How do you write male characters?

I am asked a wide range of different questions about the way that I write, but the question that comes up most often is ‘How do you write male characters?’

It’s a great question, but it’s always a little irritating. I mean, I’ve never been a duchess either, but no one asks me how I manage to write those types of characters!

Basically what it all comes down to is three things, so if you want to write male characters, pull up a chair, and see whether these three tips can help you:

1. It’s all about motivation.

Just like any other character, it’s important to know the motivation of your character. It’s through their motivations, fears, greed, and hopes that you can start to weave your character’s words and deeds. Sometimes this is as simple as the opening plot: man is disinherited and seeks to reclaim his place in the world.

Sometimes you want to make it a little more difficult for your readers to work out: man is grumpy and particularly dismissive of women. Was he abandoned by his mother? Spurned by a lover? Betrayed by a sister? It’s the plot narrative that will reveal that to the other characters in the book, as well as your readers.

Before you start to write a male character, sit down and work out their motivation – and this can change throughout the book. Perhaps he starts the book as a private detective, just determined to make ends meet; then meets a woman in criminal distress and his motivations change to help her; then she betrays him and his motivations change to hunting her down and punishing her; then it’s revealed that she never betrayed him it was a misunderstanding, and his motivations end in marrying her and keeping her safe.

2. You need to be observant.

Masculinity is learned.

What do I mean by this? I mean that the way that men sit, stand, and scratch are behaviours that are learned from other men, and that means if you’re observant enough, you can start to learn too.

Now obviously if you are writing a historical romance, like I do, you will need to do a little research about the specific habits of the time. For example, did men in your historical period smoke or chew tobacco? If it’s smoke, was it in a hookah, cigarette, cigar? How did they hold them, cut them, throw them away?

It’s these little descriptions of habits that will make your male characters feel like real living people. I often receive emails from readers telling me that a particular habit of one of my characters has reminded them of one of their loved ones, and of course we’ve never met! But I have observed that exact same behaviour in the men around me.

3. Edit, edit, edit.

No writing is perfect immediately. It’s a great shame really, but there it is! I myself have 60,000 words to edit this afternoon (or at least make a start on), and I write a pretty clean first draft.

After you’ve finished your manuscript, leave it for a few weeks and come back to it. Print it off, and read it as though it’s the latest book you’ve bought. Do the characters ring true? Do they feel a bit awkward? Is there a section that doesn’t fit anymore, or do you need to add an explanatory scene earlier on?

It’s these edits that will fine tune your male characters, and give them the breath of life that only a great author can give. Although it may be painful and time consuming, it’s worth it for your readers.

 

I hope these tips have helped you! Do you have any other tips for writing male characters? Let me know in the comments below!

Announcing ‘Seduced under the Mistletoe’!

I am beyond excited to announce that I have partnered with 15 other historical romance authors to offer our readers the best Christmas gift ever: 16 steamy Christmas themed novellas for just 99c/99p!

Entitled Seduced under the Mistletoethis boxset will allow you to lose yourself in Viking romance, Regency romance, Victorian romance and more, all with a spicy edge and of course, a happily ever after.

Famous name included in this boxset include Carole Mortimer, Scarlett Scott, and Emmanuelle de Maupassant – and I was absolutely thrilled to be invited to join!

My loyal readers will notice that my contribution to Seduced under the Mistletoe, ‘Peril with a Prince’, is part of my Ravishing Regencies series and features the sister of the main character from Shipwrecked with a SuitorSo many of you loved the tantalising hints about Giselle, Pierre’s brother, and so of course I absolutely had to write her own tale – and you’ll save an absolute bargain by buying this boxset together because you’ll get 16 novellas for just 99c/99p if you buy in the first week!

Of course, we can only keep it at that price for so long, so set a reminder in your calendar to search for ‘seduced under the mistletoe’ on Amazon on November 1st, when our book will be published!

But don’t worry if you forget – I’ll be sure to remind you!

Emily Murdoch - Seduced Under the Mistletoe-2

 

Holidaying as an author

When most people take a vacation, they set down tools, leave the office, wave goodbye to their colleagues, and turn their mind off from their work until they need to step back into work again.

Not so with us authors. Our office is of the mind, and that means that it is almost impossible to completely abandon and try to switch off while you are taking a holiday – even if you would like to!

It has almost becoming a running joke in my family. Whenever I go on holiday with them, my trusty laptop somehow seems to find its way into my luggage.

“What did you bring that for?” They’ll ask me, a smile on their faces. “Surely you don’t want to work while you’re on holiday?”

And the answer seems that it should be ‘Of course not!’…but in many ways, writing doesn’t feel like work to me. Yes, some chapters are nightmares, and some characters make me want to rip my teeth out…

But sometimes the words just come. They flow like water from my fingertips and after losing myself completely in the words, I realise that several hours have gone by, and I haven’t eaten in any of them. My family have been tiptoeing around me, leaving hot drinks now cold around me, but otherwise leaving me be.

It’s an incredible blessing, having family like me. I honestly don’t know how I would write without them, and when we go on holiday together and explore our favourite parts of the country, inspiration lies around every corner.

A phrase to include in a book. A character to add in a story. A location that is perfect for a scene.

So when I next go on holiday, I’ll be taking the laptop. Inspiration may not stride, but just in case it does…

Finishing a historical romance series

Well – it’s done. I’ve finished the Ravishing Regencies series.

You may find that a little surprising, and don’t worry if you are one of my loyal Kickstarter fans, the books were (technically!) already written! As I shared with you a few months ago, I had this incredible idea of how to add something into the series…

…and of course, with an eight books in a series, that can get a little complicated.

Especially when it’s a historical romance series. There’s so much to try to keep track of: details of clothing, food, slang. Character names and nicknames, dates and weather…

The list literally goes on. It took me a while, but the last book has just been pinged over to my lovely editor (thank you Julia!) and the series is officially complete.

It’s a little bittersweet, to be honest. You spend months living through the fictional lives of eight couples – no, make that nine (keep reading to find out why!). You start to realise that there are so many parts of your writing life that you haven’t done yet, because you’ve been so focused on the series that you’re writing.

But now that Ravishing Regencies is finished, what next?

Well, for a start, the world needs to read them! I am releasing one book every two months, with the next one on pre-order, so make sure that you check out Drenched with a Duke now and order the third book in the series Shipwrecked with a Suitor. 

And while the other books are being published? Well, I currently have four series ideas (aarrghghh, how will I choose?) so I need to start digging into those and choosing my favourite. I’m sure that I’ll end up getting a bit emotional about it: after all, it’s a bit like trying to choose your favourite child.

It will all come down to what I fall in love with more. If I can’t fall in love with them, how will my readers?

Emily Murdoch Launching Kickstarter!

I am excited to reveal that I am launching a Kickstarter for my new series, Ravishing Regencies!

This is a fantastic opportunity for you to get involved in not just a book, but a whole series – bringing it to life and working alongside me to get these Regency romance novellas ready for the world.

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Each of these novellas – from Lost with a Lord to Drenched with a Duke – force two people together through a calamity. This encounter brings together earls, dukes, fisherman’s daughters and courtesans: and of course, romance ensues.

I love these books, but it’s going to cost me almost £190/$250 to publish each one, and that’s just money that I don’t have. That’s why I’m asking for help.

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It is why I am asking you, my incredibly supportive readers, to pledge £19/$25 and join the Ravishing Regencies Team. For that, you’ll receive a huge number of rewards:

  • All eight books as ebooks, 50% off list price!
  • A magical bundle of digital extras!
  • Signed paperback of book 1
  • Exclusive limited edition bookmark!

Want to get even more involved? You can name a secondary character for me if you pledge £75/$100, enjoy an exclusive Skype chat with me the author for £132/$178, or even make a huge plot decision for me for £375/$504.

Of course, if you don’t have £19/$25 then there are options for just £1/$1.50 too. I want everyone who wishes to be a part of the Ravishing Regencies Team, to do just that.

Ready to join the time and make something incredible together? Click here!

Got a few questions before you are ready to join? Some of the frequent questions have been answered here, or you can contact me directly here.

I can’t wait to make Ravishing Regencies with you!

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Cover reveal: Sharon Ledwith

Fairy Falls was bores-ville from the get-go. Then the animals started talking… 
Sharon Ledwith has a brand new series coming in June 2017 and today I am revealing the cover to you!
Here is some information about the book:

Kindle File Size: 667 KB

Print Length: 203 pages

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing; 1 edition

Publication Date: June 17, 2017

ASIN: B0713S1DCR

Read the blurb:

The Fairy Falls Animal Shelter is in trouble. Money trouble. It’s up to an old calico cat named Whiskey—a shelter cat who has mastered the skill of observation—to find a new human pack leader so that their home will be saved. With the help of Nobel, the leader of the shelter dogs, the animals set out to use the ancient skill of telepathy to contact any human who bothers to listen to them. Unfortunately for fifteen-year-old Meagan Walsh, she hears them, loud and clear.
Forced to live with her Aunt Izzy in the safe and quiet town of Fairy Falls, Meagan is caught stealing and is sentenced to do community hours at the animal shelter where her aunt works. Realizing Meagan can hear her, Whiskey realizes that Meagan just might have the pack leader qualities necessary to save the animals. Avoiding Whiskey and the rest of shelter animals becomes impossible for Meagan, so she finally gives in and promises to help them. Meagan, along with her newfound friends, Reid Robertson and Natalie Knight, discover that someone in Fairy Falls is not only out to destroy the shelter, but the animals as well. Can Meagan convince her aunt and co-workers that the animals are in danger? If she fails, then all the animals’ voices will be silenced forever.
Are You Ready for the Cover?
You Can Pre-Order the Book, Too!!

Mirror World Publishing:

Paperback:

https://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/collections/poetry/products/lost-and-found-paperback

Ebook:

https://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/collections/poetry/products/lost-and-found-ebook

Other Retailers:

Amazon US:

http://amzn.to/2q2Alfv

Amazon CA:

https://www.amazon.ca/Found-Mysterious-Tales-Fairy-Falls-ebook/dp/B0713S1DCR/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1493565088&sr=1-1&keywords=Lost+and+Found+Sharon+Ledwith

Kobo:

https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/lost-and-found-175

Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lost-and-found-sharon-ledwith/1126287196?ean=9781987976281

Meet the Author:

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/young adult time travel adventure series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE+, and GOODREADS.

Author Tagline:

Escape to the past and have a blast.

Connect with Sharon Ledwith:

Sharon’s Website:

www.sharonledwith.comSharon’s Blog:

http://sharonledwith.blogspot.com/Sharon’s Facebook Page:

http://www.facebook.com/#!/seledwithSharon’s Author Facebook Page:

https://twitter.com/sharonledwithGoodreads Author Page:

http://amzn.to/2p9ryncAmazon Author U.K. Page:

Medieval vs Regency

I started out as a medieval writer; someone who knew and loved the medieval period completely and utterly.

I studied History and English at the University of York, UK, and the majority of that ended up being medieval and Early Modern. I revelled in what I learned of the medieval period, and I truly loved learning about the history, the politics, the food, the fashion, the literature, and the language. I knew that the medieval era was something that I really wanted to immerse myself in.

So I continued at the University of York, and I studied my MA in Medieval Studies on a scholarship. There are still times when I really miss academia, and the time I had just enjoying the research and the reading. In fact, I loved it so much that even in my spare time, I ended up thinking about the medieval era – and so I decided to write a book about it.

One book was followed by its sequel, and then I wrote a bridge novella between the two. Soon enough, all three books had been put together in one collected edition, and I was already half way through another series.

And then my publishers gave me a call.

They wanted to commission me to write a Regency novella – specially based around Christmas. Now, I love Jane Austen, and I’ve read a huge number of Regency novels and novellas, but this wasn’t something that I had a huge amount of research knowledge in. Could I really make the transition? It was only about 700 years difference . . .

I threw myself into the task, and I can now proudly say that I’m a rather successful author of both the medieval period and the Regency period. Do I have a favourite? I still think that my heart truly belongs in the medieval era, but I’m now mid way between writing two series, one set in the tenth century and one set in the nineteenth – so who can say what will come next!

It’s hard to believe that the last of my Regency romance series is now published! A Harvest Passion is now available to read, and completes the series of four novellas, with A Christmas Surprise, A Valentine Secret, and A June Wedding all coming before it. Make sure that you read them and let me know what you think!

A Website Every Author Needs!

So, I’m not usually one to brag about discovering something fantastic (especially when I’m usually told about them), but I really want to dedicate this blog post to a website that I’ve started using which has been INCREDIBLE for me as an author.

Intrigued? Carry on.

I always find it irritating that I never know how many ebooks I have sold until my 6 monthly report comes from my publishers. I know that they are super busy, and that it is simply not possible for them to let me know how many ebooks are sold every month, but it bugs me. Probably more so because, as I self-published the paperbacks, I get a daily report on how many of those I have sold.

At the end of April, when my publishers were probably sick and tired of receiving another email from me asking how a particular promotion went with one of my ebooks, they suggested that I take a look at Novel Rank. And so it did.

And it has changed the way that I see my ebook sales forever!

It is quite a simple system. Firstly, you input the URL of your ebook into the website. It will pick up the same ebook on different versions of Amazon, such as Amazon.fr, Amazon.com, Amazon.ca . . . you get the general idea.

After that, you simply sign up (I used my Facebook account), and then choose which ebooks you wish to follow. As you’ve already put your books in the system, they should be pretty easy to find. And there you go. Each and every time one of your ebooks gets sold, it shows. It even tells you exactly what Amazon ranking all of your ebooks are currently on, and what the highest they have ever been was.

I love it. I’m in love.

Four Reasons No One is Buying Your Book

The great and terrible thing about books when you are an author is that there are so many of them. Like, literally thousands. Sometimes it can be really disheartening to see all of the millions (that’s what it feels like) of books that everyone else is buying and enjoying…whilst your book stays resolutely at 455,987 on Amazon. So what is it that everyone else has – what are the four reasons that no one is buying your book?

1. Your book isn’t where its readers are looking for it.
Half of the problem when selling books is making sure that people find it. If your book is categoriesd incorrectly, then anyone looking for it will only stumble upon it in accidentally. Say your book is about gardening. Would you be so daft as to stick it with manga? Didn’t think so…but that goes for everything else about your book too. If your book is erotica, and you don’t have an ebook version of it, you are missing out of thousands of readers who are of a shyer nature, and would prefer to buy their books without someone peeping over their shoulder in the queue at Waterstones. If your book is a picturebook and you don’t have copies in children’s libraries or primary schools, it’s going to take a lot longer for their parents to discover you. Play to your strengths, and place your book in your reader’s way.

2. Your book doesn’t say what it does on the tin.
We’ve all seen them: books that are billed as the next best thing to air, and instead start slowly with insipid characters, and a plot that you don’t even think the writer believes. If you are setting yourself up as a best-seller…then you should probably be a best-seller. If your book claims to increase your memory by ten years, you should probably have some sort of evidence that it actually does that. Because when your book doesn’t say what it does on the tin, readers are going to a) never buy another book you write again, and b) tell everyone that they aren’t going to buy another book you write again. Bad reviews can sink books.

3. Your book is overpriced.
Yes, I know, you’ve worked long and hard on your masterpiece. Of course you want to see a good return on the investment that you’ve put in: hours of slog and misery and tears to get that perfect tone and structure. But funnily enough, our readers don’t want to spend hundreds of pounds or dollars on our books. In fact, they don’t really want to spend anything at all – that’s why free kindle books are are so incredibly popular. It’s a difficult and painful balance, but unless you price your book competitively, no one is going to bother with it, especially if they haven’t heard of you. Readers do buy books by lesser known authors, but they aren’t going to spend much on them.

4. Your book isn’t as good as its competitors.
This may come across as incredibly harsh, but I believe it to be true – and I’m happy to include myself in this sometimes. In my genre of historical romance, especially medieval, I come across authors that are just incredible. I love reading them! And so I can’t really begrudge other people from buying their books. Quality will out in the long run, and so if your editor isn’t keeping a close eye on you (or you are getting sloppy in your own editing), then it will bite in the behind eventually. Readers want to be immersed in what they buy, and if you are just writing carbon copy of a current best-seller, no one is going to want to know.

Think I’m a little too harsh, or right on the money? Comment below and let me know!

Considering Self-Publishing?

If you are reading this, the chances are that you are considering self-publishing your writing. This means foregoing the trappings of a literary agent and a publishing house, and instead being your own publishing house.

Self-publishing is not a modern idea, although it certainly has become easier through the introduction of print on demand and epublishing. Sadly, it has somehow garnered a reputation of being the last resort of a writer that no one actually wants to read, and therefore they create the books themselves. But this is complete nonsense.

Authors such as Jane Austen, James Joyce, Beatrix Potter and Mark Twain all self-published some of the works. It was, and is, a way for new writers to get the beginnings of a readership, and they can use this to demonstrate to more typical publishing houses that actually, there are people out there that will be willing to pay money to read what I write.

If you are tired of never hearing back from publishing houses, or hearing from literary agents that, “readers just don’t want what you’re writing at the moment”, then the time may be right for you to look elsewhere. You can read about my personal experience trying to get published for the first time here. And remember, just because you start out self-publishing doesn’t mean that a big publishing house won’t notice you and approach you.

But don’t be taken in! There are certain elements that you should look out for and be wary of, because in self-publishing as in any industry, there are pitfalls. When you self-publish, you have to be your own editor, cover designer, formatter, and marketing department. It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. Take a look at my spotter’s guide:

What is Print on Demand?
This process is rather clever, and it is how I personally publish the paperback version of my book Conquests. Print on demand means that a publishing company keeps your manuscript on file. Every time someone orders and buys your book, they print one copy. This means that you don’t have to invest your own money into buying up five hundred copies of your book that you may never manage to sell. It also means that all of the hassle of printing and posting is up to the print on demand company.

Can’t I print print lots anyway?
Well of course you can! But it would probably be a lot easier for you if you went with Print on Demand, and then ordered x number of books yourself. That way, your book may go up the Amazon chart (if you are selling on Amazon), you still only have to buy five or twenty of the books, and you again don’t have the hassle of posting them. I personally always have a couple of my paperbacks lying around the house in case someone wants one, or so I can do exciting giveaways.

What about epublishing?
Well that’s rather easy actually. Many Print on Demand services now offer you the opportunity to also sell your book as an ebook on sites such as Amazon and Smashwords. This allows you to reach another totally different audience, and you are able to more quickly get your book out there.

How long does it take?
How long is a piece of string I’m afraid. For me, it took six weeks from starting the process to getting my paperback on Amazon. That took about three weeks longer than it should because there was a slight hiccough with my cover design. Be aware of this: every single aspect of self-publishing is down to you. No one else is going to do it for you.

What about down payments?
Personally, I would say steer clear. It is perfectly possible to print on demand AND publish as an ebook without having to pay a penny. If you can do that, then why on earth would you pay someone else a stack of cash to do it?

Who would you recommend?
I promise I’m not being paid to say this: I’m only going to recommend the company that I use, because I’ve found them to be marvellous. Createspace is a company that does both print on demand and can publish you as an ebook, and doesn’t charge you a penny. Be aware that there are optional extras that do cost money, but I did the entire thing without paying anything, and I think my paperback book looks rather good, though I say so myself. I did have the benefit of my book already being published as an ebook by my publishers, and they graciously allowed me to use the cover design that they made for me. This may be the one thing that you do decide to spend money on: book covers can make or break how your readers see you.

I hope that helps you as you decide whether or not to self-publish. It’s definitely helped me publicise my ebook by having a paperback, and they make great Christmas presents!

Do you have a bad experience with self-publishers? Let me know below!