Taking Time To Brush The Hero’s Teeth

Beautiful Woman Enjoys CoffeeOver the last year, I’ve read on Facebook and reviews for other authors’ books, readers complaining about the characters not taking baths, mowing the lawn, doing laundry, or needing to stop to pee. *snicker* They’re talking about the hero and heroine doing normal activities that a person will often do throughout the day.

I know sometimes I get so involved in writing the romance or the suspense, I forget to let my characters eat or sleep. So this is a valid concern.

Of course, the knee-jerk response is to say all of that will slow down the story.

In any book that is fast paced, high energy like most of mine, I have to remind myself to let the characters catch their breath, have a little down time. When I’m in edits, I try to make sure they get plenty of food and rest and try to think of other small daily functions I can mention.

Note that I said mention.

Don’t start explaining to the reader how she or he separated the colors from whites, folded the laundry, and placed them in the closet. Unless she’s a psycho serial killer and has a body in the closet and the laundry belongs to her victims, I rather not read about it.

If you want to show that moment of normalcy, you can have the hero changing the oil in his souped up classic Camaro and planning in his head the next raid against the bad guys. Maybe using a wrench to bang on the stuck oil pan in anger when he remembers what had gone wrong with the last mission. You get the idea. The everyday function is in the background. Kind of like, the characters are walking and thinking or talking. You don’t describe each step.

Well, like everything, unless he’s escaping from a killer and clinging to a ledge of a mountain. Then each step will count.

GOODNESS!  I can’t help it.  There is a good reason I write romantic suspense.

But it’s important to remember that whatever you place in that type of scene, you must have the plot moving forward, a tidbit of information the reader needs to put two and two together then or later. Or prepare the reader for what will come next. Along the way, this is a good time to show characterization.

Anyway, I believe you get the idea.  I’ll shut up now.

My Thoughts on Self-Publishing

Hidden Heat_SwaffordYep. My thoughts. Doesn’t mean they’re written in stone or scientifically correct, this is mostly just what I read and heard from others, and personal experience.

Sadly, I believe that the majority of the people who self-publish are like the thousands of people who went to California or Alaska to strike it rich. No. The gold wasn’t spread across the ground in nuggets. No. You couldn’t sit there and expect things to happen. Yes. There are people waiting to take your money and give little in return.

First a fact, I asked my editor and agent a simple question. Since the self-publishing boom, have you seen a decline, same amount, or increase in submissions? My agent said it was the same amount, while my editor said it had increased.*tumblr_myfffeXLM61srko8to1_r1_500

I truly thought it would be less. So often I hear from those who are self-published that they will never go through a traditional publisher. God bless America! I think it’s great they have the choice.

But from the information my agent and editor kindly provided me, I understand that to mean writers still prefer the traditional route. No surprise there.

I know I prefer going with a traditional publishing house. Yes, I do have two novellas (short books) I self-published, and will probably do it again in the future for the heck of it. Overall, I rather have a publishing house handling/paying for the editing, cover, and distribution.

To me, self-publishing took too much time away from what I prefer to do: to be with my family and write. (I have a full time day job.) Plus to self-publish a book correctly, it takes money. I spent $500 per novella to prepare them for publication.

I’m sure there are dozens of stories out there about a person who didn’t pay for editing, did their own art work and published it only on Amazon and made thousands of dollars. Yet, at the same time those dozens have to be compared to the thousands upon thousands of people who self-published with little to no success.

Woman Reading a DiaryThink of it this way, in 2013, there were 11 MILLION books for sale on Amazon (includes nonfiction). Presently, there are over 900,000 Kindle books. I like the playing field to be stacked in my favor, and personally, being published traditionally does that. Another way to do that is to improve my writing. It takes constant work.

Nothing is perfect. Nothing is easy. As Ray Bradbury said, “–hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice.”

And goodness, I do practice.

If you’re interested in checking out my books, click on a link below.

Barnes and Noble
Kobo Books
All Romance Ebooks

*Random House use to be an agent only publishing house until they started Loveswept back up (2011) as an e-book imprint. Now you can submit to Loveswept without an agent.

Researching My Next Series

Hidden Heat_Swafford
Release date: February 16, 2016

A couple times recently, I’ve been asked about my research on my latest series, Brothers of Mayhem. First, let me say that most writers love to do research. We love to read about other people’s lives and the way they handle certain situations. Hey, we love to sit in a mall or in front of stores and watch people walk by. We will assess their way of life by the clothes they wear, how they hold themselves (their stance), the way they walk, and often they will show up in our books.

So when writers research a book or new series, it’s a win-win. Books and reading about other people lives, we’re in hog heaven.

For my next series, I did research about outlaw motorcycle clubs. Youtube was helpful. There are lots of documentaries, specially for each outlaw MC known to man. Well, it feels that way. I probably watched ten of the videos, including just general ones on riding motorcycles. And of course, I watch shows on TV. Previously, Sons of Anarchy along with whatever shows that have popped up on TV (e.g. Outlaw Chronicles: Hells Angels).

Then I bought two romances with the central characters being in outlaw MCs. I quickly realized that was a mistake. They are NOT the kind of heroes I want to write. I love alpha heroes, but I don’t want them crude or just downright mean. That was all confirmed when my beta reader mentioned she started reading MC stories after my first three chapters hooked her, and some of the stories she read were waaaay over the edge. She liked the milder but still sexy ones.

I also bought two autobiographies about undercover agents in MCs and one about a confidential informant. Here are the books.

  • No Angel by Jay Dobyns and Nils Johnson-Shelton – “My harrowing under cover journey to the inner circle of the Hells Angels.”
  • Under and Alone by William Queen – “The True story of the undercover agent who infiltrated America’s most violent outlaw motorcycle gang.”
  • Gods of Mischief by George Rowe – “My undercover vendetta to take down the Vagos outlaw motorcycle gang.”

And I drew from my misspent youth for a few other aspects of the book. I’ve talked a little about that before. Click here.  When I was younger, I had ridden on a few motorcycles (passenger only – chopper, touring bike, and dirt bike – yep, it was rough bitch-riding on the last one), but never felt the need to buy one or keep riding.

Research can become addictive. So you have to learn to limit it. I felt I have it covered now.