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!

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!

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