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.
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.
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 www.amazon.com 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
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.
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;
Whenever you cross a border into New Hampshire, you’ll usually see a “Bienvenue” welcome sign. Those welcome signs will probably be the most exotic things you will see in New Hampshire.
I’ve been living the simple life for 12 hours so far and I have another 12 to go. Here’s a listing of things I’ve learned about the simple life.
- Simple involves walking a quarter mile to the bathroom, because the septic system only gets pumped once a month at the camp.
- Simple involves repeatedly stabbing myself with a fish hook, to catch a meal that I could usually buy pre-gutted and pre-breaded at the supermarket
- Simple involves spending all day chopping wood to heat your home, rather than just flicking a switch on a thermostat.
- Simple involves traveling 5 miles to a local Dunkin Donuts, so I can latch onto the one hotspot in town, so my clients don’t fire my simple ass.
In short, the simple life is a fuckload of complicated.
I spend my day in town, shopping at ‘general stores’ that only sell specialty items and ‘5 and Dimes” where everything costs 29.99. During my time out, I’m treated with a level of politeness usually only reserved for foreign dignitaries.
A jeeps full of hippies, decked out in Grateful Dead bears, tries to pick me up as I’m sitting at a picturesque picnic table, chain smoking. They’re surprisingly cute and I realize they wouldn’t be bothered by my stretch marks. In fact, they’d probably be impressed that I had all my original teeth.
In the kingdom of the fours, the ‘sober 6, drunk 7′ is Queen.
I return to my mom’s place. Tomorrow, I’m flying out of Manchester airport. I’m arriving about 2 hours early, so the security goat will have time to decide if I’m evil or not.
I don’t mind New England. It’s not a terrible place. The people are friendly, most of the guys are taller than me, and apparently, they love smokers here. Both nicotine smokers and anything else. But this is not the place for me.
I need a loud city, where its too damn hot all the time, and occasionally, a naked man holds up a convenience store. I miss uninterrupted wi-fi, 24 hour delivery, buying my oranges from an off-ramp and buying my hair from India.
I miss black people.
I know Florida isn’t the safest place, I know that the people can be crazy, the crime rate is high, and the economy is shit but I can’t help but love it. Florida gives me more inspiration than any other place ever has. The laid back lifestyle of the north could never offer me that, unless I was into writing stories about Moose.
Most of my books are over the top fiction. I have people who take advice from Gary Busey hallucinations. I have diamond smuggling and alpaca theft. I even have rats with radio transmitters in their heads. Sometimes, I get called out for being too ‘over the top’ or ‘unrealistic’, but people, where the hell do you think I’m getting this shit from? I might have a vivid imagination, but I also have eyes that open.
Where else but a city could I,
- See a drag queen steal a wheel chair. She was racing down the street, looking behind her. I remember wondering why, as I was pretty sure the person she stole it from couldn’t pursue her.
- Get invited to become part of a three way couple at a gays only leather bar.
- Be involved in a car accident with a drunken clown.
- Get offered a job as a drug mule at an unemployment office.
I’ve only been in New Hampshire one day, but that one day is enough to tell me that I just don’t belong anymore. Yeah, the crime rates are lower and it’s fun being the hottest girl in town, but that kind of fun wears off.
There’s a problem with small towns that people just don’t see unless they live there. The only way to explain it is to give some advice from a magician I met once.
“Never sit in the front row. You’ll be able to see the smoke and mirrors and it will ruin the illusion. If you truly want to be amazed, then the back seats are actually the best seats.”
From the outside looking in, you see the quaintness of it all. It always looks a little like a Rockwell painting. But on the inside, you see the seedy underbelly that is a small town. You see the bigotry and the meth labs. You see the lack of opportunity and the big business monopolies. A small town is a lot like a person who says one thing, but does another.
At least cities are honest. My neighbors don’t give a shit about me and I don’t give a shit about them. Just a few days ago, I found out the guy I’ve been calling Todd for the past year is actually named Tom. I didn’t apologize and he didn’t care. We don’t need to fake it because we’re city people and we don’t care what strangers think about us.
As I board a plane back to Florida, there’s a small part of me that is taken in by the romantic notion of living as a solitary writer in a little mountain shack. Then I shake my head. Who the fuck do I think I am? Thoreau?
Hell no. I’m Essa Alroc and I write stories, not literature. And those stories are often loosely based on real life events that I’ve witnessed.
And only in the city can I get a front row seat.
***Updated to add a welcome back gift from my friend and fellow comedic blogger, Mr. Tom Nardone***