I'm a little bit late... but I'm here! Ask Me Anything, About Writing, Blogging or Being a Mother, although I can't promise to have the answers!

Shiloh Walker
Aug 9, 2018

Last month, I received an email from AMAfeed. Somebody wanted to start an AMA, so... here I am! I'm supposed to tell you a little about myself.

Well, they say a picture can say a 1000 words.

I'm a mom, a wife, a reader, a writer.

I rant. I ramble. Learn more about me here.

What should we discuss?

Books? Writing? The Avengers? I'm all ears!

Shiloh

shilohwalker.com

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Today, there are so many people looking for ghost writers for different books,although most of them are in the romance genre. Is this something you would do even if you do not get credit for your creaive writing?
Aug 11, 4:07PM EDT1

I actually do ghostwrite. I can't discuss any of my projects because of contract terms, but I've been ghostwriting for a few years.

Aug 11, 5:21PM EDT0
Do you have any writers that you look up to? Who are they and what is it about them that you admire?
Aug 11, 12:32PM EDT1

Nora Roberts, Lynn Viehl & Nalini Singh are three of my tops.

Nora Roberts, just because she's so hugely popular, but she remains very down to earth.

Lynn Viehl, because she's got so much 'know-how' and practical knowledge.

Nalini Singh, because she creates such beautiful, fully imagined worlds...and she's one of the sweetest people I've ever met in my life.

Aug 11, 1:06PM EDT1
Do you think some writers do not consider research when it comes to naming a character based on the century the book is based on? What role does research play when it comes to the success of the book?
Aug 11, 11:22AM EDT1

Oh, I'd say some definitely don't.

I can't remember what the book was, or the name, even, but a few friends were talking about a historical romance a couple of months back and the name of the heroine...well, it was very much a twentieth century name.

Historical romance readers can be very picky on that sort of thing.  

Other genres are the same.

Names, the types of clothes, technology, styles of dance, warfare, etc. If you're an avid reader of that genre, something that doesn't fit in the time period will jump out at you and it can interfere with your enjoyment of the book.  If it happens enough, a reader may well put it down.  That can lead to bad reviews, and not the kind that says, "It wasn't my cuppa," but the kind that goes, "Poorly researched, author could have done so much better", and more, the author can miss out on the oh, so important, word of mouth sales...and readers might not pick up future book, either.

Aug 11, 1:04PM EDT0
Is writing something you would like to instil on your child?why?
Aug 11, 7:33AM EDT1

I've always encouraged my kids to read.  I read to them.  Whether they chose to tell stories was up to them.

So far, they've all dabbled at it, but my son is becoming quite the storyteller.  He hasn't let me read any of his work yet, and I get that.  I'm protective of my stories while they are still being written, and he's still a young, growing writer, but he is a writing demon, that's for sure.

Aug 11, 12:53PM EDT0
Sorry for your loss. Do you think a writer's emotions play a role in the genre one writes? Would you consider writing in a different genre to help you cope with your grief?
Aug 11, 12:10AM EDT1

Thank you.

Emotions can definitely do that, yes.

Thirteen years ago, I lost a baby and for months after, my writing was very...dark. Angry.

Right now, I'm having a hard time getting in the right mindset to work on my next UF book. The heroine in that series has gone through some serious stuff and it can be...draining, getting inside her head and I think my subconscious is protecting me until I'm a little more level.

Mostly, I'm focusing on my freelance writing and contemporary romance, which tends to be a little lighter in tone. So...absolutely, yes.

Aug 11, 12:52PM EDT0
Do your children read your books? If they do, What do they have to say about them?
Aug 10, 7:50PM EDT1

My oldest two have read a couple.

The 19 year old is planning on reading some of my hotter romances and she has enjoyed my UF books, and is still ticked that her fave character died in one of the books. :)

My son is more of a horror fan but he's read two of the UF fantasy books and liked them...even told one of his musician friends that they were 'pretty good'.  High praise, considering it's coming from a teenage boy. LOL.

Aug 11, 12:49PM EDT0
Since self publishing became an option, there has been a surge of authors. What do you attribute this to?
Aug 10, 12:39AM EDT1

Self publishing has been around a while, but it's becoming more and more popular. As word of mouth spreads, people realize that they don't have to take the traditional route to get their stories out there.

Some authors have had tremendous success, but of course, that's not the case with everybody.  It's the same with traditional publishing.  Some authors are going to hit it out of the ballpark, and others won't.

Publishing, no matter which course you take, isn't a field where anybody is guaranteed success. 

Aug 10, 11:33AM EDT1

Why have you decided to write only one kit book a year?

Starting out, it was time management, working it in with other projects and my other publishers.

Now, I'm not writing for those publishers much (and in some cases, any), but there are other issues that come into play.

If you've read my Kit books, you know the series is a little darker.

Getting into her head puts me in a darker frame of mind. Normally, that's not an issue, but the past year...well, that's not a good place for me to be.  Some people are aware that my brother committed suicide a year ago.  Since then, it's been harder for me to write and for a while, I couldn't write much of anything.  It's getting easier now, but the next Kit book is still slow going and I think it's because it requires  me to get into a darker place. I'm already dealing with depression issues, which were aggravated after D. took his life and I think my subconscious is doing a self-protectived thing, trying to keep me from going any deeper into those dark places until i'm more mentally ready.

But I am working on the book.  It's just...taking time.

Aug 9, 3:47PM EDT0
Do authors in the romance genre need to give their readers the happily ever after they expect when they get to the end of the book? Why do you say so?
Aug 9, 1:48PM EDT1

If it's in the romance genre, being marketed as a romance, then absolutely, yes.

Genres are classifications and they exist for a reason.

If you read mysteries and you buy a book labeled mystery and you read it, finding all the typical trademarks of a mystery, but at the end of the book, the mystery goes unsolved, it stands to reason, you're going to be disappointed.

If you buy a book that is labelled as urban fantasy and it's actually just a book about a guy growing up in normal, every day small town America with no paranormal or otherwordly elements, then you have every right to be disappointed.

The same goes for romance.

I think there's some confusion about the idea between classifying books (genres) and book tropes.  Having an HEA in a story where the underlying story arc is the journey between the main couple and how they arrive at the HEA is not a trope--that's what defines a romance. 

Tropes are things like little sister/brother's best friend, friends to lovers, revenge, etc.  These are two vastly different things. 

More, this isn't about an author opinion or reader opinion. It's not something that started in fandom or in an author group and swelled out to become popular opinion.

This is basic publishing knowledge.

Googling 'genre writing classifications' or something along those lines will bring up links such as this one at  Writer's Digest University.

Mystery

A form of narration in which one or more elements remain unknown or unexplained until the end of the story. 

Science Fiction [vs. Fantasy] 

Science fiction can be defined as literature involving elements of science and technology as a basis for conflict, or as the setting for a story.

Historical Fiction

A fictional story set in a recognizable period of history.

All of these genres have set parameters.

So does the romance genre. The defining characteristic of the romance genre, be it romantic suspense, contemporary, historical, science fiction or fantasy romance, at the end of that book, the couple is to be together at the end & happyThat is the promise the romance book industry promises readers of romance.

It's not anything new or unique.

Wikipedia:

 Novels of this type of genre fiction place their primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people, and must have an "emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending."

Romance Writers of America, the recognized authority on the genre in America, defines romance as:

A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.

An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love. 

Genre classifications are there for specific reasons.

  • they let publishers know how to market the books
  • they let booksellers know how shelve and sell the books to interested readers
  • they let the reader know what to expect. 

They know a book labeled as historical fiction will be just that-it's not going be set on planet Xandarius with little green aliens.  A book labeled UF will be that...it's not going to be a historical fiction set during the Great Depression.

And when a romance reader picks up a book labeled romance...she's looking for a book where the couple falls in love and they end up with a happy ever after.

Aug 9, 3:38PM EDT1

Have you had any experience with the plagiarism or piracy of your books, if so, what were the circumstances and what was the outcome?

Yes, to both.  The plagiarism thing was crazy, and I mean...crazy.  A reader was the one to notify me about it and as luck would have it, I was on vacation, driving out west and we were miles from nowhere, because naturally, crap like this can't happen when you're sitting at home with internet and all, right?

I go to the website the reader linked me to and I find this chick had (very badly) plagiarized one of my Grimm books, No Prince Charming.  The Grimm books are bastardized fairy tales, with the heroes of fairy tales actually being demon-fighting bad-asses.  This one was a spin-off of Cinderella, with the heroes being Elle (Cinderella) and Michael (Prince Chaming).   She named them Cindy and Mike.  These characters who were born in 18th century France were named...Cindy and Mike. And she wrote them badly.  So badly.  I wrote a comment on the blog, telling her she'd plagiarized my work.  

Then I emailed her.

She ignored me.

She also had works up by Nora Roberts and others.  I notified Nora and several others, then I emailed her again and told her she had 48 hours to remove my work or my publisher would begin legal proceedings.

Almost immediately, she emails me back, begging me not to do that, that if I did that, I'd be punishing her kids, that she was their only caregiver because her husband had walked out on them and how could I be so mean to punish her kids for her mistake?

I just emailed her again and told her to get my work down and it wouldn't be an issue.

It was gone within the hour.

Piracy...

That's a messier issue.

Yes, it happens.  I used to use a service to deal with it and I'd spend hours a day sending takedowns. I don't anymore. I do still address it, particularly when I see my work on blogs, or audiobooks being pirated on certain platforms, but it's at the point to where I have to decide if I'm going to create or fight pirates. 

Only one of them will allow me to produce work that will go out to the readers who do want to buy. 

Aug 9, 11:26AM EDT1
How easy is it for you to switch between the romance genre to urban fantasy? How similar or different are your styles of writing in both genres?
Aug 9, 10:58AM EDT1

It sort of depends on my mood.

I'll be honest, the past year, I've been in a writing funk.  My brother committed suicide and afterward, there was a family schism that hasn't helped matters.  I also have issues with depression and I'm not one of those writers who function well when in a constant state of depression. I like being happy.  So all of this has affected my writing output.

When I'm in a good mental state, I can go back and forth easily.

Right now, it's easier to write romance, because it's got a happier vibe to it, overall.

I'm struggling with my UF, because the main character in the series has had a lot of shit thrown at her, and when my head isn't in a good place, it's not always easy to put myself back in that frame of mind, and right now...it's probably not healthy, either.

Aug 9, 11:30AM EDT0
What influence has your love for reading had on you as an author?
Aug 9, 6:58AM EDT1

I always had stories in my head.

Even before I really understood the 'idea' behind being an author, I was one of those kids who lived in her world.

By the time I hit middle school, though, I was putting pen to paper and creating my own worlds and the idea of being a writer for a living started to become more a solid thing.  At that age, I read more SF/F, so I cut my teeth on the world-building skills used by high fantasy writers.

This was also around the time movies like Labyrinth were hitting the screen, which only fed my love for big, epic tales.

I read Emma Bull and some of Mercedes Lackey's books that were urban fantasy before that genre even really existed, so I'd definitely have to say those books and authors were an influence.

But then I discovered Nora Roberts...and...well...wow.

Aug 9, 11:47AM EDT0
In your opinion, do some authors not understand the concept and general guidelines when it comes to the romance genre? What are the guidelines and rules that encompass the genre?
Aug 9, 6:47AM EDT1

Although it's not just the concept of romance.

It's the concept of genres as a whole.

Genres are categorizations, plain and simple.

It's like apples and oranges.  Or, as Elizabeth put it...apples and pickles.

Something a lot of people don't get is just how voracious romance readers are.  A lot of us, probably even the large majority of us, read outside the genre, and we read a lot.

But when we pick up a romance, we are expecting a romance.

And for it to be a romance, really, there is one thing that must be there.

Now, keep in mind, there are subgenres within the romance genre, and naturally, you're not going to drop a sci-fi romance and call it a medieval romance and think people are going to be happy, but if you put a book out and call it a romance, then you better make sure it has a couple, (or a threesome, foursome, moresome) at the end and that the couple is happy.

There it is...the hard and fast rule of the genre.

The main couple will go through certain trials, either external or internal, and along the way, they'll end up falling in love. At the end of the story, they are together.

You don't go buying a mystery and expect the mystery to go unsolved.

You don't go buying SF and expect to read about what it was like living in the Dust Bowl... unless they have some sort of pretanatural or alternate reality twist on it.

And you don't pick up a romance thinking you'll get anything but an HEA.

Those are the only hard and fast guidelines, the only main rules of the romance genre. You write a book that gives the main characters some sort of struggle, internal, external or a mix of both, as they make their journey toward finding their HEA...whether they realize that's where they are heading or not.

It's really not that complicated.

Aug 9, 12:14PM EDT0
With so many books under your belt, what would you say makes one a good author?
Aug 9, 2:49AM EDT1

Telling a good story!

Sounds simple, but that's all there is to it.  But there are different levels of good and what you find good may be different from what I find good.

I did a blog a while about, Trainwrecks, Writers & Storytellers

Here's a snippet from it, cropped for efficiency.  You can read the whole thing here.

Trainwrecks

The trainwrecks are the ones who can produce trashy crack.  It’s the why am I reading this…type of book. You can’t put it down.  You might want to, you might not.  Maybe it’s a ride on a rickety roller coaster and you’re loving it.  Or maybe it’s just a trainwreck and you want to look away and can’t.

You might even be one of those people who love trainwrecks. Some people do, and that's fine.

The point is, a trainwreck book is one that you know is flawed like hell but you can’t stop reading it.  Whether or not you’ll read another book by that author? Who knows.  Some trainwreck authors only have a few books in them and then they just…disappear. Some keep putting out trainwrecks and sometimes the writing improves, other times it doesn’t…the characters don’t grow, the stories don’t evolve.

You love them…until you don’t.

These writers don’t know much of anything about the craft of writing. Which is fine, because we all gotta start somewhere and we tend to start out crawling.

Of course, the key here is that you gotta start to walk at some point.

They never learn to walk, per se. They don’t try to grow their craft.

Writers

Writers probably make up the biggest group.  They can tell a story.  That story may hold your interest, but you may or may not go back and buy more from them.

More, they tend to improve over time. They try to grow. They either consciously or unconsciously work to improve and their stories get better.

Storytellers

These are the magicmakers.  In my book, these are the people like Lynn Viehl, Nora Roberts, Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh and some of my newest favorites… Peter Clines and Marc Greaney.

They have it down and a lot of them just come by it naturally.  That doesn’t mean they don’t work at it, because they absolutely do, but I think there is an inborn gift for storytelling that some people just have.

They have it…and they work.  If you have that talent and then you push yourself, you create a story that is just magic.

Storytellers have that cracktastic appeal that a lot of the trainwreckers do, but they also understand the craft of writing and they work to improve.

So a good writer can be any of the above...you just have to know how to tell a story.

But a great writer is the last one.  The storyteller.  The one who can weave a story that keeps you glued to the page, and you keep coming back for the next story, and the next, and that writer just keeps getting better all the time.

Last edited @ Aug 9, 12:48PM EDT.
Aug 9, 12:47PM EDT0
How many projects do you have currently undergoing and how do you manage your time to handle them all while also promoting your other books (and having a personal life)?
Aug 9, 2:11AM EDT1

Currently googling.... what is a personal life...

Just kidding...Mostly.  Usually, I try to keep 'normal' business hours, writing while my kids are in school and the guy is at work.  Of course, my oldest is getting ready to move to Colorado--she's a college student there and has decided to move out there permanently and my son is now living at a residential high school for the gifted and talented three hours away from school, so it's mostly just me, the youngest and my husband.

When things are crazy, I do work more.  See the Bruce Almighty gif above for reference.

usually have two projects going, one of my freelance projects-I ghostwrite-and then whichever one of my books I'm writing.  I have a set number of hours I usually try to attain on my ghostwriting projects and once I do that, I focus on 'my' stuff.  And...uh...I suck at promo. Really.

I need to get better at it.  I haven't had a book out in a few months, but once a book is nearing or at release, I focus a few hours a week on it and just work it in.

Basically, I need a double.

Aug 9, 12:58PM EDT0
Why did you choose to start publishing under a new name J.C Daniels?
Aug 9, 2:01AM EDT1

The primary reason was because the J.C. Daniels are UF and I knew going in they would not have a nice, neat happy-ever-after.

My readers see Shiloh Walker and associate that with romance.  Even those who don't read me associate Shiloh Walker with romance.

I didn't want  my readers picking it up and being disappointed there was no HEA, but I also didn't want somebody who likes UF, but no romance bypassing it because they assumed it was romance.

Aug 9, 1:00PM EDT0

With kids, do you have a post schedule? Post outline or write about the exciting day? 

Aug 8, 10:38PM EDT1

For blogging?

No.  I used to blog almost every day, but I've been in a blogging slump.  Now it's just when an idea hits me and I need to get back in the saddle on that.

Last edited @ Aug 9, 1:06PM EDT.
Aug 9, 1:01PM EDT0
Where do you write? At home, do you have a special place? Do you write at a particular time of day? When do you find most inspiring to write?
Aug 8, 8:20PM EDT1

I'd love to tell you that I have this beautiful, peaceful, zen space where I craft all these amazing stories.

But I'd be lying.

I do have an office, but back issues make it harder for me to sit in there so I mostly flop in my recliner.

Sometimes I need a change of scenery, so I'll go to a pub or something and write there.

I tend to focus better in the afternoon and that's when I get more writing done.

Aug 9, 1:07PM EDT0
What are the benefits of writing under a pseudonym and are there any setbacks?
Aug 8, 7:28PM EDT1

The pseudonyms mainly works to define the two genres I mostly write in...romance & UF.

I can't think of any real setbacks, per se, although it can be hard to keep up with both names.

Aug 9, 1:09PM EDT0
Having gotten married at 19, what advice do you have for young married couples and what are the unique joys of getting married young?
Aug 8, 5:05PM EDT1

My guy and I met when I was young.  I was 11 the first time I saw him and he was 14.  It was a near-instant crush for me and I had that crush for years.

We didn't start dating until shortly before I turned 15 and we were together for five years before we married.  I think it's safe to say we knew each other fairly well even before we married.  If you're going to spend your life with somebody, you should know that person.

You need to realize it's a commitment and commitments take work. 

Some of the unique joys? We've grown up together. We know each other sometimes better than we know ourselves.

Somebody in another question asked about the 'rules' of writing romance, which makes me think about discussions happening on twitter lately. 

One of the writers I know had read a comment from somebody who said they'd rather have real life than an HEA (happy ever after for those who aren't familar with the abbreviation).

The writer said she'd had her HEA, even though it was too short~her husband died a year earlier, that HEAs do happen and that it made her sad that people honestly thought HEAs couldn't happen in real life.

I agree.  HEAs can most definitely happen...but not if you aren't willing to make the commitment.

I've got my guy and we're 22 years married, 27 years together and still going strong.

Oh, we fight and all. Nothing is perfect in this world.  Our marriage has been a roller coaster.

Even aside from things normal couples go through...fights, money issues, just trying to get by, having kids, etc...we've had other things.

In 2005, we lost a child. A few years before that, his mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. (She survived, still going strong!)  He's had to keep me sane when I'm having issues with my family...and trust me, there have been many issues.

In 2017, one of my brothers committed suicide and if God hadn't given me my guy to keep me together...well, He did, and I survived, but sometimes, I still wonder how.

So our lives haven't been perfect.  I think some people assume a 'happy' marriage is one without flaws or faults, but that's crap.  There's no such thing.

Nothing worth having ever comes easy, so if you're getting married, or looking at marriage, or are in a relatively young relationship, you just have to remember that. You will fight.  You will have problems.  You will not always see eye to eye.

And that's okay.  You didn't turn into one symbiotic creature when you married each other. You're still growing and learning...the guy and I are still growing and learning, even after more than two decades together.

You just have to remember that those hard, uphill climbs don't last forever and it's easier to go through them together.  In the end, you have each other and that's a beautiful thing.

Last edited @ Aug 9, 1:33PM EDT.
Aug 9, 1:31PM EDT0
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