Uh-Oh, It’s Another Rant on How NOT to Write Female Characters!

Oh, yeah, I’m going there…again. And this is nearly kismet-level timing with Marquessa over at The Next Chapter who just published a writing challenge post about Pet Peeves. Check it out, and all of her other posts, too!

While her article covers three pet peeves, I’m only ranting about one of my biggest because you see, I’m really–I mean really–trying to read this book right now and the deeper I get into it, the less and less I like the Female MC. I’m not going to name the book or author here – and I don’t want this taken as a bad review, I’m only going to be focusing on using the Female Protagonist as an example for identical or similar issues I’ve seen in countless books for the same reasons.

I’ll note that it is written in the 1st Person POV. It’s very rare that I run across this problem with 3rd Person POV. I think it’s more commonly a character development issue that arises when trying to write from the inside of a character’s head. Especially, if the personality traits either weren’t fully fleshed out by the writer ahead of time or they’re just too unfamiliar with those traits to successfully narrate through them.

But I can’t help noticing that when a Female Protagonist written in the 1st Person goes into defensive mode, she automatically drops like 10 degrees in maturity level and never regains it.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s definitely a skill, and one that I do not possess. If I wrote in 1st Person, all of my characters would sound exactly the same.

Typically, I know within the first 2-3 pages if I like or dislike a protagonist no matter the POV it’s written in. However, 1st person can be a little sneakier. They can lure you in, get you hooked on the story, then start seriously disappointing you. And that’s exactly what’s happened in this case.

The story hooked me from the start with a powerful opening, the storyline has continued to intrigue me, and all of the other characters are engaging and well-written. And through the first few chapters I was totally on the Female MC’s sidelines with my pom-poms. So, what happened?

She met the Male MC. Suddenly, my confident, independent, mid-20’s, entrepreneurial heroine with a shadowed history and razor sharp instincts had reverted to a naïve, prideful, and often flaky 12-year-old, who doesn’t have an instinct to save her life and trusts everyone who smiles at her.

Uh…WTF? A minute ago she was a badass and now I want unfriend her on Facebook.

Not only that, but a 20-anything-year-old in a present-day story setting has never been alive before the invention of cellphones and all of the modern technology that we are keenly aware of thanks to TV, pop culture, media, and our own love for it – yet she questions how the Male MC could possibly know that she’s not where she’s supposed to be? It’s called GPS Tracking, you [insert bad name here] – it’s on EVERY PHONE. And worse – yep, it gets worse – he told her beforehand. I’m not kidding. He straight up told her that all of her devices are being monitored.

Did she think he was talking about someone else monitoring them? How would he know that if he wasn’t also monitoring them? Yet she’s so confused about how he could possibly know–and this is a prime example of the things that can go wrong that we’re not always aware of because we (as the writer) have all of the information that the readers don’t. In the next chapter, I learned that the Male MC has a hacker monitoring the ATC (Air Traffic Control) and that specific flight. So, the writer was trying to allude to this much grander, more elaborate way in which the Female MC’s every move is being tracked, but without readers having that piece of information combined with their common knowledge of GPS Tracking, this “allusion” has only succeeded in making the Female MC look dumb.

As the stakes are raised and more incidents are stacked in the mounting pile of CONCRETE EVIDENCE labeled “All the ways these bad guys have tried to kidnap or kill you” – the more the Female MC argues with the Male MC about how HE’S being paranoid and that “so-and-so” can’t possibly be a threat (“so-and-so” being someone she’s known less than 48 hours). And she repeatedly asks why she can’t just go back to her old life and alias (a name she already KNOWS the enemy has) in her previous town? (Where her apartment complex was just burned down and 2 of her 3 neighbors were killed and some mysterious guy claiming to be from her insurance company is asking the owner how to reach her even though all insurance companies have their client’s contact information already)….

Okay, I need a breather {Deep breath} – You probably do, too, so I’m going to end the main rant here and move on. Thanks for letting me vent, lol!

How Does This Happen?


Simple: With good intentions.

I’d really like to highlight this problem in a way that all of you aspiring and published writers might find useful, rather than just as constructive criticism. To me, this rampant issue with female characters is a genuine concern because it robs the readers of really great stories, which in turn robs the writers of all their hard work.

Every time I see this sudden invasion of the body-snatchers change happen with a Female Protagonist, it’s because the writer is trying (and failing) to make her appear “strong” and not easily “cowed” by an overbearing/Alpha/dominant man.

And that’s evidenced by everything I mentioned above PLUS the fact that all of her moments of defiance are immediately emphasized by her thoughts of how she’s “not going to back down,” and the next time the Male MC’s POV happens, he will also think about how those ‘stubborn’ ‘fiery’ qualities are so attractive and that her strength turns him on.

For 1) you shouldn’t need these little infomercial blasts to try and “sell” the image you’re aiming to convey of your characters, they should be nailing that image in the readers’ minds through their actions, inner monologue, and dialogue. But these little ‘supporting’ clusters all shouting the same message are painfully obvious, rather than happening within the organic flow of the story.

For 2) she’s not “strong,” if she’s a danger to herself and others. Her stubborn inability to face the truth of the situation has already resulted in 3 innocent deaths and 176 plane passengers nearly dying in an emergency crash landing, where many sustained injuries that required hospitalization. That’s not being a strong woman, and men who find that kind of toxic pride attractive – well, they deserve each other.

Unfortunately, this Female MC is so determined to keep her rose-colored glasses on that every time she thinks about a past incident that correlates with everything she’s recently learned, she brushes it off as impossibly connected to her current situation of danger. I would expect that with the first memory, and maybe even the second, but when you’ve got a distinct pattern of break-ins and signs of stalking that span a full decade and your Female lead is still dismissing it as nothing; there’s something seriously wrong.

And that is not foreshadowing, by the way. If you want your readers to have information without it yet being revealed to or pieced together by your protagonist, then do a scene in the Villain’s POV. Otherwise, the whole dismissal bit as a way to relay info to the readers just makes your character look stupid.

Your women DO NOT have to resort to immature, naïve, and self-destructive, stubborn behavior that may or may not put others in harms way just to “stand up” to a domineering Male MC.

Believe it or not, your strong, independent, mature, female leads can endure the overwhelming conflict between her physical attraction, her instinctual warnings, and her common sense, without losing brain cells in the process. She can still be smart, keep the man at arm’s length while she’s connecting dots and maintain enough of her wits not to constantly put herself in jeopardy just to prove how “independent” she is.

Because, let me tell you, all she’s actually proving is that she’d get herself killed within 5 minutes without the man’s help. What kind of message is that sending to your readers? Why is she suddenly so incapable of surviving without a man when she’s already made it 26 years without him?

Wouldn’t it be better to show them as equally matched forces who eventually have to stop clashing and work together to solve the problem, rather than immediately reducing your strong, female lead into the “damsel in distress” slot and calling it a day? And I’m all for the damsel trope when it’s due to outside forces beyond their control – not caused by their own denial –repeatedly.

Remember: You can build tension and conflict without compromising the core integrity of your characters’ personalities.

And that goes for all genders and all romantic coupling scenarios. A character is a character; they all follow the same rules and guidelines when it comes to fleshing them out.

Okay, everyone I’m ending here. I could pick things apart even further, but I would honestly rather have you takeaway the parts that resonate, help, or make a positive impact in your writing journey than continue sharing my frustration over a book I’m CHOOSING to read (I take full responsibility).

In short, please pay close attention to those negative personality disintegrations that can occur when your female protagonist is suddenly introduced to new upheavals, or that one person that triggers all of their defenses and hormones simultaneously. Yes, they’re going to make mistakes, that makes them real, but they have to learn from them. Characters should be growing with the story; maturing, resolving their inner-demons, not backsliding so fast it makes Benjamin Button’s head spin!

❤ Is it just me or does it feel like a Monday? I’m getting a definite Monday vibe here.

Dear Emoticon Gods,

Please create an emoji that specifically flips off Mondays.

Thank you.

Dear Indie | eBook Formatting Tips & Hacks for Kindle

Hi Indies!

Over the last week, I’ve spent a lot of time researching the best “free” ways to update the formatting for my books. I wasn’t happy with their blahzay interiors–and I also wanted to add content to the Back Matter that I didn’t have before.

I already shared the new chapter graphics in a previous post, but what I really wanted to know was how to use a drop cap that KDP wouldn’t automatically strip out.

There is one surefire way to have drop caps in your Kindle books: Use Kindle Create and sacrifice all control over font styles, graphics, etc. just for a drop cap. If you don’t care how unoriginal your book will look, then KC is a fast, easy approach to formatting your interior.

I do care, and I didn’t want to lose all of the work I’d already put into getting my interior the way I wanted, so I finally accepted that unless you’re good at coding (which, I’m not), there is no easy way to add drop caps for Kindle.

Note: If you are good at coding, then check out Derek Murphy’s video on inserting Drop Caps to Kindle.

I went through eBooks I’ve read by other authors just to get a feel for how they format their interiors. Of course, the best selling authors have professionals doing everything for them, so I skipped those.

Normally, drop caps wouldn’t cross my mind unless I was preparing a paperback file–BUT, when I added these chapter graphics, it didn’t quite look right with an ordinary First Paragraph. Viewing other author’s books that combined a graphic with a drop cap was easier and more pleasing on the eye. Here’s what I was stuck with:

Avarice Unleashed w/New Graphic, No Drop Cap

I soon discovered that wasn’t the only mess my books were in. As you can see in the image above, I was using Times New Roman, Single-Spaced with a jagged right alignment (technically it’s the Left alignment, but you know what I mean). None of the books I read on my Kindle app look like that. What the heck was I thinking?

After diving into more research, here is the best advice I’ve come across for the cleanest, easiest to read combination that Kindle will accept:

  • Georgia Font (12pt. for body)
  • 1.5 line spacing
  • Justified alignment.

It makes a big difference. And maybe I’m the last to learn this, but I’m sharing anyway. I also noticed that no one uses the “link back” to the Table of Contents anymore on their chapter headings–that was an old formatting tip from Smashwords. It’s an outdated practice, so I took all of those out, as well. Here’s what those changes left me with:

New Font, Spacing, & Alignment.

As you can see, those simple changes have already made my book 100% easier to read compared to the first image. Still, I was burning with determination to spice up that first paragraph. I went back to my Kindle and checked out other author’s books again and noticed that some of the ones I “thought” had drop caps really didn’t. It’s actually a simple hack, and this is what it looks like:

New “Fake” Drop Cap

Capitalize each letter for the first 2-3 words, then enlarge the first letter only (I used 24pt.), and select “Bold.” Voila, it has the similar appearance of a drop cap. Unfortunately, this has to be done manually each time, but that’s still a heck of a lot easier than coding. I’ve seen this used even when there isn’t a graphic and it still looks good.

I also noticed a lot of people inserting an image of the first letter for a more genuine drop cap effect, but this requires a lot of tweaking to get the spacing just right, which again takes some ability to mess with the coding, and I just don’t have those skills.

Now, that I finally had everything the way I wanted, all I had to do was upload my updated manuscript to KDP, right? 😐 Since I never had these formatting elements in place before, I’ve always just uploaded a .doc (Word) file. But here’s what Kindle did with that:

Collar Me Foxy .doc file in Kindle Previewer

Yep, it attributed the 24pt. size of that “fake” drop cap to the entire first paragraph’s spacing. And I’m ashamed to admit that I tried fixing the problem in the .doc file for about 30 minutes before remembering that KDP accepts other file types for publishing. Ugh! It was one of those days.

I use Calibre to preview all of my books before publishing because it will convert your .doc or .odt file to any other file extension you want. It’s 100% FREE and easy to use – I highly recommend it.

After messing around with conversions and viewing them on the KDP website, I chose ePub over mobi because it stayed truer to my formatting.

The biggest -ish is mobi’s answer to “justified” alignment, which is to stretch each line from margin-to-margin, resulting in irregular spacing between words. You’ve probably noticed this before in eBooks you’ve read, where random lines will have gaping spaces in between shorter words. It’s glaring, nobody likes it.

Mobi was also shrinking my graphics and/or moving them too far away from the Chapter heading. ePub doesn’t do any of that nonsense, and looks more like the .doc version. Here’s the final result:

ePub file in Kindle Previewer

Perfecto. 🙂

Two valuable pieces of advice to follow when formatting, is: 1) Make sure the layout and font styles match the genre of your book, and 2) Practice the Keep It Simple motto. You want your book to look like it was customized by a pro not Bedazzled by a 5-year-old.

Many best selling authors don’t even use images, or maybe just an ornamental divider, and those look really nice, too. The bottom line is you’re not using these graphics to sell books, that’s your story’s job.

Now, I have noticed a rise in graphics in the Back Matter of both best selling and non-best-selling books, usually for promoting other books, fan pages, and newsletter subscriptions. Again, you don’t want to go crazy, but at least these images aren’t in danger of distracting readers from your story. Here’s a couple of examples:

Promoting Hexed at the end of Avarice Unleashed
Using my Logo on the Newsletter Subscription page

Remember you are a brand name, so don’t feel bad about slapping your logo onto your work. That’s what it’s for.

Okay, that’s all for now, Indies. Hopefully, some of these tips and resource links help out in your writing/publishing journey.

❤ Stay Safe & Healthy!

Dear Indie | From Hybrid to Fully Independent

Hi Indies! It’s been too long–yes, since I’ve posted–but, also that I’ve been waiting for this day. 😀

Today, I am officially no longer a hybrid author, but fully Independent. Today, all of the rights my publisher ever had for any of my books are completely reverted to me to do with whatever I want!

That means revising, polishing, re-editing with an editor who actually knows what editing means, re-covering, at least one re-titling, and then re-publishing all – but not just in eBook format. Now I can take these beauties and make them available in paperback and audiobook format, too!

That’s the upside and I wouldn’t trade it again for anything!

The downside, though, means that none of those Titles are available for sale anymore and I’ve lost any and all reviews on retail sites I may have received for them. If you were one of those reviewers, I’m deeply sorry and I will be offering free copies of the new versions as they become available for those who would like them. *Note: Reviews will still be up on Goodreads, since they don’t allow the deletion of any books, even out-of-print versions.

The even bigger downside is that I now have to pay a butt-ton of money to get these books back out onto the market, which means it won’t be happening as quickly as I would want it to.

Changes


Currently, I have already revised both Hearthstone Alpha and Little Queen, they’re ready to be sent off to my editor and I do plan on getting those back on the market first in every possible format. If you’re a fan of the Úlfrinn series (now the Midgard Úlfrinn series) please know that I have not changed anything in the story, only cleaned it up to get rid of unnecessary words and a timeline issue I never noticed before – and already have Violet Night underway, which will be the 3rd installment for that series, starring my violet-eyed wolf, Shayd Eklund. (Don’t worry, you’ll still get plenty of Reyna and Corbyn, they’re just no longer the MC’s).

The Zen Lounge will be given the new title: Seducing the Darkness and getting a major clean-up revision, but again I won’t be changing the story, just hopefully making it easier and more enjoyable to read! 😀 The second book to the trilogy is nearly complete and will be in editing before I re-release the first book.

Dark Duplicity, book 1 of my Dark Descendants series will be getting a fresh edit and will not be released again until book 2, Dark Legacy is already in editing, which is currently about halfway finished.

Euphoria, book 1 of the Pleasures of Paradise trilogy will be completely re-written. The elements of the story will remain the same, but not necessarily the structure or storyline. If I decide to re-release this one at all, it will be last on my list for ALL of my books and probably not until the whole thing is complete.

In Other Book News


Between revising these older Titles from my publisher, I am also working as quickly as I can on Fox Trot, the 3rd installment to the Dark Day Isle series, which is about halfway completed and will *fingers crossed* hopefully be released by the end of this year.

Irreparable, book 1 for the Broken Ones duet, a new dark psychological romance is finished and ready to go to my editor, but will not be released until book 2, Irrevocable is in editing.

The remaining 6 books for the Hell on Earth series are worked on as much as possible, and I’m still unsure which will be released next, Lust, Envy, or Gluttony, they all currently have about the same amount of material completed–but Sloth, Wrath, and Pride will be the final 3 books released, in that order.

A Personal Note


2020 has unarguably been the hardest year so far for a lot of us between the COVID-19 pandemic and all of the severe crimes against humanity being conducted–issues that shouldn’t even be issues still in the 21st century–we’re all struggling with something in our lives, so please let’s not forget that.

In March, I lost 2 people that I love, respect, admire, look up to, and had known since I was 9 years old as if they were my own parents. They passed away within 3 days of each other and our large, unruly family is still trying to cope with their loss.

On top of it, I’m one of millions of people fighting an autoimmune disease, taking medicine that suppresses my immune system during the worst pandemic of our time, and was just recently super, scary sick – so PLEASE, to all my fellow humans: Stay safe & healthy, take really good care of yourselves, be kind, compassionate, PATIENT, and uncharacteristically understanding of the other humans around you. Be with your loved ones in any way you can and most importantly, never forget that YOU matter.

❤ A.C.

#SongLyricSunday | Roots – In This Moment

#SLS is hosted by Jim over at A Unique Title For Me. If you’re new to #SLS, you can join in the fun or check out all of the other song choices for today by clicking on the theme link below.

This week’s theme is: Promise|Vow|Oath

My choice today is for Promise. In This Moment is my all-time favorite female metalcore band, except only the lead singer is a woman, but that still counts, right? I love everything about Maria Brink, she’s amazingly talented, capable of singing every range from soft to screamo – and she sounds just as incredible live as she does recorded.

Fans are aware of Maria’s unfortunate past from what she’s revealed in several of her songs and vague confirmations in interviews. Her father sexually abused, then abandoned her at a young age, leaving her with a drug-addicted mother, and then she was pregnant with her son by age 15, living and working alone to raise him. She eventually helped her mother fight and overcome her drug addiction–that experience and what she watched her mom suffer through is the purpose behind the band’s hit single “Blood.”

“Roots” is from In This Moment’s 6th studio album, Ritual. While she’s known for keeping personal meanings of lyrics to herself, stating that she loves the way people can connect with them with their own meanings and interpretations, “Roots” is definitely something about her background, and according to Livewire, Maria broke down partway through the live track.

Regardless of the meaning, the message is clearly about self-empowerment: taking all of the things that should break you and using them to make yourself stronger. A recurring theme for In This Moment. Enjoy!

I thank you for all the lives you’ve led
I thank you for every word you said
I thank you for walking away

I thank you

I thank you for the promises you broke
For always watching, watching while I choke
I thank you for teaching me

Yes, I thank you for the hurting

I bite down a little harder
My blades a little sharper
My roots, my roots
Run deep into the hollow

Strike back a little harder
I scream a little louder
My roots, my roots
Run deep into the hollow

I’m stronger than I ever knew
I’m strong because of you

I hit back a little louder
Fuck you a little harder
My roots, my roots
Run deep into the hollow

I thank you for the hole you dug in me
Filled it with cement, sunk me in your sea
I thank you for being so obscene

I thank you

I thank you for never facing me
Swimming in the mud, never coming clean
I thank you for nothing in between

Yes, I thank you for leaving

I bite down a little harder
My blades a little sharper
My roots, my roots
Run deep into the hollow

Strike back a little harder
I scream a little louder
My roots, my roots
Run deep into the hollow

I’m stronger than I ever knew
I’m strong because of you

I hit back a little harder
Fuck you a little louder
My roots, my roots
Run deep into the hollow

You wanna know why I like the pain, you say?
There’s a sick part of me thankful for the hate, I
I stay positive and I, I push forward, ya see?
I, I gotta do the right thing for my family!
So I smile and I say to the world this is fine, as these fucking parasites eat up my spine,
So I asked you once, and I’ll ask you again
Where do your roots start
And where do your roots end?

I bite down a little harder
My blades a little sharper
My roots, my roots
Run deep into the hollow

Strike back a little harder
I scream a little louder
My roots, my roots
Run deep into the hollow

I’m stronger than I ever knew
I’m strong because of you

I hit back a little louder
Fuck you a little harder
My roots, my roots
Run deep into the hollow

My roots, my roots
Run deep into the hollow
My roots, my roots
Run deep into the hollow

I’m stronger than I ever knew
I’m strong because of you

I hit back a little louder
Fuck you a little harder
My roots, my roots
Run deep into the hollow
My roots, my roots
Run deep into the hollow

My roots, my roots
Run deep into the hollow

My roots, my roots

♫♪♫ ❤ ♪♫♪

Songwriters: Maria Brink / Chris Howorth / Kevin Churko • Roots lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., BMG Rights Management

I do not own any rights to this song, lyrics, or video. All rights remain with the artists and their respective agents/labels. No copyright infringement intended.

#SongLyricSunday | I Get It – Chevelle

Chevelle performing at the White River Amphitheater 9/22/19

A couple weeks ago I shared pictures from Breaking Benjamin, but they weren’t the only band we got to see that night. They were actually the headliner of a 5 band concert that also included Threes Days Grace, Dorothy, Diamente, and Chevelle! 😀 #SLS is hosted by Jim over at A Unique Title For Me. Make sure to click on the theme link below to check out all of the other song choices for today!

This week’s theme is: Give|Get|Take|Receive|Send

My song covers the Get prompt, and is conveniently part of the title. This is an older song by Chevelle, but one of my favorites and I was happy for the chance to hear it live in concert, among all the others. Like a lot of their songs, “I Get It” is highly relatable. I think everyone’s had one of these jerks in their lives before, male or female – and some us, more than one! If you’re dealing with someone like this right now, hopefully this makes you feel a little better, or maybe gives you some ideas. 😈

Lead vocalist, Pete Loeffler

So you say you’re ignored
As it is
Well, give us your sad, sad trip

You’re right, I get it
It all makes sense, you’re the perfect person
So right, so wrong
Let’s all live in your imaginary life

Assumed it’s whether
We’re right, I’m wrong
We’re doomed, and there’s plenty for all

How dare you catch me counting
How dare you call at all
How dare you call it suffering
How dare you call at all

You’re right, I get it
It all makes sense, you’re the perfect person
So right, so wrong
Let’s all live in your imaginary life

Press on these tannins
They’re doubled in time
The touch of life, once failed to mention so far

Of course the la is fountains
Of face to face remorse
A fast and restless blackmail
Like pent-up fetish force

You’re right, I get it
It all makes sense, you’re the perfect person
So right, so wrong
Let’s all live in your imaginary life

Do you want enough?
Do you want it all?
Should you need it at all?
Takes a minute to see
Do you want enough?
Do you want it all?
Should you need it at all?
Do you want it or not?

You’re right, I get it
It all makes sense, you’re the perfect person
So right, so wrong
Let’s all live in your imaginary life

Life, life, life

♪♫♪ ❤ ♫♪♫

Songwriters: Peter Loeffler / Samuel Loeffler • I Get It lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc

Pete Loeffler

I do not own any rights to this song, video, or lyrics. All rights remain with the artists and their respective agents/labels. No copyright infringement intended.

I DO own all photos of Chevelle in this post. They are not free to use without permission.

Dear Indie | I Didn’t Know I Could Do That! (Free resource post)

Hi Indies!

Did you know you could make your own vectors AND remove the backgrounds from any image for FREE –without using Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, or Gimp?

I didn’t! Not until I was determined to combine one of my drawings with a photo. Normally, I would purposely set out to find two images with the same color background, so I can use the “arrangement” feature to lay one on top of the other…

Um…

Since that obviously wasn’t going to work having different color backgrounds, I tried using the transparent filter to make one bleed through the other, but it was way too faint…

Yikes!

Frustrated that I wasn’t getting the effect I was looking for, I thought about my last couple of resource posts and how I’d run across that site with a free SVG editor and got the idea that maybe if I could turn my drawing into a vector, instead, then I might be able to give it a transparent background.

I found this free site: PNG or JPG to SVG Converter. It took some messing around with the palettes to get the colors just right, but the nice thing is that you don’t have to download anything until you’re happy. You do, however, have to re-generate your SVG image if you don’t like the end result because it will only let you change each palette color one time, as you can see here:

In this screen shot, I’ve already changed the first two colors on my vector, if I get done and decide the second one isn’t dark/light enough, I have to click “Generate” under the original image on the left and start all over again.

Once I was really happy with the colors and downloaded my new vector, I went back to the site: Public Domain Vectors and used their free editor to turn my SVG file into a PNG. Unfortunately, this did not automatically make the background transparent the way I thought it would.

So, I went back to Google and found this awesome and super handy site that I foresee myself using A LOT in the future, called: Online PNG Tools. If you’re just wanting to remove the background of a picture, of course you would just start here and skip the whole SVG vector creation part. Scroll to the bottom of the site’s page to see all of their available tools. I haven’t checked them out yet, but I didn’t notice any SVG tools, so I will still have to hop around a few different sites to complete one image from my artwork, but it’s better than not being able to do it at all – or worse, having to pay someone else to do it for me!

And so, with my newly created clip art, I was finally able to create the graphic I was hoping for. Truthfully, it was just for a blog post, but hey, at least now I know how to do this for marketing purposes! 😀

❤ Until next time, Indies!

Legal: The artwork depicted in this post is copyrighted by me and may not be used for any reason. Thank you!

My Review | The Red Ledger 1 by: Meredith Wild

Blurb

He’s death for hire…

Some people measure life in hours. Days. Weeks. I measure mine in kills. A covert military mission gone wrong robbed me of my memory and any link to my past. This is my existence now. I execute and survive. Nothing more, nothing less. I was ready to write Isabel Foster’s name in my ledger of unfortunate souls until she uttered the one word that could stop the bullet meant for her. My name.

She knows my face. She knows me. She’s the key to the memories I’m not sure I want back. Now nothing is simple. I still have a job to do, and my soul isn’t worth saving. I’m not the man she thinks I am. I can’t love her. And sparing her life puts us both in the crosshairs.

FREE on Amazon

❤ My Review ❤

Title: The Red Ledger 1 | Author: Meredith Wild | Genre: Romantic Suspense | Rating: 5 Stars

I read this all in one sitting, I could not put it down! The story opens right up in Rio during Carnival, an exciting way to start, and it just escalated from there when I found myself already on the edge of my seat, biting my nails and wondering if the woman I’d just started getting a feel for was about to get a bullet in her brain. I don’t want to give too much away, only expanding a little on the blurb.

This book was intense and an emotional roller-coaster as both Isabel and Tristan struggle to find some kind of middle ground when she can remember him as the love of her life, and he can’t remember a thing–yet everything about her feels familiar. It was exceptionally wrenching at some points because Tristan’s had a number worked on him, leaving him with the ability to become cold and inhumanly detached in a heartbeat.

The supporting cast in this first installment was also a nice touch, leaving the reader guessing at the sincerity of some friendships. As you’re dragged deeper into the chaos triggered by Tristan’s decision to save Isabel, you’ll become less and less trusting of those who seek to help them and find yourself waiting for traps to spring.

The only negative I can point out is the clichéd trope of: man rescues woman, tells her repeatedly how much danger they’re in, yet woman still tries to take off without him, anyway, to go right back to the very place he’d just saved her from. Ugh. Sorry, but it’s just overdone. I’m still giving this 5 stars, though, because it was really good!

This is an honest review of a book I purchased, I have not been provided any kind of compensation for it from the author.

#SongLyricSunday | Away – Breaking Benjamin

Breaking Benjamin performing at the White River Amphitheater 9/22/19.

I mean…you knew this was coming, right? I can’t mention Breaking Benjamin in a post and then NOT pick one of their songs the following week. 😀 Gaw, I’m still gushing and just look at that full sleeve tattoo! *melts into chair* And for how close he looks here, it was even closer in real life. I could have just squeezed between 2 people and touched him, but, you know…security. 😐

#SLS is hosted by Jim over at A Unique Title For Me. Click on the theme link below to join along, or to hear all of the other song choices for today!

This week’s theme is: Listen|Hear|Talk|Speak

My song pick is for Hear. Another classic BB song from the original band, released in 2004 on their album, We Are Not Alone. I have a sad confession: I spent many years believing he was saying “I’m coming to take you away” NOT “They’re coming to take you away,” which for a super Ben Burnley fan like me was soooooooo much hotter and fantasy-inducing. But, this is still a sexy-ass song and of course, packed with powerful, passionate vocals, and screamy grrr…’cause, duh.

Benjamin “Ben” Burnley

Fun Facts From Their Concert Witnessed By Me – no Wikipedia needed:

  • Between sets, Ben noticed some kids in the audience and jumped off stage – you should’ve seen his security scramble to go after him, LOL! Ben escorted the kids and their parent(s) up on stage to join his VIP groups already there. One little girl was holding a sign and he led her up to the very front of the stage and asked her name, then asked if it was her birthday, to which she said “Yes” and he asked, “How old are you?” and she said “Eight.” And then, he preceded to have all of us in the audience sing “Happy Birthday” to her. I’ve never seen a kid smile so big – it was awesome, and will undoubtedly be a lifelong memory for that little girl! 😀
  • At one point Ben started talking about embracing your geek side, as stagehands rolled some weird looking thing out on stage in the dark area where we couldn’t see (and I was only about 2 rows back from the stage). After going on about our inner-geeks, Ben ended his speech with: “Because, you know I’ve already embraced my DARKSIDE!” (Yeah, he growled it just like you imagined) – at which time a handful of red Lightsabers lit up (exactly like they sound in the movies) attached to a drum set, that he then started drumming away on and it was the most geektastic, rockgasmic thing I’ve ever seen or experienced in my entire life. Then, he gave the Lightsabers to his VIP kids, as you can see below in a really blurry pic. LOL
  • Not a Fun Fact: I caught 95% of the concert on video, including the Lightsaber experience, but have yet to find a way to upload any of the videos onto my laptop – nothing I’ve tried so far is working! 😐
L-R: Keith Wallen & Ben Burnley both on guitar with lucky Lightsaber VIP kids in background (Pic is blurry due to red light saturation, sorry).

Cold am I, I’m beside myself
Because there’s no one else
Have I grown so blind?
Only God could save you
If you knew your way to the light
So fly away and leave it behind
Just stay awake
There’s nowhere to hide

I see you
‘Cause you won’t get out of my way
I hear you
‘Cause you won’t quit screaming my name
I feel you
‘Cause you won’t stop touching my skin
I need you
They’re coming to take you away

Frail and dry, I could lose it all
But I cannot recall, it’s all wrong
Don’t cry, clear away this hate
And we could start to make it alright
So fly away and leave it behind
Return someday
With red in your eyes

I see you
‘Cause you won’t get out of my way
I hear you
‘Cause you won’t quit screaming my name
I feel you
‘Cause you won’t stop touching my skin
I need you
They’re coming to take you away

I see you
‘Cause you won’t get out of my way
I hear you
‘Cause you won’t quit screaming my name
I feel you
‘Cause you won’t stop touching my skin
I need you
They’re coming to take you away (away)

“Away” as written by Jeremy Hummel & Benjamin Burnley • Lyrics © Walt Disney Music Company

And, we’re out..

I do not own any rights to this song, lyrics or the video. All rights remain with the artists and their respective agents/labels. No copyright infringement intended.

I DO own all of the pictures of Breaking Benjamin in this post, so please ask before using any of them! Thank you.

Meet The Character | The Last Descendant

Everyone knows my story. It was a fucking blockbuster hit. But, they say truth is stranger than fiction. In my case, it’s just more depressing. No one would be applauding if they really knew all the things I’ve done; the accomplishments I let burn, and lives I destroyed when my own was in chaos. Fire may have been the start, orphaning me as a man, after I’d already been orphaned as a newborn. I was a rising star in the art world, a successful painter with a wealthy patron and my own gallery on the Cornish Coast.

I’ve also been a thief from early on, honing my skills on the streets of London. Hobbies are a healthy break from the monotony, any expert will tell you that.

But, I went mental to the point of utter detachment, returning to lucidity with no recollection. I lost days, possibly weeks all in one go, painting nightmarish portraits of evil, obscene landscapes of blood and depravity. I lived on whiskey and a will that wasn’t my own; a marionette caught in the twisted strings of my feverish mind.

Therapy was a last, desperate attempt to claw my way out. Instead, I was pushed beyond the brink of madness and that’s where I found clarity. It can happen. You can go so crazy you come out sane again on the other side. But, it’s a different kind of sane. It’s the irrevocable death of your former self. I was reborn scarred, changed, unable to return to the life I’d known. I closed my gallery, packed all of my possessions into storage, and abandoned the only family I had left. A clean break. I can’t hurt the ones I love if I’m not there, if they don’t have to hear my voice over the phone reminding them of the damage already wrought.

Across the pond, I kept my skills honed in Vegas, while learning new, highly pleasurable ones and working as a strip-club bouncer. That’s where they found me, all the ones who would turn my life into something only ever seen in movies, setting me on the path to becoming a vampire, and a prince.

Albeit, a prince of Hollywood, but for Americans that’s the closest thing they’ve got to royalty. So, I walk the red carpet same as I’ve done for three years now. I smile for the cameras, as every flashing bulb hurls me back to a rainy afternoon in a London cemetery–and I hate every fucking minute of their repetitive questions.

They want to know if I’ll make another movie, if I’ll play the same role the way my costars have, and the answer is always, agonizingly yes. Legend Studios has a running series and we’re all contracted to fulfill our character obligations. Whatever Evelyn wants, Evelyn gets. She rules our existence; controls our fates. If she wants the vampire, the last descendant of the Order of the Dragon, then she gets him.

When I left England, it was never with the intention of forging kinships again, but the running joke of my life has cast two new brothers for me. Much like this version of sanity, my bond with them is different. My siblings back home were family without blood because we came up together. With Trystan and Dorian, it’s the brotherhood of soldiers fighting the same war, suffering the same tragedies and injustices. We have a common enemy, and she’s drug us across the fucking country to scout a new filming location.

A new movie can only mean one thing: our family’s in danger of getting bigger. My mates and I are on guard, watching Evelyn to see who she’s watching. Keeping track of those she takes a keen interest to. So far, she only seems focused in the filming site. At her request, I seek out the man with the answer on whether or not she gets to use it.

I already know it will be a cold day in hell before Evelyn takes no for an answer, regardless of what the man says, but I do as I’m told like the good soldier I’ve never been. The sexy brunette that runs smack into me in the parking lot is a thrilling, unexpected distraction. I can’t recall the last time I’ve felt this kind of intense chemistry straight off. Discovering that she’s the one with the answer I need doesn’t deter me from pursuing more than just a business deal.

And it’s dangerous, I know. I’m losing sight of the mission, taking my attention off the enemy for the much better view of golden-green eyes and a mouth made for sin. But, I ca’t help it, her ignorance is just as enticing as her clever humor and gorgeous body. She’s never heard of Legend Studios before, isn’t familiar with any of their movies.

Kallie’s got to be the only woman on earth who has no idea about who or what I am. She’s never seen the vampire, the last Dracul, and I’m in no hurry to change that. To her, I’m just Luke, the infuriatingly quick-witted, silver-tongued Brit that can’t get enough of seeing her all flustered and blushing.

And when she threatens to douse me with mace if I get too cheeky, it’s a challenge I simply can’t turn away from. The feisty little Historian is about to learn that I am a man of many skills.

~ Lucien Alexander Drake

Click Image for Book Description

Dear Indie | Writing Challenges & Word Counts

Hi Indies!

This is just a quickie. I’m not promoting or being sponsored by Reedsy, I swear–but, I wanted to share that they have weekly writing challenges on their site that pay out $50 a week to winners. So, if you love writing challenges and fancy a go, you might want to check that out. Also, their writing prompts are a bit like challenges, too, only without the payout, and the best part is that they offer prompts for different genres.

I also came across 10 free lessons for writing “Short Stories.” Now, I was reading 300+ page novels as a young teen, so when I used to hear “short story,” to me that was anything under like 80,000 words. I had to cut out 3,000 words to meet my publisher’s word count limit of 100k words on my first published novel. Actually, on every novel they’ve published – but my point is: What exactly is your idea of a full-length novel, novella, and short story?

I now know, thanks the NaNoWriMo, that 50,000 words is considered a full-length novel, yet some people say it can actually be between 40-50,000 to be considered full-length. 😐 Really? That’s half a book! So what do you call a 100,000 word novel, then, a double-length novel???

Honestly, I was excited about the free lessons, because I know I can’t keep things short (see? I called this a quickie, and yet here we are) But, according to them, a short story is no longer than 20,000 words and I’m looking at that like “Yeah…that’s not happening.” That’s a submission to the Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine, which granted, would be a ‘short story’ by definition, but like…shorter. More like an essay.

If my book is under 100,000 words in length – guaranteed it’s part of a series. The whole story is not beginning and ending between those two covers. Especially, considering that I have actual series where each book is 100k words. But, I’m really TRYING to write a “shorter” stand alone novel, and the struggle is real y’all. It’s real.

❤ What do you think about novels lengths and their word counts? Any tips on how to write shorter books?