21 4 / 2014
Anonymous asked: Which one of your books should I read first?
I have a more complete answer here: http://www.courtneymilan.com/wheretostart.php
But to make it simple, I’ll just say The Governess Affair.
It’s the first book in a series. It’s free just about everywhere I can make it free. It’s a novella. All that means that if you hate it, your investment of time and money is small.
10 3 / 2014
Anonymous asked: By now I'm sure you've heard of the petition promoted by Anne Rice and other authors to get rid of reader anonymity in Amazon reviews and forums in order to prevent "bullying". This would of course affect all readers/reviewers on Amazon, not just the "bully" ones, and not everyone is comfortable using their real names online and on reviews, just like many authors use pen names. What is your position on this? Are you ok with your readers reviewing and discussing your books online anonymously?
I think the petition is fucking stupid and an attempt to get people to stop writing negative reviews.
First, a recent study has shown that anonymity doesn’t make people jerks: people who are jerks online are actually just jerks in real life. (A study that surprises nobody who has ever talked to people both online and offline and realized that people online are…people.) So I don’t think that this would solve “the problem.”
Second, I put “the problem” in air quotes because I don’t even think there is a significant problem. I’ve rarely seen a so-called “bully” review that was actually a bully review. In general, the reviews that people call out as “bully” reviews are reviews that are critical of the book. And (if you haven’t guessed from the fact that I was critical of LBD) I’m okay with that. Some of them are snarky. Some of them are not nice.
Are there some scary people out there? Yes. Is there an occasional reviewer who crosses the line? I’m sure someone could dredge something up, although I don’t really personally go around looking for them.
But it defies belief to imagine that reviewers are jerks and authors are not, and that this is so true that reviewers need to be made vulnerable in a way that authors are not. Authors tend to have larger platforms than reviewers, and their capacity to do harm is larger. And even if the author herself won’t take action to harm someone engaged in criticism, there’s always the possibility that one of her fans might. It makes no sense to give reviewers less protection than authors.
Finally, as you point out, authors use pen names. I used one because a trusted mentor told me that writing romance would have a negative effect on my career. I kept my romance writing from my colleagues for years and years, and only started telling people after I quit my day job. It would be deeply hypocritical of me to think that writing romance deserves protection, but to shrug it off when some people might not want their colleagues to know that they review it.
So talk about my books however, and with whoever, and as whoever, you want.
Luckily, there is not a chance in hell that Amazon will give a shit about this stupid petition, so don’t worry too much.
12 2 / 2014
lol general practitioners okay I do understand
but if you are claiming to have a disability, you should be seeing a specialist
guess what, I see specialists
guess what, shit works
because that’s how you heathcare
get referrals, godspeed
Oh yes! Of course! That’s what you’ve been saying all along. Don’t self-diagnose, you must see a doctor, and there are free clinics for that, so stop bitching about cost, and don’t be disrespecting doctors how could you!
Oh—except if they’re just family practitioners—ha ha, those people are barely doctors! Disrespect those people all you want. I didn’t mean you should go to a general practitioner, LOL, you n00b. That’s what specialists are for!
All you have to do is navigate the world of free clinics to get a referral to a specialist who will meet with you regularly to make sure that your treatment is effective! No, they totally exist! Specialists totally won’t charge you anything!
It’s worth it, because once you get through the rainbow gate of referral and see a specialist, they will never ever be wrong. You can tell because of the subtle sparkles that exude from their prescriptions.I know this because I have seen specialists and they worked, so it will be the same for you. The fact that specialists disagree with one another, have varying rates of competence, and may suggest different things and come up with different diagnoses is an inconvenient fact that I will address with more sparkles.
After all, who knows better about you than the person who just met you 5 minutes ago?
12 2 / 2014
You should always be active and engaged with your doctor - believe me, I had to make the case for an entire hour yesterday that I wasn’t a drug addict to mine! But you know what - you don’t know better than them. You just fucking don’t. To assume more is problematic and disrespectful as all hell and you just need to stop.
True fact: The other day, when my husband needed to remember how to do a procedure he hadn’t seen since medical school, he opened up a youtube video to double check.
If you’re seeing a nonspecialist who doesn’t regularly see this stuff, they’re looking all this up on WebMD in the back room. I hate to break this to you, but they’re doctors, not encyclopedic arsenals of infallibility.
And the less time your doctor has to spend with you—which usually correlates with spending less on health care, or going to a free clinic—the more likely your doctor is to be wrong, simply because they don’t have time to do a full intake. If the doctor needs to see 60 patients a day to meet overhead, your conversation about mental health will probably look like the first conversation I had with a doctor.
Me: I think I might have depression.
Doctor: Here’s a prescription for Zoloft. Come back if it doesn’t work.
Doctor: The pharmacy is over there. Good luck and God speed.
So…I don’t know what you’re imagining over there, but LOL no.
01 2 / 2014
Anonymous asked: Does the hero's personality usually come first for you, or is it the heroine? Have you ever been surprised by the personality of a hero once you started writing him, or is he always just what you craft him to be?
I’m pretty darned analytical about how I write, and so this question just doesn’t fit my writing process.
There is no magic. There is no muse. There’s just me and words. Sometimes my subconscious mind is better at crafting characters than my conscious mind is, and so I have to give my subconscious space to work on a book, too—but that’s also a pretty analytical thing, because I track (with a notebook) what makes me get good ideas and then I try to do those things more.
Sometimes I have a better handle on the hero. Sometimes I have a better handle on the heroine. Sometimes the secondary characters work better than the hero and heroine. It just depends on the book. They’re all just characters, and one’s no easier than the other.
I’m making it all up. If it works, I like it. If it doesn’t work, I change it. Sometimes things happen that I haven’t planned, and sometimes I write things down that I hadn’t intended that change what I think was going on in the first place, but it is still me crafting the character—the only question is whether the craft is coming from my unconscious or my conscious mind.
Sometimes my subconscious mind comes up with ideas that I wasn’t anticipating, but that’s the job of my subconscious. If those ideas work, I run with them. If they don’t, I discard them. These ideas rarely feel like a surprise (I can think of only one time I was truly surprised)—a lot of the time, I just give my subconscious a pat on the head and say, “Good one!”
01 2 / 2014
Anonymous asked: How long does it take you to start the next book after finishing one? Do you write two projects simultaneously? Do you manage to read for fun while you write? Recreational reading should be a retreat---'let some other author else do all the work' (I always appreciate not needing to be the person to know 'what happens next' after I've churn out a few chapters). But I have trouble reading for fun when I'm in the middle of a project and have deadlines in the back of my mind. Do you?
The answer to most of these questions is: It depends on the book. I have some perpetual side-projects that will probably never see the light of day. I very rarely write two projects that I plan to publish at the same time, but I have done it before—and sometimes, when I get really stuck on one book, I do start writing pieces of other books.
I don’t think I’ve ever stopped reading for fun, ever, for any reason. At every stage of my life, people tell me I’m going to stop reading. I never have.
14 1 / 2014
jawesomesauce asked: Where do your covers come from? The images/models themselves, not the concept?
Stock photos of women wearing wedding dresses plus
photoshop the Gimp.
For instance, this is the photo that was the basis for the cover of The Duchess War.
Photoshop in more dress.
Color it all.
Add background, text, a little bit of shading, and a few other things here and there, and voila.
10 1 / 2014
Anonymous asked: What do you find is the hardest part of the novel to write (in terms of the motivation to sit down and do it): the first 90 pages, the middle, or the end of the novel? Also: how do you write yourself out of writers block (and by that, I mean not so much the will to write, but the realization that you don't yet know the answer to a plot point question?) Do you write around it? Do you take a walk?
It’s hard for me to answer the first question because it depend on the book. Some books have had easy beginnings. Some books have easy middles. Some books have easy ends. Some books are hard all the way through. It just depends.
As to the second question, I very rarely have the kind of writers’ block where I do not know the answer to a plot question—to ask the question is to generate tons of answers. The problems I usually have are a failure of question: something isn’t working and I’m not sure what it is. If I knew the right question to ask, I’d be able to chew on it and figure it out.
I have found that there are many general solutions to this latter kind, and it depends what stage I’m at.
1. Complain to a friend about how badly the book sucks. Be specific. This sometimes makes me articulate the problem, which is often what I need to see the shape of a solution.
2. Just start writing some random things to see what I come up with.
3. Write a different part of the book in hopes that it sheds some light on what comes next. (I do this a lot.)
4. Give up and go do something else entirely and hope my subconscious figures it out.
5. Realize that the whole idea is inherently borked from the beginning and delete everything I’ve written related to it.
6. Realize that I can never get away from all the problems inherent in the book and it’s too late to do #5, so try and figure out how to minimize those problems.
The problem is that this kind of writers’ block is almost indistinguishable (to the writer) from block caused by other things. Sometimes your writers’ block lies to you, and the real reason you’re having issues is not that there’s a problem with the book, but that you’re feeling paralyzed because you’re under too much pressure, or you’re just not in a good place for writing, or one of many, many other issues.