Monthly Archives: August 2015
Hey gang! Guess what? My Shelf Monday (#MyShelfMonday) is back for the next few weeks! I’ve missed this segment of my blog and I’m so happy to have a bunch of great books to share with all of you! First up is Personal Geography by Tamsen Parker!
The first book in a three book series, Personal Geography is romantic, suspenseful, and pretty much everything I look for in a romance. I relate to the heroine, I want the hero to be real, and I desperately want their happily ever after.
Tamsen did a great job of leaving me wondering where things were going, all while weaving a very interesting tale. These characters are dynamic and different from your normal heroine/hero combos. Things I enjoyed about this book and series:
- Beta dominant hero! Yes, you read that correctly! Our hero, Cris, is a dominant, but he’s also a beta (which in the land of Alexis Anne is equivalent to finding gold.) For more on the breakdown of Alpha/Beta/Gamma characters check out Dear Author, Olivia Kelly, or my personal favorite by Suzanne Brockman.
- Dueling personalities = finding your person = finding yourself along the way. I have serious soft spots for people with dueling personalities. In this case we have Cris, the dominant beta, but we also have India, the strong independent woman who lets it all go in the playroom to be a submissive. She has to have both as she navigates her life or nothing makes sense. It’s in the course of navigating these personalities that Cris comes into her life, helping her see herself in a new way, and putting together puzzle pieces of her life that she has been unable to piece together before now. He doesn’t do it for her, but he is integral in helping her over the wall she’s put up in her life. This is my crack.
- Interesting characters. Nuff said.
- Sexy times that are well researched and demonstrate a careful and respectful attitude toward sex, power dynamics, and BDSM. Really, I can’t say enough about how well researched this book is. Yes, there as stuff that made me hide the book under the bed. Yes, these are flawed characters who make bad decisions from time to time, but Tamsen carefully walks us through the steps of psychology and action.
- Enough fantasy to let go and enjoy, mixed with enough reality to make me feel connected to the characters ands story.
- Cris’s house in Hawaii. WANT!
Now for the fun! I have this paperback copy Personal Geography up for grabs! To enter to win, simply comment with your favorite season (Fall, Winter, Summer or Spring) on this blog post, the Facebook post, Twitter, or Instagram. One random winner will be selected from the entrants on Tuesday, September 8th, 2015.
School is back in session! This means a couple of things. Number one: I have a regular work schedule again (thank the heavens above!). Number two: I know my kiddos are in good hands for the rest of the school year. Yes, I’m happy to report three solid months of worrying who their teachers and classmates would be has resulted in good placements for both of them. (Because it is clearly a 1:1 correlation between my hours spent worrying and the results that had nothing to do with it.)
I’m busy working on TEMPT3 this week! Here is a look at the music, food, drink, and television helping me get this work done!
Music inspiration for the week comes courtesy of Imagine Dragons covering Taylor Swift’s Blank Space mashed up with Stand By Me. The singing starts around 1:30 and it is so freaking fantastic!
I’m using one of my staple go-to moves to get through the week: crock pot chicken breasts.
What is this, you ask? The simplest of hacks! I slow cook a sheet of chicken in the crockpot for about 6 hours (along with one cube of chicken bullion and 1 cup of water). When it’s done I shred the chicken and use it for: quesadillas, chicken salad sandwiches, nachos, chicken tacos, Asian chicken salad, and… chicken. I typically get 1-2 dinners and up to 2 lunches out of this (depending on how much chicken I actually cook and how much we stuff into the quesadillas). Which means that I get two days worth of cooking out of one crock pot. Winner!
Side note: this freezes very well. I divide them up into quart-sized freezer bags in the amount I need for another meal and freeze! Voila! Thaw in the microwave for quick use, or pop into the fridge the night before/morning of. Easy peasy.
This week is brought to me by Smithwicks! I love this beer, but it’s not something I like to drink all the time. A six pack every few months satisfies my craving!
The Anne’s are binge-watching Sons of Anarchy! Yes, we’re a decade late to the game, but we are totally hooked! I was skeptical after the first couple of episodes, but DANG does this show hit its stride after that! Jax’s speech to Tara did me in and I’m so hooked it’s not even funny. The complexity of the characters is what sells this show. I’m excited that there are so many seasons to watch!
All right… I should probably finish writing this book! Thanks for stopping by!
What? You thought I’d post this all at once? Did you not read the title? We’re talking about serials! Of course this is going to take several posts! (Yes, I know I’m the only one laughing…) This is the first in a series of posts here and on Wattpad, plus I’ll do a couple of videos because I want to. When I’m done I’ll bind it all up together and put it out there as a finished product, but I figured if I’m going to share with you all how I write serials, I should take you through it exactly as I do it. One step at a time. One finished product in the end.
I’m messy. I go part by part. I’m okay with unfinished and a little raw. And only in the end do I pull it all together. It’s kind of the fun of serials. I love that it’s a little messy. I think it might be the most authentic “me” when it comes to writing. I never quite feel myself when I’m writing a novel. Not because I have anything against novels or beautifully polished masterpieces (because I love those!!!) but because writing (to me) is an art form. And art is a process. And art is sharing your world with the people it’s supposed to affect. So I love serials because it allows me to share my art with my readers as I’m creating it. Volume by volume. They get to come along on the ride and, in some ways, become part of the art along the way.
So first things first. Ideas and structure.
You’ve got to have an idea that can be told serially. What is a serial? It’s one story with many moving parts and pieces. Think of modern television. Many shows are now told episodically. There is one overarching story being told over all or half of a season. Each episode tells its own story as part of the bigger picture. It’s a glimpse into one aspect of all the moving parts bringing us to the eventual conclusion at the end of the season. There are some stories that aren’t suited to this type of storytelling, but there are others, those with multiple plot elements and multifaceted characters, that are absolutely perfect.
So before we delve into each of these points, let’s look at a few case studies. By far my favorite example of serialized storytelling on television is the BBC2/Netflix series Peaky Blinders. Each season is six episodes. Those six episodes tell the story of the Peaky Blinders gang, their leader, played by the incredible Cillian Murphy (whose accent in this is like silk!), and their cat-and-mouse war with Chief Inspector Campbell, in the aftermath of World War 1. Each episode gives us a piece of the puzzle while still leaving us feeling like we’ve seen a satisfying story. Another reason this series is such a great example for serial writers to study, is because in season two the story takes on a different, continuing arc in the characters stories. Two seasons with examples of how to tell one larger story with six smaller pieces. Take a look at the trailer:
Another good example is another BBC show, Broadchurch. Over the first series we follow the story of the death of Daniel Lattimer, and eventually discover who killed him. It is one story told over several addictive parts. In series two another related story arc is followed over several episodes. It is a slightly different example of how to approach a second set of serials than the Peaky Blinders example above, but both employ similar technicques. Do not watch all of this recap video if you haven’t watched all of series one (and think you might want to). It will ruin the end of the series and trust me, it was a good ride!!!
My final example is actually an American show! Arrow isn’t neccessarily what I’d consider the strongest writing, but the serializing of the storyline over the course of each season is! Comics have been in the serial game for decades and there is a lot to learn from reading them, or watching shows like Arrow and The Flash which approach the story arcs a little differently than my first two examples. In Arrow you are much more likely to find tighter story arcs unique to each episode with only a sprinkling of the larger plot. One of my favorite devices from the series is the generous use of flashbacks to Oliver Queen’s mysterious past. In some ways there are two stories constantly being told throughout the series. One much bigger story going deep into the past, and one happening in the present. They are juxtaposed in really fun ways and the storytelling totally makes up for the writing!
All right butterflies! Study up on serials and we’ll meet back next week for more! Happy studying!
Do you like to be tempted and teased? Start my Tease serials absolutely free!
“What music do you write to?” That has to be the most common question of the week! I don’t know if it’s the summer heat or all the concerts, but everyone seems to have music on the brain! And since this is a topic I love (and First Draught has covered) I thought I’d post an update.
The one go-to piece of music I write everything to is Snow Patrol’s “The Lightning Strike”. It’s played a part in everything I’ve ever written, and when I get stuck, this is what I listen to! It asks questions and sounds kind of haunting. It’s perfect writing mojo! Take a look at what I love about it:
What if this storm ends?
And leaves us nothing
Except a memory
A distant echo.
Kind of sounds like everything I’ve ever written, right? Especially when you add in these lyrics:
I want to see you
As you are now
Every single day
That I am living
Painted in flames
All peeling thunder
Be the lightning in me
That strikes relentless
Take a listen for yourself! And then scroll down for links to all the First Draught goodness!
To watch the First Draught on using music in your writing:
Or listen to the podcast here:
Or download it on iTunes here.
Tempt: Volume 2 is now live at all the retailers and reviews are already starting to come in!
“I just love Theo Sutherland. There are so many layers to him that the author has not revealed yet. Once you start this book you will not want to put it down. It was freaking awesome.” –Books of Past, Present, and Future Book Blog
Need. That’s what is was with Theo. When he came to me he wasn’t just looking for a release, he was looking for so much more. For escape from the demands of his life. And, maybe, for a safe place to land.
Want. There was more to this than simple sexual attraction. No matter how many times I reminded myself this was a bad idea, and no matter how times I tried to convince myself that anything more than sex was dangerous to my heart, I wanted inside this man. Maybe I was addicted to the high I got from knowing what he needed.That ability… it was exciting. So was the satisfaction I got from his smile.
Freedom. I was completely addicted to the way Theo made me feel. The intensity and urgency washed away everything else. There were no expectations and rules. No families and stress. There was just a man who needed me, and the infinite pleasure I got from being with him.
Risk. The deeper we go, the harder it gets. Theo’s life is complicated, and the more I learn the more I realize how much I don’t know. My heart is at risk, but I’m starting to understand that it’s only the beginning.
“Breakfast!” I yelled at the top of my lungs as I placed our plates on the reclaimed wood table. I smiled at the brief memory of being laid out on this table.
I heard the piano stop so I yelled a second time in case Theo was wondering if he’d actually heard a woman yelling from his kitchen. A moment later the door opened and Theo, dressed in a white undershirt and sexy black pajama pants, came walking down the hallway with a curious look on his scruffy face.
I plopped into my seat and started shoving eggs in my mouth. I was starving and I didn’t want to have an awkward conversation any more than Theo did.
“This looks amazing. Thank you,” he said as he dropped a kiss on the top of my head and took the seat beside me.
“You’re welcome. I thought food might lure you out of your sanctuary.”
His eyes flicked to mine. The gears in his head were turning so fast I thought steam might come out the top. He was probably running scenarios five steps out and in ten different ways, trying to figure out what my motivations were, what the consequences would be. I was willing to bet Theo was a brilliant chess player.
“Do you win in two moves?” I asked between bites of cinnamon raisin toast.
I waved with the toast as I spoke. “In chess. Do you win in two moves or three?”
He paused for another moment before picking up the fresh cup of coffee I placed by his plate. “Depends on who I’m playing. I have been known to win in two from time to time.”
I chewed and nodded, paying more attention to my plate than Theo. “Figured.”
He set his mug down and folded his hands in his lap as he sat back and looked me over. “And why is that, may I ask?”
I pointed my finger at his forehead. “You think I can’t see all that thinking? Pros, cons, costs, benefits, motivations, all ten moves out? You’re picturing your entire day in ten different ways.”
His face went blank. “Excuse me?”
I rolled my eyes. “Stop thinking so much, Theo,” I sighed. “You can trust me.”
“Trust is earned,” he replied immediately.
I cringed. I couldn’t stop the reaction and really, I think it was for the best. He needed to see how things like that affected me. I pulled my upper lip between my teeth and counted to ten before I picked up my fork and went back to eating. “Look, you can force me to jump through as many hoops as you want. Whatever makes you comfortable. But it doesn’t change me or who I am. All it does is take time.”
There was nothing but silence as I ate the rest of my egg. I glanced back at Theo to find him sitting completely still, staring at his food.
“I’m not the enemy. Will I accidentally say something that will hurt you one day? Yes. I can guarantee that. I have a mouth that just doesn’t quit some days.”
A small smile pulled at the corners of his mouth and he finally looked back up at me. “I quite like that mouth.”
I smiled proudly. “As well you should.” More silence. “This is just food. I was hungry so I cooked. I didn’t want to interrupt you because I knew music means a lot to you. If me passing out after you fuck me into oblivion is a problem, then you should probably be less awesome at sex. Because this? It’s just food. Stop over thinking it.”
He picked up his fork and ate half the plate before he stopped. “I don’t mean to make you jump through hoops.”
“How do you know?”
I pushed back my plate, then my chair. I twisted so that I faced Theo comfortably and pulled my knees up to my chin. “Trust is earned. You are absolutely right about that. And when your trust has been broken by someone else, it means that everyone else has to work that much harder to earn it. Trusting blindly is weak and stupid. You are not weak or stupid.”
He blinked as if I’d shocked him. “And neither are you.”
“Thank you. So I hope you understand, then, that when I say all of this, it is with a clear head and comprehension of what I mean. I am not here to get anything from you or manipulate you into doing something for me. I don’t need you.” I let that hang in the air for a moment. “I want you.”
He stopped breathing. “What’s the difference?”
I smiled. He full well knew the difference. He wanted to hear it. Theo fed off of hearing me repeating over and over again that I wasn’t here to get something from him. It gave him freedom. Freedom he didn’t get from anyone else but me.
And let’s be honest, I got high off that, too.
“One is taking, the other is giving. If I needed you, then really, I’d be here for me. I’d be looking to you to provide me whatever it is I was after—whether it was sex or money or a name. I’m here because I want you. And because I want you, I need to be the giver. Otherwise I won’t get what I want.”
He swallowed. I think I was turning him on. “Does that make me the taker then?”
I shrugged. “I don’t think it’s required for there to be one giver and one taker in any situation.” I grinned, thinking of all the orgasms he’d given me, knowing full well that Theo needed me, he just wasn’t ready to admit it. “And just so you know,” I eased to the edge of my chair and spread my legs on either side of his. “It’s perfectly fine to need me a little. I can take it. I kind of crave it actually…”
This is where I knew I was walking a fine line. In order to be that vulnerable you have to fully trust the other person. I trusted Theo, but I hadn’t earned his yet. I was pulling on a very fragile thread hoping to make it stronger, not weaker.
He didn’t say anything after that. Not another word until we were both panting on the kitchen floor completely satisfied. But the look in his eyes told me everything he wasn’t ready to say yet. For the first time Theo let me see just how deep and wide his need for me ran.
It was the most beautiful and terrifying thing I’d ever seen.