Category: Writing (page 1 of 12)

Love has No Limits

FB header no limits
 
You may have noticed a slight change in my branding recently. I’ve been working on my image as a writer for several years, trying to figure out how to represent my books and myself. I think I finally got it right.
 
I first wrote the words love has no limits in His Twisted Choice, the final book in my ménage series, The Twisted Mosaic, but I’d been thinking about them for a long time. When I adopted my daughter (who is African-American; I’m not), I learned that love is so much more than storybook relationships, and I’ve been working that idea into my books and my life. I’m now using the tagline Love has No Limits because that idea not only fits everything I write or will write (interracial, deaf hero, MFM, even paranormal and dystopian) but it fits who I am in writing and in real life. That’s what author branding is all about.
 
Many people think romance novels are only about sex. I started writing romance to deal with my lack of sexual experience and the guilt I faced growing up, but my writing has become bigger than steamy sex scenes. It’s about what I believe, how I live, and my hope for my daughter’s future.
no limits twisted teaser
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Wildfire Hurricane – Coming July 5!

When Simone Leveque met Dash Ryder in seventh grade, she immediately fell for him—head over heels down the stairs…

Despite her less than graceful introduction, Simone jumped right up and yelled, “Ta-da,” drawing the attention and admiration of everyone, including Dash. The two quickly became bickering best friends, fighting about anything and everything until Dash finally kissed her, cementing their young love for a lifetime.

They fought hard and made up harder, but some things are unforgiveable…

Simone knows Malcolm lied to Dash. Plain and simple. She would have never cheated on him, especially with his own brother. Dash wouldn’t believe her back then, and thirteen years later when their careers bring them back together, he still won’t.

Dash can’t believe the woman who sent his heart to an early grave is now his new boss…

Time doesn’t heal pain. Dash still can’t forgive Simone for betraying his trust all those years ago, and when old tensions combine with an undeniable attraction, a new flame takes hold—literally.

An out of control wildfire tests Dash’s firefighting crew, and an unprecedented hurricane threatens the city, forcing the volatile former couple to work together to survive while somehow keeping their hands off each other. But reckless passion isn’t enough to keep them together this time. Simone must fight to bring the truth to light if she wants her future with Dash to outlast this…

Wildfire Hurricane.

Coming July 5, 2016!

Wildfire teaser

“When emotions run this hot…something is bound to catch fire.”

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Writing Romance in Color

I recently figured out that I’ve been writing romance for the past 20 years. I’ve written countless short stories and published nine novels. And in every single one of them, all of my characters are white. Why is that a problem? I’m as WASPy (White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant) as you can get, so what’s the big deal? Write what you know, right? Except that my world, my family is no longer entirely white. (I doubt we ever were. My grandmother’s side of the family has some Native American features no one will talk about.)

Several years ago, my sister introduced my bi-racial nephew to the family, and a few years later his brother joined us. They’re great kids, and I wish I got to see them more often. When my husband and I filled out our adoption questionnaire, we decided we’d accept a child of any race since our family already had a splash of color. We fell in love with Energizer Girl the moment we saw her. Didn’t matter that she had glowing brown skin and tiny black curls. Love has no limits.

When I started writing novel number ten, I needed a name for my heroine – a looney free spirited artist, a blonde Phoebe Bouffay type. A friend suggested Destiny and an image popped into my head.

Destiny

She wasn’t blonde. But she was exactly the woman Kurt and I were looking for. We both fell in love with her.

Last summer Hubs and I binge watched The Walking Dead, and I developed a crush on the gorgeous badass. Not Daryl. Michonne.

So when I needed a strong woman to take Dash’s shit and give it right back to him for novel number eleven, Simone told me she looked like my TWD fave. I didn’t argue with her. Would you?

Novel number twelve will have two African-American characters, the heroine, Bree, and a smooth, cool, charmer who hasn’t told me his name yet. Dammit Hardison! I like him already.

aldis_hodge_

Write what you know? Yes, but only to a point. I know very little about people outside my race except what my daughter is teaching me. Love has no limits. I’ve learned to use what I love to bring my stories to life. Took me 20 years, but I’m getting it. I can no longer ignore the color in my life, so expect to see more of it in my writing.

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I Hate NaNoWriMo or Why I Finally Signed Up

I’ve always resisted participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) because I felt like I couldn’t corral my ideas and force them on paper every single day during November. My words need to be free! Yeah, whatever. Now that I have a 40 hour a week day job, I have even less time to write, so how could I possibly produce 50,000 words in one of the shortest months of the year that includes a major holiday? No idea.

A few weeks ago, after I’d wasted my precious hour of writing time on the internet and producing next to nothing, I saw a Facebook post from a fellow writer mentioning NaNoWriMo. When I first heard about the event four years ago, I posted my reasons why I wouldn’t participate. One comment stuck in my head: it teaches you to be a disciplined writer. Well damn. Maybe that’s what I need. Distractions will always plague me. The internet isn’t going away. The mind-numbing day job won’t either. I need to learn to block all that stuff out and focus. Maybe participating in NaNo can set my words free in a way I never expected.

My goals:

  1. Become a more focused and productive writer.
  2. Add 50k to one of my two WIPs. (I looked up NaNo’s rules. Working on a WIP is allowed, but you can only count the words written in November.)

This may not even work for me. I might be the kind of writer who can’t function in such a structured environment. But something needs to change in order for me to continue writing. I need to keep my day job to support my writing addiction, so the change needs to happen with me.

My NaNo user name is AmeliaJames12. Look me up! I need friends.

*Disclaimer: National Novel Writing Month will immediately be followed by personal editing, rewriting, revising, what-the-hell-did-I-write month (or two).

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Writing. Seriously.

One of the reasons I love RomCon is because the organizers are published in all sorts of ways: traditional, indie, small press. I’ve never once felt unwelcome or out of place. The only distinction they make is between reader and author. Authors wear red lanyards and readers wear black, so you can tell who’s who at a glance.

At last week’s book signing, I handed chocolate bars to everyone who got near me. I do this every year, and it gets some people to stop and take a second look at me and my books. One woman, wearing a black lanyard, stopped and asked me to autograph her program. As I bent to sign my name, she laid her hand on a pile of my books and asked, “Are these serious or are they indie?”

I kept my eyes down so she wouldn’t see the flash of indignation that undoubtedly crossed my face. How did she expect me to answer that?

Am I serious? I’ve been writing since the third grade, before I knew how to spell. I self-published my first book four years ago after I’d lost my job. I signed with a small press a year later when I realized I couldn’t do it all on my own.

Am I serious? In the last four years, I’ve sold and given away 100,000 copies of my books. I have ebooks available with all the major booksellers, audio books, and French translations that made me an international bestseller. During a major promotion and sale, my erotica title knocked Fifty Shades out of first place for a few hours. I adopted a child, went back to my day job, and released two more books, bringing my total to ten. I’m currently writing not one but two books for release next year.

Am I serious? Yes. I am. Because I write. Not because I’m published or how. Every author, indie published or traditional, is serious about their craft. Does it matter how my words reach readers? Not to me. Does it matter that I can only write a few hours a day (if I’m lucky) because I have an energetic kid and a full-time office job? No. I carry a note book and pen everywhere I go. I have a Word app on my tablet so I can write on my lunch break. I have a voice recorder on my phone so I can save ideas during my commute. When I’m not writing a book, I’m writing in my journal. I seriously write something, somehow, every chance I get.

“They’re serious.” Then I wrote my name on her program. Amelia Ser…. Oops. I laughed and told her I’d signed it Amelia Serious. She laughed with me while I corrected it and handed the program back to her. She moved on. And now I am too. I have two books to write.

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#TrashyBookWeek 2015!

I found a post on Tumblr this morning that really pissed me off. A group of people, I don’t know who, probably some religious nuts, built a small house out of romance novels and set it on fire, saying that they were burning trash. Grrr. I’m not going to link to that post because I don’t want to give these idiots more attention than they deserve. They called their creation the Love Shack and then they destroyed it. That’s a sad commentary on our society that I can’t put into words right now. Maybe I’ll deal with it later.

When I was in high school, my youth group burned a bunch of rock albums. I’m sure they would’ve burned romance novels if they’d thought of it. I grew up with this narrow-minded, judgmental bullshit, and fighting back against it is one of the reasons I write trash now. (I can call it trash because I do it for fun.)

So in honor of my new release and in defiance of those who burn romance novels, I am declaring May 24 – 30th Trashy Book Week! Let’s celebrate romance novels in all their smutty goodness. Join me on Facebook where I’ll be asking my friends and followers to share their favorite trashy romance novels and sexy covers. I’ll also be posting positive articles about romance novels throughout the week, and on Saturday, I’ll reveal the cover for my upcoming trashy romance, Destined for Genius. Use the hashtag #TrashyBookWeek whenever you share something.

Let’s have some trashy fun!

Here’s my favorite old-school, bodice-ripper trash. Royce is so damn hot. The spine is bent to open to all the ‘good parts’. Hehehe.

2015-05-24 07.07.20

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Why Clean Reader Doesn’t Work

Update: Apparently I was mistaken about how Clean Reader works. On its mild filter, it masks profanity, but on the most conservative setting, it REPLACES dirty words with ‘clean’ versions. Oh yeah, that’s so much better! (Insert sarcasm font here.) Cnet.com has more details.

But the good news is that Clean Reader has stopped selling books due to immense internet pressure from authors. I still want to see them taken to court and their product ruled a copyright violation. That will probably take time, but at least they no longer have altered books to profit from.

~~~

Trashy gets cleaned. Or not.

No Profanity 3x3Clean Reader is an app that censors all the profanity in ebooks. I looked it in the app store, and the reviewers who love it claim it does what it’s supposed to. But I think these users are kidding themselves. Dirty is all about context, and apps don’t understand context. I once sent an email to a company and had it blocked because it contained the word virgin, but I’d actually written Virgin Islands.

To demonstrate my point, I took an excerpt from Their Twisted Love – The Twisted Mosaic, Book 2, and ‘cleaned’ it as the Clean Reader might:

~~~

He stepped back and held his hand out. “Come on.”

I shook my head and pulled my blouse closed.

Then he moved in for the kill, placing his arms on either side of me, leaning in close, but not touching, his words hot in my ear. “I’ll take you out in the open air, the warm sun, and strip you in broad daylight. Imagine that. You’ll have to brace yourself on the railing while I eat your *****. Probably have to drape one leg over my shoulder so I can lick everything… all those juicy pink bits. If your room is on the second floor, bystanders would have a great view. From the building across the street, from the sidewalk, or from right below. Someone could stand under us, look up and see everything. My tongue on your ****. Your juices streaming down your thighs.”

Heat washed over me, trickling down between my breasts and pooling between my legs. I panted and tugged on his jacket, trying to force him against me, but he wouldn’t move. “Tell me more.”

“Everyone will hear you—and see you come. And then I’ll turn you around and display your naked, flushed body to the whole **** city while I **** you from behind. Hold on to that railing tight, Sweetheart. They’ll watch my **** pound your *****. Spread your legs so they can see.”

Oh that’s hot. My feet slid apart as far as my tight skirt allowed. His chest rose and fell slow and steady, teasing mine. I dug my fingers into his ***, but he still wouldn’t touch me. My body ached for him, and he laughed while I groaned and pulled. ******* knew exactly what he was doing to me.

He moaned in my ear, his voice rough. “I’ll grab your hair and make you stand straight up. You’ll wrap your arms around my neck and show off those sexy breasts. So ******* pretty… pretty when you’re getting ******. That’s why we shared you.”

Sharing me. Oh God. That triggered memories: two pairs of hands, two mouths, two ***** dividing my body between them. A single spark lit, sizzling down my spine like a fuse. ******* is going to make me come—in public!

“That’s it, ****. Show us how much you love it.”

~~~

Does that sound clean to you? I didn’t think so. Even with the dirty words masked, the meaning is quite clear, and the mind fills in those ******* asterisks with something. (How many of you put the word fucking in there?)

Clean Reader is nothing more than a copyright violation. Publishers and editors can’t alter a book without the author’s consent. Clean Reader never asked for anyone’s consent, and I find that more profane than a lot of swear words. I won’t censor my characters, and I’m offended that this app thinks it can.

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Two Trashy Favorites You may be Missing

Once you know my writing pattern, you’ll know how to look for upcoming releases. ;)

I’ve been attending RomCon as an author for the last two years, and my favorite event has been the book signings. I bring copies of all my books so people who’ve never read my work ask which one I’d recommend. Two years ago, I told them Tell Me You Want Me was my most popular book, but Secret Storm was my favorite. Most people chose both, but those who could only afford to buy one chose Secret Storm.

With the exception of The Twisted Mosaic, I don’t write series. I love writing men, so all of my books have at least two guys, and I inevitably end up falling in love with the hero’s best friend and give him his own book. That’s how Secret Storm came to be. My readers loved Austin and sent Tell Me tearing up the bestseller lists, but many of them don’t seem to know about Jack’s book. It’s my favorite because Jack appeals to me on so many levels. He’s got long hair (my favorite fetish), he’s a powerful running back, a devoted friend, a charming date, and a skilled lover. His scars, both physical and emotional, run deep. I want to take him home and make it all better. And I’m not the only one:

“Where are the “Jack”s in the world? This man was delicious, and needs to come home with me!” ~ Cate O’Brien

“Oh Jack! Damn he’s hot!” ~Heather Cox

If you loved Tell Me and haven’t read Secret Storm, find out what you’re missing.

secretstorm3Dtransparent

Last year, I told readers about my new favorite, Home is Where the Heat Is. (Shh, don’t tell Jack.) That book came from a female character Twisted readers fell in love with. Claire, Alex’s assistant, needed a good man. I found not one hot guy for her, but two. Heat is my favorite book because JT and Kurt help Claire live out my most decadent fantasy: being spoiled and pampered in every way we could image. And I have a damn good imagination. Yes, I’ve got two guys again, and Alex and Will play significant roles in Claire’s adventure.

Since I’ve made the first book in the Twisted Mosaic free, the entire series is taking off, but many readers don’t know about Claire, JT, and Kurt’s threesome. That’s right. I said threesome. Maybe that scares some readers off, but the Twisted series is MFM and much darker than Heat, so if you can handle Alex, Talia, and Will’s demons, Claire’s over indulgence should be an appealing escape.

“If you like erotic, fun reads…pick up this book…like now!” ~Keshia R

“…for pure heart and fuel for the imagination this book is my favorite.” ~Gaele

It’s my favorite too. But wait, I still love Jack. Dammit, I can’t choose. And now you know why I love writing ménage. Take a chance on JT and Kurt in Home is Where the Heat Is because the book I’m writing now is all about the second M in Claire’s MFM.

homeheat3DtransparentOh, and in case you haven’t heard, my upcoming release is the sequel to Tell Me You Want Me. Tell Me You Want Forever brings more of Austin and Jane’s romance and introduces Finn Munro. Remember that name. You’ll be seeing him again.

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The Trashy Romance Collection

AJ covers for FB newAll covers designed by Mallory Rock and made of awesome!

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How Children’s Books Teach Us to be Terrible Writers #MondayBlogs

And why we need to read more of them.

Energizer Girl is sick again so I’m spending lots of mornings reading books to her. I’ve got a couple of favorites and a couple I want to toss in the trash and burn because they’re so badly written. But most of them follow a distinct pattern. If romance novels have a formula, children’s picture books have a definitive style. Here’s what I’ve noticed:

They repeat words – Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar? (That would be me.) My number one rule of writing is never to use the same word twice in one sentence, paragraph, and sometimes on the same page. Children’s books repeat the same word over and over and over… until my brain goes numb. This is an effective method for teaching vocabulary, but it’s a bad habit for a writer.

They use too many dialogue tags – I’ve pretty much abandoned dialogue tags in my writing. (He said, she said, etc.) One of my daughter’s books is so loaded with ‘kid said, mommy said’ that I skip them when I read it to her. Children being read to need this device for clarity, but adults have developed the ability to infer from context. I’ve learned to shake this bad habit and use the character’s actions to show who’s speaking.

They use weak verbs –The above-mentioned books I want to burn are loaded with was, were and other non-action verbs (along with tense-shifts, practical impossibilities, and terrible sentence construction). My publisher calls these state of being verbs (SOBs), and my editor slashes them mercilessly. Children benefit from this simple, direct approach. Cutting the weak links from your sentences adds the excitement adult readers crave.

We grow up reading repeated words, dialogue tags, and weak verbs, so when we start writing, that’s what we use. So why not burn all the children’s books? Because the really good ones do more than teach us basic reading and writing skills.

They teach us about differences between people. Giraffes Can’t Dance, one of my favorite books, says, “Sometimes when you’re different, you just need a different song.” I’ll read that book to my daughter over and over and over until she learns how to find her song.

Sometimes-when-youreThey teach us about our world. The dialogue tag overkill book tells how a rainbow is made. Simple, direct, and smart. Look for a rainbow the next time a storm passes. What colors do you see? And that leads me to my favorite lesson.

They teach us how to imagine. Bridge to Terabithia. Cinderella. Snow White. Peter Pan. These stories and others sparked my imagination long before I started writing. Reading to my daughter keeps that flame alive.

Imagination makes us great writers.

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