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.

Uncategorized, Unemployment, Workplace Drama

When You Find Out You Worked For Liars

Liar

Nothing gets me more steamed than finding out I’ve been lied to. I was raised to be an honest person. I am an honest person, and I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility to expect that from others, especially my employer.

Before I dig into a rant on my former job, let me make one thing clear. I was not happy there. In fact, I hated my last job for 3 main reasons:

  • It was the wrong fit for me.
  • There was a ton of drama in the workplace.
  • It was a dead-end position with no promise of moving up. Ever.

When I was let go, I was brought into a large conference room. In said room was the HR manager, the HR bitch…sorry, not sorry…the VP of Finance and the CFO, who used to be one of the owners of the company before they sold out for millions. And I’m talking millions! (I’ll share more on the moment I was let go, and the HR bitch, in a different post.)
The CFO looked at me with tears in her eyes, repeatedly apologizing about the fact that my position was being eliminated. The VP didn’t have tears in his eyes, but he was very good at making it seem as though the fact that they were letting me go was killing him.
I was curious though. In a company where they had 2 people at the front desk because of its high traffic with calls and incoming visitors, why would they just eliminate this position without at least tapering off into a new situation? They let it seem as though it would be a very different set up. The phones were to be put on an automated system, eliminating the need for a human to answer. There would be one person at the desk to handle incoming visitors, but not in a customer service/front desk capacity. I was told to think along the lines of security guard, or lobby guard, etc.
Fine. No sweat. I was just glad to put that place behind me.
Crazy thing is, others who still worked there told me that there were suddenly temps covering the front desk…of course, that was followed up with a quick excuse that it was only until they could get things ironed out. I don’t care, but again, why the sudden decision, why not taper off and transition?
Just over a month has gone by since I’ve been let go. Today, just for sh*ts and grins, I got online and looked at the company website and checked out their job openings. I know, I know…it’s like looking up an ex on social media. You shouldn’t do it, but you just can’t help it!
Imagine my surprise when I went to the career section, and there was my former job posted as a new opening in the company.
Ok, this is where the lying comes in and this is what gets me fired up. Are you kidding me? I mean, I guess if they didn’t like me, telling me my position was being eliminated was the tactful thing to do. I can handle feedback on job performance and I appreciate honesty, but I wouldn’t want to hear something like that.
Maybe they were going to go one way, but then realized they couldn’t. Maybe they wanted to bring someone in to do the work of 2 people for the pay of less than 1. Maybe they’re just lying jerks. I don’t know what happened for sure, but I do know I’ll never learn the truth because there were too many lies leading up to this, and this was the lying cherry on the top. Plus, I’d never believe anything out of their mouths at this point.
I hold my head high every day that I’m not a part of that place anymore. I feel badly for those who are still there. More importantly, I feel awful for the poor soul who applies for my old position and gets it.
This was obviously a moment for me to let off some steam, but I want to hear from others! Have you ever been let go from a job, only to find out they lied to you? I know I can’t be the only one! I look forward to others sharing their story with me.

Uncategorized

Ask Me Anything

Ask Me Anything

I was recently asked to host my own Q&A on amafeed.com

AMA (Ask Me Anything) is a cool site I came across and I’m excited to participate in this. What is AMA, you ask? In a nutshell, and straight from their email to me, here’s what they have to say:

Our goal is to facilitate an exchange of information and expertise by encouraging open, authentic, candid discussions — without filter. This open exchange gives our Hosts the opportunity to share their understanding of their chosen topics of interest.

For Guests, AMAfeed is a place where you can participate in a frank discussion on subjects that matter to you. It’s the ideal way for you to get answers to your questions from those with the firsthand experience and knowledge on the topics that interest you.

For my first AMAfeed, I’m talking about blogging (Including beauty advice), writing, self-publishing, and becoming a published author in the very near future! (Heart & Soul – Set It Free…book one in the series, coming soon!)

Questions can be posted now, but it will be live and it will be happening tomorrow, 3/2/2018 at 11:00 PM Eastern time. Here is the link: AMA Feed

I hope to see you there! But just know that you can always ask me questions here, too!

Uncategorized, Writer's Block, Writing

Writer’s Block or Unmotivated?

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Currently, I’m working on self-publishing my first book and I’m in the process of writing additional books that are included in the series.
Writer’s Block is something we’ve all heard of. You’re stuck. You don’t know where to go with the story. The characters aren’t doing what you want them to do.
I’ve experienced this and though it’s never fun, it is very real. But, sometimes I wonder, is it writer’s block, or am I just unmotivated?
The reason I wonder this is because when I’m not writing, it’s not because I don’t know what happens next in the story, or what the characters need me to write, it’s because sometimes I simply want to be lazy. But recently that laziness has been earned.

As I mentioned, I’m getting ready to self-publish my first book. As I’m putting the finishing touches on that, I delved into an intense edit of my second book. On top of all that, I recently lost my job.
Minus the money factor (that damn money!), I’ve loved being home and having the freedom to write all day. As soon as the layoff happened, I jumped in on the edit and gave it my all. My editor was loving my motivation. She wanted to read the book first to get a feel of the story and where it goes before she took the reigns and had fun with her red pen. (She really loves her red pen, by the way.) It’s very motivating to have someone reading your work as you go along. It really pushes me to finish.
Well, I finished my edit of my second book, although it’s nowhere near ready, there will be so much more work on the horizon. And I handed off my first book to be formatted to print, so what was I to do? It’s not like I don’t have plenty to keep me busy, but once I reached a stopping point and I actually stopped, I realized something:
I’m exhausted!

Writing is extremely emotional. I’ll sit here with my fingers flying over the keys and tears streaming down my face at times. Other times I have a scowl in place because I’m angry at the situation that’s being created, or I’ll giggle like a loon and make my family wonder if I need a mental evaluation. But, something I don’t think people take into consideration is how taxing it can be. I certainly never knew!

I have to feel good when I’m writing. If I’m bored and trudging through a chapter, I believe that will come across when someone reads it. The flow of the story has to be there, the emotion from the characters has to be there, even if it’s a simple moment of sharing coffee in the morning. One of my favorite writing quotes is, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” I love that quote and believe it to be true. If it touches me, it will touch the reader. If it bores me, it will bore the reader.

Sometimes I need a day or two, sometimes more. But this was turning into weeks. Weeks of me staring at a chapter and changing a word here and there, then justifying my time with playing Bejeweled or My Vegas Slots on Facebook, claiming that would clear my mind.

Since I’ve started writing, I’ve always lived by this rule: Ass in chair – write. Sometimes when I do this my writing resembles that scene from the movie Misery where he’s trapped with a psycho fan and he can’t get away:

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck, wrote Paul Sheldon as he emoted his frustration at being held captive by Annie Wilkes. I get it, Paul. I totally get it. (Sidebar, I love this movie and must watch it again soon!)

I start to freak out when I take breaks. I worry that my creativity is gone forever (I’m really good at worrying), I get frustrated with myself, I let my brain become inundated with every single doubt I’m sure every single writer has ever had.

So, what did I do to try to get my mojo back?

  • I started to read a book, but that didn’t help. When I get in these droughts, all I do is compare my writing to other writers and nothing good comes from that.
  • I got out of the house. Since I’ve been unemployed, I’ve become reclusive and it’s not always a good thing. Getting out of the house helps clear the mind.
  • I worked out. The treadmill does wonders for helping me find the words I’m looking for.
  • I drank wine. A lot of it. Another quote I love: “Write drunk, edit sober.” I’ve written some of my best stuff tipsy. (Not all of it, so don’t judge!)
  • I took a walk with my daughter.
  • I talked about it. Endlessly. To both of my daughters and my husband. I emailed my woes to a friend of mine. They all assured me I would find it.
  • I giggled. A lot. My oldest daughter has Fridays off from college. This past Friday, she and I walked to the store, made lunch together and laughed about everything and nothing. Laughter truly is the best medicine.
  • I finally sat my butt down and wrote.
  • And wrote and wrote and wrote.

Just like everyone told me it would, and like I believed deep down in my heart, my mojo came back.

I realize I never answered the question: was it writer’s block or was I unmotivated? It could have been either one, so I honestly don’t know. What I do know is, it’s OK to take a break. As I’m learning along this crazy road, some of these breaks are going to take longer than others. This was a long one. I didn’t like it, but it’s over. Eventually I found the words and the rhythm of the story again and wondered why they were ever lost.

Now I have to stop rambling and get back to writing, I have characters waiting for me to finish their chapter!

Job Interview, Unemployment

Group Interview

pexels-photo-416320.jpegIf we’re friends on Facebook, you’ve seen an abbreviated version of this post.

We all know “enjoy a flexible schedule” means you’re working nights and weekends. But what about other hidden meanings in the phrases we hear and the situations we find ourselves in when it comes to a job interview?

Recently, I was asked to attend an interview on a Saturday morning. My first thought was that it was strange, given this company’s hours were listed on their website as M-F 8-5. Then I thought maybe they’re conducting their interviews on a Saturday morning because business hours are way too busy. Ok, I can get behind that. But, when the email ended with, “Coffee and bagels will be provided.” Well, that just screamed group interview to me.

I loathe a group interview for so many reasons. First, it comes across to me as a company’s way of saying, “I don’t have time to weed out applicants, so please, come waste your time with us and let us reject you with a herd.” Second, in no group setting have I ever, EVER found a moment to let my credentials shine.

So, when I got this email asking me to join them on a Saturday for an interview, complete with coffee and bagels, I hesitated for the obvious reasons. But then I asked my husband is it fair and acceptable to confirm my suspicions that it’s a group interview? Having been in management for years, he gave me the nod of approval and told me it’s absolutely acceptable to ask that question. After all, it’s only fair that you prepare properly.

I sent my inquiry and got a response within the hour, praising me for my preparedness and then confirming what I suspected. Yes, it would be a group interview, but each candidate would be tested individually on tasks that pertain to the job. Then she went on to tell me she thought I would do great and could she confirm my attendance.
I didn’t want to say yes. I really didn’t. However, in finding myself newly unemployed, I know that not only is it a positive sign to get a request for an interview less than 2 weeks after I was let go from my job, but it’s good to accept any interview, because it keeps those skills sharpened.

I arrived the standard 15 minutes prior to the scheduled time. I was greeted by the owner of the company with a compliment to my punctuality. Also, she was the one who appreciated my preparedness. I took this as a good sign. And, when only 2 other women arrived shortly after I did, I took it as another good sign that there were only 3 of us and this would not be a large group.

The process started off ok. We were offered coffee and bagels and did the standard, “go around the table and tell us about yourself” exercise. Then the three of us were taken into individual offices with one of the managers who had a binder with tasks for us to complete.

Instantly, I felt a connection with the owner of the company. She was charismatic, sweet and seemed really nice, overall. Of course, I didn’t get paired with her. I got paired with a very nice man who didn’t know what the hell he was doing. I’m sure he’s very capable in his daily role as a physical therapist, but he was nervous, and then he felt like he was making me nervous, so not only did he leave the room to give me space, he freaking disappeared altogether.

Normally, this would not have been a problem for me if this wasn’t an area in which I wasn’t comfortable. This job interview was for an administrative assistant in a speech therapy clinic. I have not worked in the medical field, even though I’ve always wanted to. The tasks they were testing us on were simple at first:

  1. Type a memo to a doctor asking for a referral. Ok, I’m good at letters, so I had no problem with this. I got through it, typed my memo and printed. Piece of cake. (Oh! I’m starting to wonder if they have cake!)
  2. Log into a healthcare system I’ve never seen before and request the patient’s benefit eligibility.
    1. The system was not intuitive AT ALL.
    2. The steps they had written for the tasks didn’t make sense, either.
    3. Figured it out and printed the information.
  3. Call and verify insurance on a different patient.
    1. I’ve never done this before, so this would fall under the category of I’ll have to be trained.
    2. I rolled with the punches and called the number to collect the information and sat frozen when the automated system started rattling off numbers that didn’t coincide with the paperwork given to me.
    3. I smiled and wrote down what I could, but not before I knew this was the beginning of the end.
  4. Call the cell phone number provided and confirm patient’s appointment, following the script.
    1. Piece of cake! (Seriously, is there no cake?)
    2. I nailed this task, how can you not?
  5. Role play with the staff as they set up a scenario with a double-booked client and how to handle the situation.
    1. Not my favorite scenario, but one that’s definitely real. I have seen this happen in a day spa where I once worked, and while spa treatments are not doctor appointments, women who miss their manicures will tell you otherwise.
    2. I handled the conflict with patience and poise.
    3. Conflict was resolved with how I role played, and the managers were happy with the outcome.

At the end of all of this, I felt good about most of it, but I was starting to have some reservations. I mean, I get that you want to put a potential candidate into a situational interview to see how they perform, but if you already know they would need training in a certain area, wouldn’t you at least stick around to answer any questions they may have? That answer was no. This began a slew of red flags for me.

Red flag #1: The group dynamic. Should have listened to my gut on this one, but at the same time, it’s an interview, right? Keep those wheels greased.
Red flag #2: The nervous dude facilitating my interview. He didn’t know what he was doing, and any time I asked a question, he looked at me like a deer in headlights before he disappeared altogether.
Red flag #3: Giving me a task to do when you know I have no experience with said task, says to me: “Here’s the deep end with no life jacket, swim!”
Red flag #4: A Saturday morning interview and 90 minutes into it, when I asked how much longer I could plan on being there, they told me at least another hour. Hmm…any time I’ve ever been to a lengthy interview like this, the company has always prepared me for the space of time beforehand if it was out of the ordinary for a typical interview. The fact that they did not, tells me there’s not a lot of consideration for my time.

 

My takeaways?
Well, the first thing spoke volumes. If you don’t take the time to weed out your applicants with a phone interview to decide whether or not you want to meet face-to-face, that shows me a bit of arrogance.
If you’re going to throw me a task with no direction whatsoever, that tells me if I get the job, I’ll be thrown into it with absolutely no training.
And, most importantly, if you aren’t going to give me heads up beforehand that you are going to want nearly three hours of my time on any given day, that tells me you’ll never understand my work/life balance.

So, while I’m completely exhausted from interview after interview (Because I’ve been interviewing for over a year now.), I need to put this out there to any prospective employer: You’re not just interviewing me, I’m interviewing you! It’s important for potential employers to remember that.

Thank you for your time, thank you for liking my resume, but no thank you. If you can’t take the time to get to know me, face-to-face, one-on-one, and learn what I can bring to the role and see that I’m worth the time to train, then we don’t have a relationship. And, you know what? I’m OK with that, even if this is my 13th interview in the last year. YOU don’t fit my description of the perfect employer.

I want to hear from you! Tell me about an interview experience where you knew it was a no go! Fill me in on your thoughts and takeaways. And, seriously, does anyone have cake??

Writing about sex

Let’s Talk About Sex – Volume I

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In honor of Valentine’s Day today, I thought I would post this blog and share my experience with writing a steamy scene. I titled this “Volume I”, because I foresee numerous posts on this topic! As I do research and stumble upon articles on writing for motivation, I see a lot of interesting thoughts on writing about sex. I also subscribe to quite a few writing sites and get constant updates from Pinterest about writing boards to follow. There is a ton of information out there, so if you’re looking for inspiration, you will definitely find it.

So here goes:

I recently got an email with a link to an article, titled: Writing Sex Scenes. I perked up. Who wouldn’t? I believe most people perk up when they hear the word ‘sex’. It’s intriguing to read about, and, as a writer, it’s even more intriguing to read articles on the craft of creating intimacy. But, this article left me wanting more. Come on. When it comes to sex, the last thing you want is to be left unsatisfied.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate and respect any writer, and I have a lot of respect for those who are publishing articles with advice on how to refine the craft. I tend to have a lot of random thoughts once I finish reading one and wanted to share that here.

The article explained that writers know their characters best. And while sex is important to the growth of a relationship, it suggested that you don’t add sex to a scene simply because you think it’ll increase sales. Wait, what? No gratuitous sex scenes?! Who doesn’t want a frivolous romp thrown into a story? Especially in a romance novel! It’s funny to me that someone would say a sex scene shouldn’t be gratuitous. Hmm, yeah, because that’s the only reason I ever picked up a bodice ripper…for a history lesson. Of course, sex scenes are gratuitous! They’re scandalous and raunchy, and I know there are many individuals out there who want to read about two people getting hot and heavy, collapsing together in a sweaty, shivering mass!

Sex scenes can be challenging to write for a few reasons.

  1. You have to create the fantasy of an exceptional experience. Unless your characters are hitting some kind of slump that pertains to your story, there has to be build up and emotions, and the way the body starts to feel when aroused. But, sex can also be awkward, and if the scene calls for it, that has to come across. For example, in one of my books, I write about the main character losing her virginity. It’s awkward and fumbling in parts. Why? Because losing your virginity is awkward and fumbling! And if you try to tell me otherwise, I’ll never believe you.
  2. When I write a steamy scene, I get self-conscious that people are thinking I’ve experienced the content of the scene. Do I draw on personal experience? Honestly, rarely. I maybe think about how I’ve felt in certain situations in my life, but if my heroine is being bent over a desk by my hero, it doesn’t mean I’ve done so, as well. Getting into the creation of a sultry moment is getting to a space where I just let my mind go and my fingers race over the keys. Often times, I won’t even look at what I’m writing until, like my characters, I’m spent from the experience. Then I go back and see what they just enjoyed.
  3. It’s embarrassing to write a sex scene! For me, I become so invested in my characters and I fall so deeply in love with them, when I write an intimate moment, I feel like I’m spying on them. It’s also embarrassing because when people read them, they look at you differently. (See reason #2 why they’re awkward to write.) I let my husband read my work as it’s complete. He keeps me in line and his interest keeps me motivated to get the next chapter done so he can read. But, the first time he read one of my sex scenes, he looked at me and said, “You want the kids to catch us doing that?” Uh, no. Just, no.
  4. Sometimes they make me blush! Yes, sometimes my own writing makes me blink and wonder where the hell that came from. But, as I’ve grown as a writer, I’ve learned that if I’m blushing, that means it’s good. If I can shock myself, I’m going to intrigue the reader.

If you’ve ever wondered what goes through the mind of a writer when they include a sex scene in their story, there you have it. These are simply my thoughts on the topic, though. Other writers may have a different perspective and that’s just fine.

This concludes Volume I of Let’s Talk About Sex. More to come…pun intended! Image result for wink

 

Uncategorized

Welcome!

pexels-photo-102100.jpegWelcome to My Writing Days! Thanks for stopping by!

Some of you may be familiar with my beauty blog, BrookeKnowsBeauty.wordpress.com and if you are familiar with it, you may be wondering what I’m doing starting another blog, especially when I haven’t shown BKB a lot of love lately. If you aren’t familiar with it, come take a look!

Well, my life has taken many turns in the past few years. We’ve relocated twice in 4 years and I wrote a book series. Which leads me to this…

A while back, one of my friends suggested I write about writing. Hmm, I thought that was strange because shouldn’t I just focus on the story I have within me? I didn’t do anything about that until now. And I kind of wish I would have when she suggested it, because any time I’ve felt blocked or burned out on my novels, I turn to blogging and it clears my head. It still allows me to write, but since it’s more like journaling, it really frees my mind and gives me that motivation I need to start fresh and jump back into the world with my characters.

And, on top of writing a series of books, I’ve recently been laid off from my job. I’ve always said I wanted to write full-time, so here it is. Possibly for the time being, until I find a new job, or maybe, if life goes the way I’m visualizing it to go, writing will be my job!

So, what can you expect here? I’ll be sharing my journey with you as I self-publish my first novel. Yikes! I’m so excited, but so darn scared, too! I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the writing process and what I’ve experienced. I’ll even share with you what it’s like to write a steamy sex scene!

I thought I would also share my experience with being newly unemployed and what I’m going through with trying to find another job: applications, resumes and interviews…I have strong, and sassy, feelings about all of these topics!

One thing you need to know about me though: I have a lot to say! So, any time you visit, sit back with your coffee, tea or wine and be prepared to stay awhile.

Hopefully you’ll stick around. I like to think I’m that enjoyable!