Open-Ended Stories and Why I Write Them

If you’ve been reading my books for any length of time, you know there are some that have the beginning of more stories embedded inside. Whether it be characters or scenes from places or maybe a minor unresolved thread. Not all of my books start off as series and not all of them need or warrant additional books. I do this for several reasons that might not be apparent to all readers.

One… So it leaves the readers wondering and questioning. I always like shows and movies that leave me curious as to how the characters are doing after The End. I do, most of the time, prefer my own imagination and fantasy. I like to imagine the characters are still together five, ten, twenty, forever years after.

Two… It leaves the door open for more stories if there’s enough interest from either the readers or from me.

Three… Not every book is supposed to be more than what it is. Some books should stop after roughly 100 pages, but instead the author goes on and on and on for another 100 or 200. Um… No. There’s a point to a story. The author knows it. It’s up to the reader to figure it out. For instance, maybe a character needs to learn something, grow, kick a bad habit to the curb, or come to some realization. Not all of these things take 300 pages to tell.

Four… Shorter books are fun. A quickly little ditty. Something to make the reader forget reality for a while. Something to provide an escape. A couple hours mental vacation. Not everyone wants or has time for 300 page epics. Personally, I like both.

Christmas Wishes is just over 25,000 words. 86 pages. Are there characters who could get their own little stories? Yep. Are there a few things left to be answered? Sure. But there ALWAYS is in any size book. There’s an insatiable desire for more. Always for more. I get that. Sometimes I want more to a story. Sometimes I don’t.

If you’re wanting more of the characters and places and atmosphere of Christmas Wishes or any of my books, drop me a line in an email or leave a comment. Doesn’t mean it’ll happen. Doesn’t mean it won’t. But at least I’ll know one way or another.

~lissa

P.s. YES Courtney, I know. Book 3 and Riko’s book and Mac’s book, too. Got it!

 

Expectations and The Wrong Words On The Page

I canceled the pre-order for The Billionaire’s Heiress. All of you know that by now. Some of you have emailed me about it and I appreciate your understanding.

The book wasn’t ready. The words were all wrong. I hated the characters. And I hated the circles I’d written, revised, edited, and re-written myself into. I wouldn’t put out a book that I hated.

There are penalties, of course. Loss of readers who might have wanted to try my work. The loss of pre-order privilege at Amazon for a year. Both hurt. Both I can do nothing about.

I scrapped the book and started over. It’s different, but the same. It’ll be more what I wanted it to be in the first place before I lost my way.

I tried to fix it. I couldn’t. I was in tears when I finally accepted the mess and disappointment and failure. I can on fix what I feel something for and I felt nothing for the book as it was. I had expectations that hadn’t been met. And you, my readers had expectations I couldn’t meet. Not your fault. Mine.

Self publishing is a hard thing and filled with realizations that I am just recently coming to understand. It’s harder now to be found, to be seen. It’s harder to up the ante and harder not to compare my lack of sales and income against those racking it all up in the thousands to ten thousands each month.

There’s the expectation to show work, to talk about it, to be on, to share, to giveaway, to create huge buzz… And that’s not me. Before this phase of my publishing career, I didn’t talk or share the books I worked on. It killed the love affair I had with the characters, the story to share it, to talk about it before it was done.

But it’s expected now, necessary even to make the reader salivate and push the buy button.

I set up pre-orders because there was an imposed deadline to meet and it would help me get to the end and offer buffer after the book was finished to start creating that buzz. It didn’t work this time.

I know how I work and I know it’s not going to turn out well when I deviate from it. Even if it is what I’m supposed to do now to get my name out there and start getting my books noticed by readers. Even if it is what everyone else is doing. Even if it is what I should be doing.

The thing is, I want to say those other things work for me. I want to say being on social media and talking about my book a lot works for me. I want to say all the buzz works. I want it so badly. But the truth is, we don’t all work the same and while we all say embrace your individuality, all we’re really doing is creating more boxes to try and fit ourselves or each other in. There dozens of ‘this worked for me and it can work for you too for only 9 payments of $90 courses’. Dozens of tips and tricks and just do it this way guides. The self publishing arm of the publishing industry is becoming a way for people to make money off those struggling to figure it out. It’s the next ‘just follow this one diet and you’ll lose 20lbs in 3 days’ fad. I see it in the newsletters I’m subscribed to, the books, the webinars. And it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

But the truth of the matter is, I work one way and it’s the way I wrote so many books in so little time, books that readers loved. And every now and then, I need a kick in the ass to be reminded of it.

I’m trying to be different by being the same, by wanting to be the same, do the same as those who are successful at this rather than spinning their wheels like I’m doing.

I wanted the Billionaire to be great and I tried too hard, so hard that I broke the book. We all had expectations of me and I failed.

I know what works for me and it’s not the same as what works for others. I know what works for me to finish a book I like and am proud of and it’s not what works for others.

And, that’s where I am now.

~lissa

Let’s Talk Writing and Fear

Because let’s face it, there’s a crapload out there to be fearful of when it comes to writing:

Failure

Success

The success or failure of other writers

Falling behind the curve or being way ahead of it

Writing great stories

Writing craptastic stories

What are other writers saying

What if other writers aren’t saying anything at all

Doing it right or doing it wrong

Being different

Being the same

And there are countless more fears… We all share some level of the same fears, but we also share some level of more personal ones. None of it feels good. Fear can motivate and fear can paralyze.

I’ve talked about fear some this year, and it would seem that while I thought maybe I’d admitted most of my fears, it turns out I was wrong.

BEARINGTHEINKFINAL-USA150I promised a book by the end of October and I didn’t deliver. Then I promised it by the end of the year and I didn’t deliver. I then promised it by the first week of February and still nada. So, while I’ve been working on this book, I’ve not finished it. And part of the reason for that, is fear. I’m scared.

Are you wondering why?

When I started working in the Southern Shifter Kindle World, I had only planned one book, Ink To Bear. Then, I was asked if I’d write another one. I said yes and added on to Gus and Bex’s story with Inked By The Bear, which ended in a bit of a cliffhanger. I didn’t want to leave it for long, but I did have other commitments to finish at the time, and I worked on it. Real life bit me in the ass HARD and I lost all sense of time beyond exhaustion; mental, physical, and emotional. I didn’t have anything else in me. I had no creative spark. I’d sit down to write and end up going to bed instead. I looked to all the things going on and I just couldn’t do it.

Now, when I was writing Inked By The Bear, and hearing a lot of other voices in my head, I got a wild idea to connect all myInkToBearFinalUpdate-USA150 bear worlds into one big conspiracy. I drew no frills diagram on my whiteboard. I started playing with how to connect things in my brain. It consumed me and I was ready to spend the next few months on this.

Then life happened. Then the holidays happened. Then deep thinking happened. Then new directions happened.

And in the midst of all that, fear happened. What the hell was I thinking? I couldn’t connect different worlds like that. I couldn’t pull off something that big. I didn’t and don’t like reading things that intricately woven together, how on Earth was I going to write something so intricately woven together? I wasn’t a paranormal romance author. I don’t watch all the paranormal shows. I don’t read all the paranormal romance books. What the hell was I thinking? I didn’t and don’t have people I can turn to and ask for help in plotting such a massive over-arching storyline.

Those were just some of my thoughts. There were others. The point being, Bearing The Ink isn’t finished and part of it is because of fear. Fear that I wouldn’t measure up. Fear that I would fuck it up. Fear that I would tank more than I usually do. Fear that other writers would laugh and mock. Fear that they wouldn’t even notice. Fear that readers would hate it. Fear that I would hate it. Fear that I would fail. The thought of succeeding never entered my mind so I couldn’t be fearful of it. I was and am very scared and it paralyzed me.

INKEDBYTHEBEAR-USA150Paralyzed. Past tense.

I’m still fearful. In fact, I’m scared shitless. But I’ve been scared shitless since the beginning of the 2016. I’m writing contemporary in a new voice and trying new things. I’m looking at marketing a little differently. I’ve walked away from a couple of projects. And I’ve begun working hard on Bearing The Ink again. All of it scares me. Every bit of it. The fear of screwing up, of making a fool of myself, of failing freaks me the fuck out and I truly want to go crawl into a hole. But, I’m not going to. I’m going to do this, no matter what. I’m going to deliver the book. I’m going to continue writing. I’m going to figure it out.

And if you’re along for the ride, hold on.

If you’re waiting for Bearing the Ink, please hold on just a little longer. You won’t be disappointed.

~lissa

10K Weekends For Writers – Week 5

10K WEEKENDS-2_500

I don’t know about y’all, but I need A LOT of words this weekend. I need ass in the chair, fingers on keys, and words pouring out of my eyeballs onto the screen.

It’s week 5 of 10K Weekends For Writers and week 4 was a pathetic effort on my part. I got less words last weekend than I’ve gotten all year long and we’re only in February! (Can you believe that, btw? I mean FEBRUARY!)

So, bring your manuscript, your determination, your motivation, your terrible for you snacks (or if you’re one of those who can eat healthy writing having a writing binge, go on and bring your carrot sticks and water)… But it’s time to get down to it and write.

Author, bloggers, college students with a paper to write… Let’s get it on!

Add your name to the Linky below and keep track of your word count. The social media hashtag is #10KWeekendsForWriters. Grab the little badge if you want, but join in! Challenge yourself. Can you write 10,000 words between 7pm tonight (Thursday) and Noon on Sunday? Why noon? Because it’s Super Bowl Sunday. I didn’t forget. Hell, I’ll be watching and pulling for Peyton! And for those who won’t be watching, you can have until 10pm as usual. But for those watching the Super Bowl? It means is that YOU and I have to get the most words in BEFORE kickoff, before you start the party, before the beer is cold enough…

So, you ready?

As Peyton would say O M A H A!

~lissa

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Lissa, Lissa, Lissa. Where did this come from???

BreakMeUSATODAY300

The title of this post was the first line of an email I received and while Shirley likely didn’t and doesn’t expect an answer, I’m going to give one anyway.

It came from me. It came from deep down inside me. Claire is me and I am Claire. At least, parts of me are. At least parts of her are. And she needed to come out. She needed to breathe. She needed to talk. I needed to let her. I needed to shut off all the shit inside my head and let HER out, let HER talk to me, to you, to whoever wanted to read about her.

It’s not a long book. It could have had more added to it. Thousands of additional words, but you know what? No. It’s good right at the length it is. Too many more words and would have been the same extraneous crap that fills most books, the superficial shit that doesn’t need to be there.

But it’s good where it is. It ends as it should. It begins as it should. It follows a personal journey. It follows a timetable. It follows a thought process, though at a deeper level. Facts have been changed, but the pain remained the same. Healing happened and the catalyst was real.

Those initials in the dedication? They’re all real people. Three Dominants and a male submissive. All real. All I know. All who helped this journey at one stage or another. It’s personal and you don’t get to tell me that it’s not true to the lifestyle this time. You don’t get to tell me it’s not BDSM enough, or BDSM at all. You don’t get to tell me ‘Oh but you don’t write that.’ You don’t get to tell me to change the blurb, change the cover, change how I promote it. You don’t get to tell me the characters aren’t damaged enough. You don’t get to tell me that it’s really vanilla wrapped in kink. You don’t get to tell me it’s not important, that it happened to quick, that it needed more, that it isn’t real. You don’t get to tell me shit because there are parts of this that you haven’t lived, that you haven’t touched, that you haven’t known. Until now.

Some books take off. Some don’t. Some have a short shelf life. Some don’t. Some names, some stories have finite existence. Some don’t. I’ve been told enough that I couldn’t, shouldn’t write certain things. I’ve had, and let, myself be told how and when and what. And let’s be clear… i LET myself…

I wasn’t strong enough. I was a newbie. I listened to others tell me how to tell my stories, what visions I should have, what I needed to do to if I was going to make it… I listened. And I was MISERABLE! As a writer, as an artist, as a storyteller, I WAS MISERABLE! Add in some personal trials, some heartache, some emotional challenges, and I was THIS. CLOSE.

But, then… I met someone who let me talk. Who liked words the professional world of writing has never read from me. Raw, unpolished, from deep in my soul words. Words of desire, passion, forgiveness, and growth… And that was when I knew. It was time….

All the negative, undermining, should’s and shouldn’ts, need to’s and don’t need to’s… All the voices I kept hearing in my head, all the words I kept seeing from emails and reviews and memories too hurtful to keep inside anymore… All the caution and safety and hiding behind walls, both personal and professional, came down. And you know what it came down to? It came down to Fuck you. Fuck. You. It’s not your book to write, not your story to tell, not your business to make or break, not your life to live. Fuck. You.

I turned to a friend who told me it was okay. Who said You Got This.

One turned to me looking for advice and help, but who, in the end, helped me.

Four active in BDSM, who all taught me many things about myself and the lifestyle.

And then, I wrote. I said fuck you to everything and everyone who ever said You Shoudn’t Do That, and I wrote. I poured my heart out, my soul out. For 27, 000 words, I cried. I hurt. I gave it my all. And I sent it out into the world.

Then, I got scared. I texted my friends. I was scared. The voices came back. The doubt, the fear, the anxiety. It all came back. What had I done? What was I doing? I don’t write this. I don’t put myself out there like this anymore. I don’t get personal anymore. What had I done?

When Shirley’s email came in last night, it was like a balm to my bruised and battered being. I told a story that made someone else cry. I told a story that made someone else FEEL! Do you understand what that’s like? To make someone FEEL? To make someone else’s eyes tear up while they’re reading my words? MY WORDS?

Break Me is a new voice. I’ve been telling y’all it was coming. It’s different for me. It’s new for me. And I love it. Do you understand that, too? I love this voice, this vulnerability in my writing because it’s fucking real. It’s painful, it’s beautiful, and it’s MINE. It’s ME. It’s been locked up behind doubt, both self and from outside sources, you know, those successful, know all the things people. This one story, this voice… This is who I dreamed about becoming, who I dreamed about being when I began writing. This is who my college English professor saw through the words I wrote in class. This is who the catalyst saw through the words none of you have ever seen.

I have said Fuck You more times in the last 4 weeks, than I have said in my entire life. Every piece of self sabotage or self doubt has received a hearty helping of Fuck You. Every bit of anyone telling me what I MUST do, what I MUST write, has received a helping of Fuck You, too.

I want authentic. I want real. I want ugly crying. I want joy. I want the stories I want to tell to be what comes from me. Not what is safe and sound and that fits perfectly into this category or that slot in promotion. Will I be successful in the business of writing/publishing/selling my soul to the Facebook Gods? Probably not. More than likely not. It doesn’t work that way. You have to conform. You have to do what everyone else is doing even though we’re all sick to death of it all.

One of my favorite lines in one of my favorite movies, Wonder Boys, is “He respects us enough to forget us, and that takes courage.” He is the writer. Us are the readers.

And my happiness is worth more than fitting in to a writing cookie cutter. I want the books I want to write. It’s reckless and it’s daring. It’s scary and it’s brave. It’s my fucking story to tell and it came from deep down inside me.

Thank you to T for breaking me. For helping to shatter my ability to trust myself and others. Same goes for J and L and S (female)…

Thank you to JR, the blue collar atypical Dom, for helping to put me back together again and for making me laugh through it all.

Thank you to another S (male) for letting me open up, for letting me share, for letting me explore my own emotions, and for reading each and every word of Break Me without judgment.

Thank you to m for showing me another side of selflessness, of selfishness, of devotion to self.

Thank you to Shirley for the email Friday night… For asking where this book came from. It came from me.

And thank you to Scarlett Dawn and the bringing together of so many wonderful authors and the many different voices to tell stories from The Club.

Break Me is available now….

~lissa

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