Tell Me You Love Me . . . (or that you don’t)

I don’t know any writers who do it for the money. Not one.

I’m definitely one of those who write for other reasons. Now if the money you get through sales is in some way a reflection of how many people were moved by your work then perhaps it becomes important. Still, when I check online to “see how I’m doing”, I hardly ever check my sales. I check for reviews. And when I do check my sales, it’s only so I can see how many people may have read my work and might leave a review. Each royalty payment I get deposited into my account perplexes me each month. There’s always a moment of, ‘what is this? oh yeah, for the books.’ The sums have been larger lately so there’s a brief moment of exhilaration but only because it helps me envision that one day I might be able to pass on the day job altogether and only write, all day, every day. And what bliss that would be.

Still, it’s all about the reviews for me. Good or bad, the feedback you get as a writer feeds your creativity and pushes you to do and be better. I was having a little bit of a block a few evenings ago, and had that moment of desperation that almost every writer experiences, where you wonder whether the angst is worth it, whether you might not be better off spending your time doing something more ‘practical’ than writing fiction. And then I read two of the most complimentary comments on my blog about how a couple of my readers felt about my work. That quickly, and blockage was gone. It was like a well-timed gift, and I was able to write another 100 or so pages that night.

Writing, I’ve said many times before, is the most solitary of pursuits. It isn’t like many other arts (music or visual art, for instance) where the reactions are immediate and apparent. When you write fiction you go into a secret place in your mind and you sequester yourself there, tunneling in, listening only to the voices of your characters and living only their lives, finding everything else to be an irritant. And then you emerge sometime later, squinting against the bright lights of reality and wondering whether the journey was worth it. The process alone justifies some of it: I like writing just because I do and would do so regardless of whether anyone else cared what I wrote. But there is no denying that the greater reward, the better prize is hear that my writing meant something to someone other than me. That it aroused curiosity, interest, passion or even anger and dismay.

So if you’ve read anything at all recently (not just my stuff, anything) take a moment to go to Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari or whatever your preferred site may be and tell that writer you loved them . . . or not.

Happy Reading!

-Nia-

Bad Girls

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DeviantArt Design

There’s something about writing about “bad girls” that excites and interests me. The motivations, the compulsions, the experiences of women who are not examples of the feminine ideal awakens my imagination in a way that writing about “good girls” does not. It probably has something to do with my Catholic girls’ school upbringing where I was constantly restrained, restricted, admonished, and corrected.

And of course, hanging over my head (literally) at every turn was The Blessed Virgin, the ultimate example of female virtue and self-sacrifice.

For some reason, as I got older, I was always drawn to the girls who were in many ways the antithesis of that example: “girls who rode in cars with boys”, who had a little more information about sex than most of us, girls who advocated for breaking rather than adhering to the rules. But in terms of being a bad girl myself, I was always more of a poser than an actual do-er, more of a voyeur than a participant. Even then, I think I was honing my instinct for collecting information about how people live and why they do the things they do; and girls who against all instructions to the contrary broke free of an ideal someone else created for them struck me as worth studying.

In my new release ‘Unsuitable Men’ I write about a different kind of “bad girl”. She’s not a rebel at all and by all outward appearances, she conforms. But she has another side to her that’s self-destructive and inconsistent with the image she portrays. This is a different kind of bad girl – the kind some people call a ‘slut’, a word I think should not exist in any language, not only because it’s derogatory, but because it is an oversimplification of the complex ways in which women own, disown, are in touch with or pathologically out of touch with their ability to control and define their own sexuality. But that’s really heavy stuff and I tend – very intentionally – not to write very heavy books.

Still, I would love it if you would read ‘Unsuitable Men’ and leave me a review. I like to hear what you think about my writing, but also love hearing what you think about the themes. My goal is to tackle heavy themes in a light read. Let me know how I’m doing!

-Nia-

Unsuitable Men


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Inspired by a comment from a reader, I am releasing ‘Unsuitable Men’ on September 15, 2012 ahead of the scheduled release of ‘The Seduction of Dylan Acosta’ which will be out later in the fall.

Sometimes the muse visits and you just have to go where she takes you. In this instance, my muse goes by the moniker MzRobin, and I’ve decided to dedicate this book to her. Thanks Robin!

-Nia-

Zadie Smith on the writing life

“In the middle of a novel, a kind of magical thinking takes over . . . the middle of the novel may not happen in the actual the geographical center . . . I mean whatever page you’re on when you stop being part of your household and your family, and your children and food shopping . . . I mean when there’s nothing in the world except your book.”