Why my protagonist has to suffer tonight.

Some who have been following me for a while will know I rewrote Blood Toy from the ground up three times.  One of those times I wrote my protagonist (who has been widely admired, even by reviewers who didn’t particularly care for the book, for her strength and endurance in the face of torment) as clinically depressed–and depressing!  Seriously, I might as well have named her ‘Vampire Hunter Eeyore’.  My best friend asked me when I was nearly done with that draft, “How is Diane ever going to beat Desollador?”  Turned out to be a good question.  One I couldn’t answer.  So I had to rewrite the damn thing.

You’ve heard, I’m sure, all artists are crazy.  You’ve also heard that writers write what they know. And maybe that all characters are reflections of their author’s own personality.  So it figures that I wrote Diane in that depressive state when I was battling depression myself and using writing as a sort of therapy.  It’s frankly easier to write when I’m about half a bubble off plumb.  That does not mean I write well in that state.  In fact, I can almost guarantee I produce nothing befitting more than a diary entry when I’m feeling under the emotional weather.

I found myself going down that path in Book 2 briefly when the days got shorter last fall. But instead of having Diane succumb to despair, I made her circumstances more despairing.  Ok, maybe she succumbs briefly, but you won’t blame her; I promise.  Now approximately three quarters into the book, it’s time for her to start clawing her way back out.  But first…maybe just a few more rounds of fire.

 

 

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Where to begin?

I’ve been gone so long, WordPress doesn’t even look the same. Damn.

So I missed my self-imposed deadline for the release of Book 2 (Fall 2015) by a minute. Let’s get that out of the way.  I was overly ambitious establishing that timeline in the first place, but I am writing it.  There will be a Book 2 this year.  And if Book 1 made you think about using your safe word, the next one’s going to hurt.  Even I think this thing is dark. And I was really perplexed when reviews starting warning readers that Blood Toy was an especially twisted read.

Not going to make excuses about why I’ve been gone…. Ok, maybe a few explanations are in order.  Well, two at least.

  1. Indie publishing sucks.  I got my first royalty check from Amazon; it did not even cover the cost of cover art!  While this did not discourage me from writing, it did inspire me to reevaluate my priorities.  Maybe blogging every single day is not as important as…say…writing the next book.
  2. Dictation sucks.  I took the holiday ‘break’ a little too literally and fractured my wrist. While I had the use of my fingers, my cast had a nasty habit of hitting ‘caps lock’ every few letters.  I used talk-to-text functionality for every email, instant message and proposal I sent for the first two months of the year.  I thought it was a miraculous invention those first few days, better than typing in random shouts at least.  But I swear the voice recognition got more stupid with each passing day.

 

 

 

New Review and Cover Commentary!

I got a nice surprise this week from Anela of Amid The Imaginary, one of the reviewers to whom I provided an ARC a few months ago.   Anela has been, since launch, one reviewer I really wanted to read Blood Toy.  Not only is she a champion of self-published work, I love the format of her reviews, which includes book info and synopsis, the first line of the story, her take on the book—from the magical to the mundane—and a summary of her thoughts.  Trust me, hers are some of the most thorough reviews you will find in the blogosphere!  After lackluster October sales and delays on Book 2 which put its anticipated date of publication into Winter 2016 (vs. Fall 2015), I don’t know if I could have handled a bad review this week, especially a terribly thorough bad review, so I practically shouted for joy when I saw she had awarded Blood Toy 5 stars. 

As I have said before, most favorable reviews are prefaced with a warning, so when I saw the usual “should come with a warning label,” I wasn’t surprised.  Blood Toy has, after all, been called dark, sadistic, and abusive.   But when I read, “I had such a hard time putting it down that I was actually reading the damn thing while walking out to my car in the parking lot after work,”  I literally laughed out loud.  This is the first warning I’ve received against walking and reading!

Despite Anela’s enthusiasm for the content of my book, she held back nothing in her disdain for the depiction of Diane on my cover.  “She looks like she fell off a mud flap.” 

Blood Toy e-book

Ok, to be fair, I have gotten flack for my cover from the start, but I chose it because 1) I personally love the design and because 2) Diane told me in a dream she liked it and I am superstitious like that.  Oddly enough, women tend to notice Diane’s shapely cleavage, while men just wonder how the chain mail stays on her breasts.  In the context of the scene the cover references, the logistics of how the mail is attached is really, really not important, BUT Anela went on to say, “I know I would’ve scrolled right past this in the Kindle store thinking it was just another paranormal sporting a heroine that is heavier on jugs than brains.”  That got me thinking….If she felt that way, how many people have scrolled past the cover thinking it was another book light on plot and heavy on sex.    

Every author knows that, to be successful, you must be willing to kill your darlings.  Maybe this cover is my last darling.  Maybe I should scrap the design altogether and republish a new set of covers for Book 1 and 2 when Kindred Shadows launches. Or maybe this is a minority opinion with zero impact on book sales.  Either way, I don’t have the budget to go back to the drawing board, but it is a theory worth testing. So in the meantime, I had my designer give Diane a more concealing/realistic outfit and a more intimidating stance and will be rolling out this new cover image on the Kindle Edition this weekend. 

BloodToy remake ebookI personally think this cover makes Diane look angry, worried and conflicted, which is appropriate.  I do not think it is nearly as flattering as the first version of the cover, but then…that’s kinda the point.  And the more I look at it, the more captivated I become by it.

When you forget a word…

Ever have that moment in a conversation?  When even a simple word like ‘door’ or ‘yesterday’ completely escapes you.  Yeah, me too.  All. The. Time.  Which is the last problem anyone expects an author to have.  (Isn’t that kind of our job?)  

Following up on my first vlog post earlier this week, I decided to have some fun with one of the outtakes.  Enjoy a chuckle at my expense!

PS.  That title scene is Chapter 1, Scene 2 and it is AWESOME!  Go get your copy here.  Kindle edition on sale for 99 cents until Nov 3.

In Case of Asteroids…

One of my most popular blogs since I launched my WordPress site, has been “Finish What You Start.  Follow-through is a skill many of us are still working to perfect. As I was reading this Freshly Pressed blog today about the asteroid that will be making a fly-by of the Earth in a few days while possibly listening to Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying” (no judgement; my daughter is a country music fan), I decided I’d share the story of the meteorite that inspired me to finish Blood Toy in the first place and that, in part, propels me to finish Kindred Shadows.   

A few years back, I awoke to a strange phenomenon.  Everything just to the left of my central vision was distorted, as if I was looking at the world through a swirly bokeh lens or a large crystal ball floated prominently in my periphery. 

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Yeah, exactly like that.

Of course, I did the only reasonable thing to find some answers in that situation: I googled it.  Best guess, I was suffering from the onset of an ocular migraine.  It was only because my husband wouldn’t let me take a chance on it that I even went to the optometrist that day.  I was so confident it was nothing, I drove myself.  About an hour later, I drove myself home and let my husband drive me to the retinal specialist. The doctor was stuck in traffic, so we had to go back the next morning for the first eye injection that might save my vision. 

Turns out, I have a rare (except in the Midwest) eye disease called Ocular Histoplasmosis. It is caused by exposure to the histoplasmosis bacteria usually found in bird poop.  I was asked repeatedly if I had been around many chicken coups growing up.  Nope, but my Grandfather raised pigeons (if such creatures can be raised).  He constructed elaborate multi-room condominiums in his barn for the little sh*t factories.  I spent many a summer swinging under a canopy of pecan trees watching them peck around the yard and roost on the ridge of the barn’s roof.  Wondering if I caught one and tied a message to its leg if someone, somewhere would get it and send a reply back to me. 

Those damned pigeons nearly took my eye sight.  Typically the histo bacteria causes mild upper respiratory and flu-like symptoms, then goes away. On rare occasions, it doesn’t.  A regular histo meteor shower rains down poking holes in other organs to be discovered twenty years later and scare the bejeezus out of you. 

We got the initial bleed under control within a few months, and my vision returned to 20/20, with just a smidgen of blur where the histo spot lives.  But the chances of another bleed one day are 50/50.  The chances of a bleed in the other eye, also 50/50.  I am fortunate in that I have a mild case and only one spot threatens my central vision, but I didn’t know that at the time.  Doctors are hesitant to give false hope, so sometimes just don’t give any.  I spent a few weeks convinced it was only a matter of time before I lost my vision completely.

I made up my mind to finish Blood Toy when I got the news; I was afraid I might run out of time.  Who knew if I could re-learn how to write…blind.  I know better now.  My vision may not always be 20/20, but it is unlikely to deteriorate completely due to the histoplasmosis. But you never know. Asteroids happen. If there is anything you might regret not doing if you lost your chance, you better get while the gettin’s good. 

Like reading Blood Toy.  You would definitely regret not reading it;)  And the gettin’s especially good right now.  The Kindle edition is on sale for 99 cents through Nov 3rd!

Secret Identities and a Reading

Two days ago, I jokingly posted on my Facebook page: Work-life balance when you have a secret identity is really hard!  What I really wanted to post was: In two days, I am going to post a vlog (mostly) concealing my secret identity!  I might have felt a little silly donning the mask any other time of the year, but…it’s Halloween.  Enjoy.