Novel, Published Author, Self Publishing, Writing

Falling In Love… With Fictional Characters

Any reader can attest to this… to say that they love to lose themself in the story of a good book… and to fall in love with the characters. It happens. A lot!

I’ve been an avid reader my entire life. For me, it was because of my love of acting. Taking on a role, and becoming that character was the best part about acting. It provided that escape from life, that escape from homework, friend drama, family drama… any drama! It created its own drama and I thrived on that. I still do. I’ve seen a ton of memes floating around on social media about readers falling in love with characters. But what about the writer? Has anyone ever wondered, while they’re reading a book, did the writer feel what I’m feeling?

One of my favorite quotes on writing is by Robert Frost. “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” I love this so much because it’s so true. As a writer I feel all of the emotions that my characters feel. I cry when they cry. I’m angry when they’re angry. I’m surprised when a twist in one of my stories happens, because if the reader is surprised, you can bet that I shook my head in confusion and said, “Didn’t see that coming!” And of course, when my characters fall in love, you can also be assured that I am head over heels in love with them, too.

It’s kind of funny to experience those feelings, but I look at it as a positive side effect. Those chills and flutters are exciting in the beginning of any relationship, so it’s fun to embrace them as a writer. Right now, I’m currently working on the third book in a trilogy. I just released the first book titled, Where We Belong. Just like I did in Where We Belong, and in the follow-up book that’s yet to be released, Coming Home, I’m falling in love with my current character in The Courage To Return. I love the visual of him (more on that in a future blog post), I love his quiet nature, I love how he loves.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

I fall in love with the female characters, too. I even have a different kind of love for my evil characters. They create conflict and of course we want to see the protagonist overcome any adversity, but those villains are there for a reason, and I kind of love them. I think more than loving them, I just enjoy the hell out of writing them!

What about you? Do you fall in love with your characters when you read or write? Drop a comment and let me know! Thanks for stopping by!

Novel, Published Author, Queries, Self Publishing, Writing

My Exquerience April 6, 2022

Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com

“He who gets the most rejections wins!” “You have to go for No!” Those are two beloved quotes to cheer me on, from two of my favorite people.

It’s been one week since I submitted my first query of 2022. So far, no word. After I submitted, I received an email that included a link where I could go and check the status of my submission. As of yesterday, it’s still in review. I have no idea if that means they’re reading it, or they haven’t gotten to it yet. Either way, there’s really no news to report.

I have a spreadsheet with agencies, contact information, and the agent who I’ve researched that might be a good fit for me. As I was going through that this morning to see who the next lucky agent will be, I noticed that some of the agents I thought would be a good fit, probably aren’t. This is why extensive research is needed. For some reason, I had a few agents on there that, after really looking at their profile, I realized they aren’t for me, and I’m not for them. They want science fiction mixed with romance. I skimmed their profile and saw romance. After carefully reading it again this morning, I realized there’s nothing sci-fi about my books… except for maybe that most of the male characters I write would never exist in this world, they’re too perfect. Hmm… did I just find a loophole??

As most writers do, I tend to get in my head when it comes to my work. I know putting myself out there is the way to make things happen. I know that “No” is part of this process. The image below came up in my Facebook memories today. It’s very encouraging, and I find it interesting that I should see it on a Wednesday… the day of the week when I work on queries.

When my father read my first book, Set It Free, and I was finally able to look him in the eye again… I mean seriously, what part of “Don’t read the sex scenes” didn’t he understand?? Anyway, he was very complimentary, and he said that my writing put him in mind of Janet Evanovich. So, I love this post of hers for the encouragement, and I love it because my dad thinks I write like her. Aww, thanks, Dad!

Up next is a new agent to query. Looking at their submission guidelines, they want the first 50 pages of my book. The last place only wanted the first 25 pages. I wish it was more uniform across the board with every agent, but it’s not. This is why homework is needed.

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read about My Exquerience. Stay tuned for more!

Novel, Published Author, Queries, Self Publishing, Writing

First Query Sent!

Query Sent!

Welcome to my Exquerience! I finally sent my first query letter of the year. Let me start by saying, yikes! As soon as I hit “submit” I told my daughter I needed a Pepto Bismal martini! (Side note… it’s actually a thing. I just looked it up. Eww! Here’s the Google search.) But really, my stomach was in knots, my hands were trembling, my knees were shaking… but I did it!

The thing is, I’m fully expecting a rejection, so I don’t know why I’m so nervous. Scratch that, yes, I do know why I’m so nervous. Because this means everything to me! Writing has become like breathing to me. I feel suffocated when I’m not doing it. My goal is to get representation and be published traditionally, so putting myself out there to find an agent is daunting. Plus, I think anyone who puts themself out there and is trying to reach a goal, no matter what that goal is, understands the anxiety it creates.

It took me a while to get it all together. A new bio, a brief synopsis, the query letter, and the number of pages required for the submission. I’m hoping now that I’ve compiled what’s needed for most queries, and saved the document, that future queries will be a smoother process with minor tweaks for what the agent requests. My goal is to submit one letter a month, hopefully more as I get more comfortable and of course, stop procrastinating!

As my dear friend tells me, the one with the most rejections wins! I love that because it means I’m trying. I’m putting myself out there and that’s a huge, huge step! Honestly, with how reclusive and shy I’ve become, I wonder how I ever stood on a stage and belted out a tune. I guess there’s just something magical about standing on a stage that brings that out in me, but I’m more comfortable telling the tale than acting it out.

I’ll keep submitting, and until I get an agent, I’ll keep writing and self-publishing. Speaking of which… my new book is now available!

Where We Belong is available in both print and digital form. I hope you check it out, and I hope you leave a positive review.

As always, thanks for reading and stay tuned for my next exquerience!

Novel, Published Author, Queries, Self Publishing, Writing

Query Time… Take Two!

Welcome to the third blog post that chronicles my query experience… or as I like to call it, My Exquerience! Last time I posted, I wrote about how I was feeling twitchy just thinking about the possibility of sending a query letter. It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there no matter what you’re doing! I take those nerves as a good sign. Back in the day… yes, I just said back in the day… when I was doing theater, I was always a bundle of nerves before I got on stage. I would pace, my hands would tremble, and I’d feel sick to my stomach. I’m surprised I never actually got sick before I performed, because that’s how badly the nerves would get me. But every time I stepped on that stage, all those nerves melted away and turned into energy for a good performance. Over time, I took those nerves to be a good thing. The rare times I felt chill before I went on stage, it wasn’t a stellar performance. So, I’m embracing my twitchiness.

Ok, I know I just recapped my last post, so I’ll move on. The book I was going to query was The Art of Zen. My first standalone novel. Well, I started looking at the query form, and it requests word count. In my research, all agents request word count. I got twitchy again. Zen is a long novel. Really long. Research says that a debut novel should only be 80,000 to 100,000 words. Well, even though Zen is not my debut novel, it would probably be considered a debut because I’ve never been traditionally published.

I pondered the situation and reached out to a few friends. Should I fudge the wordcount in the hopes that an agent will request the entire manuscript and fall in love with it? Outright lie? Or should I tell them the honest truth and hope they give me a chance? I knew what the right thing was, and that’s what I was told. Tell the truth. There’s no sense in lying when you’re trying to build a potential relationship with someone. I get it… and I felt guilty for even thinking of lying. So, if you happen to be reading this and you’re a literary agent, I apologize. I’m only human.

The dilemma is that Zen is over 200,000 words. Yup, you read that right. I write big books, and I cannot lie! (You rapped that, didn’t you?) After a long discussion with my editor, here’s what I came up with. I’m going to reread The Art of Zen and turn it into two books. Yay! More time with Tia and Spencer. I’m also going to re-edit my baby, Set It Free, and put that on my “To Query” list. In the meantime, I’m going to query Where We Belong, since it’s about half the size of Zen. It’s also releasing on March 23rd, so make sure to check it out!

Yesterday, I was supposed to work on my query for Where We Belong, but I hit a snag uploading the cover. I finally got it uploaded last night and it should be good to go. Now I can focus on shouting it out, and on reworking my query letter.

It’s a lot of work, and a total labor of love. But guess what? I love it! I’m in the midst of writing the third book in the Where We Belong trilogy. I just love this group of characters and I can’t wait to share them with all of you!

Thanks for reading, and for joining me on My Exquerience!

Novel, Self Publishing, Writer's Block, Writing

8 Reasons I Don’t Want To Write… Right Now

It’s been a tough week in the world of writing. I’m really struggling to get through another chapter of my work in progress. It’s not because the story is boring, or because I don’t feel connected to my characters. There are a lot of reasons I’m just not feeling it right now.

Don’t get me wrong. I love writing. This is what I want to do full time. I want to write, create stories, and share them with the world. I want to be a best selling author. I want all of that. But this week, I don’t want to write.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Then of course, I question myself. Am I blocked or unmotivated? Some people will argue that writer’s block doesn’t truly exist. It simply means you’re unmotivated to put the work into your manuscript. I disagree with that. While I may entertain the idea that writer’s block isn’t real, because I’m not lacking for ideas or the path of my current story, I don’t think it’s always lack of motivation. For me, what I’ve realized in the past few days is, I’m burned out. I’ve put a lot of work into my current new release. I’m trying to build a business while I’m promoting my work. I think I’m spreading myself a bit thin and starting to recognize that a small break is in order.

I hope you continue to read so I can share with you, the 8 reasons I don’t want to write… right now.

  1. Burn Out
    Like I said, I’m stretching myself too thin between writing, editing, promoting, and working on growing my business so I can make money to contribute to my family.
  2. Netflix
    I blame You. Not you, the one reading this. I blame You. Season 3 of the crazy, messed up show came out last week and consumed me for three days. Yup, I binge watched the entire thing. Before that, I binge watched Midnight Mass. I keep finding shows to get sucked into and it’s cutting into my writing time.
  3. Mind Chatter
    I usually only struggle with mind chatter when I’m trying to meditate. Maybe I need to meditate? Maybe that will clear my head because right now, there’s a lot swirling around in there and it’s stifling my creativity.
  4. I’m In My Head
    Here’s the thing I’m really struggling with. Have you ever read one author’s work and several books into their inventory, you realize you’re basically reading the same story, just with different characters and a different location? I remember thinking this with one of my favorite authors. I’m not going to say who, because they’re a huge inspiration to me, but the last book of theirs I read, I remember thinking that it was all familiar. Sassy, strong female calls out mopey, distant male. They have witty banter where she puts him in his place several times, then of course, they have sex and all of that melts away. The details, and pacing of these books became so routine for me as I was reading that I stopped reading this author. I’m afraid that’s going to happen with me. I know, I know… I’m the first person to tell another artist to never compare your work to others, but this is really getting to me. Are my stories predictable? Do all of my characters experience intimacy in the same way? Are my steamy sex scenes predictable and boring? In my current WIP, I’m facing a steamy scene and I realize this is what is making me struggle. I’m so worried I’m going to write it like I’ve written so many before, so I’m just not doing it.
  5. Life
    I’ve got some stuff going on in my personal life that’s pretty heavy. Not sharing it, just listing that this is one of the reasons I’m not pushing forward. It’s hard to create when a certain situation keeps popping into your mind, and then all you can do is cry. Or get angry. Those emotions can fuel a good scene, but that’s not what I’m working with right now.
  6. Music
    Don’t get me wrong. Music is amazing and I love so many genres and have tons of favorite songs. Lately, I get certain songs stuck in my head. Not just an annoying ear worm (I hate that saying, by the way) but the same songs that will pop into my head at all hours, even late night hours when I’m supposed to be sound asleep. I’ll wake up out of nowhere with these songs in my head, and it’s not even the whole song. It’s a line in a song that repeats over and over and it annoys me. The more it annoys me, the more it plays. Anyone have any advice for clearing that? Seriously. I hate it.
  7. Social Media
    Yes, I know it’s my fault that I log into Facebook and scroll Instagram, but it’s a total distraction, not to mention a time suck and I’m 100% guilty. It’s great for procrastinating!
  8. I’m Selfish
    Yes, you read that right. I fully admit that I am a selfish person and that’s why I’m not writing. Here’s the thing. When characters present their stories to me, it’s just me and them for a long time. I watch the saga like a movie in my head. When I’m ready to start putting it into words, I’ve already become invested in them. Their lives, their heartache, their love… everything. When I am getting close to finishing a book, I slow down. I want to cherish those private moments I’ve witnessed and I’m not so quick to share. It happens with every book I write. For the past week, I’ve been daydreaming, which is important work for writers! I see their story, I feel their feelings, and I’m keeping it to myself because I’m not ready for it to end yet.

Follow up…

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

It’s been about a week since I wrote my 8 reasons why I didn’t want to write. I took the time to give my brain a rest. I have things I want to accomplish, and I’ve learned that when I try to rush through them, or do them all at once, I start to get frustrated and things don’t go as planned. That’s ok. Sometimes you have to walk away from what you’re working on, no matter how important it is to you. That break resets your mind. Creativity comes back. The words flow, my fingers move over my keyboard with ease. The words are definitely back. I’ve finished the chapter I was working on and my characters got to enjoy a steamy moment together. I’m still slowing down since I’m near the end of this particular book. I can’t help it. I love them and they’re real to me. I’m not ready to say goodbye to them yet, so for the time being, I’ll remain a little selfish.

Fellow writers, artists, musicians, creators of all kinds… how to you deal with a block? Do you believe in blocks, or do you think it’s being unmotivated or being burned out? I want to hear from you!

Thank you for reading my blog… stay tuned for more!

Book Club, FAQs, Novel, Published Author, Self Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing

Writing Q & A Part 1

black and white business career close up

Since I’ve been writing, there are certain questions I get asked on a regular basis. I decided to feature them in a blog post along with my answers. I titled this Part 1, because there are other questions I’d like to feature, and I know there will be more along the way. Enjoy!

Side note: If you’re reading this and you see a question here that you have asked me, please know I’m not singling anyone out, I’m just featuring commonly asked questions… along with a few silly ones!
How do you come up with your stories?
I wish there was a clear, concise answer to this. I have an overactive imagination, so a lot of the time something will catch my attention. It can be a person, it can be a shiny object, it can be a pretty autumn leaf on the ground. Whatever it is, my mind will focus on it, then my imagination starts running wild and usually a story is formed from that. Other times I see vignettes in my mind, kind of like a movie. A lot of those images just pass through, but the ones that reoccur are the ones I pay attention to, and the ones I start to write.
How do you name your characters?
Sometimes I use a name that I love, like Alexandra. Sometimes, I see a character and I have no idea what to name them. A book of baby names comes in handy for this. Other times, the names come to me like the story lines do. I know this sounds crazy, and please don’t think I need a mental health evaluation, but sometimes a character will introduce themselves to me, and tell me their name. This happened to me with my current work in progress. You’ll meet her later this year!
Is Slater Heart named after A.C. Slater from that old TV show Saved by The Bell?
Um… that’s a hard no. Never even crossed my mind. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’m asked that. I don’t like that question, it actually kind of irritates me.
Then, how did you come up with the name Slater Heart?
I knew that Slater’s character would have a unique name. If you’ve read Set It Free, Slater tells Alexandra that his family has a tradition of making last names into middle names. So, Slater is his middle name. I think I was watching an interview on The Today Show with actor Christian Slater and I thought his last name would be a very cool name for a rock star. He didn’t inspire anything beyond the name.
You dedicated Set It Free to Axl Rose. So, you’ve met him? That’s why you dedicated it to him?
Yup, we’re besties… we go way back… Did you detect a hint of sarcasm? Ha ha! No, I have not met him. I dedicated the book to him because he was a huge inspiration to me while I was writing the series. I’ve started writing projects in the past and I’ve never finished them. I finished this one, and I wanted to thank him for that. That’s all.
Do you want to meet him?
At first, I thought, yes. My goal was to get my book into his hands and say thank you for the inspiration. Now, I’d love to know that he received a copy of my book and my thanks, but honestly, if I never meet him, I’m ok with that. That one is hard to explain but I get asked that frequently, so that’s my answer.
Do you put people you know in your stories?
Sometimes, and sometimes they’re good characters and sometimes they’re not. If you’ve read Let It Go, you might remember a part where Alexandra and Mona talk about 2 makeup artists they’re not very fond of. Those gossipy characters are 2 people I used to work with. No, their names have not been changed. Yes, they were that awful. Sorry, not sorry.
What if they read it and see that?
I’d like to introduce them to a friend of mine named, Karma.
Do you use real life situations in your stories?
To a certain extent. There have been many real life situations that have inspired parts of my books, but a lot of them come from my imagination.
You have some steamy content in your books. What’s it like to write a sex scene?
I get asked this a lot. A LOT! It’s challenging, that’s for sure. Sometimes it feels voyeuristic, like I’m spying on them. It can be a little uncomfortable, but I think it’s part of a romance novel that’s important, so I have to get past any reservations I have and write their story… steamy content, and all.
Are any of those steamy moments from personal experience?
I get asked this one quite often, too. My answer… you’ll never know.
Why is it taking so long to get your next book published?
The writing/editing process is a long one. The manuscript goes back and forth between me and my editors several times. Editing is very tedious, and I’m so thankful for my editors, even though I’m usually cussing them out during revisions! After editing comes formatting, then it’s off to the publisher. The cost of self-publishing is not inexpensive, so that’s a factor, as well. The more books I sell, the more money I make, so spread the word and tell your friends to buy my books, so they can get published faster!
You talk about reviews all the time. Are they really that important?
Yes, they are. Not only do they mean the world to me that someone takes the time to leave a positive review, but the more reviews I have, the more exposure I’ll get, which results in more book sales. If you’ve left me a review on Amazon, Goodreads, Google, social media, etc. I am forever grateful. If you have not left a review yet, please do. It truly means so much to me!

There you have it! If you have a question about my writing process, or a personal question for me, reply to this post, or leave me a message/comment on social media. I’m on Instagram as brookegillespietroutauthor or on my Facebook page, Brooke’s Books.

Book Club, Newsletter, Novel, Published Author, Writing, Writing about sex

Don’t Let Pinterest Get You Down

Pinterest

“How to develop strong characters.” “The 5 most important things your novel needs.” “Sex in romance, why it’s necessary.” “Sex in romance, why it shouldn’t be gratuitous.” “Dialogue; why it’s so important to keep it real.” “Dialogue; why it’s important to keep it to a minimum.”

If you’re a writer and you’re anything like me, you probably stumble upon numerous articles like this on Pinterest. While I love Pinterest for a variety of things… awesome shots of a young Axl Rose… (He inspired the main man in my romance series. You can buy that here.) Piercing images of Ian Somerhalder’s eyes… (He inspired the main man in my new romance novel I’m working on. It’s not available yet, but in the meantime, check out my first book!) Mouth watering Mediterranean recipes I’m probably never going to try… and articles on the rules of writing that keep you obsessed for hours/days/weeks. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great tips out there and some of the articles have really useful information. But some of them leave my head spinning and I realize it’s time to climb out of the rabbit hole and just get to work.

Newspaper

One of the articles that stands out is a piece on sex in writing and why it shouldn’t be gratuitous, even in a romance. Scroll down half and inch and all of your Pinterest suggestions refresh, and one will catch your eye claiming that sex is a MUST in romance. Today I stumbled across one telling me how important dialogue is in a novel… you guessed it… halfway down that newsfeed there was another article chastising dialogue and insisted that it should be kept brief. What the heck? What if dialogue is one of your strongest points? A lot of my readers have told me that they love the conversations with my characters and suddenly I’m reading from an “expert” that those conversations are fluff. Well, who is this “expert” anyway? Who are these faceless people that have put rules on everything I find fun about writing? I love documenting a conversation with my characters, even if it includes mundane small talk. Why? Because that’s what makes it real!! That’s what makes the reader relate to what they’re doing, what they’re saying, and how they’re feeling in a situation that someone can identify with. And how can an “expert” claim that dialogue should be kept brief when movies are nothing but dialogue and I can see my stories come to life as a movie?!?!

SteamyAnd let’s talk about the gratuitous sex! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Sex is important in a romance novel. No way in hell did I ever pick up a bodice ripper when I was a teenager because I wanted a history lesson! I wanted steam. I wanted situations that made me look over my shoulder to insure that no one could see what I was reading. I wanted Sidney Sheldon content, I wanted Johanna Lyndsey love, I wanted Jackie Collins scandal!! Why? Because I wanted to escape, and I want my readers to escape! Into a world of characters that while exciting and different from their own lives, is still normal with conversations, every day activities, and of course, with personal bedroom moments.

So, thank you Pinterest for all of your suggestions… ALL OF THEM… goodness, there are so many. There are so many opinions out there on what makes a good book and they’re all conflicting. My advice to fellow writers is this… WRITE! Ignore what those articles say you can and can’t do and do whatever the hell you want. Do it for yourself. Your audience will find you. In the meantime, enjoy Pinterest for stalking your celebrity crush and might I suggest getting lost in Ian Somerhalder’s eyes?? (Isn’t he dreamy? You’re welcome!)

Thank you for reading my rant on writing articles. I’d love it if you’d subscribe to this blog. I’d also love it if you read my book! Thanks for stopping by! I have to go write!

Book Club, Novel, Published Author, Self Publishing, Writing

Book Club Questions

Book Club

If you belong to a book club, or you’re thinking of starting a book club, and just happen to be reading Heart & Soul, Set It Free, here are some book club questions I want to offer. If you have any suggestions for me to add to this list, please let me know!

If you’re reading Heart & Soul, Set It Free, I hope you’re enjoying it! Please tell your friends. And if this book is featured in your book club, please send me pictures!!

Here are the questions:

  1. What did you like best about this book?
  2. What did you like least about this book?
  3. What other books did this remind you of?
  4. What are your first impressions of Alexandra/Slater? Do you like her/him? Why/why not?
  5. Did the characters seem believable to you? Did they remind you of anyone?
  6. If you were making a movie of this book, who would you cast?
  7. Share a favorite quote from the book. Why did this quote stand out?
  8. Would you read the second book in the series? Why or why not?
  9. What feelings did this book evoke for you?
  10. What songs does this book make you think of? Create a book group playlist together!
  11. If you got the chance to ask the author of this book one question, what would it be? 
  12. Which character in the book would you most like to meet?
  13. What do you think of the book’s title? How does it relate to the book’s contents? What other title might you choose?
  14. What do you think of the book’s cover? How well does it convey what the book is about?
  15. How original and unique was this book?
  16. Did this book seem realistic?
  17. Did the book’s pace seem too fast/too slow/just right?
  18. Have your first impressions of the book changed? If so, how?

 

Please visit my website, brookegillespietrout.com for updates and sign up for my monthly newsletter!!!

Novel, Published Author, Self Publishing, Writing

My Book Is Published!

No automatic alt text available.

What an amazing feeling this is to finally hold my book in my hands! It’s been 4 years since I became inspired to write this story. In 4 years, I have written 3 books in the series and I’ve almost completed the 4th book. I’ve learned so much about myself in this process and I feel I’ve grown as a writer.

I’m excited to share this with the world now! Heart & Soul, Set It Free is available right now on Amazon as an eBook and a preorder for the printed copy. I do have a few copies in my possession, so if you would like to purchase directly from me, please reply to this post and let me know.

My website will be up and running soon and will feature content about the Heart & Soul series, a monthly newsletter, contests, and so much more!!

Novel, Self Publishing, Writing, Writing about sex

Is Your Book Steamy?

Book Heart

I’m starting to get a lot of questions about my book! Yippee, and thank you! If I’m just meeting someone and they hear about my writing, here is how the conversation typically goes:
“What is your book about?”
“It’s a romance,” I say with a smile.
“Ooh, a romance,” they say in a breathy voice. “Does that mean there’s lots of sex in there?”

I’m never quite sure how to answer that question. It gets me a little sidetracked when I haven’t gotten a chance to give a quick rundown of the story. But, it’s a valid question. I’m a fan of romance novels, and one of the guiltiest pleasures about a romance novel is, well, all the pleasure.
So, my answer to this question is: Yes, there is sex in my book. I’m not sure what’s classified as a lot of sex, but it’s there, it’s steamy and it’s gratuitous.

You’re forewarned, and you’re welcome!