The Conundrum Over Cliffhangers

I don’t know what made me decide to talk about this today, since I finished the first draft of my full-length novel, Blood in the Paint, months ago, and I’m now fully focused on its prelude novella, but here goes…

I love cliffhanger endings in a series. I don’t even mind a cliffhanger ending in a stand-alone novel where I’m left guessing after I turn that last page. But it seems as though I might be in the minority on this one. Or maybe not, I didn’t actually take a poll or anything. Nor do I have any interest in doing so.

But I would like to know WHY people don’t like cliffhanger endings, especially in a series. What else would lure you to buy the sequels if there wasn’t something left unresolved? I struggled with how I wanted to end my own novel. I like cliffhangers, so obviously I wanted to end it on one. But I’ve also read the countless Amazon reviews of readers chiding the author for leaving them hanging (and not in the, “How dare s/he do that to me! I love this story so much! I want to have its babies, but first I need to know what happens next!” kind of way). Some people really hate to be roped into the next book? Why? Do they want the option of not having to read the next book? Like a literary commitment-phobe? Do they hate having to wait until the next book comes out because they fear they won’t remember enough of the first book and they’ll be lost? Maybe they have a short-term memory condition like Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates. What the hell is it? Seriously, the suspense is killing me. Oh, wait. That’s their problem too, isn’t it? Dammit.

Anyway, I hope the way I ended Blood in the Paint was a nice compromise. A nicely resolved ending, with a teeny, tiny monkey-wrench thrown in right at the very end to make you question everything you’ve just read. Ok, maybe “compromise” is the wrong word…

How do you YOU feel about cliffhanger endings?

 

What I Learned From The Editor: Round 1

I received my novella, Blood in the Past, back from the editor weeks ago. I’ve been working on rewrites feverishly since then to add stuff. That’s right. Add. Stuff. I’m the only writer in the history of the world whose editor requested they add stuff. But more on that later. Here’s what I learned during this first round of edits.

  • I’m wordy. Now, as a reader, I hate description overkill. I don’t need a paragraph to explain how green the grass is or a page to show how mangy a stray cat is. I also don’t need to know what everyone is wearing. In fact, details like that pull me from the story. She’s wearing a purple sweater? Hmm, I pictured her wearing a red sweater. I guess that’s because red is my favorite color. I wish I had a red sweater. Wait, I do! Is that clean? Where is that sweater? See what I mean? Anyway, the point is that I tried to avoid that in my own writing. However, I often add sentence fragments of description. For effect. My editor left the ones that actually were effective. But there were many, many redundant ones. Yikes.
  • I don’t tell enough. You know how you’re not supposed to write as though the reader is dumb? Well apparently I take it a step further and write as though the reader is telepathically connected to me. I assume they know things I know and see things I see. Dammit.
  • I tell too much. In contrast to the bullet point above, sometimes I skip having information come out in conversation or thought and just tell the reader stuff. Tsk, tsk.

And this is where the adding of stuff comes in. I’ve been adding extra scenes and dialogue sequences like a mad woman. Still hoping for an end of March release, but we’ll see. Wish me luck.

In Case I Wasn’t Clear About the Contest

Yesterday I posted a contest to help me name my book series. I’ve received several responses, yet, still things aren’t going exactly as planned. It’s not your collective faults, it’s mine. I’m new at this. But, just to be clear, if you want to participate, please read the following:

  1. In order to have your name considered for the prize, you have to click on the Rafflecopter link. Just commenting doesn’t do it. (If you already commented, make sure you visit the link so your comment counts!) I’m sorry.
  2. If you click I Commented on the Rafflecopter link and don’t actually comment, you are a bad person. Not only that, but if Rafflecopter chooses your name and I don’t see a relevent, corresponding comment in your name, I will pick another winner. I’m sorry.
  3. If you don’t know what my books are about, visit the My Books page where you’ll find blurbs for both titles, Blood in the Past and Blood in the Paint. (On a side note, they are Psychological Thrillers. If you read the blurb and gather another impression–one person said they sounded gory, another asked if I wrote romance–please let me know, so I can revise the blurbs.)

So, to recap: Click this link for a Rafflecopter giveaway. See the examples of suitable series choices. Click I Commented to enter the contest. Return to my blog and comment with your series title choice. If you need more info, go to the My Books page. Bite your nails until February 9th when a winner will be selected to win a Jordanna East ‘Tote Bag Full of Swag’ (Journals, pens, a calendar magnet, a tshirt, and CHOCOLATE!).

Name My Series! Win Stuff!

In January 2012 I picked up writing my unfinished novel again. I gave myself a self-imposed deadline to have it finished by the end of the year. I know what you’re thinking: A whole year? To finish a novel you already had nine chapters of? What are you, chiseling it into a cave wall?

Gimme a break, guys. I was a newbie. Still am. Didn’t know how long it would take. Regardless, I still didn’t finish. I have a problem with over-editing before moving on. I might seek professional help as one of my New Year’s Resolutions. We’ll see.

Anyway, I’m FINISHED NOW!!!!!

The aforementioned novel, Blood in the Paint, is done. First draft, at least. The prequel, Blood in the Past, is all typed up and ready for the first round of revisions before it goes to the editor. Eeek!

So, this is a series, guys. I’ll be needing a series name. I can’t decide so I’m asking you all to help me pick one. The winner recieves a swag bag. (I probably shouldn’t call it a swag bag because swag stands for Stuff We All Get and, well, frankly, you all can’t be winners. But I’m going to continue to call it a swag bag because swag bag is fun to say and it rhymes and stuff.) Specifically, the winner will receive a Jordanna East tote bag with all kinds of goodies inside based on the suggestions you provided last week. Journals. Pens. A calendar magnet. A T-shirt. Chocolate! Goodies galore! Enter the contest below!

So, to recap: Click this link for a Rafflecopter giveaway. See the examples of suitable series choices. Click I Commented to enter the contest. Return to my blog and comment with your series title choice. If you need more info, go to the My Books page. Bite your nails until February 9th when a winner will be selected to win a Jordanna East ‘Tote Bag Full of Swag’ (Journals, pens, a calendar magnet, a tshirt, and CHOCOLATE!).

 

 

Jerks & Irks XXX: Free is, as Free Does

What happens when you tell people you’re a writer? They say:

“I’d better get a copy!”

“When do I get a copy?”

“You’re gonna give me a signed copy, right?”

Of course! My goal was NEVER to make a living!

Of course! My goal was NEVER to make a living!

Umm, what the frick, people? Hellooo! Starving artist here! Pay up! (A select handful of people say “I can’t wait to buy a copy!” And I love those people and wish I could give them all a puppy.)

And what’s worse is that most of the time, the people who assume they’re getting free copies of Blood in the Past and Blood in the Paint are in positions to give ME free stuff. And haven’t. Like my Pseudo-Boss Sandy. Every time I see her she asks to read my book. Like, right now. Like, she doesn’t even want to wait for it to be out, she wants to read it over my shoulder on my computer before I get a chance to print it out at Staples, right now. Umm, no. You have to wait. You have to buy a copy. I don’t even like you. Or, since you work at that highfalutin Racket Club, get me a membership. FREE!

Then there’s the Nail Salon Lady. When I stopped getting acrylic gel tips (aka longer, harder fake nails) she asked me why. I told her that I only wore those when I worked in the restaurant business because washing my hands a million times a day makes my nails soft and brittle. I told her that I’m writing a book now. She keeps asking where’s her copy. Umm, when it’s finished I’ll tip you a business card with a QR code on it, since you own the shop and never offered to do my pedicures for FREE. Not once. Not ever.

Does this happen to you guys? If so, how do you handle it? Especially if you’re an Indie Publisher and would have to pay for copies of your own book in order to give one away to every Tim, Dana, and Henry. (I’m a writer, can’t use the clichéd “Tom, Dick, and Harry. 😛 )

First Order of Business: I Need Suggestions

Happy New Year Everyone!

fireworks

I’ll be holding a giveaway soon. Eek! Don’t get too excited though…Details to come. But first I need help figuring out what exactly to give away. Hmmm. I have another Jordanna East tote bag and I wanna fill it with stuff. Here’s the part where you flood the comments section with suggestions. But before you do that, here are some suggestions that I just won’t accept.  😛

  • Live animals. Hubby-pants said we can’t have anymore pets and, though it would only be temporary, I still think he would be hesitant about holding a puppy hostage for a few days while I try to figure out how to ship it. I think the post office asks you if your package contains “biologicals.”
  • Organs. If you need a new liver because you drank too much over the holidays, this is NOT the place to find it.
  • Liquor. I will not contribute to the demise of your liver so that you think it’s okay to ask for a new liver during my next giveaway. Nice try.
  • Drugs. So now you’re trying to ruin your kidneys? No-sir-ee.
  • Blackmarket babies. I shouldn’t have to include this but some of you may be prone to thinking my international reach is unparalleled. It’s not. Not yet. But even then, no babies.
  • “Bald slavegirls.” That’s right. Here’s looking at you weirdo search term guy. Absolutely not.

So, outside of this handful of exceptions, I’m pretty much open to anything. What would you like to see in giveaway bag?

High Five for Top Fives

Up top, guys! This year is freaking over! Whoo hooo! Let the champagne flow! Pass the jello shots! Because nothing says classy like champagne and jello shots!

And no end-of-the-year blog post is complete without the requisite Top Blah Blah Blah List. Here are several of mine:

Top Five JJE Posts (based on Views, Comments, & Likes)

  1. Getting Arrested for the Greater Good
  2. Murder & Mother-In-Laws
  3. What Not to Do on the Train…
  4. The Typos Aren’t Your Fault?
  5. Location, Location, Location

Top Five JJE Posts I Liked But No One Saw

  1. Research or Get Besmirched
  2. Like Reading a Schizophrenic’s Notes
  3. This “Sux!”
  4. Who Wears Short Shorts?
  5. The Next Big Thing (Ok, this one’s a shameless plug. Don’t judge me, my books come out in 2013. TeeHee)

Top Five Weird-A$$ Search Terms That Brought People Here

  1. “baster brain” & “bald slavegirl fantasy” (That’s a tie, sorry)
  2. “fiction stories don’t beat me”
  3. “wave bum”
  4. “you’re welcome, it was a pleasure, hope you didn’t destroy your keyboard”
  5. “I’m not the same person please go away”
  6. BONUS *anytime someone searched for “jordanna east” or any derivative thereof* (That happened ELEVEN times!)

Top Five Books I Read This Year

  1. The Hunger Games Trilogy (Duh)
  2. The Pine Deep Trilogy by Jonathan Maberry
  3. The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch
  4. The King’s X by Stephen T. Harper
  5. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Top Five Things I Look Forward to in 2013

  1. Typing up my Prequel, Blood in the Past, and submitting it to beta readers, editor, etc. Publishing it via Blood Read Press
  2. Getting my finished book covers from the amazingly talented Kit Foster
  3. Revising my full-length novel, Blood in the Paint, and submitting it to beta readers, editor, etc. Publishing it via Blood Read Press
  4. Starting the second full-length novel in the series (and the research for it!)
  5. A much deserved SPA DAY and a VACATION!

I just want to get all sappy for a moment and thank everyone for following me here, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc. For being interested in me and my silly dream. For asking about my books. For laughing at my bookstore horror stories. I value your encouragement in same way I value cute kittens, funny-looking chickens, and anything made of chocolate. Happy New Year!

Jerks & Irks XXVIII: Fo’rizzy

colinp

Are you confused by the title of this post? Are you confused by the caption next to Colin Powell? Would you be even more confused if you were reading a novel in which an Ivy-educated journalist, who happens to be Black, uses such phrases in his inner monologue? Because that’s what I’m going through right now. I won’t tell you the title or the author, but I will say that I’m enjoying the story so far. Except for the unrealistic and completely ludicrous “slang.” I put “slang” in quotations because, with the exception of several-years-ago-Snoop-Dogg, no one speaks like that. No one seriously uses the terms “Fo’rizzle” and “Fo’shizzy” in replace of “for real.” Especially when they’ve been Harvard educated and write for an illustrious NYC magazine for a living. I’m not saying that the character’s inner monologue should sound like Stephen Hawking or anything, but a simple “Is she for real?” would suffice.

white

Also, I find it irksome and more than a bit insulting (as a person of mixed race) that the author thought a Black character wouldn’t come across as Black unless they spouted off these incessant “Fo’shizzles” at every turn. By the way, my novel has a Black female character and the only thing that sets her apart as Black is her physical description.

Ya know what I mean? Fo’sheezy. (Ugh, I need to wash my keyboard after this…)

Anyway, speaking of being “hip,” there’s still time to enter to win this totally “happenin” Jordanna East tote bag. It’s roomy, it’s canvas, and it’s got my pretty face on it. If that doesn’t say chic, I don’t know what does. And if doesn’t say chic, draw your best happy face on the other side and wear it backwards. Click here before December 16th.

That's one good lookin' gal on there!

That’s one good lookin’ gal on there!

E-Book Formatting Faux Pas

If you don’t know by now, I am a voracious reader. See the Books I’ve Read in Bed tab? I’ve read all those book this year. All of them. Don’t feel like counting? There’s 62 of them.

What’s my point? Well besides being an obvious braggart, I would like to say that I’m not really a picky reader. But I do have my peeves. I just learned that one of them, when it comes to e-books, is formatting.

Here are a couple of things I’ve seen among some of the books I’ve read recently:

  • Copyright/Dedication page bleeding into the first page of the novel
  • Chapters not starting on a new page
  • Whole chapters being in italics/bold face (for no reason, of course)
  • Odd spacing
  • Weird “raised words” (they look like exponents in math, but letters)

My question for you guys is, why does this happen? I know you can pay someone to format your novel for you, but are the above errors the result of DIYing it? I’m borderline OCD, so if my novel comes out looking like that, despite the certainly awesome content, I’ll lose my mind all over the place. As in, microscopic pieces of my mind floating throughout the atmosphere for all of eternity.

Please weigh in. Any information and all similar complaints are welcome.

Location, Location, Location! (For your novel)

My novel is set in Philadelphia, PA. Not because I adore the so-called City of Brotherly love, but because it was convenient. When I first started Blood in the Paint, I was living in Philadelphia. I now live not too far from it. Therefore I can just hop on over the bridge and scout locations for scenes, such as UPENN hospital. The rest of the series will undoubtedly take place in the same city, however, I think I want to spread my wings a little. Why?

  1. I follow a lot of fellow authors on Facebook. A few of them have mentioned the settings of their new books. I’m jealous.
  2. The last few books I’ve read have been set in Spain, Bavaria, Boston, and Italy. Reminds me that possibilities are endless.
  3. I recently watched an episode of Drugs, Inc about the heroin epidemic in Alaska. (apparently Alaska has a worse rep than Detroit. Who knew?) Not only did I suddenly want to write a story about the grittiest areas in a corner of the world that gets half a day of darkness for part of the year, but I also wished I had seen this particular episode before my grand heroin search.

So where are your WIP’s set? Do you have a dream setting for a future project?