Category Archive: leslie lee sanders

May 07 2013

Readers Hate Realism in Fiction

pagesOne thing I’ve learned after writing over a dozen stories is … readers despise reality or anything that reminds them how life really is. Yet, they want to feel like everything that happens in a story is true to life. A contradiction? Not necessarily.

Readers like to suspend disbelief in certain situations and genres like in Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Paranormal fiction. I mean, we all know were-creatures and fairies don’t exist. But if the writer has done her job and created rules for her world, as long as her characters follow the rules, the readers have no issues.

It’s with things like characters, their motives, their desires, struggles and actual characteristics that need to feel … real.

 

Likable Characters, Redeemable Characteristics

Readers think they want realistic, but what they really want is happily ever afters, scorching hot men, talented and successful characters, nice guys or bad boys with redeemable qualities, and characters that do not possess any unfavorable qualities … in other words, people who don’t really exist.

It irks readers when you give them whinny, lying, foul-mouthed, bitchy, odd, arrogant, lazy, two-faced, characters because the point in reading, for many, is to escape those kinds of people and situations.

But if you want to truly be realistic, these are the types of people we live with, work with, associate with, and encounter every day, even when we look in the mirror. No wonder we don’t want to deal with them in Fiction Land.

True realistic characters in fiction, the characters we deal with on a day-to-day basis, can warrant the author unfavorable reviews, can cost the author potential readers, and result in low sales. Read reviews. Almost every reviewer mentions what they felt about the characters. It’s that big a deal.

I’ve read that a character should reflect the reader. I disagree. Readers want to be the character in a sense of relating to the character and their struggles and then experiencing that happy ending. Readers do not want the character to be a reflection of themselves and their unflattering traits. That’s too realistic for comfort in most cases. Those are the characters we don’t relate to, the ones we don’t like, the ones who are forgettable, etc.

 

Fairytales and Happily Ever Afters

Essentially, we like fairytales. The princess always gets the prince at the end. No main character dies or suffers too long or too much, not without finally getting what they were striving for throughout their entire journey. Bad people get what they deserve. Good people get what they deserve. By the end of the book, life is grand!

This is apparently what helps makes good fiction. It’s very formulaic, believe it or not. We authors are all telling the exact same story just with different characters, situations and delivery.

 

The Fiction Formula and what it says about Human Beings

Every genre has a set of rules that the writer must adhere to. In the Romance genre, some of the rules are:

  1. Happily ever after or happily for now. This is an absolute must! This is what readers expect out of the genre.
  2. A physically, mentally or emotionally attractive main character. Yes, they can have issues and physical flaws (have a limp, a scar, swear too much, etc.), but they have to possess a trait that makes them very attractive, unique or engaging as well.
  3. They have to have good intentions. No matter what, deep inside they are good people.

Readers aren’t interested in characters who wakes up to have it all, unless they lose it all and prove that they deserved it in the first place, or if they sacrifice it all for a greater good. Characters have to struggle, otherwise their tale is boring. They can’t just get everything they want, they have to work for it. They just can’t have anyone they want either, they have to work for that too. Everyone gets their just desserts by the end.

This is the rule of fiction.

Says a lot about how we feel about ourselves and others, right? Haven’t you noticed that we tend to be envious of those who seem to have it all and acquire it without much effort? We feel that way because we compare ourselves to them. We tend to despise people who seem not to work as hard, or suffer as much as we do, but seem to have more than us and are happier. We hate these types of characters too. That’s why a great character in fiction has to suffer like no other, inside and out before they can have their happy ending.

When the characters don’t suffer enough, you leave readers unsatisfied.

 

How Fiction Differs from Real Life

Well, in the real world:

  1. Good people often have crappy things happen to them.
  2. Bad people don’t always get punished.
  3. And most of the time, we never have all our wishes come true or …
  4. End up with the dangerously scorching hot hunk at the end of our suffering.
  5. Many times, there is no end to our sufferings.
  6. We don’t have perfect relationships. We don’t have funny, selfless and spunky friends, neighbors, relatives, pets, bosses, etc.
  7. We don’t have great jobs.
  8. We’re weak, fat, miserable, and insecure.
  9. Sometimes, life just sucks!

So it’s not that readers despise reality or anything that reminds them how life really is. It’s that, readers despise reality or anything that reminds them how “sucky” life really is.

Keep that in mind when creating fictional characters.

 

What did you think of this post? Speak your mind in the comments below.

Feb 22 2013

New Year, New Website!

balloonsChange, it’s inevitable. Every new year we make a resolution to change, to improve, to do more or less–pretty much go a totally different route in one way or another be it our careers or our hair color. I’m no different. In fact, I embrace change. On that note, let me introduce you to my new website! 😉

I was in desperate need of a better, cleaner, sleeker and more professional design. WordPress delivered!

Although there are tons of differences, there are a lot on this site that looks familiar as well.

 

DIFFERENCES:

  • At the top of the site you can find social media icons that link to my networks (much better than the Blogspot text links I had to incorporate on the other site).
  • Aesthetically, things are difference and more organized. Hopefully, easier for you to find what you’re looking for. (The Books page has been acting a little funky in different browsers, so that’s still a work in progress.)

 

SIMILARITIES:

  • The background design, the colors and the navigation tabs are pretty much familiar.
  • And the posts and comments been transferred over from the old site too. (I will keep the old site up just in case some people bookmarked it or linked to it. Plus it’s still fully functional. I might use both. We’ll see).

 

So, there you go. Welcome to my new website. I hope you find helpful information in my blog posts, find entertainment in my works of fiction (and vice versa), and come back regularly. In fact, subscribe to my blog (subscription button on the top right) to stay up-to-date on new book releases AND useful new blog posts!

Become a part of my network. Stay connected. I’m sure you’d get some “entertaining, useful stuff” out of me at the very least.

Feb 15 2013

4 MORE Mistakes I’ve Made in my Writing Career that You Can Learn From

Last week I listed 4 Mistakes I’ve make in my writing career that you can learn from. This week I’m listing FOUR MORE! Below are some mistakes I’ve made in my writing career that, hopefully, you’ll never have to make yourself to learn from them.

 

1. Using bland book covers

Even though my book was a YA title which discussed serious issues like; dissociation, rape, and cutting, I thought the image of a sunset was too beautiful to not use as the cover of my book.
My Mistake: I was thinking about what looked pretty as a book cover instead of my target audience and how the cover would translate to those readers.
The Lesson: Great book covers help sell books, right? Not only does a great cover help to sell the book, it also conveys the book’s overall message through the cover images and design. Sometimes you can correctly guess the book’s genre just by looking at the title, the font, images, etc. So if you are serious about targeting the right readers and standing up to the competition consider a professional, well thought out design for your book’s cover instead of using a basic or bland cover.

 

2. Not using a pen name for different genres

I write mostly fiction with spice (i.e., erotic romance) but in the beginning of my career I swayed a bit and wrote a couple of young adult books. All seemed well, except I never considered using a different name to separate my adult books from my young adult books.
My Mistake: I wrote for two completely different genres using the same name. Those genres were complete opposites and definitely needed to be separate.
The Lesson: If you write different or conflicting genres, consider using a pen name. If you don’t want to use a totally different pseudonym but want it to be different enough to distinguish between the genres you write in, use your initials or your name mixed around (i.e., L.L. Sanders, Leslie Lee, or Lee L. Sanders).  It’s still your name, and still recognizable to your readers, but separates the many genres you write.

 

3. Experimenting with fiction

There’s nothing wrong with experimenting. However, I can’t break the rules without understanding and applying them first. No one can.
My Mistake: Once upon a time, I had a master plan to write at least one book in EVERY single genre. Now reread that last sentence and take a moment to process what I just said. Yeah, big mistake! Although I managed to write and publish in three different genres (Romance, Young Adult and Horror) I did use a pen name for my horror. So, I think I earned a gold star for that good idea.
The Lesson: As much as we enjoy reading different genres, not all of us has what it takes to successfully write in every single genre. Sometimes writing well requires you write a lot in a specific genre to develop the skills necessary to make it a satisfying read. Now, I’m sure it’s possible to do and probably has been done, but it’s mighty difficult to manage several different personas, platforms, marketing strategies, writing styles, etc.

 

4. Moving ahead when not ready

Rushing. Rushing to write, rushing to edit, and rushing to submit and/or publish.
My Mistake: I struggle with this even now. It’s a hard habit to break when you have so much to do in a twenty-four hour day, especially if you self-publish because usually you’re doing everything on your own. If only our days were forty-eight hours instead and there were no such things as deadlines.

The Lesson: Rushing to complete a task more than likely results in poor performance, especially if you don’t spend enough time away from your project to look at it with fresh eyes. You hear that advice all the time, I’m sure. Put the manuscript away for a few days or weeks, get it out of your mind, then come back to it. You would have removed yourself from it long enough to see it in a new, fresh perspective. Then you can move forward to the next step with more confidence and a sense of completion of the previous step.

 

Feb 10 2013

Six Sentence Sunday: Beyond the Darkness (Refuge Inc. #3)

This is my first time participating in Six Sentence Sunday! So I hope I’m doing it right. It’s a lot fun so, why not? Let’s dig right in. Here are six sentences from my latest WIP, Beyond the Darkness (Refuge Inc. #3), an MM, post-apocalyptic, dystopian.

~~~

As much as Adam didn’t want to speak about the horrors of the past, those things came up in every conversation. He couldn’t open his mouth without mentioning how sorry he was for everything they’d been through—the abrupt changes and many deaths. And as much as he tried to prevent himself from instilling false hope, he couldn’t help doing that either. He truly believed rescue was just days away, but he had stopped talking about that days ago to please Elliot. Elliot couldn’t take getting his hopes up only to be let down.

Still, rescue was coming.

~~~
The first two books in the Refuge Inc. series, Before the Darkness (Refuge Inc. #1) and Amid the Darkness (refuge Inc. #2) are available now. 
– Leslie Lee Sanders

Feb 07 2013

4 Mistakes I’ve Made in my Writing Career that You Can Learn From

It’s hard to admit you’ve made mistakes. However, admitting your mistakes, at least to yourself, is the necessary first step you must take to learn from them. We all had moments where we wish we had someone to mentor us at the start of our writing careers. Wouldn’t life be easier and less stressful if we could learn from someone else’s mistakes? Well, here’s your chance to learn a thing or two from someone who’s made a few mistakes over her eight-year writing career. Below are some mistakes I’ve made that, hopefully, you’ll never make yourself. And here is a list of 4 MORE mistakes I’ve made in my writing career that you can learn from.

  1.  Failing to acquire the proper editing


 

I’ve actually paid a couple hundred dollars to have one of my earlier books edited. When all was said and done, it turned out I got a critique of my book instead of an actual line edit that I thought I was paying for.

My Mistake: Not understanding and verifying what type of “editing” I was paying for.

The Lesson: Make sure you understand the exact service the editor will provide and agree to those services before paying a cent.

 

  1. Waiting too long to revise a published manuscript


I’ve self-published a book (or two) at the start of my writing career that, looking back, I realized needed a hefty dose of revision. And being a better writer today than I was eight years ago helps in identifying poor writing.

My Mistake: I didn’t revise and republish the book sooner. If I tried to revise the story now, it will take time away from my recent projects and delay the completion of future projects. I’d still be stuck in the past!

The Lesson: If you have a project (book, article, poem, etc.) that is published (i.e. self-published, published to a blog or other website) that’s in need of a revision, do it now or soon. Starting more projects before finishing current responsibilities will keep you from ever revising, or can make it more difficult to go back and revise in the future.

 

  1. Writing several  stories at once


Writers have so many ideas, don’t we? Can’t wait to write them down and start working on some. We get used to having several Word documents opened at the same time, or a different one opened every other day. How did I manage to finish anything if I was working on everything at once?

My Mistake: I’ve had too much going on to focus on anything. And worse, it was hard to keep up with the many characters and plotlines. I ended up scrapping some of the stories and never finishing others, and looking back made me realize that time could have been used much more productively.

The Lesson: Like the lesson above, stick to one project until it’s complete. At the very least, stick with just a couple of your very important projects (i.e. projects with fast approaching deadlines) to make sure you stay focus.

 

 

  1. Not marketing my work


I used to think that if you write a book, readers would come. That’s kind of funny now that I think about it. No, not really. That’s sad. How would anyone ever know about my book if I never let people know it exists?

My Mistake: I told a couple of my friends and family about the book I was so proud of, I made a website and added the cover and back copy description, and then I sat back and waited. Watching as I sold 4 copies this month and 8 copies the next.

The Lesson: If you want readers and sales you have to make your book known to more than your close group of friends. You can’t only rely on word of mouth advertising anymore. You have to get out there and participate in some online activities, make some friends, join a group or too, be a guess blogger, connect with your target audience, make a presence, etc. Here are some Simple Online Book  Marketing Tips you can refer to.

Jan 31 2013

13 Most Appreciated Gestures in the Writing Biz: Are You Due Some Praise?

Last week I posted a list of 13 Unprofessional Types of People in the Writing Biz. It seems fit to mention the great things that people do in the writing business as well. So here they are the 13 most appreciated gestures a person could do in the writing business. If you’re lucky, you might have done these kind gestures. You’re even luckier if you were on the receiving end.

 

Proper Email Etiquette:

  1. Notifying recipients that you received their email and will respond soon.
This is great to do especially if you know you’re swamped with work and not readily available to answer the email as detailed as you’d like. How to be this person. A simple “Got your email” is much appreciated. It keeps the sender from worrying if their email landed in a spam folder or was never sent.
  1. Notifying email groups or recipients that you’ve been hacked and to not open strange links.
It’s happened to a lot of us. You receive a bogus email with a link from So-and-so. You suspect it’s spam because it seems fishy that So-and-so wouldn’t address you by name. How to be this person. After changing your password, it is sometimes proper to send another email advising to ignore the last one and not to open it or click the link.
  1. Keep a reference of the previous conversation by replying to the email
Keep the things simple and organized. How to be this person. Reply to the last email with the same topic instead of composing a new email. This way, both parties can easily keep track of what was said and agreed upon thus far, or refresh their memory without searching for the other emails.
  1. Alter the subject line of an email when replying
You were discussing the price of your e-book over email, the subject line was “E-book Pricing” but now you want to talk about the cover. How to be this person. By replying to the email and changing the subject line to “E-book Pricing & Cover” you tether to the previous information you shared in the email but updated the subject line so the recipient knows the subject has changed.

Social Media Engagement:

  1. Following, commenting, discussing, liking
We’re all looking to build or expand our platform, and simply following an author’s posts, blog, or social media presence is one of the best ways to show your support. Leaving comments, liking or engaging in discussions with the author is the best way to show you are invested. This person is highly appreciated in the writing biz, because these invested people help make authors and writers relevant. How to be this person. Show the person you see them, acknowledge them, and understand or enjoy their time with as little as a click of a mouse.

 

6. Sharing, Liking, Re-Tweeting, Favorite-ing, etc. In this day and age, it’s hard to find an audience with so many in the business vying for attention. It can be difficult to reach and connect to others without some help. How to be this person. Helping to spread the word of your favorite author’s new release or latest blog post is highly appreciated usually with just a click of a button.

 

Sharing and Giving:

  1. Blogging/Article Writing/Sharing your Expertise
Sharing your secrets or your knowledge with those who seek that information is one of the best things you can do for others and yourself. How to be this person. Is there something you’re really interested in, something you know a lot about or are willing to learn a lot about? Consider sharing your knowledge or experiences with others on your blog or in an article to post on Facebook or other online sites. There’s always someone looking for info on the topic you are an expert in.
  1. Give-Aways/Contests
Everyone loves freebies! Receiving something for nothing always puts a smile on someone’s face, because they don’t have to do or spend hard earned money on it. Being a winner always feels great, because it’s exclusive. Not everyone can win which makes you feel special. How to be this person. Giving away a copy or ten of your latest release, bookmarks or other swag is a great gesture because it shows that you are not only generous but sociable and kind. Traits people are attracted to.
  1. Critiquing/Beta Reading/Proofreading
In my opinion, someone that reads your manuscript before it’s submitted for publication and gives you feedback on how to improve your story for little or nothing in return deserves a dozen thank-yous, if not more. How to be this person. Taking time out of your busy schedule to help out a fellow author by reading their work and giving your honest opinion is part of helping that author improve and succeed. Kudos for that!
  1. Rating & Reviewing
Ratings and reviews of an author’s books or a writer’s articles is the perfect way to give a public pat on the back for a job well done. Even if your rating and review is unfavorable, it’s helps bring attention to the book or article, help other readers better decide if they’d want to read it or if it was helpful or not, and informs the author what to improve upon with her next project. How to be this person. Rate and review the books and articles you’ve read.
  1. Rejection Letters with Feedback /Revise and Resubmits
The best thing about a rejection (if there’s such a thing) is the actual feedback that some editors send along with it. How to be this person. It’s one thing to send a form rejection letter. It’s another to give some helpful feedback along with your rejection to inform the author where the story failed and how to improve it. If the story is promising but has a few snags, go ahead and say so. Most serious authors respect this kind of rejection.
  1. Notifying of website/e-books errors/ways to improve
Who doesn’t appreciate someone who points out errors in order for you to fix them and remain flawless-looking? How to be this person. If the links on the author’s website stopped working and you emailed her to notify her, you’d be a hero in that author’s eyes. You are helping her improve and fix her mistakes, one of the very best gestures.
  1. Truly appreciating what another has done to help you in your goals
The note to readers at the top right of my website is no gimmick. I am absolutely thankful for my readers, all of you, fans or not. I would like to remind you with every book release, article or post, but I don’t want to get too cheesy. I think showing that you are honestly appreciative of others and their contributions is necessary in building a connection.

 

Did I leave any appreciated gestures out? Go ahead and leave a comment. Add to the list. Tell me what you think.

Jan 22 2013

Refuge Inc. Series Blog Barrage & Give-Away!

Follow these blogs and enter for a chance to win BOTH books, Before the Darkness (Refuge Inc. #1) and Amid the Darkness (Refuge Inc. #2)!
Ends Jan 28th.

January 22, 2013


January 23, 2013

Dec 26 2012

4 Insecurities Writers Need to Get Over


Insecure?
As writers we put a piece of ourselves in everything we write. Writing is a form of creativity, and our creativity stems from our very soul. A little piece of our experiences are scribbled into our writings along with our sweat, blood and tears. So it’s no wonder most of us are insecure. Here’s a list of some of the insecurities that plaque us and reasons why we need to get over them.

  1. What if I fail?

This is a common fear most people encounter when starting something new. The fear of failure. In a world full of uncertainty, we often settle for what we know or choose tasks with predictable outcomes instead of pushing ourselves to our greatest potential. But failing is okay. It’s not the end of the world. The sooner you put yourself out there, the sooner you’ll see that either way, failing or winning, there’s more to accomplish.

  1. People will hate my writing.

Yes. Some people will hate your writing. Simply put, we can’t please everyone. This is one of the many things we writers have to come to term with when developing a thick skin. Even some of the most established writers have haters. Focus on those who would love your work, and write to make them proud.

  1. I’ll never be published.

If you think this way, you’ve already given up. And what happens when you give up? You create a self-fulfilling prophecy and, in fact, you will never be published. Reevaluate why you wanted to be published in the first place. Maybe then it’ll be easier to keep pushing along. Remember, the difference between aspiring and being is the work you put in and the determination to see your dreams come true.

  1. I don’t have enough credentials.

I know this is a catch 22. I hear this a lot. “How are we supposed to build credible credentials if no one will give us a chance to build credible credentials?” My advice … take a chance. Don’t stop trying to be published, or never start, because you’re afraid a reader or editor will think you’re not experienced enough. You obviously know plenty about a subject to think you’re the perfect one to write about it. So take a chance instead of letting your fears hinder you. Besides, the information and experience you do have might just be enough to make you qualified.
 
 
 

Dec 01 2012

New Release: Amid the Darkness (Refuge Inc. #2)

Today is release day for book two in the Refuge Inc. series, Amid the Darkness! Amid the Darkness is now available in these formats. Get your copy today!

Amid the Darkness (Refuge Inc. #2)
by Leslie Lee Sanders
Words: 45,000
Release date: Nov 30th 2012
Genres: MM, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian, Romance

Amazon Kindle
Amazon paperback
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

Blurb: Weeks after an asteroid strikes Earth, hurling Elliot and Adam into a fight for their survival, the two take shelter in an underground compound known as Refuge Inc. Shaking their past seems impossible as it comes back to haunt them, weakening the foundation of their relationship. Elliot, hung up on guilt over his former actions, tries to right his wrongs which leads him face-to-face with the troubling secrets of the compound. Adam’s run-in with the enigmatic prophet makes him question Refuge Inc. and the survivors’ future.

Working together to uncover the mysteries of Refuge Inc. not only reveals much about the sunless world beyond the compound walls, but exposes the truth about the compound’s occupants … including themselves.

If their haunting pasts continue to dominate, it will steer them directly into a miserable future and their companionship will forever suffer. Either way, they are forced to prepare for the ultimate fight for survival.Can they fight together and make it out on top?

WARNING: Contains graphic language, some violence and brief descriptions of the dead.

Nov 14 2012

Pre-order Amid the Darkness at a Discount!

The second book in the Refuge Inc. series, Amid the Darkness, is available on All Romance eBooks for pre-order! Pre-order Amid the Darkness now at a discount and save over $1. Here’s your chance to take advantage of the price before its release this December!

Amid the Darkness (Refuge Inc., Book 2)
by Leslie Lee Sanders
Release date: December 2012
Words: 40,000
Genre: Post-apocalyptic/Distopian, MM, Romance.

BLURB:

Weeks after an asteroid strikes Earth, hurling Elliot and Adam into a fight for their survival, the two take shelter in an underground compound known as Refuge Inc. Shaking their past seems impossible as it comes back to haunt them, weakening the foundation of their relationship. Elliot, hung up on guilt over his former actions, tries to right his wrongs which leads him face-to-face with the troubling secrets of the compound. Adam’s run-in with the enigmatic prophet makes him question Refuge Inc. and the survivors’ future.

Working together to uncover the mysteries of Refuge Inc. not only reveals much about the sunless world beyond the compound walls, but exposes the truth about the compound’s occupants … including themselves.

If their haunting pasts continue to dominate, it will steer them directly into a miserable future and their companionship will forever suffer. Either way, they are forced to prepare for the ultimate fight for survival.Can they fight together and make it out on top?

WARNING: Contains graphic language, some violence and brief descriptions of the dead.

 

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