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;
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.