Escape from IKEA – Choose Your Own Adventure

If you read my site, then you know that I’m a bit obsessed with 80’s pop culture. One thing I loved in the 80’s was choose your own adventure books. I actually loved them so much, I created one for the George Zimmerman jury selection. It’s a bit dated, but it’s still available for playing here.

But I recently had an experience at IKEA. While the IKEA experience is a bit intimidating, it also occurred to me that it makes a pretty good quest. And swashbuckling adventurer that I am, I can enjoy a good quest.

Which is why I attempted to buy a desk from them. Luckily, I just barely managed to escape from IKEA alive, but can you? Test your knowledge below by playing;

Escape from IKEA! – A Choose Your Own Adventure Rip-Off (with more swearing)

Today is a day for bravery. Today is a day for courage. Today, you will put down that remote, you will get in your car. You will buy a computer desk for your son from IKEA.

This is something that you’ve been putting off for awhile. This is for good reason. There are few places more feared than an IKEA in Orlando, Florida on a Saturday afternoon.  IKEA has this amazing ability to drive even the most even tempered person to murder. Entire families have broken up over simple trips to IKEA on a Saturday. People have been scarred for life.

You ever have this dream? You’re walking down a hallway, trying to get to the end. You can see the end, but the closer you get to it, the further it gets away. Every time you’re just about to reach it, it slides just out of reach.

Yeah, that’s kind of the design concept IKEA was built on. But today, you will do what needs to be done. So you brave the I-4 traffic and you finally make it to the Orlando IKEA.

Your bravery pales a bit when you see the parking lot.  It’s a lot like a parking lot right before a game at Yankees stadium, with significantly more Cuban people.

As you cruise the parking lot, you realize that parking is limited. You;

Park illegally

Park like 12 miles away and walk

Fuck this, you’re going home to watch reality TV

Tips for Writing a Young Adult Novel

As you all know, I like to delve into various writing styles. I write in everything from technical non-fiction, to pulp novels to erotica. But there is one area I have never tried out before…until now.

If we’ve learned anything from Stephenie Meyer or Jaime McGuire, writing young adult romance is a fucking goldmine! If they can do it, why can’t I?

And why can’t you for that matter? As I was researching into this, I found many of the following common themes that I am going to use to make me a quadrillionaire.

So here are my tips for writing a shitty young adult novel that will have readers banging down your door for more. Then, you can cash in again by writing the same story from the heroes point of view.

Essa’s Tips for Writing a Shitty Young Adult Novel

  1. Your heroine must be beautiful, but she must have no idea that she’s beautiful To underline this lack of confidence, she should regularly trip over her own feet and she must dress like a bag lady…right up until her gay BFF gives her a makeover.
  2. She must have a gay BFF. Gay BFFs have three benefits. Number one, they show other girls how trendy we are. Number two, they show boys that other boys like us. Number three, those straight boys won’t be intimidated because our gay BFF isn’t competition. Because god forbid a chick be friends with a guy who is straight.
  3. The boy must qualify as a bad boy, but he also must be redeemable. See, in real life, these high school bad boys with the tattoos and the muscles spend all their time being tough and cool, instead of getting good grades and applying for colleges. After high school, these bad boys trade in their motorcycles for jobs pumping gas and peddling small amounts of weed to local teenagers. At night, they become ‘that creepy old dude’ at the high school kid’s parties. But in the novel world, the bad boy is secretly a genius who only needed the love of a good woman to set him on the right track.
  4. All the other girls in your book, aside from the kooky, weirdly overprotective best friend, are sluts and bitches who want nothing more than the leading man. Actually, every single woman on the planet should be obsessed with the leading man, even the lesbians. Because lesbians don’t exist in the young adult world. Only sluts, bitches and the kooky best friend exist.
  5. Never underestimate the power of exclamation points! Exclamation points make everything more exciting! Why describe how exciting something is when you can just phone it in with punctuation!
  6. Every man on the planet who isn’t the leading man is a nefarious, evil stalker who will eventually attempt to rape the female lead…if she hasn’t been raped already. Because there is nothing more romantic than a graphic attempted rape scene in novel aimed at young adults.
  7. The hero must commit several felonies to prove his love for the heroine, up to and including; beating the shit out of any guy who dares talk to the heroine, kidnapping the heroine, breaking into her house or repeatedly stalking her. These same crimes would usually be creepy if an ugly guy did it, but the hero gets away with it because he’s hot.
  8. When in doubt, also make the bad boy a vampire or werewolf…fuck it, make him a werewolf/vampire/pirate.

All right people, I’ve got to get to work on this. I’m estimating I can churn out one book like this a week for the foreseeable future. After that, all there is left to do is count my money.

The 6 Month Review – Alternate Title – I Don’t Owe You Shit

Every six months, I pull together all my pen names and do an average ranking based on the reviews. I’m going to be honest with you all here; I don’t actually read the majority of my reviews. I really only look at my average ranking on Amazon when I’m trying to make business decisions.

Give me a break people, I write under three different pen names and Essa Alroc isn’t nearly close to being the most popular. I blog under Essa because she is the closest to being who I really am. I write other books in more popular genres and let those other two identities spend most of the money on bullshit. Between the three of us, our budget for candy apples and leather pants is ridiculous.

Always a wise investment...always.

Always a wise investment…always.

Under all those pen names, nearly 200 people have given me opinions on my books, everywhere from 1 to 5 stars and I really don’t have time to read them all. I’m too busy actually writing books.

Here’s the thing…I don’t mind bad reviews. They roll right off my back. I don’t even mind reviews that trash me as a human being. I only get concerned when a rating dips below three stars, because that has the potential to impact my sales. When that happens I take a look at the reviews to see if there is a glaringly obvious problem with formatting or grammar. If so, I fix it. If not, I move on with my day. You can’t please everyone and to be honest, I’m not really the kind of person who worries too much about pleasing anyone.

But you know what annoys me? When someone posts an opinion that in any way, demands I do something. Let me give you a very generic example, rather than embarrassing the asshole by posting the review here.

“The author had a good book to start, but then decided to (insert complaint here – .i.e. mistook ‘woman’ for ‘women’/was insulting to religious people/talked about alpacas in an unflattering way). Because of that, I can’t endorse this writer’s novels until she (insert demand that I do something here).”

Here’s the thing reviewers; you can pan my writing. You can call me an idiot and say any number of unflattering things about me. Hell, you can set up a page that claims that I sexually molest dwarf hamsters for all I care.

What you don’t get to do is tell me what the fuck to do. No, I won’t revise my writing because you find it offensive. I won’t fix my novels to remove all the profanity and then send you a free copy to re-review. I certainly won’t apologize for anything I wrote, nor will I offer you any explanation for why I wrote it the way I did.

The indie publishing age has given birth to two very annoying things; authors that think they are better than they are and reviewers that think they are more powerful than they are.

The authors that think they’re better are kind of obvious. I’m talking about authors who write a 2400 word story rife with spelling errors, slap it up on Amazon, and expect to become millionaires. I don’t need to discuss those people because they know who they are and they will fail without the assistance of anyone else.

No, I think we need to talk about reviewers that have an over-developed sense of self-importance. Over the past few months, I have had reviewers from book blogs email me on a regular basis, requesting review copies.

I write a series and I once made the mistake of giving a part of that series away for free. As a result, I now have people who have book review blogs emailing me and demanding more copies for free.

Jesus fucking Christ people, not ONE of my books is priced at more than $2.99! If you like my writing, is it really asking that much for you to break a $5 to get the rest of the series? If you hate my writing, why the hell are you emailing me for more in the first place?

I get that you want to save money, but you need to understand that this is a lose/lose situation for me. If you like me and I give you a free copy of my book, I just lost an actual sale. If you hate me and I give you a free copy of my book, I just paid you to say shitty things about me.

Let me put it in a way everyone can understand.

There is a guy who just opened a business in town. If you give him $4, he will do one of three things;

  1. Smile at you briefly
  2. Ignore you entirely
  3. Punch you in the nuts as hard as he can

You have no say over which one of those three things he will do. He might smile and tell all his friends about how you made him smile. Or he might punch you in the nuts, and then encourage all of his friends to punch you in the nuts as well.

Does that sound like a viable business model to you?

Indie publishing has given rise to that very business model. As a result, because I write indie (no real publisher in their right mind would pick me up) I regularly get emails from people who seem to think I owe them something. Some of these people have left me horrible reviews on the first two books in my series, and then expect me to give them a free copy of the third.

Now, I have an MBA that I earned through showing up in classes drunk, stoned or disinterested, but even I know that’s a terrible business plan.

When these people email me, I try to be cool. I give them a Smashwords discount code and thank them for their interest. Then, I go on about my day.

I have NEVER received a thank you for the books I’ve given away. In fact, I’ve had some people come back to me with the audacity to demand I send one of my books to them in a different format. You know what fuckers?

Beggars can’t be choosers.

To date, not one single review I’ve gotten (and I’ve gotten reviews from the biggies) has changed my sales in any significant way. Hell, I have 28 excellent reviews on Strangely Sober and I barely sell four copies a week.

On the flip side, I have one book under a different pen name and it has one 1 star review. I average about 20 copies a day.

I don’t solicit reviews because I don’t even read reviews. I fell out of that habit in the first year of being an author, after garnering 4 of my absolute worst reviews on a free giveaway day. Trust me, I learned my lesson.

Yes, you are free to say whatever you want about me, but in no way am I required to pay you to say shitty things about me. If you want to insult me, I’m going to need you to pay for the pleasure.

I am sick to death of reviewers acting like they’re doing me the biggest favor in the world by considering reviewing my books when they can’t even be bothered to say thanks for the free fucking copy.

You know what? I don’t owe you shit. I write my books the way I want to because THEY ARE MY STORIES. They are not yours. Those are my characters that I created and I get to do whatever I want with them. You don’t get a say.

I will not apologize to you for the fact that you think I don’t like Christians, men, women, gays, Gary Busey, alpaca farmers or anything else. I’m not going to change my main character in a major novel because she doesn’t fit your personal tastes…because as far as I’m concerned, your personal tastes are shit anyway.

I’m not required to do anything for you and I don’t owe you shit.

As for free books, from here on out, I offer one. It’s called The Apology. I give it away because it’s a short novella that fully displays my writing style. If you can’t figure out if you like the way I write in 27,000 free words, there is absolutely no point in reading anything else I wrote, because you clearly don’t like me. That’s cool. We can move on from that. Leave your terrible review and let it go. Don’t email me for more of my books so you can insult me again.

I’m only a masochist in the bedroom people.

Reviewers, you are one single person. Your opinion is subjective, and judging from my sales, it does not make or break me. You do not have the power to make me change my writing style, my plotlines or my endings. You are one damn person running a blog that barely any paying customers read.

Let’s be honest. I’m pretty sure the majority of these people who write book blogs have not actually paid for a copy of a book in years, and are being read by people who don’t actually pay for books, because they are book bloggers as well.

If I really wanted to make money, I’d move into pirating instead. I always thought I made a kickass pirate.

Reviewers, you have an over-inflated sense of self importance. You seem to think that threats to one star me will make me do something for you. It won’t. Maybe other indies will kiss your ass but I won’t. If you want to leave a scathing review of one of my novels, you can go ahead and open your wallets to do it. I’m not going to be some dumb fuck who hands you the money to buy ammunition to shoot me with. Buy your own damn bullets.

I don’t read my reviews anymore because I don’t care about my reviews. Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one.

And I have no intention of paying you money to see yours.


Dear Alleged Friends Demanding Free Novel Copies

Do I show up at your office demanding free tax returns? Do I show up at your boutique, demanding a free shirt? Do I show up at your day care center, demanding free child care?

Then how the hell do you feel justified demanding a free copy of my book?

Look, the first request was cute. The second request was flattering. The third request was getting a little bit weird.

By request 17, I felt obligated to do the math for you;

1 wholesale paperback copy of my book $5 * 17= $85.

Shipping and handling for 17 copies of my book. $85.

All together, in order to satisfy people who haven’t given a shit about me since high school = $170.

That is far too much money for me to spend in the hope that some loser in a podunk town thinks I’m cool. I stopped giving a shit about being cool in my 20s.

My book isn’t my boring assed diary. My book isn’t a book of angst filled poetry that I’m desperate to have some asshole read. I sent query letters. I developed a fucking concept. I worked my ass off.

You want a free copy of my writing? Check out my website. I publish every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and I have a regular following of about 30k people. Get the fuck in line.

You want a free copy of my writing? Go to iTunes and download my free novella. It’s 28k of words that my publicist told me to give away for free because my novel was actually good enough to let that kind of money slide.

It’s not my fault you haven’t gotten an iPad and I don’t give a shit that you ‘love the smell of new books.’ In fact, I hope that fucking smell gives you cancer. Get with the 21st god damn century and get an eReader. You sound like some old douchebag who won’t use a BIC because you like using a quill and parchment instead.

Nobody gives a fuck about the good old days. Get over the desire of being able to enjoy the death of thousands of trees for your own fucking temporary amusement, planet killer. ebooks are the wave of the future, get one and stop sniffing your own ass.

If you barely know me, but demanded my book over some half hearted attempt to support me so you could feel better about yourself; let it go. When you’re actually demanding a free copy of my book so you can feel like a good person, know that you are actually costing me about $14 per person.

You would probably be better off sending that money to some little brown kid in a foreign country. I’m a midlist author, not some Sally Struthers brown kid eating gruel. I don’t need your pity, especially when that ‘pity’ costs me money.

Next, if you consider yourself a ‘real’ friend, but again, expect me to send you a copy of my book for free, I think you need to reacquaint yourself with what a real friend really is. A real friend would have bought my book without prompting. A real friend would have sent it to me to autograph.

A real friend wouldn’t have expected to pay for the book out of my own fucking pocket and then pay for shipping and handing, then autograph it, and then mail it to them.

Do Jennifer Lawrence’s friends do that shit to her? Do they email her and demand a new autographed copy of “The Hunger Games” ?

No, because Jennifer Lawrence’s bodyguards handle that shit for her.

In short, I think what I’m trying to say is “fuck all y’all”

You’re not doing me some kind of favor when you read my work for free. My work is actually incredibly popular. It doesn’t require pity reads because it has actual reads.

And the next time you request a free damn novel from me, you know what you’re getting when you open that UPS box?


You’re getting a used fucking tampon. Because you and a used tampon have one thing in common. You’re both massive blood suckers.

Essa Rewrites a Harlequin Romance…and Makes it Rock

I have a little trick I use whenever I start to lag behind on a novel. I start reading Harlequin Romances.

It’s not that I like them. Actually, I think they might cause brain damage. I’m also not a big fan of sex scenes in books. In fact, aside for a certain perk (that I’ll get into), I haven’t found one redeeming part to any of these books. I hate 12 pages of sex scenes. I hate weak virgin heroines and inexplicably mean heroes. I hate formulaic plot coincidences, hidden babies, sick parents and girls willing to prostitute themselves ‘for a good reason’. I hate hookers with hearts of gold, reformed bad boys, handsome billionaires, and any mention at all of ‘throbbing members’.

But they do come with one perk. ‘What’s that perk?’ you might ask. Simple; Harlequin Romances piss me off.

Personally, I think that every writer has an emotional period when their writing is strongest. Some writers write better when they’re happy, others when their anxious. Hemingway wrote better drunk and Steinbeck wrote better when he was intensely depressed. But me?

I write better when I’m furious.

As I’m reading these piles of drivel, I actually rework them in my head. See the below example;

The Hot Greek Billionaires Innocent Virgin Mistress Secret Baby Drama Super Romance Desire Special Edition

Alejandro Euless Eucalyptus Catamaran III stared at the plainly dressed woman who’d just arrived in his office, demanding that he not knock down the ‘Babies with Cancer’ ward he was planning on destroying in order to expand his conglomerate company. As a billionaire playboy, with no discernible career, and inexplicably giant piles of money (despite the complete collapse of the Greek financial market) he was not used to taking orders from anyone. Particularly plainly dressed women who showed up in his office unannounced…no matter how much they set his loins afire.

“Listen,” he glared down at the soft spoken blonde with a sardonic smile, watching her tremble “I’ve dealt with your type before. As a self made billionaire with an alcoholic step father and a whorish mother, I know that deep down, all women are whores. So I’ll make you a deal. Because no man wants someone more in their bed more than a woman with no idea what she’s doing, I’ll keep the ward if you agree to be my mistress for a month.”

Alexandra Virginia Angle Saint bit her lip as she looked down at the floor, unable to meet the man’s glittering eyes. Her breath caught in her throat at his shocking suggestion. Just as she was about to stammer our her hesitant answer…

A black combat boot came slamming through the door. It flattened the door to the ground and a smoking hot blond, wearing an eye patch and a lavender overcoat (this is how I always appear in my fantasies) came storming in, a bottle of Jack Daniels dangling from her hand.

“Ok, that’s about enough of this shit,” the new arrival snapped as the dust clear from where she had kicked in the door. “I’m Essa, and I’m here to fix your story.”

“Excuse me?” Alejandro stormed across the room, his eyes glittering with anger. “I’ll have you know I’m a Greek billionaire with…”

CRACK! Essa pimp slapped Alejandro with her pimping hand and he crumpled to the floor like a used tissue. She glared down at him.

“Can someone please fucking explain to me why it’s always cool for the hero to have a ton of baggage, but when the heroine has baggage, it’s a problem? When will women learn you can’t fix a broken man?”

Essa continued to glare at the man as he attempted to scamper away on his backside. “Look douchebag, you know what? This chick doesn’t need to accept your mistress offer because in real life, she’d just sue your douchey ass until you were fucking penniless.” The man started to speak and Essa put up a hand to cut him off. “And don’t start with how ‘rich and powerful’ you are. Here in America, we have a little something called contingency fees and I’m certain a whole army of ambulance chasers would be happy to sue you just for 30% of the profits.” Essa’s eyes bored holes in the now sputtering, helpless man. “Also, just because a woman likes sex does not make her a whore. It makes her a healthy individual with high self esteem and there is nothing fucking wrong with that.”

Essa spun around, finished with the man. “And you!” her wrathful, but incredibly beautiful gaze landed on Alexandra, “considering prostitution, despite the fact you’re a virgin.” Essa rolled her eyes as Alexandra continued to tremble. “Let me ask you a question…”

“Um, ok” Alexandra quaked in her boots under the awesomeness that was Essa.

“Would you still consider fucking this dude for money,” Essa snapped her fingers “if he looked like this?”

Alexandra looked over and where a once handsome Alejandro had been was a man who looked suspiciously like George Costanza from Seinfeld.


“Hell no!” Alexandra exclaimed.

Essa smiled in satisfaction. “That’s what I like to see. A little backbone in a woman.” Essa shook her head. “You know, you’re not entirely at fault for this. You’re just a carryover from the 80s, bred to be a cliché. But I think I know someone who could help you.”

Alexandra’s eyes widened uncertainly. “Is it another handsome billionaire? I’m getting a bit sick of those.”

“No, actually, it’s a woman…and she would fucking wreck this dude in a fight.” Both Essa and Alexandra tossed disdainful glares are the formerly handsome Greek billionaire, writhing on the floor. “She might not be able to give you an orgasm with just a look, but she could teach you how to make a flame thrower out of a fire extinguisher.”

Alexandra, tired of being the same old clichéd Madonna, finally grew a pair. “Ok, I think I’d like that.”

“Cool. We’re going to a bar called the Strangely Sober. The beer might suck. But the company can’t be beat.”

Essa and Alexandra disappeared, leaving Alejandro weeping on the floor.

Generally, I only have to get four or five pages into any Harlequin romances before I show up and start kicking ass. Then I move onto my own novels, making sure to kick a little more ass.

Honestly, I’ve been using this trick since I was a kid. However, if you’re an author who likes to write chicks with a backbone, there is no better place to start than at their polar opposite; i.e. the Harlequin romance heroine.

God, I feel bad for those chicks. It must suck so hard to not know how to rock out loud.

Book Writing Issues…Mainly Hygiene Related

I currently have the exact opposite of writers block. I’m working on Gio’s Gift and the story is flowing so well, I’m starting to get it a little confused with reality. I can’t really say how long I’ve been at it, because I’m not entirely sure what day it is.

But I just noticed a few things that I would like to point out. First and foremost;

I have been wearing these clothes for as long as I can remember.

A special shout out to Mark Sackler of the Millennium Conjectures on this one. One of the items I have been wearing is the Blahs T-Shirt I won a while back. It used to be white. Now it is more of a yellowish color and it has a large amount of mystery stains. For the life of me, I can’t remember what day I put it on. The only thing I know for sure is that it wasn’t today…or yesterday…or the day before.

I’m breaking out like a kid going through puberty.

Normally, I have a pretty good complexion. But today, I’ve noticed that I have begun to sprout acne like a poorly kept lawn spouts weeds. This is probably a direct result of not remembering the last time I took a shower. On the upside, my hair looks fantastic! Apparently, the best way to get bleached blonde, waist length hair shiny is to never wash it…ever.

I have the alcohol tolerance of a bull elephant

Did I really drink 16 beers yesterday? I counted the cans twice, and unless I had mystery guest I don’t remember, the only answer is ‘yes’.  Here’s the thing. Usually, that many beers would have anyone on their ass. But all I did yesterday was write. I didn’t buy a bunch of shit I didn’t need on Amazon. I didn’t get into any online fights. I didn’t drunk-and-dial any of my friends. I just wrote. Also, unlike other times when I drank and wrote, my text is actually decipherable. While there is still a high error rate, I actually understood what I was saying when I wrote it…and it was pretty fucking good.

I’m a bit more violent than usual.

I’d really like to punch someone in the face. Right now, I’m working on a few more action packed scenes and they always make me a bit more action packed myself. The thing is, I don’t want to punch just anyone in the face. I want to punch someone who really deserves it. Just my luck, everyone I’ve dealt with today has been perfectly nice and completely undeserving of a punch in the face. Assholes.

I’m thinking in omniscient 3 person narration.

I just drove to the store for more beer. Sounds simple enough, right? That’s until you delve into what was going on in my head.

“Essa drives to the store, with her standard reckless disregard for human life. She pulls in front of a 97 Saab she determines to be going far too slow, despite the 35 mile an hour speed limit. She parks in front of Gas Station, and leaves the engine running. If she doesn’t, there is a very good chance her car won’t start again. Essa knows her way around cars, but the last thing she wants to do is to be forced to shove her hand under the engine block on this hot Florida day.

Florida doesn’t know that summer is over. It never knows that summer is over. Due to that, this day that should be a brisk October day, measures no less than a balmy 85.

“What ever happened to your son?” Essa asks, as she slides a six pack onto the counter. This six pack won’t be her last of the night.

The cashier shifts his eyes away nervously, and Essa knows he is about to think of a lie. “He is at college.”

“Good for him.” Essa takes her beer and knows the truth. The reason that her favorite cashier is no longer behind the till has nothing to do with college. Essa knows that he was falsely accused of stealing, but the second oldest son, who wants Gas Station all to himself, spread a rumor that his father mistakenly believed. She knows for a fact that first son never stole anything. She knows, because on a sweaty August night, several weeks before, first son got completely lost when he was handed a pile of cash. Being the day cashier, he almost never dealt with cash. He dealt with debit and credit transactions. When he did get cash, he would call his uncle over to manage the register.

That uncle is sweeping the floor as Essa leaves…and he is incredibly quick to avoid eye contact.

Yeah people, I’ve reached the point where I have decided there is a mystery EVERYWHERE! I’m not thinking like a normal person anymore. I’m thinking like Angela Fucking Lansbury.

I’m getting fat.

I stepped on the scale this morning to learn that I was about 20 pounds heavier that usual. That’s right; I completely missed the fact that I gained 20 pounds. That’s weird to me, because I never eat anymore. I drink and I chain smoke, but I don’t eat. Eating requires two free hands. I don’t have two free hands.

The real thing I’m worried about here is that I will become oddly shaped. About 5 years ago, I had a tummy tuck. As a result, the fat cells that most people have around their waistline do not exist on me. When I gain weight, it goes to my boobs, my ass and my thighs. My bras don’t fit me anymore; my pants are awful tight across the ass.

I stand a strong change of becoming an hourglass with way too much sand in it.

A week from now, I’m pretty sure I’ll be fine. However, right now, I’m not. The story is good. It’s soooo fucking good, but it’s costing me. That was one thing I never considered when I became a writer. The trade off. By letting myself get sucked into fantasy, I have completely let go of reality.

And the sick part is, I don’t even care.



Maybe It’s Time for a Change

For two years, I worked on my first novel. When I first completed Strangely Sober, it was actually a 45,000 word short work of fiction about a woman tortured by eidetic memory. It was called ‘Unforgettable.”

I did what many writers do. I put the book away for 3 months, so I could read it again with fresh eyes. In the time I did, NBC released a new 1 hour drama called “Unforgettable”. It was about a cop tortured with eidetic memory.

I have to say NBC, my version was way better.

Anyway, after the show came out, I retooled my novel. Sal went from being a school teacher with eidetic memory, to a paranoid genius with schizophrenia and a Gary Busey hallucination. While the book might seem like standard candy fluff, I spent a lot of time on it. I researched schizophrenia. I wrote up character profiles. I mapped out timelines.  “Unforgettable” was no longer an appropriate name, so I renamed it.

For all of those who wonder where “Strangely Sober” came from, I actually came up with the term about 12 years ago. It was summer in Mannheim, Germany. Me and my buddy Mark had just gotten back from a drug scavenging trip in Amsterdam and we got our hands on some seriously psychedelic mushrooms. After downing half an eighth of those  things, and heading down to party in Mannheim, I realized I had no desire for anything stronger than the mushrooms. I didn’t need booze and I didn’t want pot.

I just wanted to sit in a club and soak up how fucking beautiful everything was. I didn’t lose control and I didn’t act impulsively. I felt sober, but I also felt connected to the universe in a way I never had before. Everything was beautiful and everything was interesting.

I described the feeling to my buddy Mark as “strangely sober” and he agreed (because he was on the same mushrooms) that it was the perfect way to describe what we were feeling.

So the bar in my novel became “Strangely Sober” and the name of the novel became “Strangely Sober”.

My point here is that 2 years of my life went into the first novel. I researched; I based things on person experience. I came up with memorable characters that brought back that serious, but slightly psychedelic feeling. I worked my ass off. By the time Strangely was done, it was 111,000 words and it could have gone longer.

When I released it, the book got a reasonable amount of attention. I made it to mid-list status a few times, and even bestseller status in genres that actually matter (humor and suspense). To date, my book has been picked up by a couple of highly respected book blogs. Most have loved the story, though more than a few have called me out on mixing up ‘then’ and ‘than’ on occasion, and well as ‘bring’ and ‘take’ (fuck it, I’m Irish. We use ‘take’ for whatever we want).

Nitpicking aside, the book has been very well received but it’s never going to make me a millionaire. I accepted that a long time ago. I know that if I’m going to get any real recognition as an author, I am going to release tons of books before people start paying attention. I’m ok with that…well, I was.

Until I learned that I was being outsold by dinosaur porn. Yeah, you read that right. Fucking dinosaur porn. Namely, some chicks are writing books about ladies getting fucked by dinosaurs. Each of these books averages about 5000 words long and involves some cavewomen huntress getting fucked by a pterodactyl or a T-Rex.

stupid bullshit

Every single one of these 5000 word novels is outselling mine by the thousands.

Apparently, I’m doing something wrong. Namely, I’m not putting nearly enough screwing between human females and non-human entities in my novels. So I’m moving on.

Fuck researching plot lines, creating timelines and character profiles. Fuck paying for proofreaders and having covers custom designed. Fuck spending months and years on a single novel.

I’m going to start churning out ridiculous erotica instead. My first erotic novels will involve innocent, beautiful 22 year old virgins being forced to mate with automobiles. You guys can expect “Fucked by a Ford” and “Sodomized by a Saab” on shelves within a few weeks.

For a few minutes today, I actually thought that. I was like “why the hell am I trying so hard?” I’m not going to sit here and pretend that it doesn’t matter to me if I never make money from a single one of my novels. I’m not going to say “as long as I get to write, it’s ok.”

That’s bullshit. I hear so many writers say that. “Oh, I don’t care about sales. I just want to write.” If they didn’t care about sales, they would never have published in the first place. They would have written their stories down in a journal and forgotten about them.

I care about sales…but I also care about the books that are associated with my name. I care about my future in this industry. I care about the characters in my novels and I care about creating a readable story.

I don’t want to be the chicks writing dinosaur porn. I don’t want to be a writer who writes up an outline and has ghostwriters fill in the rest. I want to be Elmore Leonard. I want to be Chuck Palahniuk. I want to write my novels in a way that makes me memorable, but I don’t want to die of starvation while I’m doing it.

So yeah, I could probably stoop to writing shitty 5000 word erotica. God knows I have the writing skills and the life experiences to fill up an Encyclopedia Britannica worth of erotica. But I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to sell out, and I’m sincerely hoping that my refusal to sell out isn’t going to cost me in the long run.

But in the meantime, fuck dinosaur erotica. I thought you were smarter than that America.


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