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.

How Do You NOT Read Your Reviews?

I’m back on the subject of book reviews again. However, it’s not how to deal with a bad one or how to write a good one. Instead, it’s in regards to a piece of mail I got from a reader calling me a liar. 

Well, not really a liar.  More like they questioned my ability to not read my own reviews.

As you all know, I am a strong supporter of authors choosing to not read their own reviews because I think it saves us all a lot of heartache. If you’re any kind of writer, then you already feel like your work is shit most of the time anyway, so you don’t really need people kicking you while you’re already kicking yourself.

For example, last night, I read ‘The Apology’. What a piece of shit that was! What the fuck was I thinking? I was actually so pissed off at my own writing that I made it permanently free on Smashwords. Fuck, I should be paying people to read it.

Anyway, as you can see, I can be a bit hard on myself. That is why I avoid my reviews as much as possible and only check in every six months or so.

But I got an email from another indie last night, and he mainly wanted to know how I avoid doing this. To be honest, I’m sure it’s very hard to resist In fact, it’s probably entirely impossible to resist. Back when I first started, I used to check my reviews upwards of 10 times a day.  

But then I found an entirely accidental way to avoid my reviews.

As you all know, I like to drink. Sometimes, I will seriously tie one on and jump on the internet. Sometimes, I’ll get into ridiculous fights with idiots. Sometimes, I’ll profess my undying love to someone I don’t like that much just because I’m lonely. Sometimes I’ll post pictures of my boobs. Other times, I’ll just quietly look at porn. But the worst times are the times I go to Amazon.

Because when I’m shitfaced and lacking impulse control, there is nothing I like more than going on Amazon and buying a lot of shit I don’t need. Any purchase seems like a great idea 6 beers in. It’s why I have magic hair grow cream, DIY tattoo removal kits, healing stones in a variety of shapes and sizes, off-market lead based lipstick, tarot cards, clip in extensions in ‘riveting red’ and a box of surgical scalpels.

After a particularly heavy bender, I realized that my alcohol addiction was turning into an online shopping addiction as well. So I did what I always do in my hour of need. I turned to Jesus and prayed for help.

Just kidding.  I actually turned to science and wrote a computer program.

Yahoo used to have this kick ass program for email users. In order to prevent flame wars, you could install an app that would force you to do some kind of complicated math problem before your message would be sent. The idea was to stop and force people to think things over.

I took my inspiration from that. Using a combination of parental control codes, CAPTCHA codes, and an IF factor formula, I wrote my very own Essa proof program. Yup, I actually wrote a program so smart, even I couldn’t solve it.

complicated captcha

Ok, to be entirely honest, it’s not that smart. It’s actually surprisingly simple. The idea is clever, but the coding is not. A first year programmer could do it.

Anyway, the essence of the program is this. Once Essa types into her search bar, a parental control box pops up. She must enter her username and her password.

And then, she must complete 5 complex long division problems in something that looks like a CAPTCHA box.

This is where the prevention comes in. See, I’m pretty smart when sober, but I still suck at long division. The time it takes me to complete 5 long division problems, complete with decimals, is about 10 minutes each. So, in order to get on Amazon, I must complete 50 minutes worth of math homework. If I get even one single problem wrong, and I usually do, I must do 5 new randomly selected problems. On a good day, while sober as a stone, I can sign on to Amazon in about 3 hours.

However, when I’ve been drinking, the task is 100% impossible.

This has completely prevented my drunken spending on Amazon, and at the same time, has completely prevented me from seeing my own reviews.  I don’t care how obsessed you are, if you have to spend three hours doing math to get onto a basic site, it better be for a damn good reason.  

So, to the reader that emailed me the other night, yes I can resist the temptation to check my Amazon reviews. The answer is as simple as a basic equation;

Essa’s desire to read her reviews < Essa’s desire to do long division

The Apostles Meet with an Editor

Writing is a hard business to break into. It took me three novels before I even got an offer from any publishers at all, and those offers were terrible. Of course, now is easier that it used to be. Ten years ago, my options would have been vanity presses or sending out several thousand query letters, before I found a small time publisher willing to take me on at 3% royalties.

But can you imagine how hard it would have been before the invention of the printing press?

That didn’t seem to stop the apostles, considering the best selling book of all time is the Bible. No joke, that book sold more copies than 50 Shades of Gray and The DaVinci Code combined!

Here’s my question; what if the bible was released today? What would happen if the apostles turned the good book over to one of the Big Six publishers? Well, thanks to my incredible imagination, and non existent fear of blasphemy, you’re about to find out.


The Apostles Meet With an Editor – An Essa Alroc Production

Nearly 40 men, all wearing loose fitting robes and sandals, sit crammed into a conference room, watching a woman in a business suit expectantly. Next to her sits another man in a suit, and to his left, another man in a suit. The woman has an extremely large manuscript in front of her and she is going through it, making marks with a red pen.

Lady Editor: I am so glad you all came in today. I’m really looking forward to working on this project with you all. But, before this goes to print, we’re going to have to make some changes. And these changes need to be made fast. Jesus is huge right now, and we need to cash in.

Yes Man #1: That’s right, it’s all about the hype!

Lady Editor: So, I guess we’ll start at the beginning. (She flips to page one) Now, according to this, God made the world in 7 days? (She looks around the room) Ok, so who’s responsible for this “Genesis” section? (The apostles avoid eye contact) Well, whatever, I don’t care who wrote it, but it needs to be redone. God can make the world in 7 days, but it takes him 1500 years and over 40 people to write a fucking book? Even George RR Martin doesn’t take that long to turn in his manuscripts.

Yes Man #2: (shakes his head negatively) We just ain’t buying it.

Lady Editor: Also, apparently, there were only two people in the beginning? So only two people made everyone else on the planet? You guys realize that makes us all products of incest, right? (The apostles look at each other nervously as the lady editor flips through the manuscript) and I mean, incest seems to be a recurring theme in this book. I have to tell you guys, incest is not going to draw in readers in our demographic.

Yes Man #1: (nods agreeably) Our demographic does not like incest. We need to change that. Also, cut the section about Sodom and Gomorrah entirely. The last thing we want to do is alienate affluent gay liberals.

Lady Editor: I completely agree (she has now crossed out about half of the pages) So no on the incest, and let’s do a retool on Sodom and Gomorrah. Instead of getting ‘smited’, they all go to Pinkberry.

Yes Man #2: (looks near orgasm) Product placement! I love it. Let’s take it a step further. Instead of ‘loaves and fishes’ Jesus gives everyone Taco Bell Gordita crunches and Cranberry Red Bull!

Yes Man #1: (his eyes are glazed with lust as he gazes at Yes Man #2 adoringly) You get me so hot when you target the lower middle class 18-25 male demographic.

Lady editor: (rolls her eyes) And we need to get rid of these ‘info dumps’. Do we really need to know that “Adam begat Seth. Seth begat Enos. Enos begat Kainân. Kainân begat Mahalaleel. Mahalaleel begat Jared.  Jared begat Enoch. Enoch begat Methuselah. Methuselah begat Lamech, and blah, blah blah?” I mean, really? Lets keep the focus on the main character. We don’t need to know the whole damn family tree.

Yes Man #2: (eyes light up with glee) I just had an amazing idea.  Is there any chance we could make this Jesus character a vampire?

Yes Man #1: (lets out a low moan of arousal and tackles Yes Man #2 to the floor in a mad sexual frenzy)

Lady Editor: (shakes her head) The Jews already made him an angel in their version. I don’t want ours to look like a cheap knockoff. (she ignores the two men wildly fornicating on the floor) But maybe you guys could give him some better superpowers, other than just walking on water and mass producing bread? I don’t know, maybe x-ray vision or …

Yes Main #1: (stands back up and repairs his rumpled clothes) Maybe he could shoot lightning out of his hands?

Yes Man #2: (laying on the floor, smoking a cigarette) The Greeks already did that with Zeus. (he snaps his fingers) I got it! Jesus is a down on his luck everyman who has a talking sheep!

Lady Editor: I love it! (She shoves the manuscript across the table, back to the dumbfounded apostles) Ok boys, I’m going to need you to cut this down by about 1000 pages, get rid of the incest, lose the info dumps, stick in some stuff about Pink Berry and turn this entire story into a book about a rural Idaho farmer who finds a talking sheep. Also ‘Jesus’ is way to ethnic, won’t play to our demographic. Let’s call him James instead. (she and the yes men leave the room, the meeting over).

Matthew: (Stands and looks forlornly at the manuscript, now covered in red ink) My dad was right. I should have gotten my HVAC degree from community college instead.

Choose Your Own Adventure – Escape From Zimmerman Jury Duty!

I’ve had two things on my mind for the past few days. The first is a current event. Namely, its jury selection for the George Zimmerman trial, currently in progress here in central Florida.

If you have no idea who George Zimmerman is, please leave my page immediately, as I fear that you might be too stupid to know how to work my blog.

Anyway, today the judge announced that the jury would be sequestered for the anticipated 1 month trial. As we all know, the legal system generally doesn’t work that fast and I highly question their ability to wrap this stuff up in under 8 weeks. So for an indefinite amount of time, the jury in the case will have no access to internet or current news programming. They won’t even be allowed to leave whatever fleabag motel the state decides to put them up in.

Not even that isolation is going to be the biggest problem. While there are some people who will get employer required reimbursement, others might not be so lucky. People who are self employed, or who need the internet to work, stand a strong chance of being financially ruined by being stuck on jury duty that long. Personally, if I were to get stuck on jury duty like that, I would probably lose all my clients and wind up living on the street.

So it occurred to me that many of the people who have been called for jury duty are desperate to get out of it by any means necessary.

The next thing I’ve been thinking about is those ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books that were so popular when I was a kid. In case you don’t remember them, or were born after 1986, I’ll give you the run down.

‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books were designed to put the reader into the story. It was usually some kind of old west or mystery story. At certain points in the book, you would have to make a decision between several choices. Depending on the decision you made, you would be sent to a different section of the book, where you would learn the consequences of that decision. The ultimate goal was to solve the mystery, but sometimes, you would make the wrong decision and wind up ending the story early by getting killed or going to jail.

So today, I have decided to combine both ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’, and getting out of Zimmerman jury duty. You will be given the start of the story. At the end of each section of the story, you will need to decide between several options. Once you click on that option, you will be taken to the rest of the story.

Your ultimate goal is to be excused as a juror from the Zimmerman murder trail.

Without further ado, I present you with the fully interactive;

Choose Your Own Adventure – Escape From Zimmerman Jury Duty

It is late in the afternoon on a Thursday when you go to check your mail. You throw out approximately 700 pounds of flyers, coupon offers and insurance notifications. You begin to flick through your mail when your eyes fall on a slim envelope, and the return address is the State of Florida – Judicial Department.

Your stomach turns icy cold with dread and you immediately think about your internet search history. You knew you shouldn’t have gone to that website.

You rip open the envelope with shaking hands and yank out the sheet of paper inside. You are relieved, but only a little. You are being summoned for jury duty.

That will teach you to vote.

The last thing you want is to be stuck on jury duty. You decide to;

Just not show up. They summon so many people for juries these days, they probably won’t even notice you’re not there.

Show up, but try to find a way to get disqualified.


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