Writer Words

Q&A Sunday: Characters IRL

I shared this secret with those of you on my weekly newsletter, but for everyone else, I wanted to answer Aliana’s question…

You mentioned in another post that the physical description of Graham from “Puffy & Precious” reminded you of Dwayne Johnson.  Do your other characters remind you of other famous people?  Or do you have stock images of all your characters?

The short answer is it depends. Of course!

The long answer is I have pictures of every character. Some are pictures in my head, but for almost all of them, I take the picture in my head and find a person online.

I’ve found stock photos for some people. But most stock photos don’t exactly match my vision for who my characters are.

So I turn to Pinterest!

Yes, Graham was Dwayne Johnson, in my mind. Noah is Scott Eastwood. The other Big & Beautiful guys were stock photos, but Pinterest is a lot more fun.

Tattoos. 

Sexy grins. 

Shirtless men. 

Pinterest has it all!

Thanks so much, Aliana, for your question! If you have a question, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

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QA Sunday: Criticism in Reviews

Last week I talked about criticism and how I handle it. I had a follow up question from Jeannie on Facebook to answer this week…

How do you evaluate the criticism after a book is released and reviews are written. For example, you are writing a series and you get some criticism that might effect how you write the next book or has that ever happened? I’m sure you have spoke with other authors when you embarked on this career. What did they tell you about evaluating reviews and/or harsh criticism?

Well, this first piece of advice almost every author will get in regard to reviews is not to read them. The second piece of advice is not to engage.

I know not everyone will love my books. There are some people who don’t read romance, some who don’t like contemporary, some who don’t like steamy, and countless others who won’t like something else. That’s okay.

The hard part is when someone who dislikes a fundamental part of my book leaves a review saying the book was horrible because they don’t read that type. Has it happened to me? I honestly don’t know. I try hard not to read reviews.

I’ve read some of my reviews. I’ve read good reviews that made me smile, good reviews that still bothered me, and bad reviews that have made it hard for me to write for days.

I don’t read my reviews.

Chubby & Charming has over 200 reviews on Goodreads. I have read about three of them.

What I do is listen to my fans who take the time to email me. This email is from Leonora…

I absolutely LOVED Chubby and Charming. I couldn’t put it down. I started reading it on a plane and my phone died 30 minutes before we landed. It was the longest 30 minutes ever! Plugged in as soon as I could to start reading again. I’m normally a graphic novel reader so this was my first ‘book book’ in years and it’s got me back into reading ‘proper’ books again so, thank you!

I have no idea if she left a review anywhere. The email she sent me matters a whole lot more to me than a review!

Reviews are for other readers, in my opinion. They are intended to help other readers decide if a book is something that will interest them. If someone wants to tell me something, they’ll email me. Those I will listen to. I’ve had readers ask why I did something. I had readers tell me they didn’t like a certain book. I had readers tell me they loved a certain book (in some cases, the same one).

Does it mold how I write?

That’s a lot harder to answer.

I want readers to love my books. Especially readers that have read all my books. But I can’t make everyone happy. Some books will push one person in a way they don’t push someone else. Some books will make one person look deeper inside themselves and be pure entertainment to others. Some books will reveal something a reader doesn’t want to see.

I can’t make everyone happy. No matter how hard I try. If I did try, I’d never write another word! It would be paralyzing.

I guess what I’d say is yes, I do think about what my readers want. I do think about what people have said to me about my books. I do ask for reader input on certain things. But I also tell the story that has to be told.

Thanks so much, Jeannie, for your question! If you have a question, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

Q&A Sunday: Criticism

Aliana has a hard question for me to answer today…

What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

This is a challenge for me. I take criticism very hard. Every review that points out something a reader didn’t like hurts. Every person who tells me they don’t read my type of stories or my heat level or anything like that is tough to hear.

I was at a reader event a few months ago. A person walking past my table picked up a copy of Puffy & Precious. She asked what I write and started reading the cover as I told her about my books. She got about two sentences in and walked away, telling me she doesn’t like books like mine. About a woman rebuilding her life after a divorce. Catching her husband cheating.

I get that it wasn’t for her. My books aren’t going to be for everyone. I get that, believe me. But it was still tough to know she wouldn’t even give it a shot.

Thank you, every one of you, for giving my books a shot. For reading my emails or my blog posts or my books. For following me and friending me. It means a lot that you are willing to read past a few sentences to see the story beneath, and to love my characters as much as I do!

Thanks so much, Aliana, for your question! If you have a question, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

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Q&A Sunday: Happy New Year!

Are you awake yet? It’s 2017! And I have a question from Jeannie to start up the year and get us going!

It sounds like you have to have great organizational skills to consider being a writer what with planning, research and getting in actual writing time. What’s your secret to success!

Well, I’ll admit, I’m a bit of an organization junkie. I used to wander the office supply aisle of CVS when I was little. I still have a minor addiction to sticky notes. And planners. And lists.

I might have a problem.

I’m also a very visual person. I like to see my calendar on the wall, not just on my phone or computer. I have a yearly calendar on the wall, a monthly list of my to-do items, and a weekly planner that I keep with me. Yes, it’s overkill, but it’s all necessary for me!

One of the most important things for me is figuring out what I want. I set goals every year. I limit myself to ten goals for the year and then I break them up by quarter. Some goals I won’t accomplish until the end of the year, but some I’ll complete in the first few months. I have a blend of personal goals, production goals, and business goals. Sometimes I don’t meet them all, but I try.

A big thing for me is saying no. I’m very bad at it, like horrible, but I’m learning to say no. Saying no to tasks that make it harder for me to accomplish the things most important to me is the right move. If I forget to say no, I end up taking time away from my family so I can get all my work done, and that goes against something very important to me.

 

The last key, for me, to my success is taking a break. I need that chance to recharge. I watch TV, build Legos with my kids, and go on dates with my hubby. We get together with family and friends. And I read. A lot. I love reading. It doesn’t really matter what it is though, I need a break from work every week. I don’t check email on weekends very often. I try to work during the day when everyone is at work and school. I even take a lunch break every day. And it all helps. When I go back to work, I’m ready, anxious even, to focus again.

What’s your favorite organization trick?

Thanks so much, Jeannie, for your question! If you have a question, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

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Merry Christmas!

Christmas is always a day of reflection for me. A chance to think back over the year and be thankful for all the things I’ve done. It’s also a good chance to think about the things that didn’t go the way I’d hoped and decide if I still want the same things, and if so, what I’ll do differently to get it.

But mostly, Christmas is a day for me to be happy. A day to enjoy time with my family. A day to see the joy on my kids’ faces when they find presents under the tree and get to open them all. A day to remember what life is like when we were kids. A day for fun.

Please go enjoy your Christmas. Be a kid again. Celebrate all the good things in life.

From my family to yours… Merry Christmas!