sexsellsAfter publishing the fifth book in my Andy Smithson coming-of-age, epic fantasy series I noticed something that helped my book sales. “What is it?” you ask, leaning forward, spellbound to learn how you, a fellow author, might exploit this nugget.

I noticed readers consistently report experiencing a roller coaster of emotions as they read the book. In fact, one woman reported she cried…which had her award my book five stars (how strange that seems, we feel hurt and award the author who hurt us with a perfect score…gotta love human psychology, LOL! But I digress).

These responses got me reflecting how earlier books in my series were received. With book two, I remember reviewers commenting on a small portion of the book. Book three had readers sighing and cheering as well but these responses were not as enthusiastic as what I was hearing about my latest release.

I started thinking about the books I enjoy reading…lots of YA fantasy, with a splash of romance thrown in. I love it when an author develops characters who connect with one another in a way that is vulnerable, yet pure and healthy—the characters who experience deep insecurities yet come to a point where they are able to share with one another the depth of their worry and pain without fear of being laughed at, knowing their confession will be respected and held in strict confidence. These are relationships, and in turn books, that get my heart a pumpin’ – I adore them. Put another way, I connect with them.

An example, I think of Air Awakens and Fire Falling. In this series, Elise Kova constructs a relationship between the crown prince and a relative “nobody” who, of course, is not of social status appropriate for him to fall in love with, let alone marry. That relationship is vulnerable and seemingly pure and I find myself rooting for the pair. The Divergent series is another example is Bea and Tobias’s relationship. You feel their pain and cheer their triumphs. And there’s so many more awesome examples I can point to, but I share that to prove my point. We adore these relationships because they touch us deeply, emotionally, many times over.

When I’m writing a particularly vulnerable part of a story, my whole body experiences it. It’s hard to describe the sensations: my heart feels soft, my emotions are raw, and I feel “twitchy” as I approach writing (much like someone before confessing a deep secret). Then once the dialogue begins my whole heart is consumed by an essence of purity for what my characters are truly feeling. Emotion pours out of me until I’ve gotten the scene down on paper. That may sound strange, but I don’t know how else to describe it. Its purity and heart poured out. And these are the scenes my readers have commented specifically about as touching their hearts—they’vealways started this way.

This realization has shifted how I orient as I write, for I see that causing my characters to connect with my readers on this deeply vulnerable and emotional level IS the difference between creating books readers like vs writing a novel readers adore! So, yes, I’m sure the old adage “Sex Sells” is true, but so does the creating of characters who connect with each other on a deeply vulnerable level. Having come to understand this principle I now work to create scenes that tug on my reader’s heart strings like never before.



Review by YA fantasy author L. R. W. Lee
Website: LRWLee.com
Twitter: @lrwlee
FB: LRWLee Author
Blog: blog.LRWLee.com

IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you thought.

FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the award winning Prequel and Book one in the Andy Smithson coming-of-age epic fantasy series.

#BookReview ‘City on Fire’ by Garth Risk Hallberg. How Long Was My Novel.

City on Fire, Kindle by Gareth Risk Hallberg
City on Fire, Kindle by Garth Risk Hallberg

Title:  City on Fire
Author:   Garth Risk Hallberg
ISBN:  0385353774

Published:  E-book version due on 22nd October, although available in paperback
Pages:  944
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, urban

Body of review: 

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg. How Long Was My Novel.

Thanks to the publishers (Vintage/Penguin Random House) and to Net Galley for offering me a complimentary copy in exchange for a review.

I must confess to feeling curious after reading about all the attention the novel was getting and the advance praise. Although I read a variety of authors and genres, I studied American Literature and have an affinity for it and an interest in new American writers, so I was intrigued. But, I didn’t investigate the matter further and didn’t quite realise how long this novel was.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read, and loved, many long novels (I love Moby Dick, although it is not quite this long, but I’ve also read War and Peace, several of Jonathan Franzen’s novels, and have never felt the length). And I’m sure I’ll read many more. Although perhaps since I’ve been dedicating more time to reviewing and reading about writing, I’ve become more impatient.

City on Fire is 944 pages long. There are many stories, all entangled into one (sort of), told from different characters’ point of view (using the third person), with some interludes that include (fictitious) documentation, like the article on Fireworkers (experts on firework or pyrotechnics) written by Richard, a reporter and writer, or the Fanzines that Sam (a young girl, fan of Punk music) writes. The novel doesn’t follow a chronological order either, and you have episodes set before New Year’s Eve, when one of the central plot events takes place —the shooting of a young girl (Sam)—, some set after, and some set many years later, with flashbacks to years before, in seemingly no particular order, although not difficult to follow (but somewhat exhausting if one is reading for long periods of time. And I wonder if it could be confusing if people read the book in short chunks). The book, set in New York, in the Seventies, refers also to a number of issues, like the financial crisis, the musical movements of the time, riots, the big blackout, art, and all those worlds are illustrated by characters from different genres, social classes, walks of life, ethnicities, sexuality and origins. Ambitious is an adjective that has been used to describe this novel, and there’s no denying that. There are cops with physical ailments nearing retirement, artist, musicians, youngsters exploring and discovering themselves, rich and unhappy families, conspiracies and financial entanglements, an anarchist group setting up fires and bombs, adultery, love, a shooting, drugs, alcohol, writing, radio… And always New York.

The author has a beautiful turn of phrase, and you can’t but admire some of his sentences, although they can have the effect of throwing you out of the story. I kept thinking of the indictment for writers, ‘Kill your darlings’, don’t let those pieces that seem like beautiful paintings decorating the book just hang there. Remove anything that has nothing to do with the story or does not contribute to its progress. But perhaps the story is not the aim of this novel. I wasn’t so sure about the characters, either. Most of them were interesting, but perhaps there was something generic about them, and despite the length of the book I didn’t get the sense that I really knew a lot of them (not the same time is dedicated to the inner thoughts of all the characters, and some of the secondary characters that are potentially interesting, like Amory, are not given a voice), and the ones I felt I knew were familiar types. The rhythm is leisurely and although at times it seems about to pick up the pace (during the blackout), the changes in time-frame and point of view slow it down again. I was somewhat puzzled at finding the interludes about the fireworks more engrossing than some parts of the novel (although I’ve always loved fireworks, but it could be the journalistic style).

Having read some of the comments, I have to agree that much of what contributes to the vastness of the novel does not necessarily add to the experience of the reader or the story (at least for me). City on Fire is a huge canvas, with some very beautiful splashes and sublime moments, but perhaps the sum does not live up to the promise of the parts. I felt it aspired to be like one of the fireworks it describes, that have several layers and fuses, and go up, and down, and then back up again, before exploding in a wonder of colours and shapes. For me it didn’t manage, but it’s impressive nonetheless.

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hollberg Paperback
City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg Paperback

Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5
Made Me Think: 4/5
Overall enjoyment: 3.5/5
Readability: 3/5
Recommended: 3/5
Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Buy it at:  Amazon
Format & Pricing:
Paperback:  $13.40 

Hardback: $18 
Kindle: $11.47 

Audio: $16.93 

 Olga Núñez Miret





Everyday I Write the Book.

I thought today would be a good day to share a little fun here on LWI. A bit of Tuneful Tuesday as it were. I am sure that is a thing somewhere on the web. Sorry, I don’t research that type of thing often, too busy with researching for books and articles.

Today I wanted to give you a little diddy by Elvis.

Elvis Costello’s Everyday I Write the Book

What better love song for a writer than this? Enjoy.

Notice he doesn’t give an ending to the book, he leaves it incomplete. Sounds like a true writer to me.

Yeah, don’t tell me you don’t know what love is
When you’re old enough to know better
When you find strange hands in your sweater
When your dreamboat turns out to be a footnote
I’m a man with a mission in two or three editions

And I’m giving you a longing look
Everyday, everyday, everyday, everyday, everyday
Everyday I write the book

Chapter one we didn’t really get along
Chapter two I think I fell in love with you
You said you’d stand by me in the middle of chapter three
But you were up to your old tricks in
Chapters four, five and six

And I’m giving you a longing look
Everyday, everyday, everyday, everyday, everyday
Everyday I write the book

The way you walk, the way you talk and try to kiss me
And laugh in four or five paragraphs
All your compliments and your cutting remarks
Are captured here in my quotation marks

I’m giving you a longing look
Everyday, everyday, everyday, everyday, everyday
Everyday I write the book
Everyday I write the book

Don’t tell me you don’t know the difference
Between a lover and a fighter
With my pen and my electric typewriter
Even in a perfect world where everyone was equal
I’d still own the film rights and be working on the sequel

I’m giving you a longing look
Everyday, everyday, everyday, everyday, everyday
Everyday I write the book

Everyday, everyday, everyday
Everyday I write the book
Everyday, everyday, everyday
Everyday I write the book, yeah

Everyday, everyday, everyday
Everyday I write the book
Everyday, everyday
Everyday I write the book

Everyday, everyday
Everyday I write the book
Everyday, everyday
Everyday I write the book

Are you an Author or a Writer? by @RobertHughes05

I was recently asked this question and had no hesitation in answering it.

“Why did you give that answer?” was the next question.

Although I had given an answer, the person asking me the questions went away not fully convinced I had answered their questions correctly.

Later that evening, while laying in bed and not able to get to sleep, the question kept going round and round in my head.  ‘Am I an author or a writer?’

When asked the question, earlier that day, my answer was that I was a writer. When asked why I was not an author, I put it down to the fact that I have never had a book published.  I’ve written quite a few short stories and am in the process of writing a book, but I have only ever published my short stories on my blog. Doesn’t that then mean that I am a writer, and not an author?

I’ve asked the same question to a few people who I know enjoy writing and those that have had books published declared themselves as authors, whereas most of those that have written, but never had anything published in a book, declared themselves as writers.  So I thought my argument was won and that I had answered the question correctly.  Then somebody mentioned to me that I should consider myself as a ‘trainee author’, which I guess I am because I want to have my stories published in a book one day, but the word ‘author’ still means something completely different to me, even with the word ‘trainee’ in front of it.

I suppose just about every human being in this world of ours is a writer.  Whether they write a letter, an email, a shopping list, or a greeting card, they’re actually writing, which makes them a writer.  However, if I look at it another way, writing a letter, an email, shopping list, or a greeting card is not being creative, is it?  So, maybe the word writer can mean lots of different things?

If asked, I’ll never answer that I am an author, because I don’t believe I am.  Yes, I have a number of short stories under my belt which have been published on my blog, but that does not make me an author.  Not just yet anyway.  If I go ahead and have those short stories published in a book then I would gladly answer that I am an author but, until I do so, as far as I am concerned I am a writer…for now.

Here’s something else to throw on the fire.  Having written this article, can I now consider myself as the author of it?  Does that mean I am, after all, an author? Am I digging myself into a very deep hole here or is there a simple answer to the question ‘am I an author or a writer?’






@RobertHughes05 (https://twitter.com/RobertHughes05)

hughsviewsandnews.com (http://hughsviewsandnews.com/about/)

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Writers Resolutions

Happy New Year fellow scribblers! It’s that brand new shiny first day of another new year, sprinkled with fairy dust, hope, and endless possibilities. Writers all over the world are cracking open the first page of their special edition unicorn diary and filling it with resolutions for the year to come. Some writers are also staunchly refusing to write that list on the grounds that these things just set you up for disappointment when you fail to reach all your goals. I see their point, which is why my resolution for this year is to not set myself unrealistic goals. For those of us who like a challenge, I’ll share a couple of my favourites.

Be Gentle with Yourself

If you’re going to set yourself deadlines to publish, or minimum daily word counts for this year, it’s a good idea to err on the side of caution. Just because you know that you can comfortably write two thousand words a day doesn’t mean that life will allow it. If you think that you can have your new book ready to publish or submit by the end of March, set your deadline for the end of April instead.

Get Organised

Writing is not only your passion, it’s also your job when you choose it as a career, so try and be professional with all the accoutrements of your trade. If you can, have an “office” – a place to set up your computer, files, books, research, and the twenty five thousand gorgeous new pens in your collection. A place where you work. Set your working hours, and try to stick to them every day before doing anything else.

Do Your Most Important Research

Your most important research if you’re a fiction writer is to read. Always have a book that you’re reading. Who said work wasn’t fun?

Look After Yourself

Writers are the worst for forgetting about their own wellbeing. We get lost in the stories and bang away at our computers for hours before surfacing and wondering where the day went – or the night, and having to fight our way through piles of chip and sweet packets to get out. Then we’re just too tired to do anything other than what we have to. Make an effort to give your body a little TLC with a bit of healthy exercise, relaxation, and some good food and sunshine. Laughter helps too.

Play a Little

Write something out of your comfort zone. Something you think that you can’t do. Write a short story in a genre that’s foreign to you, or play around with your writing style.

Finish It

We all have hundreds of half finished things lurking around, that we’ve started and then totally forgotten about. Dig around in the murky bowels of your computer and find one, and then finish it.

Own It

Writing is something that nobody gets to tell you how to do. Apart from having to learn about grammar and spelling, your learning to write comes only from reading the works of others, and having the talent and whackadoodle magic scribbler’s imagination to do it yourself. Let it flow naturally and without fear.

Be Careful Who You Ask

I’ve seen a lot of new writers have all the wind taken out of their sails by asking for critique. Too much and too often. Rest assured that there are many, many pontificating and self righteous people lurking around critique groups just waiting for a newbie to pounce on. They will rip the soul out of anything you submit purely for the pleasure of being the awesome super cool dudes that they think they are. Don’t lose your dreams to these people. If you’re not confident enough to write on through till you’re finished the book before asking for critique, be yourself a lurker and watch from the sidelines before putting your baby before the wolves.

Back Up Your Work

There are loads of free and paid ways to back up your work, and you should do this Every – Single – Day. I lost tons of manuscripts, research and cover art when my old computer crashed. You could use a memory stick, Dropbox or simply email your manuscript to yourself when you’re finished writing for the day.

And so onward and forward my fellow people of the pen, into our shimmering new year, I wish you all a prosperous one, filled with happy days of writing, and writing, and writing.


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