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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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Dear Extra Squeeze, Do You Have Audio Book Tips?

January 31, 2021 by in category The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team, Writing tagged as , , , , ,

Dear Extra Squeeze Team, I am interested in audio books, but I do not know how to get started in that arena…what are your tips?

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.

The most important thing is to evaluate and prepare to articulate what you want. Listen to audio books in the genre of your work. Find the best ones that resonate with you. Note who the voice talent is and what you like about their performances. Then, step back and listen to the best audio books in other genres. Sometimes there is a huge difference between what is good in one genre and what is good in another genre. Noticing what you like and don’t like becomes more apparent through comparisons. Researching what you like and why will strengthen your vision for the end product. If you know what you really want and can express it, you will be able to find the talent you want in the audio arena.

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.

Not sure how much help I can offer as I know nothing about distributing audio books, but I can say that the place to begin is with the voice talent. I used to produce radio spots and one had to keep a book of voice talent and jump through audition hoops to find the voice that best fit the ad’s product and audience. It’s so much easier today.

 

There are hundreds of really fine voice actors on the internet and most of them have the equipment needed at their fingertips. The actor’s websites have links to examples of their work so all you have to do is listen and consider if that voice has the right intonation, quality, clarity and personality to be a good narrator for your particular story. That’s a pretty subjective decision, so no tips on that.

 

I do suggest, however, that you test enough of the actor’s handling of dialog to know if it will work. Do you like the way she handles a man’s voice? How does he handle female voices? Children? Old people? Surprise, Anger? Most actors, once contacted, will audition a passage from your work. Then be aware of how the actor handles the issue of rights.

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’m the wrong person to ask about audio books. I am not an ‘audio’ reader and I proved it when a producer bought my series. I was asked to choose a narrator, and I did not choose well. I will eagerly read my colleagues suggestions and we’ll learn together.

H. O. Charles | A Slice of Orange

H.O. Charles

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


I’ve yet to record mine, despite years of working on radio programs and in audio production! From a production perspective, you need a room with dampened sound (soft furnishings to absorb echo–think of a studio with egg cartons and foam on the walls). You need a good microphone and a lot of disk space. There’s probably a way of recording using a mobile phone, these days (I’m a bit out of date!), as their microphones are improving all the time.

 

Avoid mic pops – this is where your Ps and Bs thump the mic as you spit at it. Make your editing easier by enunciating clearly and repeating a whole line when you make a mistake. Keep your background noise (kicking the desk, pets, traffic…) to the absolute minimum. For editing, Adobe Audition has long been the best tool, but it requires some getting-used-to for those just learning. Audacity is free and much simpler for the newbie.

 

Practice your acting skills. There’s nothing more boring than a reader going through an entire novel in monotone. Listeners latch onto variation in pitch and tone, and emotion. You may feel ridiculous doing it, but it’ll sound much better in the final edit.

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.

If you have a question for The Extra Squeeze Team, use our handy dandy contact form.

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Read Rebecca Forster September Featured Author

September 29, 2020 by in category Featured Author of the Month tagged as , , , ,

Read Rebecca Forster!

On September 15th, Rebecca announced she signed with Wolfpack Publishing. (Read about it here.) Good news for Rebecca, and good news for readers. Until September 30, 2020 Rebecca is have a sale on select titles.


On Sale Until September 30th: The Finn O’Brien Thriller Series

SEVERED RELATIONS

Buy now!
SEVERED RELATIONS

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Buy now!
FOREIGN RELATIONS

SECRET RELATIONS

Buy now!
SECRET RELATIONS
INTIMATE RELATIONS

Also on Sale are Rebecca’s Single Title Thrillers

BEFORE HER EYES

Buy now!
BEFORE HER EYES

KEEPING COUNSEL

Buy now!
KEEPING COUNSEL

THE MENTOR

Buy now!
THE MENTOR

BEYOND MALICE

Buy now!
BEYOND MALICE

CHARACTER WITNESS

Buy now!
CHARACTER WITNESS

Rebecca marketed a world-class spa when it was still called a gym, did business in China before there were western toilettes at the Great Wall and mucked around with the sheep to find out exactly how her client’s fine wool clothing was manufactured. Then she wrote her first book and found her passion.

Now, over twenty-five books later, she is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system. She earned her B.A. at Loyola, Chicago and her MBA at Loyola, Los Angeles. Rebecca has taught the Business of Creativity at University of California Long Beach Writers Certificate Program, UCLA and UC Irvine extension. Married to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, she is the mother of two grown sons and spends her free time traveling, sewing, and playing tennis.


Remember the books are only on sale until September 30, 2020

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Read Rebecca Forster September Featured Author

September 14, 2020 by in category Featured Author of the Month tagged as , , , , ,

Read Rebecca Forster!

Rebecca marketed a world-class spa when it was still called a gym, did business in China before there were western toilettes at the Great Wall and mucked around with the sheep to find out exactly how her client’s fine wool clothing was manufactured. Then she wrote her first book and found her passion.

Now, over twenty-five books later, she is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system. She earned her B.A. at Loyola, Chicago and her MBA at Loyola, Los Angeles. Rebecca has taught the Business of Creativity at University of California Long Beach Writers Certificate Program, UCLA and UC Irvine extension. Married to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, she is the mother of two grown sons and spends her free time traveling, sewing, and playing tennis.

Have your read Rebecca Forstest’s Witness series?

Josie Bates is back in Lost Witness the eighth thriller in the Witness series.

It’s two in the morning and an aging cargo ship lies off the Port of Los Angeles. Deep in the bowels of the vessel, an important man is dead and the woman who killed him is mortally wounded. On shore another man staggers out of the sea determined to save the woman before she dies or the ship sails. Exhausted and terrified, he goes to the only person he trusts to help, Josie Bates.

He brings with him a history she can’t ignore, a problem that seems insurmountable, and a plea she can’t refuse. But Josie is up against international law, maritime justice, a Port Authority that doesn’t want anything to get in the way of profit, the U.S. Coast Guard who dances to the tune of politics and a captain who swears the people in question were never on his ship.

With the clock ticking, Josie becomes ever more desperate to prove the woman is real and get her safely ashore. What Josie doesn’t know is that the sands of time that are running out may be her own.

Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Apple Books

Read Rebecca Forster

BEFORE HER EYES

Buy now!
BEFORE HER EYES

BEYOND MALICE

Buy now!
BEYOND MALICE

CHARACTER WITNESS

Buy now!
CHARACTER WITNESS

DARK WITNESS

Buy now!
DARK WITNESS

DREAMS: The 90s Collection

Buy now!
DREAMS: The 90s Collection

EXPERT WITNESS

Buy now!
EXPERT WITNESS

EYEWITNESS

Buy now!
EYEWITNESS

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Buy now!
FOREIGN RELATIONS

FORGOTTEN WITNESS

Buy now!
FORGOTTEN WITNESS

HOSTILE WITNESS

Buy now!
HOSTILE WITNESS
INTIMATE RELATIONS

KEEPING COUNSEL

Buy now!
KEEPING COUNSEL
LOST WITNESS: A Josie Bates Thriller

PRIVILEGED WITNESS

Buy now!
PRIVILEGED WITNESS

SEASONS: The 90s Collection

Buy now!
SEASONS: The 90s Collection

SECRET RELATIONS

Buy now!
SECRET RELATIONS

SEVERED RELATIONS

Buy now!
SEVERED RELATIONS

SILENT WITNESS

Buy now!
SILENT WITNESS
THE RECKLESS ONES: The 90s Collection
THE BAILEY DEVLIN TRILOGY: BOOK 1-3 (The Bailey Devlin Series)
THE DAY BAILEY DEVLIN’S HOROSCOPE CAME TRUE
THE DAY BAILEY DEVLIN’S SHIP CAME IN
THE DAY BAILEY DEVLIN PICKED UP A PENNY

VANITIES: The 90s Collection

Buy now!
VANITIES: The 90s Collection

VOWS: The 90s Collection

Buy now!
VOWS: The 90s Collection

THE MENTOR

Buy now!
THE MENTOR

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Read Rebecca Forster September Featured Author

September 7, 2020 by in category Featured Author of the Month tagged as , , ,

She marketed a world-class spa when it was still called a gym, did business in China before there were western toilettes at the Great Wall and mucked around with the sheep to find out exactly how her client’s fine wool clothing was manufactured. Then Rebecca wrote her first book and found her passion. Now, over twenty-five books later, she is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system. She earned her B.A. at Loyola, Chicago and her MBA at Loyola, Los Angeles. Rebecca has taught the Business of Creativity at University of California Long Beach Writers Certificate Program, UCLA and UC Irvine extension. Married to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, she is the mother of two grown sons and spends her free time traveling, sewing, and playing tennis.


The Finn O’Brien Series

SEVERED RELATIONS

Buy now!
SEVERED RELATIONS

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Buy now!
FOREIGN RELATIONS

SECRET RELATIONS

Buy now!
SECRET RELATIONS
INTIMATE RELATIONS

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