Author bias: Characters

Chances are, if you’ve ever written or read anything before, you’ve noticed author bias. Authors, as with all people, have likes and dislikes, and no matter how hard we try to hide it, it shows in some way or other. That’s what this series of blog posts will cover.

Right now I am struggling with bias towards my characters. Don’t some characters just jump off the page and into your heart? Don’t others just stay a bit boring, a bit . . . nothing? I can deal with that when reading, but how do you get over writing a character that isn’t living and breathing and luring you in?

Right now, my published stories have three main protagonists between them:

There’s Sam, my young, innocent man set upon by bandits in the Stolen Love series. Oh, Sam is fun, sure. He’s going through full-on life changes, which I’m sure we can all relate to. Also, Sam has been with me for years (even though I’ve only just started writing him), so I’ve got a soft sport for Sam. He’s also maturing in ways I didn’t expect, so sure, Sam in fun.

Then we have Danny, main character of my best selling books, the Horse Rider series. Despite them being my best sellers, I personally don’t get along well with Danny. He’s surly and a bit difficult. He’s rough around the edges. Unfortunately, he’s just not my kind of character. Danny and I haven’t really clicked.

Sy though . . . oh, Sy. Sy, from my Cat Thief books, is my kind of character – especially my kind for an erotic romance. Sy is playful. He’s arrogant. He’s that little jumble of cocky and suave and fun. So much fun.

Thus we have polar opposites. I could write Sy’s adventures every day. Danny challenges me though.

So how do I deal with it?

Sy is easy. The trick is holding back. I have all the stories written down safely, and limit myself to how much I can write him. Usually it’s one Sy story between each other story.

Danny is more difficult. With Danny, I seem to be throwing him angst and anguish. Nothing inspires writing like some good old-fashioned angst. It doesn’t have to be much – a word here, an unexpected kiss there – but enough to light a fire under Danny’s ass (and thus mine as well).

So far it’s working – but how much angst can I throw at one poor character? Let’s find out 😉

The Dangers of self-publishing 2: ScamSpam

Ah, spam emails. Don’t you just love them. ‘Isabella, hot blondes in your area!’, or ‘Isabella, need a bigger penis?’ (Well, I mean. . . maybe? They don’t write back when I ask for details though*)

Today though, I got my first writing-related spam. I’d love to know if any of you have had it as well.

It is from the a person representing The Books Machine. A person who foolishly included a Do-Not-Reply email address AND a regular one (Oh, what fun I could have…):

“Dear Isabella Cooke, (At least they spelt my name right)

I have recently come across your book Breaking the Stallion on Amazon  (You mean my horse porn… right)  and due to both its quality  (Ah yes. Horse porn of the highest quality.) and plot  (Man meets horse. Man *spoilers* fucks horse. Yep, really deep plot), it qualifies to be promoted in our community of readers.

Our press team’s offer includes help promoting books to thousands of readers in our community, whether at reduced or regular prices (Ah, the first hint of how authors are expected to pay/lose money for this). This is done through a deals promotion page on our website, a Facebook post with exclusive deals reaching over 25,000 readers  (Well, 25k ‘likes’, but a reach of about 3 readers in reality) as well as a “Newsletter of the Day” that uses a unique and innovative marketing tool featuring an excerpt from your book within a unique customized layout. (Customised porn though. Wahey! Oh wait, that’s me. I write porn, and it doesn’t get much better than that)

The days currently available to feature your work in our newsletter are tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday.” (Interesting, since they sent this on a Friday. How come Sunday is left out? Poor Sunday.)

 

It didn’t take much (/any) sense to see this as a scam, but in case anyone has had the same: Basically this company wants authors to pay a monthly subscription fee, give people their books for free, and generally get walked over in exchange for the possibility of some reviews. In short: SCAMSPAM 😀

I guess nowadays safe sex includes sterilising one’s inbox after use 😉

 

*That’s a joke. Remember, don’t reply to spam. It just makes them notice you more.

The dangers of self-publishing: Illegal copies

I’m impressed. I mean, really impressed. It takes a certain amount of dedication to pirate erotic romance novellas. Especially ones which cost only a quid or two, and are on Kindle Unlimited. It all seems a little pointless…

Yet somehow three of my short stories (The Sy books, and Ridden by the Stallion) are already on pirating sites. They were, in fact, uploaded within a week or so of me publishing them.

I mean, I guess I can’t grumble too much. I’m sure we’ve all watched a pirated movie at least once in our lives, but I still feel like there’s something different about screwing over a small-time writer.

I can’t think of a good way around it, but if you’ve had similar, or know how to avoid it, please do say. If you’re finding your own books getting nicked in a similar way, you have my sympathy.

 

I will just put a little request here that everyone, if possible, uses my ‘official’ lines, such as going to my Kindle author page:

https://www.amazon.com/Isabella-Cooke/e/B01NCPQPQS

 

But, if you’re really desperate to read erotica and can’t afford it, get in touch, tell me your kink, and I’ll write you a personalised piece.

 

No, seriously.

Breaking the Stallion – Horse changer book 2

Hey folks! So, a bit delayed, here’s the announcement for the release of Breaking the Stallion – sequel to Ridden by the Stallion.

Danny, obsessed by his ‘encounter’ with the horse-changer Thanas, tries to track down the stallion and get his own back.

Find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Breaking-Stallion-shifter-western-romance-ebook/dp/B01N7P5OOM/ref=pd_sbs_351_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=RKH655TTTVWGS91CBJH4

bts

Stolen Love book 1 – The Bandit’s Plaything

Now we (finally) get to an update about a book rather close to my heart. Stolen Love book 1 – The Bandit’s Plaything.

This is one of my sweeter pieces – a coming of age story about a young man called Sam, who finds himself forced into serving a bandit lord, Damien. Slowly, Sam finds himself relating more to his ‘master’, both in life and love, but will our unlikely partners have a happy ending?

Find it on kindle here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01NB8QSFM

 

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(This does at least mean I’m up to date on releases – I’ll be more on top of my blog from now on, so please do subscribe, and keep an eye out for news on releases, special offers, and keep your eyes peeled for freebie short stories, coming soon)

Designing a book cover (erotica or general)

Hey folks – Happy New Year!

So I’m currently going through the final stages of the follow-up to Ridden by the Stallion, which should be available very soon.

One important stage, of course, is sorting out a cover. Now, in a different life I used to do basic computer art. I’ve also played around with artsy stuff for other purposes. I’m not a graphic designer, but I imagine there are few erotica-writers-slash-graphic-designers out there (and not many erotica-designers-with-graphic-designer-partners either).

With that in mind, I thought everyone might enjoy a quick runthrough of how I make covers. There are options out there to get them made for you, but I want to dispell any fears that cover design is beyond the average person.

Since the sequel is on the way, I’ll use Ridden by the Stallion as an example. Here’s the cover:

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Yep, that’s definitely a saucy story about a man and a horse-shifter, there’s no way of denying it. In order to make sure it’s obvious, there are a few things the cover needed. Mainly a man and a horse.

First thing first – gather stock images. There are plenty of free, royalty-free (which means you don’t have to pay, and can use them for commericla use. And yes, this is commerical use, so don’t just steal images. That’s naughty (and not the good kind of naughty) and might get you in trouble) images out there on various sites. There are even more that you can pay to use.

Every couple of weeks I’ll scan the new uploads on free sites and snag the suitable images. So, when it came to man-and-horse, I was able to quickly compile a board of possible images:

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Using Photoshop or GIMP, I plopped them all into a document and moved them around. Be open-minded, and just try to find something that looks aesthetically nice – balanced, suitable colours, and suggestive.

So, from this board, I slected the rearing horse and the man with the lightbulb for a head (I did say be open-minded).

I cropped the man’s head off using a fade. I felt the combination was a bit monochrome, so I cut the horse out from the background (magic wand or eraser) and decided to use the grass from the top right photo, as circled.

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The great thing about layers and images and whatnot is that even though the man’s arm was still in the grass, I covered that up nicely with Mr Lightbulb-head.

The sky from the field photo wasn’t quite cloudy enough either, so another quick image search found me some clouds to bung behind the horse. It took about a minute more, but added so much depth to the cover.

Bung them together, and we get:

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Add some text (Remember, white text with a black outline can be read on any colour background, though some darkening behind the text can still help), and we’re at the finished cover.

Once you get a bit of practice in, it becomes quite fast. Also, as much as I love using a graphics tablet, I don’t currently have one, and can testify that it’s all doable quickly with just a mouse and keyboard.

I hope this helps someone with their own cover art – happy designing, folks 🙂