Okay, so maybe I don’t… But that’s because there’s a second pen name so many authors are hiding behind when they choose to write something racy, highly erotic, taboo, filthy, etc… Why?
To be fair, I’ve been putting serious thought for about a year into adding a new pen name. Either for all my paranormal stuff or for some dirty romance I want to write. Because the last thing authors want to do is alienate readers.
At the same time, authors don’t want to generally be pigeonholed or typecast or stifled.
The case for pen names having a finite shelf life? I’ve heard it. The case for if you write so many different things, Amazon doesn’t really know what to do with you and your ‘Also boughts’. I’ve heard it. The case of a new pen name may add life to the new genre you’re trying to write in as opposed to using your usual pen name. I’ve heard it too.
No, I don’t want to alienate you guys. I don’t want to lose any of you, but given the content of some of the stuff I’m writing to release later this year, I likely will. Because I’m doing it under Lissa Matthews. It’s possible it won’t sell. It’s possible it will damage the Lissa Matthews name/brand, whatever that means. It’s possible. All things are possible. But I’m going to do it anyway. If it starts having adverse effects, I’ll play around with some new pen names.
I guess what started this is… I’ve read a number of books the last year or so where the authors were New York Times Best Selling authors who liked writing taboo and dirty stories. Maybe they didn’t want anyone to know it was them? Maybe they’re big publishing house published and the didn’t want the publisher to know. Maybe they’re afraid of alienating readers if they don’t use a new name. I don’t know. I would ask if I knew what name they normally write under.
A friend of mine wrote a series outside her normal style and the books didn’t do well until she changed the name on them to something completely different than her usual pen name and they sold like hot cakes. I’ve watched several authors do this. Then, I’ve watched others write everything under one name and it work, whether they walk the taboo edges or the paranormal romance lines. The readers will lap it up.
I started in this business writing bad boys with tattoos and lots of sex. I had grand ideas. I was quickly tossed off the roof and I’ve been roaming around in the bushes ever since. Before I sent anything to a publisher, I used to publish erotica on a free story/pic site. I wrote exhibitionist erotica, taboo erotica, bdsm erotica, painful emotional erotica, and erotic. I was exploring my own depths and I got incredible feedback. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make the transition to the rules of publishing. I did, to a point. But to be honest, something has been missing for a long time. Fire. Passion. Pushing boundaries.
So, maybe you’ll like what I’m working on. Maybe you won’t. But, I won’t hide behind a mask. It’ll have my name. Lissa Matthews on the cover. It’ll be my own interpretation, my own vision of what I want to write. After all, that’s what indie publishing is all about, that’s what being a writer is all about.
And now that I get my ass up every morning at 5:30 and take my son to school, I look forward to Friday. Every. Damn. Friday. Before that, days just ran together because working from home, home schooling, all things delivered to your door… But anyway, FRIDAY! I can sleep in tomorrow. Thought it rarely ever works that way, it is nice to dream.
So, this post. I’ve blogged every day now since last Friday. Twice yesterday. And one of my goals for 2016 was to take a page out of Delilah Devlin’s book and have something on my blog all the time. It might be a guest post, or me yammering away about nonsense, or posting information about book releases, etc… But to start utilizing my blog again. A lot.
I’m disenchanted with social media. I use it. A lot. But I use it way more than I use my blog and my website and really, I think, it should be the other way around. I may only have 3 people reading this blog or visiting my site right now, but at least I know those 3 people WANT to be here.
2016 is the year I’m going to turn that around and use my blog and website and newsletter more than I use social media. I haven’t figured out all the ins and outs yet. I haven’t figured out how to get more people here or there or to sign up, but it’s a process and I’ll figure out what works for me.
I don’t generally like social media because Oh My God, I can’t control all that drama and I really don’t want to be part of it. I want to keep up with the business and then do the business MY way. (cue Elvis on stage in Hawaii singing MY WAY. it’s his birthday, by the way… he’d have been 81).
Now, that man… He did it all his own way.
And I think that’s what we need more of. People doing things their way and even though we’re in a business of creating, most of us doing get ahead by being different. Nope. Author A does one thing. Then, Author B. emulates exactly what Author A did, right down to the hook and cover of her book. Authors C, D, and E, follow suit, and what we now have is an alphabet size pool of books that all look the same, read the same, follow the same path, etc…
I don’t want to read the same book and I don’t want to write the same book. I don’t want mine to look like yours or yours look like mine. But different in this business seems to have gone the way of the dodo. If we’re not all doing the same thing, then whoever is doing it different is doing it wrong. And I call bullshit.
I have listened for too long all that. No. More. I’m going to go about this my way. That’s how I started and I’m not afraid anymore. I’m not scared to say what’s on my mind. I’m not cowed by the ‘but how’s that going to look?’. Who cares.
It’s the small things that mean something. It’s the small gestures that are remembered, not always the grand ones. It’s the personal touch. It’s the individuality. And that’s what I’m going with. That’s what I want 2016 to be and mean to me.
After my post on Sunday, I was nervous. Scared. And those two words probably don’t even begin to scratch the surface of what I truly mean when I say I was nervous and scared. But a reader commented that I was daring, brave, bold, and fearless for writing it. I don’t know if that’s true, but I like to think it is. The support has been overwhelming and I’m filled with gratitude and humility that I have such a loyal group of readers and friends.
But one word that has come out of it all that I will fully own up to is FREEDOM! I feel as though a burden has been lifted and I can write again. It doesn’t absolve me of my responsibilities or obligations to others that I’ve promised projects to, or that I’ve told readers I would be writing…at some point…in the future, but it has given me a feeling of freedom and that feeling has opened up a well inside me that was blocked until I opened up and got some truths out.
I have high expectations of myself. Those who still read my books have expectations of me, too. I know I haven’t always lived up to them and I know I’ll fall short in times to come. For me though, the expectation now is different, is full of breath and light and possibility. I let go of things that were holding me down and holding me back and finally, FINALLY, started to let the words have their way with me and when that happens, y’all… I was in awe last night when I had a few moments to write at the words that not only found their way onto the page, but with the beauty of them. They’re raw and they’re in need of tweaking, but they’re awesome words. They’re free words. They’re not bound to an ideal that I have do something that I am no longer capable of doing in the way that I once did. I was elated and inspired.
And that is the feeling that writing used to create in me. Not the dread. Not the stress. Not the feeling of ‘ugh, I don’t want to write’. But the freedom in creation and in discovery. That’s what’s been missing for me and that’s what I found by being honest and maybe, just maybe, being a little bold, a little daring, a little fearless, and a little brave.
It’s almost 6am in the morning. I’ve been up since 2am. I’m not sure what’s going on with me. My sleep patterns are all messed up. Of course, those few nights I told y’all about where I stayed up all night reading might have something to do with it. (more…)
In the movie Say Anything, valedictorian Diane Cord delivered a commencement speech that ended with the words Go Back. It went over the heads of most of her classmates and in all honesty, it’s a hard concept to Go Back. But sometimes I think we have to do just that in order to move forward.
Over the weekend I watched The Masters golf tournament as I do every year. Several things stood out to me in the hours of commentary before I was allowed to see any actual golf being played…
The most disliked golfer it seems is the one that has taken his own route for the most part and is seen as the most standoffish… Bubba Watson. His fellow golfers answered a survey question that went something like If one of your peers was stranded in a parking lot and needed help, who would you not help? Bubba Watson was the answer. When he was told about this his feelings were naturally hurt and his response was that he needed to work on himself as a man. Now, whether the question and the answers were tongue in cheek is beside the point. He took it to heart. Maybe they simply meant that they viewed him as capable and wouldn’t need their help. Maybe it was meant as something more… But that he took it seriously and said he needed to work on himself as a man and set out to do so over the weekend, says something.
The next thing was a comment about Rickie Fowler. He’s young. Good looking. Has all the social media down. Has the product endorsements. The commercials. Talented. Plays mostly consistent golf. But has only won a single tournament in the six years since he turned pro. The announcers speculated on his popularity in the locker room among his peers. Did they view him with less than complete respect because he didn’t have more titles to his name? He was well liked in the press and among fans, but was his lack of accomplishment on the course cause for some dislike and disrespect in the locker room? I wouldn’t doubt it. I see it in the publishing world, so why wouldn’t it extend to other professions too?
The last thing was that Phil Mickelson was playing exceptional golf. It was the best I’d seen him play in the last couple of years. He simply kept getting better with each round. One thing that was said, and that is the most on point with this post, is that he’s gone back to basics. Gone back to the very beginning and started over. That was a theme of commentary throughout the weekend that going back was sometimes exactly what was needed in order to go forward and achieve potential.
So, what does all this have to do with me and why am I writing about it other than I love golf?
It has to do with me because that’s what I have landed on regarding what I need to do. I’ve been floundering, aimless in my writing lately. I haven’t enjoyed it. I’m sorry, but I haven’t. And I apologize because I’ve made you all think that I have. To a point, yes, of course, I have enjoyed what I’ve been writing. I love my characters. Jason and Alli. They were fun. And I’m enjoying Peg and Derek. Peg is a riot, at least in her head. But I’m enjoying them only to a point. That’s not fair to me as a writer and it’s not fair to you as a reader.
I have some awesome readers too. About 100. I say that because when I release a new book, that’s about how many people buy it. 100. That in and of itself needs re-evaluating, but I am grateful that those 100 people like my books and buy my books.
It came to me last night, laying in bed, wide awake, staring at the darkness above. Everyone was asleep but me. Even the zoo of cats was asleep. I thought about getting up and working on The Tattooed Barista. My heart wasn’t in it. I thought about working on the billionaire, or the next race car book, or one of the many paranormals I have promised to write over the next few months. But all those thoughts filled me with dread. That’s not a good feeling at any time or on any day, but really not a good one when one has been suffering through an episode of depression (diagnosed clinical depression going on 25 years) for weeks.
And this. Because this is at times exactly how depression feels, how this business of publishing feels, how life feels.
So, instead of writing on what I am expected to write on, I opened up Evernote, because you know, we’re having an affair…and wrote a blog post about Safety. Then I wrote one about Hurt Feelings. But those weren’t enough. So I opened up another text post and threw up everything I was feeling. I purged the words, the feelings, the thoughts, the vitriol, the shit that had been weighing me down. I typed it all out on my phone between 2 and 5 am. It felt good. It felt really, really good. I was going back to my roots of writing. I wasn’t thinking about anything other than getting the words out. No rules. No expectations. Just letting it all out.
It’s not romance.
Writing started for me in Jr. High. Writing things young teenage girls weren’t supposed to write or think about.
Writing continued for me in High School. Still, writing things teenage girls weren’t supposed to write or think about.
I wrote in College, something tame for English class that my professor told me should be a little freer and that I should consider a career in creative writing, in fiction, in romance because I had a voice that I should let others hear.
I stopped writing to marry and have kids but it was always there, festering beneath my skin. We were good Christian, church going people and I tried my hand at inspirational romance. That lasted all of a day. I kept wanting to cuss and write dirty sex.
I put the writing away again and it was several more years before I took it back out again. I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. I worked a day job and wrote well into the night, existing for years on 3 hours sleep at night. I got fatter because I drank soda and ate chocolate to give me the highs to stay awake so I could write or work. I have 2 novels, one contemporary, one historical, each about 75% complete just sitting in the closet.
I wanted to publish but didn’t know how to go about it back then. It all seemed daunting. There were rules to follow and I didn’t think I could follow them and still write what I enjoyed. So, I wrote what I wanted and published on free erotica and porn sites. My writing wasn’t always so tame. My writing was filled with edge, taboos, and dirty, dirty sex.
I got away from that. I didn’t see how to make a living with that. It made my spouse uncomfortable too. I learned a lot about myself writing and I still do, but it lead me to being more open minded than I ever imagined I could be given my upbringing and marital situation. He’s not open minded, but I am.
But the point is, I was free when I was writing back then. I didn’t have anything to conform to. I didn’t have any expectations of readers, friends, peers, publishers. I hadn’t written myself into a box or a corner because I was afraid of what others might think. Once I was published with publishers, I had to maintain a certain image, or so I was told. I couldn’t say or do or act any way that might reflect poorly. Then there were other writers and editors and cover artists…they wouldn’t want to work with me if I wrote certain things or certain ways or acted/reacted certain ways. There were reviewers who only liked this or that. Boxes and corners. Some were of my own making. Some were not. Some were willing concessions, some I made so I would still look favorable. And through it all, the writing suffered. My creativity suffered. My voice suffered.
The wall has been hit and I’m breaking, shattering. I am not finding love in what I’m writing and it fucking scares me. I want to please my readers, YOU, I want to please you and give you what you want, but what if it’s not the same as what I want all the time? Or right now? I don’t want to disappoint you, but I don’t want to put out crap either, trite crap that I wouldn’t want to read on my worst day.
I’m tired of breaking promises that make me look bad and unreliable.
Last night, raw emotional painful truthful writing happened. Last night, raw emotional dirty erotica happened. And that is dirty in a very good DIRTY way. Last night I went back. I went back to the beginning. I went back to where I started. I went back and it felt amazing, empowering. I just wrote without thinking what readers would think, without thinking what other authors or friends or publishers or anyone else would think. I kicked a hole in the expectations and rules box and I was so pumped and hyped I had a hard time even catching a few hours of desperately needed sleep.
Earlier this year I set up a writing and publishing schedule that I’m tearing up. You’ll get the books I’ve promised you and that I’ve promised others (those have deadlines), starting with The Tattooed Barista. I won’t say when you’ll get them because until I find the joy and love in them again, I can’t give my all. That’s not fair to either of us.
They inspire me and they haven’t been referred to at all. They haven’t been ME yet.
I’m beating myself before I even start. I’m trying to keep up because let’s face it, keeping up is the name of the game and I’m not even out of the starting gate.
It’s time to be Brave and time to find the Pleasure and Bliss in writing again. It’s time to go back and find the Joy in being Open to the possibilities. It’s time to find my voice, my Signature. And it’s time to be Positive about where I’m going and stop stressing over the expectations and pressure I’m putting on myself. This is my life, my craft, my journey. You’re on it with me and I’m thrilled that you are.