Editorial & Giveaway (US/Int): Indie author Heather Long on making it, faking it, and believing in your dreams
Please help me welcome Heather Long, author of the fabulous Always a Marine series!
Welcome to Indie week here at GraveTells and a big ol’ thank you to DaVinciKittie for inviting me to hang out. When it comes down to writing advice, dating back as far as I can remember, I’ve always heard the phrase “write what you know.” Too often, newbie writers mistake this for meaning:
- Write about your life
- Write about your experiences
- Write about the people you know
- Write about the things you are an expert in
So then this begs the question, what if you’re not an expert in anything? What if you want to write about elves? How does one develop the inside track on Elven politics? Or giants? Or witches (not counting Wiccans of course)? But I digress…
Writing what you know is great advice, but what I know are stories and what appeals to me are characters when I read and when I write…well would you believe me if I said I’d rather write what I don’t know?
Everyone Says It’s So Hard to Make It
Writing is art, and publishing is business. To be an author, you have to be good at both. But you don’t write to a trend, sure some people seem to be able to stay right in front of a trend—but most of those authors were already writing in that genre/style/story trope before it crested and were able to ride that wave.
Every single book that I’ve fallen in love with has powerful character stories—people that I can care about or root for whether it’s a fantasy, a paranormal romance, a contemporary, urban fantasy or even straight science fiction and mystery. I get so invested that when they hurt, I hurt. When my characters cry, I cry, cry; and ultimately, when/if they triumph, so do I.
Most other readers are the same way. Why else do you think that stories without a definitive HEA end up receiving critical or even hateful reviews? Readers want that satisfaction; they crave it and when you give them a Happily For Now or worse—no happy ending at all? They are not happy. It’s why cliffhangers both frustrate and tantalize, it’s why series’ drive you forward with the promise of maybe, just maybe, they will make it—but you don’t know and you come back again and again until they get there.
Think for just a moment about the last show you watched, where the couple or character you were rooting for didn’t make it and the utter disappointment that pinged in your heart? Sometimes, people walk away from these shows because it’s so damn hard to take that lack of ending you desired.
Hell, I’m just as guilty. A while back I read a series that I’d really enjoyed, but bit-by-bit I began to disagree with the character’s handling of things and when I got to the end, her choice?
Yeah, it pissed me off and it wasn’t just that there was no happily ever after, the heroine denied the hero his happily ever after and I wanted to chunk the book across the room.
It’s Hard to Fake It
So why then, you might wonder, are some of my books HFNs? It seems easy to tie up all the loose ends, but the truth is—life is about the happily for now. Every single damn day, we get up, we put on our game face and we do our best. We live in those moments between the happily for nows, because life is messy and complicated.
Writing what I know means that sometimes, my characters only get those happily for now moments, because happily ever after is what you see you’ve achieved at the end of your story.
But isn’t that like saying life isn’t certain?
It absolutely means life isn’t certain, particularly in my military romance. These men and women don’t know what tomorrow brings, so they embrace the happily they have in the now and you know what. That is writing something I know. But when I can feel it and taste it that these characters have what it takes to weather the bad moments and the good with equal faith in each other—that’s when it becomes a happily ever after.
But the truth is…that’s writing what I don’t know.
Believing in the Dream
I write every day, I immerse myself into the lives of my characters and when I experience their frustrations, and I dive into a scene where the Band-Aids come off and their wounds are laid bare, I do it with the hope that they are going to resolve it, they are going to come out the other side stronger and better and happier, but I don’t always see how that is going to happen or what price they will pay.
So sure, I could write what I know—but I would much rather write what I don’t.
About the author
A national best selling author, Heather Long lives in Texas with her family and their menagerie of animals. In addition to military romance, Heather writes a wide variety of romance from paranormal historical western romance to contemporary romance and romantic suspense. She loves characters and the stories they have to tell.
As a child, Heather skipped picture books and enjoyed the Harlequin romance novels by Penny Jordan and Nora Roberts that her grandmother read to her. Heather believes that laughter is as important to life as breathing and that the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus are very real. In the meanwhile, she is hard at work on her next novel.
Heather is giving away an ebook of the winner’s choice, from her backlist, to 4 commenters on today’s post! To enter to win, leave a comment on this post answering Heather’s question above then fill out the Rafflecopter below.
More Indie Week giveaways and spotlights
Check out our special spotlight of Heather’s sexy and heartfelt romance Fistful of Dreams here! That’s also where you’ll find today’s Indie Week Sponsor mega-givewaway entry form.
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