Friday, February 21, 2014

Splitting the Author Personality

inkblot3I used to scratch my head over why an author would need to use different names. You often see So N. So writing as Such N. Such written on book covers. If you’re going to put your name on it, anyway, why not just put your name on it? After all, the cover art should show varying genres, shouldn’t it?

I’ve changed my mind because I found reason to change my mind. No, that doesn’t mean I’m wishy-washy or untrue to myself; it means I’m willing to stop and think and reconsider what I thought I thought. It means I can admit when I’m wrong, or in the very least that I recognize what I think is “right” might not be “right” to someone else. It means I’m secure in the fact that I can be wrong and still be right enough. Right?

Anyway, when I was bringing out Pier Lights last year, I gave this matter a lot of thought. And I mean a LOT of thought. I do not want to look disingenuous. I don’t want to look like I’m “ashamed of” or “embarrassed by” this new spicier line. I admit it was hard for me to release spicy fiction (as completely non-vulgar as it is – with none of those shock value phrases many authors use) because in general, I’m a rather non-spicy and very private sort of gal. It’s about the relationship, the characters, the story.

But you know, sex is a normal part of life and it IS part of theinkblot2 characters. It’s part of all of us whether we grasp onto it or hide it or ignore it. It’s still there.

I’ve developed a good following of readers who are glad I don’t write spicy, or at least I never did until Pier Lights. So, for those people, since I would never criticize anyone for wanting or NOT wanting spice in their fiction – it’s fully their right to choose – I wanted to be sure they realized the new book was different so they could skip it if they’d rather.

Funny thing: as uncomfortable as the whole thing was – writing and releasing romances with actual sex scenes – I found I enjoyed writing slightly steamier shorter contemporary romances. All of my LK books are set in the past, near past or distant past. Writing present and not having to research “did we have that back then?” is a nice switch. And, letting the characters go farther than my LK books allow them to go offers more in-depth exploration, so to speak.

The one thing I still insist on: each scene must move the story and/or develop the character. That includes any spicy scenes. I won’t do spice just for spice. It has to bring character detail in to play.

My author friend Celia Yeary posted today about stepping out of your comfort zone, or not. My comfort zone, as I commented, is quite small, and I’m just not willing to tie myself into that little space. So out I step. I love challenges. I love learning new things. I love what I learn about myself when I learn new things.

And I’m fully enjoying these contemps set on beaches in places I haven’t been (research is just learning new things) inkblot4They are short enough I don’t spend a year or more on them. It leaves me time to work on my longer, more complex LK books. And, they take me to new places. I mean that in more way than one.

My plan was to do one a year during Nanowrimo since I can write the whole first draft in a month and then spend the next few months rewriting and polishing. Winter is a nice time to spend working on summer beach books! Recently, as the second book was nearing the end (of revisions and publishing), I felt a bit unwilling to let go of this new line, under the name Ella M. Kaye, until the end of the year. Maybe some novellas as fill-ins, for the fun of it and to help spread the new name? Good possibility. I haven’t done a novella yet. Might as well.

Now the crux: The wonderful, loyal followers I mentioned? They want these books, too, but not so much the spice. So… I’ll put out non-spicy versions, as well, not widely, but available. Yes, I’ve heard the comments that it just says the author is being wishy-washy or not standing up for her own work. I disagree. I think it’s having respect for your readers and their own personal and valid viewpoints. Not that a writer should do a cleaner version if they’d rather not, but why shouldn’t they if they so choose? Live and let live. There’s plenty of room for both.

As far as renaming/revamping/splitting yourself… Why not go with the flow and let the tide take you where you might really need to be? You can always row back into that safe harbor if you’d rather. My guess is you will have learned lots of nice new things by then, about others and about yourself. 
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Today is RELEASE DAY for Shadowed Lights, the second Ella M. Kaye book. Find more about this line at


When her sister loses her house to Hurricane Sandy, Delaney Griffin welcomes the family into her home. Months later, with five noisy kids and an overbearing brother-in-law threatening her sanity, Delaney spends much of her free time at the wildlife refuge, which also works as her refuge. Still, the lack of privacy, along with space to dance, her only passionate release, causes her debilitating social anxiety to escalate.

Eli Forrester has come from small town Indiana to Barnegat, New Jersey with his company to help restore the coast. A high rise worker who loves new people and new places, he fears nothing, except water. When he accidentally kicks one of the sea critters Delaney is trying to help rescue, he is drawn to the quiet New Jersey girl. Unwilling to take her cues to leave her alone, Eli is alternately put off and turned on by her odd behavior.

Under shadow of devastation, fear, and forced separation, Delaney and Eli search for their own rescue light.

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Want to win an ebook of this title? Check the comments!
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Friday, February 14, 2014

Intricacies of Intimacy

ValentineCookies-CakeCentraldotcomWe’ve all seen these gorgeously decorated cookies in stores. How can you help but be impressed and drawn to picking them up and taking them home?

My cookies, on the other hand, when I bother to bake, come out ragged around the edges and usually a touch scorched here and there, and if I decorate, which is unlikely, the frosting is rough and uneven.

But, and this is a big but to me (no jokes, please), those gorgeous, perfectly decorated cookies rarely taste good once you bite into them. Mine, on the other hand, (not taking credit since it’s Mom’s recipe) taste incredible, so incredible that even this mostly-sworn-off-sugar gal can’t resist them. I’ve learned to easily bypass those “perfect looking” cookies and if I want cookies, I make them (or have a daughter make them, which is far better) and then I can enjoy what truly matters: how they taste. It is food, after all, not art. The taste is the thing.

Wait. How is this about intimacy? Well, it’s really the same thing. I learned long ago to bypass relationships (or at least keep relative distance) with people who look so perfectly “gorgeous” on the outside, and I don’t mean actual looks; I mean appearance-wise. I prefer a man in sweaty, dirty, work clothes to a man in a suit. He looks far more real to me. That’s perhaps my blue collar upbringing -- my grandpa coming home from his service station with black oil and grease stained fingers, even after carefully washing, with the same smudges on his clothes, but with a big smile for his family because he’s so glad to be home with them after a productive day. To me, that’s beautiful. I can’t fully trust anyone who always looks perfect. And you can’t have an intimate relationship with anyone you don’t fully trust.

[Disclaimer: I am not at all saying men (or women) in suits are less trust-worthy! It’s only a personal thing.]

In-To-Me-SeeSee, the thing is: I’m so far away from being one of those beautifully decorated cookies myself that being around those who are so beautifully decorated is intimidating. You also can’t have an intimate relationship (of any kind, not only romantic) with anyone who intimidates you. I need the rough edges, the dirty fingernails, the clothes I don’t want to touch but enjoy seeing, and the forgiving nature of that imperfect soul willing to accept how fully imperfect I am. I cannot be intimate with anyone too self-confidant because I can’t understand it and it’s hard to trust something you don’t understand. I understand defensiveness. I understand rough edges. I understand doing things you wish you hadn’t. I understand having a hard time admitting that you did something you wish you hadn’t. I understand having a hard time with apologies (it’s defensive). I understand messy, slightly overweight, occasional laziness that makes you drop something wherever you are instead of putting it where it belongs, and wearing old stained sweats at home and hoping no one drops in. I understand awkwardness. I understand bad hair months. I understand being so far out of the current fashion trend you can’t even see the edge of it, and not caring at all. I understand blue jeans and T-shirts that look like they’ve seen better days. In all honesty, I suppose I have, too. But like those jeans and tees, I’m far more comfortable than I was in my “better days” whenever those were supposed to be.

I won’t lie. (I can’t do that well; ask my family.) My husband and I have had some rough years. Those brand new stiff and shiny blue jean days were often hard to get through. He will say the same. We both had our defenses. We both had our scorched spots. Through it all, though, we saw the bright glow from within each others’ imperfect souls and uneven edges, and we stuck it out to keep digging underneath. Some days the digging went smooth and gave us the rush of a job well done at the end of the day. Other days we looked at the nicked and scarred shovels and nearly tossed them aside. It’s never been easy other than the rare day of perfect riding weather when too many other things weren’t pressing on us to take care of or to handle or to stew over. Those are the vacation days of marriage that are to be relished and remembered through the scarring and healing days of growth. Trust me, if you haven’t tried marriage yet: there are far more work days than vacation days.

gingerbreadcoupleAfter 26 years, we finally have more and more of those vacation days and the shovels can often just sit and wait while we sail along on that well-earned rest. Even now things can come out that never have in the past 26 years. And you know, that’s a beautiful thing. That’s intimacy. Others may only see the uneven slightly scorched cookie couple that we are. That’s okay. Because at the heart of that cookie is true flavor that’s impossible to resist. There are things we have been through together that no one else in the world can ever truly understand. We’ve earned that scorch along with the … a-hem, gray hair. 

So today, my DH calls from work where I’m sure he’s covered in sawdust and stain and whatever else, as I sit here in my sweats and old slippers and messy hair working on a career that pays so far under minimum wage I can’t even see that edge of the pay scale, and tells me to go look in the closet. He used to buy me roses. By this time, he knows spending that kind of money on cut flowers that will just die in a couple of days is not on my wish list. Instead, he now buys one beautiful, shining gold-plated rose covering a real rose so it’s both real and still always beautiful, no matter how wilted and browned it may get inside. I see those gold roses as a symbol that the faint, scorched glow inside is finally making its way out where it can be seen. The effort may not show to anyone else. It doesn’t matter. It’s a part of intimacy not meant for others. 

True intimacy is real and beautiful and unending. It may flicker at times, but it never burns out. 

Of course the card he got to go with it was not only not in the envelope, but also unsigned. I had to laugh. That’s intimacy.

DH and me at our daughter's wedding
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