Meet The Character | The Self-Sabotager

They call me Max Carver, because that’s the name on the cover. I’m the latest contender in the world of Graphic Novelists. My fans line up outside the bookstores and comic book shops, dressed like characters I created, waiting to see what carnage will be wrought and what kind of debauched mess their favorite anti-hero has gotten himself into this time.

Insidious “Sid” Strider gives all bad things a bad name, and man, do they love him. They can’t get enough of my morally-challenged alter ego. The one who’s always been free to do exactly what he wants; extending two middle fingers to the world like twin banners of pride.

No one knows that he’s been my cathartic outlet since I was seventeen; that he was born out of the madness following childhood tragedy. That he’s my much needed escape from reality, my purge of all the fear and rage. They can’t know that at times, he’s still the only solace I seek, my most trusted confidant.

Mostly, they don’t know that I’m a girl.

A young woman frayed at the edges behind an easy smile. Picking at the threads of my seams when no one’s looking. They have no clue that Sid isn’t my only sordid outlet.

In my private life, I’m a submissive of the Alternative Lifestyle known by and large as Kink. I found it quite naturally and never looked for anything else, even though I always ruin it. A subconscious demand stemming from my many contradictions, which, eventually–and without fail–push me to rebel against contentedness and comfort.

I’m the good girl in need of a strict-ass Dom who won’t put up with my shit. Though, in all fairness, it’s a lot of shit. I really can’t blame them for falling for the lies I tell myself, while pulling the wool over their eyes because they let me get away with it before. It’s not their fault I’m constantly testing them and watching them fail. Somewhere in the dark complexities of my mind, they’re fighting the inevitable.

I don’t have issues, so much as a solid record.

But Hayden’s not failing. He’s calling me out on my BS at our first meeting, switching up the rules of engagement from any other Dom I’ve ever met and you’d think that was a good thing. Except, good things are like bad thing’s crack, and I feel Sid creeping out of his cage, just waiting to make a long-lasting impression.

I don’t know if this is going to be an amazing ride or the toughest trial of my life, but I do know one thing: I’m destined to fuck it all up. I won’t be able to stop myself. I will tow the line, bend the knee, and earn my “good girls” – but in the end, I’m still a self-sabotaging mess seeking a miraculous change, while fighting tooth-and-nail to remain exactly the same.

~ Catherine Maxine Nicholson

Dear Indie | Using Daily Prompts to Stay Active

Hi Indies!

Whenever I stumble upon something that I feel would be a great resource for you all, you know I have to share. When I first started my blog back in October of 2013, I used the WordPress Daily Prompt challenge to build up my followers and writing network. It was great for awhile – actually for a few years, but it was so time-consuming it cut into hours I needed to spend working on my actual WIPs. Unfortunately, the cost of not doing the DP’s anymore, was losing all of those followers and the interaction I used to have with them on a regular basis.

My blog is still a work in progress and I rarely see likes, comments, or re-blogs the way I did way back when. But, I’m even worse when it comes to Social Media. It is unarguably one of the most daunting aspects of being an author that I have always struggled with. I’m not ashamed to admit that if I never had to use it, I wouldn’t. Unfortunately, in this day and age, authors and aspiring writers who don’t use things like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are cutting out a huge resource for building their platforms and potential readerships.

But it can be hard to think of what to share, especially for the long haul. For some, this seems to come naturally. For me, it’s a chore. I never know what to post. I never know when re-posting is not enough or too much and I’m a bit more picky about who I follow back, because I don’t want my feed clogged up with spam bots.

My latest discovery, however, has enabled me to go from maybe 1 tweet a month, to at least 1 tweet a day. First, if you’re not already a member of the #writingcommunity on Twitter, I would recommend checking it out. This is where I’ve found this fun writing challenge called #vss365 which stands for “Very Short Story” – Each month, a new host/ess is selected to come up with the Daily Prompts. What’s great about this DP challenge vs the WordPress one, is that there’s no pressure to have your post ready first thing in the morning to reach the most participants and Twitter is so limited, you’re only writing for a minute. No time-consuming creations followed by hours of editing. It’s short, fun, and offers positive results.

It’s keeping me active on Twitter regularly, helping me gain exposure while expanding my writing community network, and I’m enjoying reading others #vss365 creations. The inspiration from seeing how people can take so many different approaches to the same word is limitless. That’s why I knew I needed to share it here with you. In my opinion, these outcomes make this a good resource for any writer, but especially if you’re just starting to build your author platform or like many (myself, included) find social media overwhelming and intimidating to navigate.

There’s no wrong or right way to go about the challenge, as long you use the prompted word. There are even a few members who do multiple posts using a different approach each time, i.e. poetry for one, then a short story for another. Not to mention, there are many who include multiple challenge prompt words in the same post (#vss365, #bravewrite, etc.). I’m creeping in slowly, doing one DP challenge to start, but I might join in others later on down the road.

I thought it would be great fun to only draw from one book to create my posts – this has proved quite challenging! – but that only get’s my creative juices flowing all the more. Again, because it’s Twitter and the word count is limited, all of my posts are original. They wouldn’t actually be found verbatim in the book, itself, but the ideas behind them are definitely there. If I still like that process by the end of this month, than I’ll pick a different book for September, and so on.

❤ That’s it, Indies. If you’re already participating in the #vss365, #bravewrite or any other Daily Prompt challenge drop me a comment below to share your experience and how you prefer to approach your unique creations!

Meet The Character | The Sadist

Screams thread the very fabric of my existence, weaving worlds of pain, blood, and pleasure together. Like any addict or connoisseur, I do have my preferences. Emissions of pleasure wrought by pain are, indeed, my favorite. But I am the Harvester; the one my Head of House turns to when he needs answers. My skills are legendary, as are my results.

They say you can’t glean truth through torture. I say they’re not doing it right. Besides, we’re not human. Most of the creatures who end up on my cross can regenerate within days, if not hours. And trust me, the agony of regrowing bones is far more excruciating than having them ripped out of your body. Loyalties never fail to leach into the bloodstained floor at my feet, the truth pouring out faster than bodily fluids.

I am the sadist without remorse, the second most powerful Elemental in the Phoenix Down Territory. Redford is my Household. Scotland is the one I answer to, for Fire is the demon I feed. But I am also half of a cruelly enforced bond. Berlin is my equal in every possible way, the only enemy I could never defeat on the battlefield and now we are two parts of a shared judgement, sentenced by Aeolus, himself. Due to our major parts in the Territory Wars, we’re now cursed with the inability to find satiation without each other. We live, eat, fight, and fuck together.

It’s much kinkier than it sounds, for Berlin is Water, my natural enemy. Our Elements are fatal to one another’s, making life and fun a little on the tricky side to accomplish with any kind of satisfaction. Of course, we found a loophole–quite a painful one, at that–an exchange I usually endure awash in Berlin’s screams.

Nothing we’ve ever known compares to the one we’re sent to capture for our Elder. Even while her Water slays me, her instant connection with Berlin riles this sadist like nothing else on earth. Because I heard her scream. And, fuck, it was like the maddening ride of an opium haze laced with delirious obsessions, triggering an orgasmic high in each of my senses. I can’t get enough. I would coax the full range out of her if it took an eternity, and I’d devour each pitch until her screams were infused with my soul–if only she were mine to render in pain so reverently.

~ Damascus Dmitri Redford

Dear Indie | Genre Trends

Hi Indies!

Have you ever noticed that whenever a certain genre niche gets popular, the market is suddenly inundated with a ton of similar books? Secret Baby trend hits big and – BOOM – 100,000 new secret baby books hit the market overnight. WTF? Were all those authors actually sitting on a finished book, just waiting for that particular niche to make it big before publishing? Why didn’t I think of that?! Ugh!

But is that the truth of the situation, or just how it appears? Are niches really popular long enough for authors to start a book from scratch and publish it while the trend is still hot–or do they just have remarkably lucky timing with what they’re already working on?

These aren’t the only questions I find myself scratching my head over when it comes to why certain books make it and others don’t, despite how alike they are. Of course, we already know why some books make it big, even from unknown authors – it’s because they had that extra. It doesn’t matter what the extra was, it set them apart from the competition. For example: Hunger Games, Maze Runner, and Divergent are all YA/NA Dystopian/SciFi and deal with a society or group of people “trapped” in one place, oppressed or strictly governed by a more powerful force. They have a romantic entanglement tossed in or love triangle, which is a common trope for this genre – yet they are so distinctly different with their “extra” that they made it through the mountains of books that just weren’t different enough – or weren’t written as well.

Those are the two key factors: Uniqueness and Well Written. The bonus third factor of course, is marketing/branding/exposure.

But I’ve got a 4th key factor that I never paid any attention to in the past, and maybe you haven’t either: Genre Trends.

I’m not saying you should be searching for a daily report while obsessively typing away to try to get a trending niche book out on the market before it drops in popularity – I’m saying once you have the book you just had to write finished, check the market trends before publishing. There’s a possibility that if you hold off just one week, two months, etc. your book will actually do 100% better at its launch, then if you publish too soon (or not soon enough).

We spend so much time and effort ensuring that our books are at their best before introducing them to the world at large, doing this one extra step is definitely not going to hurt. Impatience is just as big an enemy as procrastination. I for one am going to add this step to my pre-publishing process from now on – and maybe I’m the only one here who hasn’t actually been doing it this whole time (that would not surprise me, lol!) I just wanted to share in case others haven’t been paying any mind to the current trends when they publish, either. And I also wanted to mention it for those of you who are still aspiring writers, for future reference.

I’ve stumbled upon a good website called “Watched Plot Never Boils” that is specifically designed to keep authors up to date – weekly – on MOST genre’s niche trends. It covers quite a bit of the common genres, but misses others. Though, the website owner might be open to suggestions. It’s pretty cool, if you want to check it out and I’m sure it’s not the only one, but I like it. Week by week the trends don’t change much so it can get a little repetitive – but if you only hop on there to check out your specific genre when you’re getting ready to publish, it’s quite informative breaking down the niches, character types, and plot tropes in a way that’s fun to read rather than dry and analytical. But, as with everything else in this industry, double and triple check your information and never rely on just one source for the whole picture.

Now, I’d like to pose some questions, which you can answer in the comments below or just use as food for thought. 🙂

  1. Do you write only according to what’s popular at the time or do you write your own thing and hope for the best?
  2. Do you often find yourself searching for a way to add a new twist – that “extra” – to an old, favorite theme? ( i.e. fairytales, mythology, etc.)
  3. Would you ever sacrifice your true “writer” self just to sell books? i.e. write differently (or in your opinion, worse) than normal, try a POV you’ve never used before, or write about topics you typically wouldn’t, etc.?
  4. Do you hold fast to the long-standing belief that publishing one astonishing book a year is the best practice – or, do you think that’s become outdated and no longer smart business for the modern-day, e-commerce marketplace?
  5. Last, but not least and this is a 2-parter. #1: What’s your view on ghost writers and do you think they’re in more use today than ever before due to the high demand for faster release dates? #2: Would you take an entire year off (or longer) from publishing to just write, so that you could have multiple finished books to publish in faster succession or would you rather hire a ghost writer to pick up the slack?

❤ Okay, that’s all the questions (for now) 😀 Happy Hump Day, Indies, make it a good one!

A Day With My Muse

As I’m watching the calendar zip toward the end of the year, I’m really feeling the pressure, and all of my 2019 goals slip right through my fingers. It’s not that I haven’t been writing, I’ve just been writing everything except the books I had planned to finish before the end of the year.

Discipline is great advice–if it actually worked for my dysfunctional muse (aka creative flow). Unfortunately, whenever I try to force myself to focus on a certain book, rather than the one my muse wants to work on, I end up spending hours staring at a blinking courser while she sits on the sidelines filing her damn nails.

Any amount of words you can get down for any WIP is progress. This is a golden truth and we should never deny ourselves the credit for those small, random accomplishments. I just wish mine were on the WIPs I need to get done first. There’s a natural order to writing, or at least there should be. Especially, if you’re like me and juggle an extensive amount of series. Oldest series should be getting new installments published before newer series, right? And definitely well before new stand-alone’s that can wait.

My order is slightly different. My older series are with my publisher, rather than self-published so I’m not in any hurry to add to those until I get my rights back. #sorrynotsorry. My goal order begins with my oldest Indie books – the Hell on Earth series would be first and I hit that one out of the ballpark by introducing Hexed earlier in the year. Yay, team! The Dark Day Isle series would be next…. (looks around for muse, and finds her ecstatically pointing toward book 3 of my Ulfrinn series.) Erm…no. I just said, we’re not adding more books to the series that are still with the publisher.

After three days of staring at the blinking courser, I break down. Fine! We’ll work on the damn 3rd book to the Ulfrinn series until you get bored with it!

One week later….

I’m now staring at a blinking courser for book 3 of the Ulfrinn series, so I guess she’s finally bored with it. What are we working on today, muse?

“I had an idea.”

No. No, you didn’t–

“Yes, I did and it’s totally awesome, you wanna hear it?”

No, I–

“SOOOOooo, this is how is goes…”

😐

Two days and one new WIP added to the pile later…

This has been my year so far; lather, rinse, repeat. How are your 2019 goals shaping up, writers? Are you struggling to meet them, surpassing them or just happy with writing anything at all? Do you often find yourself at odds with your muse or did you get a fully-functional, helpful one?

There’s an endless supply of advice out there on the world wide web about how to conquer, control and keep your creative flow in line – and I really hope you’re all finding something useful to help you along your journey. They often don’t work for me because much of it centers around being a Plotter, which I will never be. I couldn’t plot a book to save my life. I’m 100% a Pantser, completely at the mercy of my characters and which direction they want to go, what they want to reveal, and those delicious twists even I never see coming.

Plus, I have the most obstinate, stubborn-as-hell muse in existence. I just really hope I’m not the only who refers to their ‘creativity’ as a separate entity they often butt heads with – LOL. If I am, don’t tell me, I like living in denial of my issues. 😉

❤ Happy Saturday! Wherever you are, I’m sure you’re trying to stay cool like the rest of us – so now might be a great time to work on your next winter or autumn themed novel. Just an idea! 😀

Meet The Character | The Dark Storm

I was born into money, raised in the upper crust, did my stint in the all boys academy to get a real gentleman’s education. That’s where I met my best friend. Born without money, he was there on a charity scholarship, so of course he was the biggest target on campus. I called him out, took my shot, found a kindred spirit in the little shit that gave back as good as he got and we’ve been inseparable ever since.

That’s how people enter my world: through blood and pain. It’s not always theirs. Just ask my second closest friend. I almost killed him the first night we met, and all he was doing was his job. Too bad that job was as the cop that found my battered baby sister in a blood-soaked alley. Tragedy binds us in ways nothing else ever can, and it’s permanent. There’s no escaping me once you’re here. I’ll go to the ends of the earth for those who matter, but they’re all burned around the edges from the fire of my life.

So go ahead and believe what they print in the papers: Billionaire playboy, spoiled heir to the Kade Legacy, reckless deviant, womanizer, no better than a mobster kind of businessman. I should probably thank them for providing me with the ability to do whatever the hell I want, however the hell I want, but the truth is–I’d do it, anyway. Because I don’t give a fuck about their opinions or yours. If I don’t know you, you’ll never know me and trust me, that’s a good thing.

Death has deemed me the enemy, get’s off on taking the people I love away from me. I was born with a dark tempest raging inside, as if the powers that be knew I would need it to survive. Or that one day, I would need it to protect the only woman who’d own my heart.

Her world is blood and pain. Our tragedies are linked in the darkest places of our pasts, and when our worlds collide, there will be no one left unscathed. Because there will be nothing I won’t do to save her. I might fasten my designer suit the same way every rich man does, but there are no hitmen on my payroll. If I tell you I’m going to kill you, rest assured, my face will be the last fucking thing you see.

~ Voryk Julien Kade

Meet The Character | The Pierced One

I’m the Toy Maker. Not really, that’s just what the pup calls me. Who better to play the villain to his superhero? Kid’s imagination is bigger than he is, but not as far fetched as he’ll hopefully never know. I’m the cool uncle, all tatted up and pierced to the nine. It would break my heart for him to see me any other way.

I love being here, love being in this crazy pack of a family, but love is a doubled edged sword when you’re only half of who you’re supposed to be. I’m a framer by trade, hacker for fun, and Úlfr by birth. Odin’s wolves, that’s what we are; hiding in plain sight as humans in Midgard. Since the dawn of time, we’ve had our share of ups and downs as a species. Hunted alongside our wild cousins by those who didn’t know any better, hunted for being exactly what we were by those who did. Witch hunters, determined to rid the earth of all things non-human.

But nothing hurt us the way the first Fenrisúlfr did when he sent out an army of human-turned vargar to slaughter us with no warning. Entire packs wiped from existence overnight. Bloodlines lost. From Elders to pups, no one was spared. By the time the survivors managed to destroy him and his army, our numbers had been severely depleted.

I watched my entire family perish before my eyes; shredded, bleeding, left for dead and unable to stop any of it. Now, he’s back and I’m just as helpless to stop him today as I was forty years ago. Only, the horrible, fucked up truth of it is this time, it’s by choice.

I’m the pierced one, not for all the superficial hoops, studs and barbells decorating my skin: but for the two posts of Dvergur Járn impaled in my shoulder blades. Dwarf Iron, a powerful Asgardian metal that keeps my wolf caged, unable to escape. I’m a shifter who can’t shift. A wolf trapped in a human’s body. And I asked for it. Hell, I begged for it and you don’t want to know what I endured to finally get it. But it was worth it, because my wolf is ravaged with bloodlust. He’s feral for the taste of his enemy’s screams, hell bent on retribution above all things…even love. The love of my packmates, the Elders. The bond of my Alpha Pair and worst of all…my mate.

How can I keep her safe like this? How can I help any of them, when to become whole again would mean becoming no better than the Fenrir, himself?

~ Shayd Eklund