Beware: DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T READ KING *yes, it’s shouty capitals important*
“Forget your key again, sis?” My sister laughs as she lets me into the house. Her tiny mouth is curved in an amused grin, blue eyes sparking with cheer.
“Something like that,” I grumpily mumble, trying to hide my accent. It’s always exhausting to be what I’m not, so it makes me mean and nasty. “Here,” I say, while pulling the Id from my pocket. “You did well on the entrance examine. No Fundamentals of Mathematics for you. I did real good.”
“Sis, you have to try harder,” Fate chastises me. If her voice had held mocking pity I would’ve been even angrier, but she’s just trying to teach me right. “It’s ‘I did really well.’ You start Hillbrook in a few days. You can’t go another year without talking. They will eat you alive, and I won’t be able to protect you. You need to worry about appearances, especially with this scandal.” Her expression pinches when she thinks of what Daddy did to the people of this city. She isn’t sad that he’s in jail, like I am. She’s mad that he made us look bad.
“And here, I thought I was the one always protecting my big sister,” I tease, drawing her away from Daddy’s scandal. Ordinarily it don’t bother me much when she picks on my diction, but Wil’s words hit deep. “You could’ve said thanks,” I grumble- thanks for taking my test, Faith. Thanks for protecting me against the mean-looking boy, Faith. Thanks for living a different life so that momma wouldn’t be mean to me, Faith. Thanks for being the best sister in the world, Faith. But Fate, she is blind to all things Faith-related.
“Thanks,” she bubbly squeaks, not knowing why she’s thanking me. “Hungry?” Fate hops on her heels, her ponytail happily bobbing at the back of her head. She looks and acts my age, but deep inside, I feel older than her. It’s why I have to be the adult when she’s the big sister.
I roll my eyes at her and head towards the kitchen. “You’d die without me. I’ll work on my English if you work on your passive-aggressiveness. Just ask for something if you want it.”
“I’m hungry,” she whines. “Will you feed me, please?” She bats her long, blonde eyelashes and smiles sweetly.
“Worst day of your life so far was when the staff was let go, wasn’t it?” I shake my head in disgust. I fix her a peanut butter and jelly while we chat. Fate isn’t even capable of that.
“It was,” she says, bashfully hiding her face as she sits at the kitchen island.
“Sis, you have to learn how to take care of yourself. Now that you’re broke, you’re going to have to do this stuff yourself. You’re an adult now. Even the state won’t take you in.” I shudder from the thought.
Momma tried to give me to the state when Daddy brought me home. Apparently you don’t bring your dirty little secret home to your wife and expect her to keep it. No one in my parents’ social circles knows that I ain’t momma’s. They compromised. Daddy’s sister, Amelia, took me in, and I only come around when we need to keep up appearances. It would have looked strange if I didn’t go to Hillbrook. I’m starting my sophomore year in a few days. Ordinarily I wouldn’t be home until the night before school started, but Daddy’s arrest trumped everything. Dirty secret’s home and Momma’s pretending we’re a happy family.
“Couldn’t we have something better than pb&j?” Fate complains, smushing her face up in revulsion. She pokes at the bread and peeks between the slices.
“I know your palate is diverse,” I grin at her and she giggles. “How’s that for vocabulary, sis? I ate this for months at a time. You better get used to it. No money, no food.”
“I could go visit Regina, I suppose,” she sighs, a calculating light shines from her eyes- one I loathe. She takes an experimental bite of the sandwich, slowly chews, smiles to herself when she deems it tasty, and then takes a huge bite.
Sometimes I hate my sister. She is the most entitled, self-deluded person I’ve ever met. You can’t help but love her because she is blind to the fact. She ain’t doing it to be mean, she just don’t get it. After the day I’ve had, I feel my temperature rising.
“You shouldn’t use people like that, Fate,” I scold her, when usually I keep my trap shut. “It’s rude.”
“I’m not using her. She’s my best friend. Besides, she gets lonely in that huge house. She isn’t even allowed to eat in the big dining room, can you believe that?”
Blind. Blind. Blind. I repeat this so my hand doesn’t fly out and smack the entitlement from her perfect face.
“Wouldn’t have any idea what that’s like,” I sarcastically say. “No clue. How awful that must be for Regina.”
My daddy doted on me to make up for the life I was born into. He gave me endless attention. He’d spend time with me in West Virginia. He didn’t buy my love, he earned it. I want to resent him for not sticking up for me with Momma, but I can see where he’s coming from. I’d rather live real life with Aunt Amelia than this fake life. Momma and Fate are learning how easy it is to lose money. If you ain’t got a brain in your head, you’ll lie down and die. They’re dying and I’m resuscitating.
When I came home for important events, I was told to keep my mouth shut. Being quiet for Wil will be easy. I’ve went weeks without speaking to anyone but Daddy and Fate. And when my sister makes fun of me, my mouth don’t open for a long while.
I really like Regina. She thinks like me. So I just roll my eyes that Fate is upset that her friend has to eat prime rib in any room except the main dining room. Fate’s too delusional to realize she’s just making excuses to eat fine cuisine. Ironically, Fate failed to see her sister eating in her bedroom. I always ate what the staff ate. Momma had no need for Daddy’s bastard to eat her frilly food.
Only reason I’m roaming free is that Momma won’t leave her room and the staff is gone. Someone needs to do the cooking and cleaning for the blind. I do it because they’re incapable. Making a peanut butter sandwich is as advanced for them as brain surgery is for me.
“I’m going to see Daddy tomorrow. You going with?” I wipe down the kitchen while Fate eats her dinner. I pour her a glass of milk to go with it. I don’t eat. I have my own stuff in my room. Stuff I bought with my own money. I don’t want nothing from Momma, even if it did originate from Daddy.
“Dad doesn’t want to see me,” Fate grumbles while chewing.
“You lie,” I growl. “You’re making excuses. You’re acting just like Momma.”
“That’s because I’m too much like Mom. Dad doesn’t like me like he loves you. You’re his protégée.” She sounds hurt because I’m my daddy’s girl.
“That’s not really a compliment anymore, ya know. It’s like saying I’m destined to become a career criminal. Momma won’t even be in the same room with me. You heard her this morning. She said I was tainted by Daddy and my whore of a mother. She said Aunt Amelia was teaching me to be a con like Daddy. You think I don’t see her looking at me sideways? She thinks I’m up to no good. Like I’m going to steal my own dang silver and pawn it.”
“Mom’s not doing well, you know that. She hasn’t been out of her room for a few days. The problem is that you don’t see what Dad did as wrong. It was, Faith. It was wrong to scam all of those families out of money. He wasn’t being Robin Hood; he was keeping it for himself.”
“You don’t seem to have a problem spending that money, Fate,” I snap. “Your fancy clothes and your fancy schools weren’t free. Those families paid for it.”
“Don’t start this again.” She uses that tone that means I’m being insufferable. It’s the same one her mom uses. I loathe that tone, it sets off my temperature. “I know it bothers you that you grew up differently from me.”
“That’s got nothing to do with this. I don’t want that shit! I don’t care anything about it. I had everything I needed and more. I just want him out of prison, but you and Momma want him there. So yeah, it’s been started now, sister,” I snarl. I fling the dishcloth into the sink, preparing to throw down with my delusional sister.
“It was wrong,” she calmly says. Fate never loses her temper. She just backs down. I used to think it was because she thought she was better than me, now I think she’s too weak to fight back.
“It wrong, huh?” I slap my hand down on the kitchen island to gain her attention, and then I swipe her half-eaten sandwich away. I chuck the sandwich and the plate into the trash. She hungry, she can smear some bread. She thirsty, she can pour her own dang milk. I’m not her servant, I’m her sister, and this house is mine just as much as it is hers or Momma’s. I grab her glass of milk and toss it into the sink. The glass breaks, spraying milk everywhere. I ain’t cleaning it up, either.
“That, sure as shit, didn’t stop Momma from going to spas and taking vacays. You didn’t stop spending money on purses that cost more than Aunt Amelia’s trailer. Daddy may have stolen that money, but he worked hard for it. And you and Momma worked just as hard spending it.”
“There is no sense even talking to you when you get this way,” Fate says, walking away from me.
“Really,” I screech, “Really? You had no problem with me taking your SATs two years ago or your college entrance exams today. That’s was a crime. You making your baby sister a criminal. You making your Daddy a criminal to pay for your elitist bullshit. You just spent it and turned a blind eye to where it came from. And now you have no problem spending the money I worked for.”
“What are we supposed to do, Faith, starve? Our accounts were seized and this house is next. We have weeks, maybe less, until we’re homeless.”
“I don’t expect you to starve, Fate. I expect you to get a damn job or pawn your shit or treat me with some respect. I’m not the hillbilly moron you call me behind my back, and then have the nerve to ask to take your tests.”
“You offered,” Fate lamely replies, no shame in her tone. Her patronizing voice sets me off like a timer on a bomb.
“And you took me up on it,” I scream. I curl my fingers into my palms, curbing the need to pick up the wrought-iron stool Fate was sitting on and smash it into the French doors- anything to get her attention- to impart some dang knowledge in her blank skull.
“I can’t get a job. I have to go to school.” Even heated, she doesn’t raise her voice… and boy, if that don’t make me meaner than cat shit. Her innocent expression ramps up my temper to murderous-violence levels.
“Great. That’s great. I’ve been working for three years, saving for my future. That’s the money you’re spending now. So as you bitch about pb&j, you’re spending a fifteen-year-old’s future. My nineteen-year-old princess of a sister can’t get a job because she has college after she spent an entire year touring Europe and sitting on her ass. Well, no shocker here, but I have to go to HIGH SCHOOL,” I scream bloody murder. “One year ago, I graduated from junior high. You’re the adult!”
“Which is evident by the way you speak, isn’t it?” her haughty attitude dominates her voice. “If you’d go to school, you wouldn’t sound like an idiot.”
I’m stunned speechless at the level of disrespect and blindness. “Wow… just wow… You completely missed the mark on that one, sister. But thanks,” I seethe. “I’m the moron that’s too stupid for school, but smart enough to be used by you. Here, I thought I spoke like this because I was tossed from my home by my momma because she didn’t want me no more. I see this accent as a badge of honor. It means I’m not as ignorant as you. But nope, everyone here thinks it’s from a lack of intelligence. How intelligent are you, with your pretty soft spoken words, sister?”
“You’re upset and using me to vent. I will leave you to it,” Fate calmly says and heads for the front door.
“You need a dose of reality, Fate. Do you really think Daddy and I take care of you and Momma out of love? We do it because you’re weak. It’d be like tossing a dog out in the cold or throwing a baby in a dumpster. I have too much humanity for that. Today, I had to pretend to be you to save you and it goes unthanked. You’re my responsibility now that Daddy can’t take care of you. But you know what, eventually I may cut the dead weight,” I threaten.
“Are you saying you don’t love me?” She whines, her blue eyes glistening with unshed tears. Usually that would have me backing down, but not today.
“Are you saying you love me? Because from where I stand, you only love what I can do for you, same goes for Daddy. He stole, you spent, and you leave him to rot. You and Momma are leeches, sucking us dry.”
“Why are you so nasty? I’ll be at Regina’s,” she cries, heading towards the door.
“Have fun with that. Pretty sure you’ll be leeching off of her next, but maybe she’ll make you work for it. Tell the Whittenhowers I said hi!”
I trudge up to my room, pounding my feet on the stair treads. A lot of good it does me since I only weigh eighty pounds. I don’t make the impact I was hoping for. But it doesn’t matter since I see her leaning on my door and my temperature boils over.
“Don’t get too comfy, Momma. This ain’t your house no more. You always called my mom a whore because she spread her legs for Daddy. Well, what do you call what you do? You’re worthless. You do nothing but bleed Daddy dry and act all uppity about it.”
Momma looks me over for a long while. She looks disgusted that she likes what she sees. Well, I don’t like what I see. I see a dried-up desperate woman. Lara loves plastic surgery. It’s not making her look younger, just funny. I wonder if she’s jealous of Fate and me. Lara with her bleached hair, brown eyes contacted in blue, and her augmented body. Her daughters are what she’s tried to change herself into… and failed.
“Gwen was a blight on the area. Lord knows how many kids that woman has floating around. She sold you back to your father. What kind of mother does that? I haven’t treated you the best, but I never sold you.”
“You woulda if you coulda, though. Ain’t that right, Lara? I ain’t calling you Momma no more. We ain’t kin. You already sold Daddy out to the Feds,” I hiss in disgust.
“You’re all alike.” She deeply sighs, like this conversation is inconveniencing her. “Amelia raised Tom and Tom and Amelia raised you… con-artist, the lot of you. I’d thought Tom had changed, but all he did was get better at it.”
“Like you didn’t know Daddy was a criminal.” I roll my eyes at the absurdity of it. “You love to judge while you turn a blind eye on what you’re doing. You’re worse than he ever thought of being. I want you out of my house. It’s not yours. It’s Daddy’s, so it mine and Fate’s now. We’ll be here until we’re kicked out. I promised I’d take care of Fate, but I never said nothing about you. I don’t care how bad Fate acts, I’ll take care of her. But, you and I, we ain’t blood.”
“Good luck with that,” she evilly purrs, heading towards her room. “You know where to find me.”
I can’t speak how this is for all writers, but I can speak for myself. Fans are the driving force for me, while writing is the compulsion. I write because I must. There is no getting around it.
When I was a teenager I’d get my journal out and pour my soul onto the pages. As a teenager, I wasn’t much different than I am now, so that journal wasn’t used often because I’d feared people reading it. Always been a bit paranoid and pessimistic. I lucked out that I had an English Teacher that made us write our asses off. Honors English had a larger course load than it’s counterpart. I wrote- a lot. I also wrote a lot of dark poetry to take the edge off. I started my first novel at age 14- Philadelphia- after a teenage girl with the same name. Sadly, I’ve lost that budding manuscript.
I’d place my father’s hand-me-down crappy typewriter on my bed, pull up my white metal folding chair and get to work. Whiteout! Whiteout is my friend. & thank you, baby Jesus, that I have laptops now. I heart the backspace and delete buttons!!! I hated, HATED writing with a typewriter and my hands are fragile- weak- I HATED long-hand as well.
My next foray into writing was love notes, or maybe hate notes is more accurate. I’d pour page after page of teenage angst into letters and hand them off to my at-the-time future-husband, now future-ex-husband. I will happily say that I moved up into the world by writing these masterpieces in the privacy of word processing class *snickers* *cough cough* (I had 100% in both of the classes I took with this teacher- WP & Accounting) My typing/Accounting teacher was impressed with my skills- I had enough practice. & I spent half the day in that room my senior year.
…& since I was still a control freak back then with OCD tendencies, I had a favorite keyboard. If my keyboard wasn’t at my station, I’d go to all 30+ computers until I found it, unplug the bitch, and take it. The teacher would patiently wait until I found it- by mid-semester, I had help locating the bitch. It was a softtouch keyboard- no clickity-clackity sounds. I can still feel the smooth texture beneath my fingertips. I also cleaned the keys everyday. The other students knew better than to complain- by the end of the year, they were handing it to me when I entered the room, like an offering. Gotta love underclassmen. I wasn’t the only one obsessed with this keyboard because someone was jacking my keyboard on a daily basis during the previous class… or maybe it was someone who was jerking my chain.
I only ever had one disagreement with that teacher & I believe that she never even checked my work, just automatically gave me 100%. I never use the right-hand shift or use my right thumb for the spacebar. After about 20 nagging sessions of her complaining about this, she learned never to argue with me- I’m stubborn and left-handed- and never lose an argument. To this day, that right-hand shift has never been utilized and I’ve worn holes in the left-hand side of my spacebar on every laptop I own.
Ah! I loved that class and that daft teacher. It was where I first learned the system of student id numbers and hacked into accounts and deleted certain people’s saved work… or just read their private shit. It was so easy and oh so tempting. You really shouldn’t give out id’s by alphabetical order and siblings. After a few tries, I figured out the system. Yes, I have a bit of Regina in me…. and a whole heluva lot of Syn.
My writing continued on with the Hate notes- as a married woman to a man that drove her batshit-fucking-crazy, there was plenty of hate notes. One time it was 20+pages- hand written, so you know I meant business since I hate writing long-hand. When I got my laptop, I used to write him hate notes and never print them. I had a whole file of the bastards. Since I’m no longer with him, you could say I had plenty of complaints.
(Btw, I am a very quiet, nice person. Above kinda paints me in a bitch-light. I will do and do and I’m a great friend. But I am not passive-aggressive. You disrespect me and you won’t like the consequences. I can only be a doormat for so long. So any wrong-doing on my part was instigated by a heluva lot of nastiness on their part. They learned to not mess around w/the quiet girl that was smarter than them. I also never told them how or why their work was gone. It added an extra feeling of pleasure as they tried to figure out what the hell happened. It just POOF-ed into thin air! I also will use the hormonal teenage girl defense.)
My writing reminds me of steam from a pressure cooker- without it, I would explode or maybe, implode. At the end of my marriage, I started reading like a lunatic and finally started writing again, not hate notes but an actual novel. It wasn’t until after I left my husband that I realized this was the path I wanted to take in life. Writing isn’t a career choice, it’s a lifestyle.
I write every day. It may not be on a manuscript- blog posts, emails and messages, lists and goals. Regardless of what, I write at least a couple thousand words a day. It’s my release.
That is why I write, but the Fans are the ones that inspire me to keep writing stories. Often there are times that I feel discouraged. Not with writing- I will always write. But with sharing my written words- my stories. Reviews, hate mail, passive-aggressive helpful hints, bitch slaps through the laptop screen- they are very demotivational. I can always just write something to relieve the pressure- it doesn’t have to be a novel. But the true fans take that need to write and transform it into a universe worth visiting.
My fans put a grin on my face that is so wide that my skin feels tight! On a daily basis I get emails, messages, blog and FB comments. Fans read my books and reread them again. It doesn’t feed my ego, it fills this empty place inside of me that longs to create. I’ve virtually met so many interesting, inspiring people. Reading discussion threads that I long to dive in and join but fear I will reveal too much or seeing one fan turn another reader into a fan drives me, forces me, to keep writing when I feel discouraged. I love that I create that feeling within my readers that Richelle Mead, LKH, and Harrison elicited within me when I chatted with my bookmates. I’m not saying I’m on their level, but it feels damn fine to know that I’m eliciting emotions and long-lasting thoughts within my readers’ minds!
There is another type of reader that pulls my heartstrings. The type of reader I am as well. I’ve been contacted by countless readers about my dark subject matter. I use writing as an outlet for emotions that I can’t explain or understand. I read for that same reason. Victims of violence reach out to me and thank me for helping them sort out these feelings- while they may not have words to put with the emotions, they find a way to cope- a way to turn the victim mentality to living the life of a survivor .
My female characters are never weak. Several are submissive, males too. But I don’t find submission a weakness, it’s a choice. My characters go through painful life-altering events and come out the other side empowered and filled with hope. I feel a sense of contentment knowing I can give that to my readers.
That is the why of it- why I write and why I write stories. Hope you enjoyed a look into my twisted mind!
2 of my betas have read part 1 of Faithless. I used them to bounce ideas off of and ask questions and firm up my writing before the completed manuscript is sent off to the rest of the betas. Sass brought up a good point that I thought I should hit on.
*Mild spoilers for those who have not read up to KING.*
Don’t read if you haven’t read up to Book #8. I warned you- you better have listened or Mistress will get her pen out and write naughty, angry words about you. *snickers*
Torian Spencer. We know he is Syn’s nephew, but we don’t know how he is her nephew. Sass does now after reading part 1, but she was curious as to why she’d never heard from his parents in earlier? Later? books. Faithless part 1 is set in the same time frame as Jaded. So I will go with earlier than KING.
Answer: Point of View.
Restraint & Unleashed: Katya Waters knows none of the people in the M&M universe. She is in the dark. Her only connection to the people is through Ezra, and later, Cortez. & Let’s face it, Ezra is a shady dude. If you’ve read King, you know Ezra doesn’t even know half of the stuff he’s done when his alters are driving the bus. So do you really believe Katya knows anything… Kat is blind to everything… Blind.
Dexter: Dexter is living a normal life with an interesting hobby. He grew up, was best buds with Marcus and Grant, and went to college. He has a career and a wife… and a Tobias for his needs. Other than Restraint, he is out of the loop on just about everything & he wants it that way. He wants to live his life and not be bothered. He is a private kinda guy. Marcus is is his link & as you’ve found out during KING, poor Marcus was in the dark.
Dalton: Dalton was raised in Las Vegas. He doesn’t know anyone, not really. He knows Marcus and his own retinue from LV. During his book he learned things from Olivia. It was during KING that Dalton learned a lot, more than Whitt was learning. Dalton is tight-lipped to save his partner- obviously KING’s epilogue is building towards something…
Queen omnibus: Teenage Regina was in the dark. Mourning Regina was in the dark. Empowered Regina only knew Marcus’ light. Since Marcus was on the wrong path, so was Regina.
KING: Whitt can’t know what he doesn’t know. He learns a lot in the epilogue, but we read it in Ezra’s voice. ‘Daniel’ *he just yelled at me for calling him Whitt* learns a lot from Syn in the final chapters of Faithless, and a whole heluva lot during Silence- the epilogue builds to Silence.
Faithless: Syn is all-knowing. She knows everyone and everything. and readers will too by book’s end. Syn ghosts about, stalks everyone, and is the keeper of secrets. She is tight-lipped because if she speaks, lies and secrets spill from her mouth.
My reason for this post, characters are fictional people. They can only know what they see, experience, feel, and who they interact with. Example: Pre-Restraint, Kat and Dalton would never have crossed paths, so how could they possibly know one another. You can only know what you’ve been told, shown, or experienced, just as real life.
You will meet new people during Faithless that you didn’t meet in earlier books. They were there living their lives, but it was off scene. Faithless, you see what Syn and a few others were doing ‘off scene’ during those books. Same as how you saw characters who were ‘off scene’ during books 1-4 during Queen’s books.
You have to read a book from multiple Point of views to get a full picture of the story unfolding. I don’t know if I will do another parallel storyline. Cortez’s book, The Hunter, begins with a memory, goes right into a living nightmare, and takes us through his relationship with his loved ones. It’s not really like Queen & Faithless- flow wise. Silence will show glimpses of the past, but will be in the present. That epilogue is basically where Silence begins. I don’t want readers to have to read the same story over and over, but some spots must be shown not told. Such as the living Nightmare of Ezra, Cortez, and Aaron. Other stories won’t be shown at all- I believe that Wil won’t ever get a book. You will just experience him through all the others.
It’s difficult for me to make these decisions. Who gets their story told, how it’s told, what parts should be in real time vs memories or conversations. Like do I give readers Marcus in Las Vegas or just have him think about it. Queen and Faithless work because the readers were ignorant to what else was happening in that time frame, but at the same time I don’t want to be treading water, I want to move the story forward.
Info on Faithless release. No idea, guys. Sorry if it feels like a delay. It’s only been 7 weeks since I published KING. That’s it. feels like an eternity to me. My progress on Faithless is 2/3 thru part 2 of 3. It’s already the longest book I’ve ever written and I’m a lil over halfway finished with the manuscript. After completion, I reread, rewrite, reread again, send to betas, enact their edits & take their questionnaires into mind, I reread and rewrite a final time before publication. I do not know when this will happen- not 6 months or anything like that, but I will not rush it. I’ve already changed my mind on some major shit. I want no regrets, so no rushing. Faithless is also the equivalent of 5 of its predecessors, so that is why the book will take a lot of patience, effort, and time.
Some parts of Faithless are the most brutal things I’ve ever written, but at the same time, some of the sweetest and kindest. I’ve surpassed my boundaries and hopefully the readers will too.
Faithless is the ultimate puzzle that interlocks the previous books and opens a canvas for future books in the M&M of Restraint universe.
Welcome to the Wet&Wild BlogHop!
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I’ve had a lot of stops and starts with Faithless. I believe I’ve attempted to write it 5 or 6 times, and then I burn the hell out. In the past, I’ve written books in one sitting. What I mean by that, is that nothing distracts me until the first draft is completed. I won’t read, watch tv, shop. Usually I ignore small things *cough cough* major things: Family. Responsibilities. Hygiene (um, I’m clean, dammit!) (HA!) I have two feet of natural curly hair so it gets ignored by being twisted on my head- washed, not combed, and tied the hell up. I feel mildly guilty over the fact that I am well on my way to dreadlocks. I think I could pull it off. & it’s sundress weather- time to break out the razor and paint the tootsies 😉
Faithless has been different. I will make huge headway over a period of 4-5 days, and then burn the hell out. One reason is that Faithless is like the length of the first 5 books in the M&M series. It took me a while to figure out that was some of it. I HAD written the length of a first draft, just not the length of Faithless’ first draft.
This time around, I’ve dicked off. I’ve worked on Wicked Reads stuff. Played around on the websites. All in the name of saying I’m doing something productive in my career. I don’t believe in play until I finish one book and haven’t started another. But I seem to forget that in the first four months of 2013 I’ve published Good Girl, written Widow, written KING, and written part one of Faithless, hell, I even started The Hunter. So in retrospect, I shouldn’t feel guilty for the hundreds of hours spent playing the Sims 3 and for reading like 50 books in the past six weeks.
And I called this pretend to work while trying to relax time: Writer’s Block.
I’ve been a moody bitch, biting and snapping and feeling unhinged- MANIC. Everything is rubbing on my last nerve. It’s not like I’m crying or anything. Frankly, I feel like I could hurt something.
Two reasons for my Faithless difficulty:
I have no idea how long this book will be. A conservative guesstimate is 1000+ pages. I have well over 100 chapters outlined and I already have 34 written. So yeah, that 134 chapters in a book. We are talking at least 10 pages per chapter. So these writing tangents where I feel like I didn’t get a lot of progress. I did. It’s just so long that you don’t see it. Like a sprint vs a marathon. It’s demotivational.
My past characters haven’t been sunshine and rainbows or anything. Dalton is Emo for heaven’s sake. Whitt was a breath of fresh air. Angsty Willow was snarkilicous to write. Easy-peasy, so fresh and breezy. SYN… *groan* that girl takes a lot out of me, and I am just getting to the part where she thinks she might be a sadist. It’s only going to get worse from here on out.
As I write, I develop my character. I have to become one with the character to accurately write them. I know them inside and out. When I first started writing, I didn’t get as absorbed, and I’m sure the reader can notice this. I’m not as invested in Kat, or even Dexter. Don’t get me wrong, I love them. I just don’t know them. By the time Queen was written, I pretty much was taken over by Regina. And it’s obvious. Regina is a strong woman, but loving and kind.
SYN– I’ve been Possessed by SYN.
That is an atrocious place to be. You’ve read about our Petite Sadist. You’ve witnessed her grunts and sneers and snarls. After a day or five of being inside Syn’s head, I have to call it quits. Seriously, she is making me manic. She is sweet and loving and broken. She is snide and nasty and deadly. She is fierce and loyal. Syn takes no prisoners.
Syn has affected how I deal with outside forces. I am very tactful and pleasant. I can look you in the eye and smile while I think the sarcastic remarks that will never leave my lips. But Syn. Syn makes me say those remarks. Syn makes me post statuses and comments and blog posts. She isn’t satisfied if she feels disrespected. She is disciplined and she demands a lot of me.
Syn & I have came up with an agreement. We will push out those chapters a few days at a clip, and then Erica gets 24-48 hours to remember she is Erica.
Note before you read on: I DO want you all to email, msg me, reach out to me. I love it! I’m just easing some pressure by writing something that I will call- venting. Writers vent through the written word. We are an introverted bunch who don’t feel comfortable outwardly confronting people face-to-face. & you’ll get a peek into my warped mind. & warning, this blog posting will go all to hell as my mind dumps all the fears and emotions my manic mind has been inundated with for weeks. My apologies in advance.
Sometimes I dread opening my email every morning. I never know what is in there- it’s like Pandora’s box or a snake readying to strike. It’s always a mix of spam, notes from friends, fan mail, Wicked Reads stuff, the usual notifications… and then there is the kind that feels like a brick to the face.
I DREAD looking in there. I have so many responsibilities and it’s difficult to get a moment’s peace within my own head, let alone when dealing with everyone in my life. I see the unopened Wicked Reads mail and makes me feel guilty. Wicked Reads is a sideline project. I do that to help connect readers with Independent and Self Published Authors, along with the high profile authors that are in the mainstream. I shouldn’t feel guilty for doing my own work first, but as irrational as it is, I do.
Basically, I feel pressured.
I work… hmm… anywhere between 10-24 hours per day. Yes, I said 24 hours. I have pulled 63 hours of constant writing before passing the hell out. When the muse is firing, I can’t escape, even through sleep. So when I get a few winks and wake refreshed to begin anew… the first thing I do is my responsibilities- check email, respond on Facebook-Goodreads-the Blogs, and then I get to work. The problem with this is, is that it is very demotivational. If I receive hate mail for instance, or anything that feels like pressure, I lose all interest and drive to work.
I’m a lot like the Masters in my books- I HATE BEING TOLD WHAT TO DO- HATE IT! *I feel better now* It’s why I am a self-published author, I control my world. I’m so spiteful that if I already planned on doing something and someone pressures me to do it, I WON’T. After years of being reduced to dog shit, I refuse to kowtow to anyone.
I get fan mail and it puts a smile on my face, but inwardly I know that for each fan there are dozens of haters. It is just how it is. I’ve learned to accept this and move on. My skin is very thick. I KNOW my books aren’t for everyone. Many think they are getting a quick, sexy read. I’m not quick and I’m not sexy. We write what we know. I’m dark. I’m sardonic. I’m sarcastic. I’m quiet and moody. I’m friendly when I feel like it. I am an introvert. I like to laugh. I like to make ppl laugh. I’m a control freak. I have OCD. I am emotionally numb on the outside and a stew of feeling on the inside. My books reflect me. They are emotional, dark, twisted, sarcastic, and sometimes not very pleasant. My characters are mix of who I am or who I’d like to be- trait wise. I use writing as an outlet to leak my feelings so I do not implode.
People in general want to be happy. They want to smile. They want a HEA life. They believe in romance and fairytales. They believe that in order to be happy you must have a partner who will make you happy. They believe love is the ultimate happily ever after.
I’m not most people.
I just want to be content doing what feeds my soul. I believe in self-enlightenment. The ultimate HEA is within yourself.
My characters may or may not get hooked up with the love of their life, because I don’t believe in the love of your life. We are individuals and we can’t help but hurt the ones around us. People lie, hurt, betray, and die on us. People make us laugh, smile, feel loved and complete. But we are born alone and we die alone. Yes, I sound morbid. No, you don’t have to agree with me. My philosophy is that you have to be happy with yourself, because that’s the only person you cannot escape.
Within my books: some of my characters get romance, while some get a partner or two or remain alone. Sex may just be sex, or about pain, or release, or pleasure, or an act of connection. My characters are bad and good- not one single one of them is a saint, because we are all sinners. We are all good and bad- selfish and selfless. Human Nature.
My reason for laying that out for all of you is that the hate mail or reviews do get to me. No matter how thick of an emotional skin I shield myself with, it still permeates and stings. On one hand, I feel I shouldn’t have to explain my reasonings. On another, I feel the need to connect with my readers.
I apologize if I sound angry or threatening. If you’ve read my work, you realize I am slightly intimidating, less so in person. When reading something, you can never be sure of the emotion behind it. Today’s emotion: frustration. But this is written with a clear head and an open mind. I’m simply clearing up some misconceptions. If you feel this is directed towards you, don’t. I’ve had at least a dozen comments of some kind on each of the following. I appreciate the notification because it allows to me explain myself.
A few complaints from readers:
#1 complaint from readers and reviewers: NO HEA.
Dexter has an HEA.
Dalton has an HEA.
Whitt has an HEA.
Regina has an HEA (how you ask? Within herself)
Every character has went though life altering events and come out of it stronger, resilient, alive. They know what’s in their heart. So does it matter if they run off in the sunset with the sexual partner of their choice? We have people in our lives who feed different needs. Friends to vent to, who offer a shoulder to cry on. Parents who lend unconditional love. Sexual partners who give us release. How is it humanly possible to be all things for another person? The pressure that creates is suffocating. I know, I lived it. You can never be all things to one person- it’s impossible. Am I saying that you need 2-3 partners. No, get your head out of the gutter, this isn’t just about sex. Married couple seek their parents, friends, coworkers for advice and comfort because sometimes you just can’t talk to the ones you love. So that HEA, where the sun sets as they walk down the beach, is just bullshit. A couple is just a couple- a beginning. Outside forces will always make an impact, and if you aren’t strong within yourself, you will HURT your partner. Therefore, HEA, is in you.
Those who don’t agree with what I just wrote, that’s fine. I take no offense. My books just aren’t for you, in the same way many books aren’t for me.
When explaining what I write, people stare at me. Like one grandmother asked if my other grandmother knows what I write. No, should it matter? She was clearly judging me, trying to shame me. I don’t write for anyone but myself. I do not feel ashamed about what I write.
I’ve read reviews that say, Ugh, smut! It was nasty! or EROTICA- no! I remember those because I was downrated with a one star for that. You’ve read my work, so you know damned well that they didn’t. I have a lot of these. I’m in the erotica genre because of content- the explicitness- the violence. I have nothing against sex. I love a hot, raunchy read. But do not call my work something it isn’t. I can’t explain what it is. Is it erotica, BDSM, suspense? The only thing I know for sure that it isn’t, is romance. I hold firm to the DARK part of erotica.
I get a lot of wink wink and nudge nudge from people. Like I’m a sexual fiend. If they only knew, huh? I’m a heluva lot more mentally twisted than they imagine- I hold myself back in that area. They see my books and think that I’m amoral or a deviant. Shall I give a very surprising fact about myself? I think I will. The only man who has ever sexually touched me was my ex-husband. I’ve been a very good girl, who’s had very bad things happen to her. It irrevocably changes you. So the snickers and sneers from random strangers or the friends from school who found religion who look at me crosswise, yeah… I’ve never even broke those commandments you’re so fond of. But I bet you have, so don’t judge and I won’t judge you.
My cynical self says, Self, do what you can live with, and forget about the haters!
To each their own- Carpe Diem.
Dom/DommeYes, I write from the dominant perspective. Why, you ask? Um, really? You have to ask that? I’m a control freak. I am a dominant personality. I’ve created a list of rules I abide by on a daily basis. I’ve lived as a reluctant submissive, so I know how it feels. But not really. It was forced on me through emotional warfare. I didn’t accept that position, so I can’t accurately imagine the emotions a real submissive person feels. I can do a Switch because after being emotionally dampened and then finding my way back to my true self, I can imagine how a Switch mentally feels.
The down rating for my work being erotica or not romance or not from the submissive pov is just total bullshit. It’s like me going over to the cookbooks on Goodreads and giving one stars ratings because I don’t read cookbooks. I don’t even downrate the books I read that don’t do it for me. It takes a lot to get me to give a book less than a 3 star. Out of respect, I will 3 star it and say that it wasn’t for me- because it wasn’t. Which is on me, not the author. But in the case of reading my work only to find out it’s from a Dom pov, I put it all out there for the reader. There is a HUGE disclaimer stating what is within the pages. The title of the series is MISTRESS & MASTER of Restraint. So I get angry when I receive a downrating because it is in the dominant perspective. The title says it all. Obviously you will be reading about a dominant personality within my story. If you don’t get that… *bites tongue*
EditingI know the more books I sell, the more likely that I will receive comments about the editing. (EVERY authors gets this, btw. I’m shocked at the number of closet-editors or backseat-editors there are) I take it with good grace. I try not to be offended. I try not to be defensive. Why? Because I know my books need work. I don’t want to explain as if I am making excuses for shoddy work that you are purchasing and reading. That isn’t the case. I WORK my ass off- constantly. It has officially been one year and one week since I became a published author. I could spout about the amount of books I’ve written or the pages, groups, and websites I run, or the day job I have. I won’t.
I am ashamed, and I shouldn’t be. I want to make excuses by comparing my work to others, but I don’t. I compare my books with my books. Restraint’s first edition was bad- laughable bad. Since I issued the second edition, I’ve had so much growth-growth that I will use when re-editing my books. So as it stands, the first few books and as you go up the series, they get better editing wise, but nowhere near where I want or need them to be.
I want to say that when writing, it is IMPOSSIBLE to catch it all. Your mind replaces the words. Look at your Facebook Statuses, and then I want you to tell me I need to fix my work- that is just a few sentences- 50 or so words, not thousands. Everyone misses a word or two out of ten- every single one of us does it. Authors, English teachers, Doctors, students- we are just people who make mistakes. so don’t judge me for 20 out of 120,000. So I can pretend that I’m not offended, but I am. I freely admit this. I DO NOT have an editor. I AM my editor. (I will explain why that angers me in a moment)
I liken the emails and comments about editing to walking up to a chubby girl and saying You’re FAT! Do you honestly believe she doesn’t already knows this? Is there an alternate universe where she thinks she’s a size zero? Do you not believe that she doesn’t own a mirror. Do you believe this makes her a bad person? Honey, do you really need to eat that? What the girl is thinking is, go away, bitch. I have a right to eat. I’ll die without air, water, or food. What the other person is really saying, I own you. I control you. Do as I say or I will make you feel badly about yourself. It’s just a few moments of superiority while the other person cries. It’s all about pushing your will onto another human being.
I make mistakes. I own them and acknowledge them. It doesn’t give you a right to smack me in the face with it and it doesn’t make me a bad writer- just a bad editor. Honestly, I think I’m a damned fine writer and I’m a so-so editor that is improving by leaps and bounds. I’m proud of that. I proud that I’m doing TWO jobs- and many more. Most authors outsource the editing and other aspects of publishing.
Even if the comment in written with no offense, it is still a helpful insult, now isn’t it? I’m not directing this to any person. I’m just letting you know how I feel. I’ve enjoyed the communications that have been born from these inquiries. Some, not so much.
I do not have an editor. I am trying. I will fix it. Time- I just need time. Time heals all wounds- not in writing. Time clears the mind so you see what is actually there, not what the mind overlays. Restraint isn’t perfect, but each book is better than the last. Am I cocky and arrogant? No, I will go back to the beginning when enough time eclipses so it’s not a waste of time to over-edit.
I could be a stubborn bitch, like I want to be. I planned on re-editing and reformatting Restraint after Faithless was released. I planned on re-editing a book in between writing new books. I could do what I love to do, which is a mental fuck you when I go against what you said for spite, even though I already planned on it anyway. But I will be an adult and tell my dominant nature to bend a little bit.
My editor comment. I do plan on getting a reputable editor because I plan on releasing my books in softcover within the next year. I have to bank monies to pay for an editor. If I’m a control freak, then you might as well call me a tight-wad too. Parting with the money that I have worked so hard for will be a challenge.
I’m not sure readers get this part of the equation. I gave away 4,444 books this last cycle- over 8,ooo since Restraint’s release. I intercept blog web search results daily from ppl looking to pirate my work. I give a lot of books away to readers for review, as gifts, or for the honest person who can’t afford the book but wants to read it.
Restraint was 99 cents for 4 months out of the 12 it’s been released. Meaning I only made 33 cents a copy. I spent thousands of hours writing it, fielding nasty comments, and I get 33 cents for the copies that were obtained legally. So when I get those editor comments, it hurts me. I’d love an editor… you feeling me here?
What I really want to say is that I’d love to afford a quality, professional, thorough editor. But since I can’t, I’m riding a learning curve.
The other books. I have to be competitive with my pricing. I joke around with my buds, but it’s to cover the hurt. If I were to pricepoint my books in correlation with other authors in my genre by wordcount or number of pages- Queen should have been almost $200. Instead I made it $9.99 for the 3 book set. Now, I do not get that 1o bucks. I get 6-something or 3-something depending on the territory it was purchased. Now you must factor in the pirates who read Queen, or the books that are lent. You can purchase a copy from Amazon and then lend one to a friend for a certain amount of time. I do not get paid for that, either.
Restraint is in the Amazon program so you can borrow it with your prime membership. I do not get full price for that either.
Then there are the nasties that play the return game. They purchase my books one after the other, read, return, read, return. They feel since they aren’t keeping the ‘physical’ book that it isn’t a crime. I don’t get paid for the story they read either. Don’t get any ideas. But I look at my sales report and watch it get an additional return- Restraint-Unleashed-Dexter-Dalton-Jaded-Queened-Checkmate-*Queen*-KING. One right after the other within days. This happens several times per month- the entire series, minus a few Restraint returns.
Now, I understand returning Restraint if it isn’t for you, but you do have the sample option. You sample, see if it’s to your liking, and then either buy or don’t. What I don’t understand is returning any of the books past Unleashed. It is obvious it was a read/return issue and it is a crime. You can’t buy a book from a retailer, take it home, read it, and then return it. By book 4, or hell, book 8, you know my writing style, my voice, the story. You won’t be returning a book unless you accidentally hit the one-click or you are cheating.
Then I read books that are by huge publishers. They are riddled with grammar errors, misspelling, plot holes I can fill a story with, or no story at all. I read a book by a New York Times bestselling author a week ago and I was incensed- seething. It was rushed. No editing. No commas. Like 3 pages without a comma. I had to reread sections or even pages to make heads or tails. Common mistakes that anyone wouldn’t miss. Not twenty mistakes- HUNDREDS! This book had an editor. This book had a publisher. This book cost 3 times as much as my own. This book had no story. Whether the end or the beginning nothing changed. This infuriates me.
So when I get comments about editing. I UNDERSTAND. I’m trying my fucking best! I don’t have a support staff. I don’t have a publisher, an editor, an agent, illustrator, web designer, computer programer, or publicists. I do all those jobs by myself!
But what I do have is integrity, a drive to perfect my craft, and I will fix it until it is as good as it will ever get. Just give me the time to grow and learn. I really am trying my best.
So I wanted to break something when I read that book. Not directed at the author. Those ppl I don’t have, didn’t do their JOB, and then they published a book to bilk the readers out of their hard-earned money. This book has thousands of 5 star reviews & I get a one star because of my genre. Give me a fucking break!
So yes, this posting has taken a turn to the bitch-zone. I’m TIRED! I feel exposed, raw.
The title of this blog post is: Bitch-slaps through the Laptop screen. My laptop is my office. How would you feel if a stranger came into your home or office and told you that you weren’t doing your job? Mind you, they don’t do or understand your profession. I know that being an author gives people the feeling that you are public, that they have a right to insult or chastise or tell you what to do or what they want.
I am a human being. I make mistakes. Every day I wake up to go to work, only my job requires an intense concentration- a concentration that is as fragile as glass. So as I work, these fists come through my laptop screen and punch me in the face or shake me. Voices screaming into my face that they want this or that from me.
Now at your office, your boss would be wicked pissed if you were writing a report and a dozen randoms walked into your office and started punching and screaming at you. How would that be for productivity? My boss is very angry, and her name is Erica.
This feeling of being public domain helps as much as it hurts. I’ve been manic lately- ill at ease. While some interactions are uncomfortable, others inspire or comfort me- even the nudge nudge wink wink or the helpful insult. It is the manner in which the message is intercepted or the mood I am in.
Two night ago, a group of ladies inspired me. I was dealing with the worst case of writer’s block I’d ever suffered. Five minutes of their time revitalized me. In less than 48 hours I wrote 30,000 words- that is more than some books people publish. I am thankful for this type of interaction, it is what feeds my need to create- while one saps energy from me, the other refuels me.
This is why I hate reading my emails, msgs, and comments. 3 hours have passed and I haven’t worked. I’ve bitched and vented. I’ve stuck my foot into my mouth and alienated people. But as I’ve said, I wake with an energy to write and one simple helpful insult derails the day. Even if it isn’t about my writing. Wicked Reads needs this or that. This group or page or blog needs attention. My home, family, and job need attention. I have to be other people’s shoulders to cry on or their rock of support.
Such is life.
But the life of a working writer is difficult to balance. We don’t go to an office and shut the door. There is no 9-5 where ppl know to leave you alone. It’s always, you got a minute? Can you do this for me? Can I ask a favor? Just one more thing? and then your days is gone, your creativity is sapped, and no words were written on a page. You are left feeling angry and repressed while those around you needs have been met, but not yours- never yours.
As you can see, Syn and I are in perfect symmetry. I will have no issue writing our petite sadist.
I have one more addition. Faithless will be over 1000 pages in length. I am warning you, not because this is an issue. I am simply saying it will be $9.99. That sounds expensive. But many popular, indie or self published reads are only 30 pages and marked at a $4.99 pricepoint. This is a difficult position for me. I could have split the book into 3 and sold it separately. But I want my fans to read my books at a reasonable price with a heluva lot of content and story.
That was my sad joke: As I get ripped for editing, genre, HEA, or a myrid of things, Faithless should be priced at $166.00. Now, who is getting ripped off here: the reader who had to read the wrong tense, or the writer who is dodging potshots and written insults while trying to stay centered enough to create something from nothing?
Be kind. Be respectful. Be content. And do what you love. Peace out!