Category Archives: twitter

When your karma needs a swift kick in the rear

A few days ago, I said something stupid and thoughtless and inconsiderate to a fellow writer on twitter, a writer whose work I admire greatly. I was trying to tell her how much I loved one of her books and instead . . . well, it was graceless to say the least. And I’m ashamed of myself. I know better than to try to say something complicated on twitter, let alone anything negative. Idiot. I considered deleting it, but it’s out there and I need to suck it up and own it. It’s not the first time and, knowing me, it won’t be the last. Nature of the beast.

But instead of dwelling on it, I decided maybe it’s time to remind myself to focus on the positive and recommend a few books I’ve read in the past several months and truly enjoyed. (Yes, that writer’s are among them.)

Keep in mind, these are NOT book reviews. I don’t do that anymore, partly because Amazon thinks writers shouldn’t be allowed to review books [really, Amazon? REALLY?], but also because on the rare occasions I’ve done a review over here I get a bunch of requests to do more. So please don’t ask me. I’m not a book reviewer. I’ll hate saying it, but the answer will be no.

I’ve been reading (and writing) a lot of romance lately, so these recommendations are all in that genre, although that might be the only similarity among them. Some are sweet romance and others are . . . a good bit darker. Or steamier. The links are all to Amazon but probably you could get these books elsewhere as well.

81HL-pHEgTL._SL1500_First is Jackie Ashenden’s TALKING DIRTY WITH THE BOSS. Don’t let the title fool you into thinking this book is about, y’know, talking dirty with the boss. Okay, fine, that’s part of it. But it’s so much more than that (hence my dislike for the title, but we just won’t talk about that) (any more). The hero has OCD issues, which is a spectrum and not the same for everyone, and Ashenden handles it so well and this guy comes across as troubled but also gruffly sweet and charming, and the relationship felt genuine. I loved this book and didn’t want it to end.

Besides being incredibly gracious when you say stupid things to her on twitter, Ashenden has become as close to an auto-buy as I get. I’ve purchased the first two books in her Nine Circles series — I loved the excerpts — and am saving them to read as a reward for finishing a project, but other books of hers I’ve read and would recommend are:

HAVING HER (Lies We Tell Book 2)
TAKING HIM (Lies We Tell Book 1)
NEVER SEDUCE A SHEIKH (International Bad Boys Book 2)
THE BILLIONAIRE’S CLUB: New York boxed set

Next up is Rebecca Zanetti. I read the first three in her Sin Brothers series and then pretty much gorged on her backlist while waiting for the fourth book, which recently came out. She writes the kind of ridiculously strong alpha male heroes that you’d want to strangle in real life and, if you like that (I love that), you probably can’t go wrong with any of her books. But this particular series is a “highly recommend” from me. It’s listed as paranormal, but it’s not your standard witches and vamps and were-things. It’s more that the heroes all have enhanced abilities (hearing, strength, etc).

FORGOTTEN SINS
SWEET REVENGE
BLIND FAITH
TOTAL SURRENDER

81WeEVt9H+L._SL1500_Carolyn Crane is another auto-buy for me. Just go to her Author Page and pick anything, but I especially love her Undercover Associates series. She also writes as Annika Martin and the book she co-wrote with Skye Warren, PRISONER, is one of the most disturbing yet well-written books I’ve read in a long time. But seriously, heed the warning about dubious (or complete lack of) consent. This book isn’t for everyone.

Let’s see, who else? I guess I’m really recommending writers more than particular books at this point, so I’ll just go ahead and link to their Author Page over at Amazon or I’ll be over here all day listing books.

Sarah Morgan is another auto-buy (the O’Neil Brothers trilogy is wonderful) and the first in her new Puffin Island series was delightful as well.

81NyUmbtEfL._SL1500_Victoria Dahl, of course. I’m a huge fan of her writing and, really, of everything she says on twitter (when she’s not taking an ill-advised well deserved extended break from it) (ahem). She has a new book coming out in July titled TAKING THE HEAT, which you can pre-order now (I sure did and I don’t even know, or care, what it’s about).

Oh, and Kelly Hunter is another terrific writer with an extensive backlist. She has recently started publishing with Tule (so have a bunch of other talented writers) and I’ve loved those books — SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL and THE HONEYMOON TRAP, for example — as well as the ones with Harlequin, especially the ones subtitled The Bennett Family (strong heroes, stronger heroines).

Kat Latham has become a favourite as well. I absolutely love her charming rugby players and have read all of her books, including her latest that just came out in May. So good.

I’m also really enjoying Laura Kaye’s HARD INK series, even though I’ve gotten a couple books behind. The ones I’ve read have been fantastic.

Oh, and a relatively new-to-me writer, Karyn Lawrence, has two books out, KEEP and STAY. I read and enjoyed both and it looks like a third, SURRENDER, is coming out later this month. There’s a good bit of violence, so be wary if that offends you. Although, thinking about it, that’s true of many of the books mentioned above.

I think that’s enough for now. Pretty sure I’ve included enough links that this will go directly into the spam folder of those subscribing by email. Ooops.

Mind you, these are just a handful of writers whose books I’ve enjoyed recently. No one paid me, or even asked me, to recommend these books and I didn’t get any of them for free. Well, unless it was a free-to-everyone kind of deal. That’s entirely possible. It’s not an exhaustive list of favourites or even of All-Time Best reads. I’d never be able to come up with such a list. There are just too many.

But don’t take my word for it. My reading preferences are pretty varied and just because you might like my writing* doesn’t mean you’re going to like everything I read. So read the description and sample pages, peruse the reviews, make up your own mind. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover a new favourite.

Got any recommendations of your own? Leave a title or a link in the comments, all genres welcome. I’m always looking for new ways to procrastinate good books to read. I read fast and devour a LOT of books when I’m not writing, or embarrassing myself on twitter. Which I will go back to doing now. The writing, not the other thing.

*Reminder: if you want me to send you an email when I have a new book available, sign up here for my mailing list.

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Filed under book reviews, twitter, writing

Pass the syrup, I’m waffling

After a month with minimal exposure to the internet, it seems as if I should be able to make some profound observations. And yet, I don’t have any. Maybe this would be different had I denied myself ALL access to the internet. But that’s not what I did.

I still checked email and read news stories. I browsed a couple blogs intermittently, but mostly ignored the comments. I (finally!) started using an RSS feed, which was extremely helpful in terms of deciding which blog posts I wanted to read and when, as well as removing the temptation of wandering into the comments.

Mostly what I denied myself was the time-consuming interactive aspect of the internet. I didn’t comment on blogs and I didn’t “tweet,” nor did I read the comments and tweets of others. For the first few days, I really did feel like something was missing — well, obviously, something was. But once I got used to the different routine, I didn’t miss those things. Maybe because I was too darn busy with other things. In fact, it’s hard to believe it has been a month already. It was a busy eventful month.

Now I’m feeling ambivalent about resuming that interaction. I commented on a blog yesterday and wrote a few tweets, but was surprised that it felt as awkward to do those things now as it did when I was doing them for the very first time. I’m not sure what to make of that. Or whether I want to continue with the effort.*

Certainly, it all would feel comfortable and routine again fairly quickly. I’m adaptable. But I wonder whether I want to engage in the same ways. Or at all. Some people would say, “If it’s fun, do it. If not, stop.” Yeah, well, sometimes it is and other times, not so much. It doesn’t seem clear-cut to me.

What I’m pondering is whether those things are truly important to me and what benefit I derive from them. Are these activities enriching my life or merely distracting me from it? Am I investing time or procrastinating? I don’t know. I have no answers.

Maybe I just need some more quiet time to sort it all out.

*Please note, for the purposes of this discussion, I am not referring to the CB blog. That’s different.

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Filed under deep thoughts, social media, twitter

Creativity, Laughter and the Element of Surprise

Two weeks into My Great Twitter Adventure and I’ve made some surprising discoveries. The first of which is how openly friendly and just plain nice most people are to strangers. Didn’t their mothers teach them basic safety rules? I know, it shouldn’t have surprised me, especially since I’m mostly talking to other writers, but it did.

I was equally surprised by the concern expressed by my “imaginary friends” about my time spent twittering. I found this ironic coming from a community of friends with whom I have chatted away VAST amounts of time in blogland. A part of me acknowledges their point: time spent twittering is time not spent writing fiction. And they’ve been hounding steadfastly cheering me on all along, wanting me to finish the damn book already. So they can buy it. And read it. Certainly can’t fault them for that. I love my imaginary friends; they’re completely awesome even when they mistakenly think I still have a curfew.

But the biggest surprise, and the reason I will continue to twitter, is the effect it has had on my creativity and productivity. I expected twittering to be awkward and confusing. It is. I expected some people to ignore me. They have. I expected it to be a chore I would quickly grow to despise and then abandon. Instead, it has become a source of laughter and camaraderie. Also information overload, but that’s another post.

I have a dry sarcastic sense of humour that, even in person, is easily misinterpreted and can come across as . . . something less than amusing. I’ve experienced the pitfalls of this in both email and blog comments. I figured the potential for disaster when limited to 140 characters was almost unavoidable. Really, I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve offended people who took me seriously when I was kidding.

So I don’t think of myself as someone who is funny. But a few fellow twitterers seem to think I am. I mentioned this oddity to my daughter, who said, “Of course you’re funny.” She then informed me that she sometimes reads my emails to her friends, who all think I’m hysterical. Not sure what I think about that. The last email I sent her pretty much said, “Be Careful Whitewater Rafting This Weekend.”

The point of this long rambling post is that I’ve realized that making people laugh, and more generally evoking an emotional response, is my own personal crack cocaine. Using words, twisting them and playing with them, is my favourite game. If things get a bit risqué, even better. Finding people who appreciate that game and will play along in the spirit of light-hearted fun is invigorating.

So for now at least, Twitter has become my place to play. I’d forgotten how much I need that, how imperative playfulness is to imagination. At a time when I have been floundering and frustrated with my writing, re-discovering the ability to use words to evoke a response from and connect with people who don’t know me has sparked my creativity. I have made more progress on my ms in the past two weeks than I had in the past two months.

Some writers need doom and gloom and angst and despair to inspire their writing, using misery as their muse. I’m not writing comedy but I’ve discovered that I need laughter, my own and that of others. Twitter is still at times awkward and confusing, some people still ignore me and I’m sure many more will (the wise ones, at any rate), but it is fueling my creativity like nothing else has in a very long time. And that surprised the hell out of me.

What feeds your creativity? We’re all creative in some way. Do you know what does it for you? Laughter, music, solitude, open spaces? Fritos?

Oh, and if you haven’t watched the TED talk given by Sir Ken Robinson about creativity, you should. It’s excellent and can be found here

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Filed under creativity, laughter, twitter, writing

Connecting on the dark side

Has it been a month since I posted? Gasp. Well, I’ve been busy. Mostly up to no good.

Yes, the rumours are true: I’ve lost my mind and gone over to the dark side. I’ve entered the Twitterverse. An evil scary place with glowing green faces and random beeping sounds and constant updates 24/7. Just what a pressed-for-time, easily distracted writer needs, right? Um, yes actually.

Twitter has become a significant part of what is called “social media.” The persistent buzz in publishing lately — where is that flyswatter when you need it? — is that writers need a presence in social media arenas. Publishers and agents increasingly expect writers to find their own “fans” and market themselves and their books, not just after publication, but before they’re even under contract. Before they’re even done writing the damn book.

One agent went so far as to comment recently that she was seriously considering not reading submissions of any writer who did not already have a significant social media presence. I’m not going to get into how short-sighted I think that is, because this does seem to be the current reality for writers. Especially those as-yet unpublished. A fiscal sign of the times.

So I researched the likely alternatives: MySpace and Facebook. By “research” I mean I asked my 21-year-old daughter whether she’d “friend” me if I had a Facebook page. Her answer was an emphatic NO. Then she warned me about the dangers of MySpace and how no one even goes there anymore.

So I’m Twittering. I feel foolish just typing that. The tweeting itself isn’t time consuming. I’m having fun with that. It’s the following that’s going to kill me. There are an awful lot of funny and informative Twitterers out there, linking to articles or people I’d never have found on my own. I did stop following one person, not because he wasn’t interesting, but because he updated EVERY TWO MINUTES and I couldn’t keep up. I have limits. Really. Trouble is, I could easily wander around, lost in information intake mode, for days.

But the really odd thing, which I’m having trouble reconciling, is my dual, er, triple identity. My Twitter ID is “BCB_” because it’s short (plus I’ve kind of grown attached to it) and my name over there is “w/a Katherine James” (w/a = writing as), which will be my pseudonym once published. But I’m following people I know and who know me only by my “real” name. A couple of them are now following me in return and I have no idea whether they know that I’m, well, me. It’s weird. But my real name is reserved for the day job, the one where I’m a responsible adult in charge of other people’s money. I don’t want the two linked, and certainly not out here on the intertubes.

It’s a dilemma. Because it leaves me feeling somehow fraudulent. Yeah, I know, I’ll get over it eventually. And really, I guess it’s just another instance of being a writer, making stuff up and hoping people enjoy it.

So, want to follow me into the darkness?

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Filed under publishing, social media, twitter