There are so many varied ways of swearing, and it’s up to the author to come up with setting- or character-appropriate vocabulary. In my fantasy novels, I frequently use ‘follocks!‘ (an obvious portmanteau of f**k and boll**ks), because it conveys the emotion I want, but also carries humour and sets the imaginary world apart from this one.

What do you think of using the F-word in fiction? Let us know in the comments.

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Janet Elizabeth Lynn and Will Zeilinger Featured Authors

January 28, 2021 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Featured Author of the Month, Partners in Crime by Janet Elizabeth Lynn & Will Zeilinger tagged as , , , , ,

January Featured Authors

Janet Elizabeth Lynn was born in Queens and raised in Long Island, New York. She is the author of murder mysteries, cozy mysteries and with her husband Will Zeilinger, 1950s hard-boiled detective mysteries.

Will Zeilinger has lived and traveled the world and has been writing for over ten years. His novels range from mystery to romantic comedy and those 1950s hard-boiled detective mysteries with his wife Janet.

Partners in Crime

Together Janet and Will write the Skylar Drake Mystery Series. These hard-boiled tales are based in old Hollywood of 1955. They have a free E-book How it Began: The Skylar Drake Mysteries available from Smashwords.

Their world travels have sparked several ideas for murder and crime stories. In 2021, they will team up will a penname E.J. Williams for a new mystery series. The first novel in the International Crime Files, Stone Pub will be published in May.

Chatting With Authors

In addition to writing novels, Janet and Will have a YouTube Channel, Chatting with Authors featuring informal Zoom interviews with authors of various genres. Below is a sample of one of their chats, but we encourage readers to check out all their videos.

This creative couple lives in Southern California . . . and yes, they are still married, and they even blog together at The Married Authors.

Janet and Will’s Interview with Author Marianne H. Donley

Interview with author, Marianne H. Donley, who writes fiction from short stories to comedy, to romances, and quirky murder mysteries. She makes her home in Tennessee with her husband and son.

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Janet Elizabeth Lynn and Will Zeilinger Featured Authors

January 21, 2021 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Featured Author of the Month, Partners in Crime by Janet Elizabeth Lynn & Will Zeilinger tagged as , , , , ,

January Featured Authors

Janet Elizabeth Lynn was born in Queens and raised in Long Island, New York. She is the author of murder mysteries, cozy mysteries and with her husband Will Zeilinger, 1950s hard-boiled detective mysteries.

Will Zeilinger has lived and traveled the world and has been writing for over ten years. His novels range from mystery to romantic comedy and those 1950s hard-boiled detective mysteries with his wife Janet.

Partners in Crime

Together Janet and Will write the Skylar Drake Mystery Series. These hard-boiled tales are based in old Hollywood of 1955. They have a free E-book How it Began: The Skylar Drake Mysteries available from Smashwords.

Their world travels have sparked several ideas for murder and crime stories. In 2021, they will team up will a penname E.J. Williams for a new mystery series. The first novel in the International Crime Files, Stone Pub will be published in May.

Chatting With Authors

In addition to writing novels, Janet and Will have a YouTube Channel, Chatting with Authors featuring informal Zoom interviews with authors of various genres. Below is a sample of one of their chats, but we encourage readers to check out all their videos.

This creative couple lives in Southern California . . . and yes, they are still married, and they even blog together at The Married Authors.

Janet and Will’s Interview with Author Terry Sherpard

Terry Shepherd writes detective stories for elementary audiences and authored The Mystery Bug Collection, teaching youngsters how to protect themselves in the Covid19 era. He’s a thriller writer by trade. The second book in his Jessica Ramirez series is due out in early 2021.

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