Flirty Author Bitches

Sources, including ones you maybe hadn’t thought of (Research part 2)

People have commented on how my books feel like they’re anchored in the time they’re set (predominantly the first couple of decades of the twentieth century). “What research do you do for that, Charlie?” they ask, and I go, “Ah…well…” Even the thought of the sort of research which means reading lots of books about an era makes me quake. I don’t want to plough through some learned tome about life in Edwardian England – I want this to be fun, then I’ll be motivated to do it properly. (Although I’m not knocking traditional references sources – they’re essential for checking facts, dates, etc.)

When I wrote a story set in 1908 London, I read a wonderful book about the Olympics of that year; it took place at exactly the same time and within a few miles of where my story does, so it was fantastic for giving me a real flavour of the times. In the book there are pictures of the athletes and the crowds – real, natural, ‘not posed’ pictures – so I can see the fashions and faces and body language better than in some studio portrait. I also get an insight into the weather at the time (rubbish English summer suddenly turns scorching, as usual), the newspaper mindset (the media never changes) and Anglo-American relations. I may not use any of these tidbits directly, but they’ve contributed to the background jigsaw.

Because that’s what I see this exercise as, creating a sort of 3-D picture in my mind, where I can ‘go’ when I write my story. The Edwardian 3-D ‘brainworld’ is different from the Regency one – and poles apart from the modern day one – so I have to slip into the proper universe for the piece I’m working on. Then all the rest flows naturally.

So, how does this world get constructed? By accessing material that’s as close to the era I want as possible. Writing Edwardian? Read Edwardian books – then you’ll get a feel for the dialogue, the words they used and didn’t use, the cadence of speech and writing from the time. Before you turn into my daughters and say “That’s soooooo boring”, can I just say that ‘The Wind in the Willows’ is from 1908, the Sherlock Holmes books all straddle the era and ‘Three Men in a Boat’ just predates it. I’d go so far as to say that, if you want to write about Edwardian England, you couldn’t go too far wrong by starting with reading ‘Three Men in a Boat’. (And if you want American sources, what about ‘Anne of Green Gables’ or ‘The Wizard of Oz’, both from Edwardian times?)

I won’t bore you with a list of other places where you can get contemporary information (I’ll post a list in a later post) but I’ll pick out a few that I find most useful. The first is newspapers, either online archives of them, or originals (if you can turn them up at jumble sales) or even the repro ones which our papers sometimes give away to mark anniversaries of events. The stories themselves are great (mainly as they dispel the myth that no crime used to happen in ‘the good old days’) but best of all are the adverts – personal and commercial – letters to the editor, radio listings, sports news.

Again, it creates a picture of the time and can give you some brand names to slip into your story. Subtly, of course. And talking of names, please make sure that you use given names appropriate to the era and setting. Handy tip Number 2: you can pick authentic names up from online sources like ancestry.com or other genealogical sites. I’ll bet twenty pounds at least on the fact that no Edwardian lady was called Beyonce, nor was her beau called Sir Kyle. (Although my favourite – real – historical name remains Mr Savage Beare, who’s buried in Romsey Abbey.) Get the names to have the right sound and your characters will have the right feel.

I also like anything where ordinary people talk about what they did/are doing. It’s really hard to get information on the lives of the man/woman in the street so I was really pleased, when researching a story set on Jersey (old, not New) to find a book featuring picture postcards sent from the island during the twentieth century. The pictures are great – Edwardian women dolled up to the nines, hats and long skirts and all, within a foot of the sea where there children are playing – but the messages are better. Did nice girls eye up the local lads? Of course they did, and they told their friends about it. More surprisingly, did adults ask for glasses of milk to drink in restaurants post WWII? Yes, because this was a luxury after years of rationing. Another piece to put into the jigsaw puzzle.

As You Know, Bob…

For those of you who don’t know, “As You Know, Bob” is a literary… device where a character blurts out a bunch of information in dialogue to another character that should or does already know the information, and the only purpose for the dialogue is to inform the reader. It usually pulls the reader out of the story because it seems out of place or possibly even ludicrous. One of my favourite examples was in an episode of Numbers (sometimes it’s harder to avoid AYKB in movies & TV) where the math professor explains to the FBI agents how terrorist cells work. Um, yeah, they probably already knew all that.

Anyway, I recently came across a previously unknown (to me) variation on the As You Know, Bob phenomenon.

“As you know,” the dialogue began. The funny thing is, that most AYKB dialogue doesn’t actually start with “as you know” so when I saw it, I was prepared for a very clunky info dump in the following dialogue.

But then, the character imparted a fact that I’m guessing 80% of the population would have NO idea about, AND there’s no reason on Earth why the character being spoken to would be aware of this fact. I was left wondering why one would even include the “As you know” phrase. Unless, it was an unwitting AYKB. ACK. Brain hurts from thinking about it!

I think maybe I’ll call this the “As You Don’t Know, Bob” or maybe “Bob, you dumbass, why don’t you know this?”

And the moral is… if you are tempted to actually put “as you know” into dialogue, just reflect for a few moments. Is it truly the best way to disseminate the information?

KC Burn

Seven Lines Sneak Peek: A Wolfe in the Quarter

Since I’m thick in the middle of finishing my current novel, I’ve been a bit slack with blogging. So many have tagged me in the 7-line sneak peek of a WIP. Here’s the first look at the fall’s upcoming release of A Wolfe in the Quarter (from pg. 77, unedited).

The Vampire, The Witch & The Werewolf: A Wolfe in the Quarter

“You want to walk away from those two fine men, who were willing to fight over you?”

“Willing?” Jana scoffed.

It’s not like she was being forced to make any sort of choice at the moment, but could she? Would she be able to give up one for the other?

She’d known Dominick for her entire life, and no matter how mad she got, it was impossible to imagine being without him. More recently, though, Andre showed her a different part of herself. He believed she could be someone else, and she’d grown more confident threw his eyes.

The book should release in the next few months … Readers first met Jana as Silver’s best friend in The Wolfe Pack.

Thanks for stopping by!

Louisa Bacio

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The Need for Speed

I am slow writer. Very slow. The last thing I submitted for publication was a 12,000 word erotic quickie. It took me five weeks to write. And that was really fast for me. I was proud of how quickly I got it out.

But I know that most people could write that in a day, maybe two, tops. I see on Twitter, Facebook, etc., people talking about pumping out 20k in week, doing one hour 1,000 word sprints, writing a complete novel in month. In the grand scene of writing, 12k is nothing.

I have to admit, I’m rather jealous. I really want to be able to sit down at my computer on any given day and crank out words. But I just can’t seem to do that. Not only am I pantser, which often means I have no real idea where my story is going, but I also tend to edit as I go. I can’t seem to bring myself to move forward when I have so many bad words already on the page. Not bad words exactly, but not the right words—run-on sentences, poorly constructed images, clichéd metaphors. I know all of these things are part of a first draft, but the knowledge they are sitting there in my Word document, stinking up my prose, just drives me insane. I can’t write more until I have fixed what I have already written.

And that makes me slow. Slow, slow, slow.

I want to be faster. I really do. I have so many ideas, so many things I want to write and work on, but there are never enough hours in the day of slow-ass writing life to get them done. How do I get over my anal-retentive ways and just write? Any advice?

What’s in a name?

aming characters is a challenge. Especially since I’ve written a lot of stories with a lot of characters! Male/Male is especially a challenge because I need two hero names instead of one. I tend to like short, strong names that begin with J, and I found myself one year writing three stories with men that had three similar names: Johan, John and Jack!

The other day I was talking to a writer friend who happens to be gay, and when I told him I named one of my upcoming characters, Mark, he said that I had to spell it with a ‘c’ – that being much more gay! Okay, he was kidding, right, but I changed the spelling anyway.

There are three go-to websites I use with regularity:

20,000 Names

Behind the Name

Popular Baby Names

It’s alway funs to find a meaning behind the name that might tell you something about the character. What I like about the SSA Baby Names site is that you can search by year. If I set my story during a certain time period then I can look up the names of when the characters were born. Other times I don’t bother with looking up meanings but I go with names that mean something to me. I have a book set in the late 1960′s and I named my heroine Rose. Not because that’s a popular name during that time (believe me, it wasnt’) but it was the name of grandmother, Nonna Rose, who was like a second mother to me and my sisters.

The names I’m using for my upcoming story – Marc and Graham. Now you tell me which one is the alpha male and Chief archetype and which one is the quiet Professor type. 🙂

Peace and Love!

Viki Lyn

Greetings from Down Under!

I’m writing this from Melbourne, Australia, where I’ve been for the past few weeks. We’re here for my husband’s work, so it’s not been a holiday as such, tho’ I’ve had a great time. I’ve never been away from the UK so long before, and it’s been awesome just to “live” in another part of the world, albeit in a country that doesn’t feel as far from home as it really is. It got me thinking—these kinds of experiences are important for a writer, so how can my traveling enrich my output?

Travel has always informed what I write. Usually, my stories are inspired by historical sites back in the UK, but I’m pretty damn sure I could write a story set in Melbourne now. But would I dare write it from the perspective of somebody who’s lived here all their life? Hmmm. Interesting question. My instincts say “no.” After all, all I have to do is open my mouth and my British accent betrays me as a tourist, let alone all that fumbling for the correct coins when I open my purse. On the other hand, I have no qualms writing stories set in the twelfth century, despite the fact I’ve never been there. I guess it comes back to the trouble I have with the, er, nineteenth century.  I’ve studied it a hell of a lot, to the extend I’m scared to write much about it. The more you know about a setting, the more you realize that you don’t know a bloody thing. I can make no claim to know what it would really be like to have lived all my life in Australia. However, experiences of any culture or place are diverse, and I can have an educated stab at it now, which I guess is what writers’ have to do. Research can only take you so far. After that, you just have to be brave!

***

Catching Kit, my first contemporary m/m paranormal, is out now!

Blurb: When government agent and Ethereal Being hunter, Denny, has to imprison an elf in his garage overnight, his life spins out of control. Caught and cuffed on the London Underground, Kit shatters everything Denny’s been taught about elves. How can Kit be a dangerous, mind-reading cipher who preys on human emotions? Kit’s gorgeous and funny, he’s got a cute arse. He even shares Denny’s quiet kinks for bondage and cross-dressing. Or so Kit claims.

When Kit wiles his way into Denny’s house for a session of mind-blowing sex, the elf seems too good to be true–till reality strikes. Denny’s fucked an elf. A prisoner in his charge. If he doesn’t take Kit to the containment depot he’s in big trouble, and Kit’s about to drop an equally devastating bombshell.  The elf’s been searching a thousand years for a bloke like Denny. He ‘gets’ Denny’s kinks, adores role play and women’s panties, and now he needs Denny’s love to survive.

Is Kit preying on Denny’s emotions, or can Denny trust him? If so, dare Denny break the law and gamble his life to save the Ethereal Being in his bed?”

Amazon.com

Review from Night Owls Review – 4.5 STARS! TOP PICK!

“If you’re looking for something saucy with a little extra spice this novel is one to read. You’ve got all the excitement of a kinky sexual encounter between two easily pictured males and you have a great storyline in just under 100 pages. I loved it! The story just sped right through my mind and I couldn’t put it down.” – Kyuu Satsui, Night Owl Reviews. Read more.