This update is strictly for people who follow the Strangely Sober series. I rarely do book updates on here, because I think writing about my writing is fucking boring, but I had a few questions from people following the series that I wanted to answer.
Gio’s Gift will be the final book in the Sal series. This is for a number of reasons. First, the characters in my books live in real time. I’m not going to pull a Janet Evanovich and have characters that I write about for ten years, that never age. Also, I’m not going to stick to the same character for years and years. I love Sal, I really do. But once Gio’s Gift is finished, I will be retiring the character for good.
There will not be a prequel. People are curious about Sal’s origins, and I get that. Strangely Sober starts off several years after she got her schizophrenia diagnosis. It doesn’t delve into how she went from being a run of the mill crazy with a Gary Busey hallucination, to a full blown criminal mastermind. However, there won’t be a prequel explaining this because it is being covered in Gio’s Gift.
Gio’s Gift jumps back and forth. It tells the story of Sal at age 29 and it tells the story of Sal at age 39. It is going to be the longest book in the series. All questions will be answered and all mysteries will be revealed. While it is always sad to see a series end, I promise fans they will be satisfied with the way the series ends.
I’m estimating that Gio’s Gift will be available in December 2013 or January 2014. However, I reserve the right to pull a George R.R. Martin and take as long as I take to get the book right. If I’m going to end Sal, I’m going to do it right.
For those who loved Sal, because they were looking for a strong female protagonist who manages to rescue herself, rest assured, my history of writing strong female protagonists will continue. I myself am a strong female protagonist, so that’s all I know how to write. I currently have several novels in the pipeline that will be finished once Gio’s Gift is finished.
The first is about an aging trophy wife, who is so much more than just an aging trophy wife. Think “Anna Nicole Smith” meets “Indiana Jones”.
The next is about an Israeli computer hacker who scams Nigerian scam artists for a living. For people who love my over the top, pop culture characters, her best friend is a Bronie…otherwise known as a man obsessed with the series “My Little Pony”.
Right now, I’m really sucked into writing Gio’s Gift, so I don’t have a lot of time to answer people individually. However, I hope this update will suffice.
Also, if you want to see my writing style before you get involved in my novels, I recommend you check out The Apology. It is currently available for free on Nook, iTunes and Smashwords. I’m trying to get Kindle to make it free too, but those fuckers just aren’t participating. I just can’t justify charging people for an 85 page novella. However, if you’re stuck with Kindle, it’s still available there for 99 cents. But please let them know that it is free elsewhere.
In case you all didn’t know, I’m a self published author. I’ve never tried to be traditionally published. With all the query letters and excerpts required, it just seemed like too much of a job interview for me. Instead, I decided to do my own publishing to Kindle, with the hope that if I ever developed enough of a following, it would be easier to get into print. To date, it has worked. I’ve gotten a couple of offers from agents, but I haven’t accepted anything yet.
What can I say? I’m lazy and contracts are filled with big, boring scary legal words that I don’t feel like Googling. For now, I’m staying indie.
One of the big things that I hear from other self published authors is complaints about reviews. Specifically, bad reviews. Some just agonize about their bad reviews. Others gloat and put quotes on Facebook. To both groups I say…’wow, you guys actually read your reviews?’
When I go to the Kindle boards, all I see is people bitching about their reviews. Placing them verbatim and saying ‘do you guys agree?’ People take reviews personally. They get their feelings hurt. They complain they are being bullied online.
My answer? You’re not being bullied online. By publishing, you’ve made yourself into a public figure. When you’re a public figure, people are going to hate you. They’re going to disagree with you. They’re going to create hate pages about you. Google any celebrity you can think of and I guarantee, you’re going to find at least one hate page dedicated to them. The page will be filled with inaccuracies and inflammatory words. You’ll see people just spewing hatred, accusing them of being pedophiles, puppy kickers, and all kinds of horrible things.
What you won’t see on those hate pages are the celebrities themselves commenting. Why? Because they’re too busy spending all their money. Most of them don’t even know their hate pages exist.
The first warning most new self published authors receive is the warning to never comment on their reviews. Otherwise, they’ll wind on on ‘badly behaving authors’ lists and get the Goodreads review Mafias after them. I disagree.
Why? Because no one is allowed to tell me what to say or what to think. I don’t avoid commenting on reviews out of fear. There are very few things left in this world that I am still afraid of, and none of them have to do with book reviews.
I don’t comment because I don’t care. Book reviews are opinions. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and no comment from me is going to change their opinion.
Instead, I make it a rule that I only read book reviews every six months. Then, I use statistics to get constructive feedback out of them.
For example, on Strangely Sober, one person out of 27 had a problem with my weird storyline and use of profanity. That equals a very small percentage and I’m not fixing it. However, 5 people out of 27 had a problem with my timing. That’s something I need to look into.
Review mafias who tag your book with ‘never read’ or ‘badly behaving authors’ tags only have as much power as you give them in your head. The truth is that they make up like .005% of anyone who is going to look at your book. You’re not being bullied and you’re not being harassed. People just don’t like you. A very small amount of people, and you’re just fueling their fire when you waste time responding instead of working on your next book.
So, when you ask me ‘how do I respond to a bad review’ my response is always going to be, ‘why are you reading your reviews at all?’
If you want to be a writer, write. If you want to get into flame wars on the internet, then you don’t need my help. Just continue taking every single criticism personally and you can spend all your free time arguing with strangers on Goodreads and Amazon instead.
I’ll stick to writing and I’ll wave to you from the top of the New York Times Bestsellers list.
Subject: H.E. Ellis of the same name site H.E. Ellis
Location; Rural New Hampshire in wintertime
I peer out the window of the airport and all I can see is white. A cabbie takes my suitcase and comments on what a mild spring day it is. I am unable to respond as we step out the door; my lips have frozen to my teeth. Four cab rides, a horse drawn carriage, a skidoo and a four mile snow shoe hike later, I collapse in a heap by a mailbox. After a moment, a woman exits the small farmhouse and walks to the mailbox. She is wearing a tank top and jean shorts.
“Boy, that groundhog was right. Spring came early.” She pulls open the mailbox and rolls her eyes as she goes through a stack of letters. “More fucking hate mail for Jodi Picoult. I am not Jodi Picoult!” She finally notices me shivering in a heap on the ground. “Who are you?”
I come to a halting stand and reach out a trembling hand. “Mrgly flurgron di..” My lips are still frozen to my teeth. I try again. “I’m Essa and you must be H.E. Ellis. I’m here to interview you.” I look around. “Or I’ve died and hell is a frozen, barren wasteland.”
She shrugs. “It’s the only place the cops won’t find me. Let’s head into the house. This weather is terrible.
“Tell me about it. I…”
“I’m sweating my ass off out here.” She leads the way into the house, her flip flops slapping the ground. I follow her in as quickly as my frozen limbs will allow and pull out my tape recorder.
Of all places, why rural New Hampshire?
I survived a south Florida driveby. No really.
I spent most of my childhood moving from one shitty south Florida shantytown to the next. By the time I was fifteen I had gotten myself so deep into trouble that my mother sent me to live with my father in sunny, suburban, whitebread Connecticut. Talk about a culture shock. From there I followed a boy to rural New Hampshire and have been blissfully happy with my adopted hometown ever since. Seriously, there is no place on Earth like my little corner of New Hampshire. Well, maybe Nebraska…
How long have you been writing and how did you get started?
Three years ago I won a writing contest by submitting my suicide note. No really.
I am sure at some point on my blog I’ve spoken of how I got into writing by submitting a piece of flash fiction to a local contest that I ended up winning, but I doubt I included the dark place I was in when I wrote it. It is in essence my suicide note, although I didn’t realize it at the time. Enough people have asked me about how I got started writing that I have made a sub-page on my blog under ABOUT ME where I go into detail describing what actually led up to me becoming a writer.
You can find it here:
HOW IT ALL BEGAN http://heellisgoa.com/about/how-it-all-began/
Tell us about your website.
I like to think of my blog as a giant, empty warehouse where all the coolest people gather to throw the most awesome parties. Hardly anyone knows about it, and on it’s own it doesn’t have much to offer, but when uber bloggers drop in it’s instantly transformed into a virtual Studio 57. Truly, it’s my fellow bloggers who make it great.
Tell us about The Gods of Asphalt series.
The GOA series closely, I mean very closely parallels my life. I am surrounded by boys and men constantly, each with vastly differing personalities, and all of them volatile. As the only adult female my job became that of a living translator, attempting and often times failing at getting the males to understand each other. I began to wonder how men would get along without women to soften their world or give them comfort. From there I decided I would write a series about a family of men without wives or grandmothers or girlfriends. Each book would be written from the perspective of a different man struggling to find his place within the family and a need for love in his life.
In your Gods of Asphalt series, and the majority of your books, the characters are written from a male POV. Do you find it difficult to write a POV for a different gender and also, how do you do it?
I wish I could tell you that I have some amazing God-given talent that lets me adopt any manner of literary voice I wish but sadly, I cannot. I find it nearly impossible to write from the POV of a female for reasons I couldn’t begin to fathom. When I first started my blog I actually toyed with the idea of writing it as a man, but chickened out at the last second. Came close to pulling it off, though.
The Reapers with Issues series is a collaboration among you and a few other authors. How do you manage that? Tell us about your partners for this series as well as the inspiration for it.
When my friend S. Quinn Shaw was diagnosed with a terminal illness, my ex-husband Mikhail and I joined her at a Maine beach house owned by our mutual friend, Tom Elias. We spent that long fourth of July weekend lending her support and sharing her pain. Well somewhere between the lobster and beer we came up with a storyline that just cracked us all up. We imagined a typical family business with a patriarch who was soon to retire, a bevy of sons all clamoring for his job, the bastard son who comes out of nowhere, and the outside hires who are the only ones actually doing any work. From there we plugged in characters: God as the dad, the Archangels as his sons, Lucifer as the “black sheep” and Jesus as the bastard/favorite son. The Four Horsemen are the outsiders who try to do the best they can while the family business is in turmoil. The story practically wrote itself.
As far as a collaboration is concerned, we all contributed to the entire storyline, with me agreeing to write the first two novels and Tom Elias writing the remaining two. I guess the biggest secret about REAPERS is that we never set out to write it for real; we were all just amusing ourselves at a very dark time in our lives. But Quinn insisted that there was a story to be told, and so we did. I think she enjoyed having power over the “Reaper” and I know it made her more comfortable to demystify the afterlife. Thus, REAPERS WITH ISSUES, a title she came up with, was born. Quinn liked to joke that my name shares book cover billing with my ex-husband, my current love interest, and my dead best friend. That’s got to be some kind of record.
What song do you have in your music library that you would be ashamed to have anyone see?
Song? As in only one? Let’s see..I have more Rap music than I’d care to admit. Mostly what I have is music from my kids’ generation that I have to listen to in secret so they don’t think I am trying to be “cool.” For example, I know every word of EVERYWHERE I GO by Hollywood Undead and will belt it out every chance I get when I am alone. Google that shit at your own peril.
Favorite illicit substance?
True Absinthe. What can I say? I’m a closet Goth.
If you had to get rid of any state in the US, which one would it be and why?
MASSACHUSETTS. Anyone from New England knows why.
Pick two celebrities to be your parents. Same sex couples are encouraged.
Gordon Ramsay and Tim Gunn. They are the perfect Yin and Yang couple if you ask me. They both work in industries where perfection, sophistication and creativity are mandatory, yet each one brings out the best in their underlings in two completely different ways. I think I could be successful at anything I wanted to do in life with the two of them to guide me- one strong and driven, demanding only the highest of standards, one thoughtful and supportive who would encourage me to be the best I could be. Sigh…if only.
Of all the various positions in the Kama Sutra, which one do you believe is most likely to cause serious permanent injury and why?
I’ll be honest…I had to look up positions of the Kama Sutra and all I’ve got to say is that at 4’11″ the CATAPULT is right out.
Are you absolutely sure you’re not Jodi Picoult?
Hmm…let me think about this for a moment. I am not a New Hampshire woman who brags about what a great writer she is because she has the guts to write stories about a child who has cancer or a woman who has cancer or a woman who becomes a lawyer in order to defend a child who has cancer or a woman who dies of cancer while in childbirth…ad nauseam.
I am simply a writer who has donated all of the proceeds from her novels to a child who actually has cancer. If you’d like to help a brave young girl by contributing to a worthy cause greater than anything Ms. Picoult could ever write about, please visit www.wristsaroundtheworld.com
I’m putting away my tape recorder right now to write a somewhat squishy fan letter to H.E. Ellis. It’s not often that I find another ‘chick-with-balls’ writing on the web. By chick with balls, I mean someone who is willing to go no-holds-barred, not afraid to offend, no subject is forbidden…but still knows how to be funny. When it comes to hate mail, I have to say women who write like we do get the most. Why? Because we’re not acting like ‘ladies.’
I’m sure H.E. Ellis would totally agree with me when I say I’d rather be funny than be considered a lady. In fact, if you ask me, being a lady sounds boring as fuck. Rock on H.E. Ellis.
To anyone out there who likes the kind of humor that is displayed at Essa on Everything, I urge you to visit H.E. Ellis’ site. She’s like me, but if I grew up and got way better at grammar. If you want to check her out, head over to her site: H.E. Ellis
A few weeks back, I did a post about getting started in freelance writing. A lot of people liked it, and a lot more had questions. One very big question I got was if you can get paid for doing book reviews. I mean, I get it. If you’re a reader so it sounds like an awesome job, right? Free books, tell your opinion, get paid. Well, it’s not quite that simple and there are a few pitfalls.
If you can believe it, there is a bit of scandal in something as boring as the history of book reviews. Let me tell you about it.
Once upon a time, there was a man named John Locke. He wrote delightful little novels about a spy named Donavon Creed. They were mind candy. He made a million dollars…and he did it all through self publishing on the kindle platform. He handled all his own marketing because on top of being a writer, he was also a businessman.
Turns out, he was a slightly unethical businessman. See, he paid for people to get his book and give him reviews. He also paid people to leave bad reviews on the books of competitors. For him, it was all a game of math. Beat the Amazon ranking system; make it to the top 10 of the fiction section. Stay there for weeks thanks to the momentum. It was a genius evil plan of cat-stoking-maniacal-laugh proportions. Locke beat the house. He won the internet.
Then people found out and shit rolled downhill. Amazon, concerned about the credibility of their ranking system, started deleting reviews. They did it in bulk. Accounts that were known for accepting money for reviews were banned. The reviewing system fell apart.
Then came the mobs and their pitchforks. Readers were pissed at authors for conning them. Some would go as far as to organize online attacks and destroy author’s rankings on Goodreads and Amazon. Authors didn’t behave any better. They got into arguments in the forums with the reviewers that left reviews for them. They attacked book bloggers on their blogs.
All of this did two things. It eliminated your ability to get directly paid for book reviews, but it also created a niche market. The niche market is the need for book reviewers for indie books. Reputable indie reviewers. Because of the online flame wars, many popular book blogs no longer review indie books. If you can establish a good following of readers, you can make bank on an indie book blog.
The trick is not to get paid directly for reviews. Instead, it’s to get paid through offering an advertising forum. See, a self published author is always looking for cheap ways to advertise their free days or discount books. Authors find these sites by searching Google for high ranking indie blogs so we can cheaply advertise our books. If you’re popular, you can get a flood of requests for reviews and a flood of request for advertising. Free books and paid advertising. You make out on two fronts.
Check out sites like Captivated Reading, Underground Book Reviews or the delightfully named Insatiable Book Sluts to see what I’m talking about. These reviewers are hobbyist reviewers, so they have credibility, but they can also make money by allowing paid advertising on their sites. Not all of them do. Some only review out of love for reading, but they all have the kind of credibility and following you need. If you want to get paid for reviewing books, that’s what you need to do. Above all, your credibility and your following decide your price.
By credibility, I mean you don’t just review only the books you like. You must be willing to be a critic. You tell people what you honestly thought of the book. Here’s where it could kind of suck.
You might get a psycho author. Not all indies understand professionalism. They might seem normal in the beginning, but if you pan their book for bad writing or an unbelievable plot, they will cyber stalk you. They are few and far between, I promise, but they do occasionally poke their heads out. You can avoid this by checking out their webpage ahead of time. If they spend most of their time ranting about their Amazon reviews, or complain about being bullied by reviewers, that is a shit storm you want no part of.
If you are an author as well as a reviewer, you might want to consider separating those for your book blog. Some people are suspicious of reviewers who are also authors. It doesn’t mean your opinions aren’t completely above board, but you if you have a horse in the race, its hard to be unbiased. Why do you think I hate every single book above mine on Amazon? Because I’m a jealous bitch.
Getting started in book reviewing is as easy as actually reviewing books. Get onto Amazon, write in depth reviews for the books you’ve read. Write honest reviews. Don’t get into online flame wars with authors. Build your reviewing credibility and offer the option to advertise for indies. A lot of huge sites started out as small book blogs that gained a huge following.
Also, if you need a book to get started, feel free to contact me. I give out free print copies to review sites, along with free naked pictures** to those who give me good reviews.
** Free naked pictures feature middle-aged Bea Arthur, not author.
I get a lot of requests for proposals from prospective clients about projects they need done. Some are reasonable. They give me an outline of their project, I give them an idea of price and how long to complete. This notice isn’t for those clients. This notice is for the other 25% of proposal requests that I get that I immediately decline. Let me explain to you why you aren’t getting any responses to the project you need done and answer some common, but incredibly annoying questions I get.
You’re living in a fantasyland on price point. It’s not just annoying for someone to send me a request to write an ebook and tell me their budget is under $500; it’s insulting. Sometimes, if you’re just looking for formatting or editing, I get it, but you’re still asking the wrong girl. I write, I don’t edit. Believe it or not, the two generally don’t go hand in hand. However, for those people who want me to write an entire, 50,000 word, fictional story based on a very loose plot line about their family’s heirloom quilt, for under $500, realize that you are asking me to work for about 12 cents an hour. No, I don’t give a shit that you’ll give me a share of the profits when your boring as fuck quilt book goes viral like 50 Shades of Grey. Why? Because most self published books sell under 100 copies. If it’s a family project and you’re not interested in making money, how cute! Call me back when you can actually afford to pay for my time. Generally, a novel that I sign away all rights to is costing you in the 5 figure range. That way, if the book does make you rich, I will be less likely to kill myself for signing away the rights to it.
No, I won’t post the articles on my blog. I know that they’d get more exposure here, but there’s a reason my blogs are popular. Because I write interesting shit and I don’t censor myself for a sponsor. If I start selling out and selling space to every company who approaches me, my blog would soon be nothing more than vibrator reviews and healing crystal articles. Then my readers would disappear. I rarely drag my blog into my work. Last time I did, it was for a company whose goal was to build schools for girls in Afghanistan. If your company is trying to raise money to keep a 10 year old from getting acid thrown in her face for daring to learn to read, then fine, drop me an email. If you need a review of the New Rabbit Ultrasonic Orgasm 5000, I will give you the same review I give all vibrators right now. “It’s good, but not as good as the real thing.”
You don’t need to talk to me on the phone. Picture me doing that Jedi thing with my hand as I say that. I work with an escrow account, meaning that if you’re not satisfied, you’re getting your money back and I never even see it. I am not a Nigerian scam artist. You do not need to talk to me, or heaven fucking forbid, Skype with me. I write for a reason. I hate talking to people. We can exchange the same info in a 3 second email that you want to give me in a 25 minute phone conversation. Oh, and we will never Skype. Why? Because I haven’t changed my clothes or brushed my hair since I started freelancing. Trust me, seeing me would actually be less reassuring.
Employee or Contractor – Pick one. If the answer is employee, I quit. Here’s how it works. You tell me what you want, I deliver it in the required time frame for an agreed upon price. You pay me. I go away. In exchange, you don’t have to insure me, pay me unemployment if you don’t need me, or jump through hoops to get rid of me. You are not installing a tracking monitor on my keyboard to make sure I’m typing the whole time. You’re not spying on me with a web cam or taking screen shots of my computer verify my hours. That’s shit you do to an employee, which I am not. We agree to a price for a product, I deliver it. Let’s keep it uncomplicated.
NO FREE SAMPLES! Picture this; I finally walk into Abercrombie & Fitch without my eyes swelling shut from allergies. I cram myself into a pair of acid green, torn, size – 4 jeans then walk out of the store in them without paying. It’s ok though, because if I like them, I’ll actually pay for more. If I don’t, I won’t buy anymore, but I’m going to keep the pair I just took. Sound ok? That’s what you’re asking me to do when you want me to write an example, 500 word blog post for free and sign away my rights to you for it. Need a sample? Check one of the 70 articles, 3 books or countless blog posts I have published. A request for a custom written free sample screams scam to me and you’re not getting a response.
Of course, the clients like these are uncommon, but not exactly rare. In fact, I think I get at least one of these requests a week. For those who are considering freelancing careers, keep an eye out for those types of request. Sometimes, they’re just harmless requests from someone not familiar with the work. Sometimes, they’re request from people trying to get over on a new freelancer. Luckily, the beauty of being a freelancer means you never have to be stuck with a bad client. Instead, you can dump them off on someone who’s not as informed.
After Christmas letdown. I remember it being a lot more severe when I was a kid. Maybe it’s because its such a relief that Christmas is over. Maybe it’s because I’ve replaced the letdown with a more adult version. It’s called ‘the hangover’. It’s mainly that same, sluggish, depressed feeling, but the adult version includes vomiting.
You know what a great cure for after Christmas
hangover letdown is? Downloading one of my new books onto that awesome new kindle you got. Let me take you to a beautiful, magical place, where Gary Busey is a valid authority figure and casual drug use is considered a life calling.
First off, if you’re the commitment shy type, my novella, The Apology, is free for the next three days. This book is the literary equivalent of a bar fly. Very little time commitment and it doesn’t expect you to spend any money on it. Also, like that experienced bar fly, it is fantastic in bed and will do dirty, dirty things to you. Well, not really, but sex sells. Let’s just say it’s good. It even has alpacas. Trust me, you’ll love it.
If you have read my first book, Strangely Sober and liked it, then the second installment, Asymmetric Angels, is out today. If you read my first book, Strangely Sober, and hated it, why the hell are you still reading my blog? That’s just weird.
Or you can see the book that started it all. Satisfied readers have said things like “I think you would have to be on something to read this book!”. Ok, that was actually a quote from my 1 star review, but it looks much more positive when there’s an exclamation point added, don’t you think? Really though, some people actually liked it. You should check it out. You might be one of those people.
Today, I looked slightly to the right of my computer screen and realized that my site counter for the release of my next book, Asymmetric Angels, has significantly less time on it than it used to.
When the hell did that happen?
I currently have three days to finish my next 100k word book, if I want to get it to my proofreader in time for the December 26 release. Is it done? Mostly. It’s all written in my head. It’s just getting the damn words down on paper that’s the pain in the ass.
When are they going to invent mind reading dictation software? It’s the 21st Century for Gods sake. We should all be riding around in hover cars, living in space, and I should be able to write my novels while I’m sleeping.
Anywho, I’d say all together I have about 20k words left to go. That’s not so bad. Mainly just closing up plot holes and writing the ending with enough lose ends to allow me leeway into the third and final book. But I can’t get it done. Why? Because I’m the words biggest procrastinator and I have the attention span of a baby goldfish. To give you all an idea of what I’m dealing with here, below is an inside look into my writing process.
An insanely hot girl sits at a crappy computer desk in a small suburb outside of the Orlando metro area. She scratched her chin thoughtfully. “Is this a chin hair?” Tug, tug, tug. “How the hell did it get so long? How did I not notice this before?” Tug, tug, tug. She takes her hand away from her face. “What was I doing again? Oh, yeah. Novel. Must finish novel.” She cracks her knuckles and lights another cigarette. She types a few words on the screen. Reads them out loud. Deletes them all again. Lifts her coffee mug to take a sip. “Argh! When the hell did I put a cigarette out in this!” Spits out coffee disgustedly and notices her overflowing ashtray. Stomps off to the kitchen to get new, cigarette-butt-free coffee and empty ashtray. Returns and sits back down. “Where was I again? Oh, yeah. Novel.” Begins to type when she sees a small, moving dot on her screen. “Is that an ant? Where the hell did an ant come from?” She climbs out of her chair, peering suspiciously, and begins to follow the ant as it crawls off her screen. She tracks it across her desk, down her wall and all the way to her bathroom before she loses track of it. Sighing deeply, she returns to her computer and sits back down. “What was I doing again? Oh, yeah. Novel.” She begins typing and scratches her chin thoughtfully. “Is this a chin hair?” Tug, tug, tug.
Anyway, as you all can see what I’m dealing with here, I really need to buckle down if I’m going to get this done. Until this book is safely nestled in the arms of my proofreader, I’m going to be offline, but I’ll be back soon, sharing my mild disdain and skewered world perspective for all your entertainment.
Now, if you’ll all excuse me, I really have to go take care of this chin hair.
A few weeks back, I did a post bemoaning my inability to write a sex scene. At the time, I considered it one of the very rare areas of difficulty for me…at least in writing. I’m mainly bad at everything else I do. Dating, parenting, parallel parking, doing that thing with your thumb where it looks like you’re taking it off but you’re really not, pretty much everything is an ‘area of opportunity for me’. Except for writing. I always thought I was ok at writing.
Then today, I had to turn down a job. Why? Because I was incapable of doing the writing required for it. The subject matter? G-rated humor.
In the past, I worked for this company that runs a clever little website. You upload a photo, it uploads a caption for the photo. They hired me before to create those captions. It was actually a really fun job. 100 snarky, mean and sarcastic one liners. As I am the queen of caustic one liners, I whipped those things off like it was nothing. They were very pleased with my work and a little frightened of me as a person.
Then, they asked me to do it again. But this time, no snark. Instead, these captions would be for parents and grandparents needing baby picture captions and whatnot. “Sure,” I said. “I can do G-rated. How hard can it be?”
Famous last words.
Today, I spent 2 hours (not even exaggerating) staring at a photo of a cute little baby boy with a sad face. I stared and I waited for inspiration…and waited…and waited. Oh and inspiration came, but it came in the form of my true, blue-style humor. Every thought that came to me was a mean quip about how annoying children are, about drunk babies, about breast feeding, about people who breastfeed for way to long. Then I thought about how ugly this kid was getting the longer I looked at him. Nothing clean. Nothing nice. All hilarious. The things I said about that baby in my head today will haunt me to my grave…and also make me chuckle a little. Then, I pictured the horrified look on some grandmother’s face as her adorable grandson’s picture was plastered with the caption “Stupid broken condom!!!” and I chuckled even more.
I am a terrible person.
I never thought that I would run into an area so large that I was incapable of writing about. Just as I was working thought my sex scene issues, with the help of a large amount of tequila and many, many photos of Julian McMahon, I ran into an entire genre that isn’t just difficult for me to write. It’s impossible.
Here’s the thing; I was born a cynic. When my parents took me to see E.T., two year old Essa stormed out while everyone was sobbing, declaring that it was ‘sappy bullshit’. I don’t get the warm fuzzies. I don’t believe in happy endings (unless they are the kind you get at an unlicensed massage parlor) and I flinch if someone mentions feelings. It was how I was designed. For the most part, it’s done ok for me. Then this happens.
I’d like to say I’m going to work on it, but I probably won’t, because I know it’s a futile task. I will never be classy and I will never be clean. I will always be wrapped in a hard shell of cynicism and I will never giggle over baby shoes or tell a joke suitable for a church picnic. Even if I tried, it would all ring false and it wouldn’t be funny, it would just be sad.
Some of my favorite authors are clean. I absolutely love Dave Barry, but I could never be like him. His posts are family friendly and I am the exact opposite. I’m for ‘restricted audiences’. I’m the girl you don’t invite to the wedding because she gets in a drunken fight. I’m the girl you don’t ask to come to the funeral, because crying skeeves me out. I’m the girl that doesn’t get an invitation to the baby shower, because at the last one, I gave the expectant mother a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of gin. I am not ‘family friendly’. I am ‘family enemy’ and there is really nothing I can do but embrace it.
God bless those who appreciate blue humor.
***On another note, not related to my suckish writing, I released a novella today that is wildly inappropriate, filled with profanity, but lacks the sex scene that I am not yet comfortable enough to write. You can check out my new book, The Apology, here.***
I’ve taken a tiny break from working on my sequel to write a short novella called ‘The Apology’. It’s not my usually genre. See, I’m more of a pulp-novel, mystery/suspense kind of girl. I might toss an undercurrent of romance in there, but I generally don’t focus my books on it. This novella is giving me some trouble because it falls into the ‘romantic suspense’ genre.
You know what that means? Sex scenes.
Ugh, fucking sex scenes. I mean literally, fucking sex scenes. I can usually write about anything. I can write an action scene. I can write a twist like a pro, but the one thing I’m totally uncomfortable with is writing sex scenes. Nothing makes my head throb like the idea of writing about throbbing loins.
I think there’s an ointment for that.
There’s something so skeevy about it to me. I’m always worried that anyone reading one of my scenes is going to be like, ‘oh, so this is what she thinks about when she masturbates.’
For the record, its not. I think about shirtless Obama or rolling around in a giant pile of money when I masturbate. If I’m feeling particularly kinky, I might fantasize about rolling around in a giant pile of money with shirtless Obama. I know it’s totally unrealistic. If we were rolling around in anything, it would probably be a pile of Yuan borrowed from China.
But my fantasies aside, I just don’t feel like I can pull off a good sex scene. I mean, if you read last nights rant, you know I haven’t done it in awhile. What if they changed it? And the wording! I refuse, absolutely refuse, to use the phrase “throbbing manhood.” But then what am I supposed to use? Penis is far too clinical and cock feels way to crude. Maybe I can make up my own, like ‘moaning love snake’ or ‘heated, swollen kielbasa.’
Great, now I’m hungry.
I don’t have this problem with anything else. If I’m stuck on a bit of dialog, or a conversation feels stilted, I go out and I people watch. I write down the gestures they use and the way they move when they talk, and voila, writers block over. I can’t really do the same thing with a sex scene. Unless there is somebody out there who is willing to let a strange woman watch them and their significant other do it while she takes notes? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Also, I know a lot of the people that read my books. Like my mother, and my brother, and my aunts and cousins. I can’t even watch a sex scene in a movie with them without feeling awkward and having to leave the room. The last thing I want to do is let them read a sex scene cooked up in my head.
I might have to outsource to an SEO company based in India. Unfortunately, if I do that, my sex scene is going to read like this;
She gripped his happiness with much fervor and proceeded to orally fixate his arousal.
“Careful,” he stated, as he gasped and clutched her hand, sweat dotting his brow, “If you continue to gesticulate my manhood in such a manner, I will be forced to consult with a PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY SYRACUSE NY”
Anyway, I’m off for the night. My plan is to get uber drunk and then search the internet for pictures of Obama with his shirt off, and then write a sex scene rife with spelling errors. However, if you happen to be part of an attractive couple, who is interested in having a strange writer watch them intently and take notes as they engage in intercourse with their partner, I would greatly appreciate it.
As would my throbbing womanhood.
I love a good cliché as much as the next person. Nothing gets me going more than watching an action hero walk away from an explosion in slow motion. In fact, thanks to that particular cliché, walking away from an explosion is on my bucket list. There is a high probability that I’ll actually get killed while trying to cross that one off.
For future reference, it was totally worth it.
However, when it comes to reading, I’m a little less cliché friendly. I find that once a certain novel gets successful, a million and one books come out trying to duplicate that success. Unfortunately, half the reason the book got successful in the first place? Angst filled teenage girls. Wanna know the problem with that? Angst filled teenage girls are idiots.
I know because I was one once.
So, again, in an effort to help the literary world make a comeback, and in the hopes that fan fiction will NEVER become a bestseller again, I was hoping my fellow authors would be willing to make some adjustments.
1. Enough with the fucking vampires (or vampyres, however the goddamn emo’s are spelling it now) and werewolves. The idea of a guy biting me while we’re doing it is not arousing. I think that’s how Pamela Anderson got hepatitis. How is the possible of hepatitis somehow a turn on? And werewolves? I have a dog and she spends the majority of her day with her tongue firmly planted in her rectum. Seriously, licking her own anus is like her hobby. I’m assuming wolves have the same habits and excuse me if I don’t want to make out with someone whose been doing that all day. Gross.
2. No more uptight, career focused women who need a wacky, laid back leading man…whose also a billionaire, to teach them how to live. You know how you become a billionaire? Backbiting, backstabbing, idea stealing, sleazy legal maneuvers and working 190 hours a week. Billionaires are not laid back. They’re assholes. You know how they got to be billionaires in the first place? By being assholes. It’s the American way.
3. This one hurts, but enough with the sexy single moms whose kids immediately fall in love with the male lead. I know, it bothers me to let go of the dream, but I’m a single mom. That shit doesn’t happen. Any man I bring into the house, even if he’s the fucking exterminator, is greeted by sullen suspicion and apprehension from my son. Why? Because I live in Florida and in an effort to prevent molestation and/or abduction, I have taught him to treat every strange man who comes into my house with apprehension and suspicion. If some man came by, who was desperate to raise another dudes kid, I would immediately determine that he was recruiting for a child sex ring and react appropriately by stabbing him in the balls…if my kid didn’t do it first.
4. No more Cinderella stories. Personally, I think this story is actually a little damaging to women. Think about it; pretty girl is sad because everyone is mean to her. Then, without making any effort whatsoever, a magic fairy god mother comes along to fix everything for her…but only for one night. Lucky for Cinderella, a big strong man is there; ready to make all their problems go away forever by using his magic money to make everything better. Too many women spend their lives waiting for Price Charming, only to find out that their actually dating someone a little closer to Hannibal Lector. Listen, its not that you’re not good enough for a rich man ladies. It’s that most of their marriages are already arranged in a merger designed to make the most possible money. If they need a pretty girl with a heart of gold, then they hire a prostitute. Stop waiting for Price Charming and stop writing books about him.
5. Stop with the “nobody noticed her until she got a makeover” bullshit. Pretty ain’t everything. In fact, it’s a hell of a lot of nothing. Now its time for me to be a narcissistic bitch (my favorite time of day). When I was little, I was fat and I had bad teeth. Then I got braces and lost weight. Now, I’m pretty sure I qualify as pretty (sober 6, drunk 7). Guess how much better my life got after I made that transition? If you guessed “not at all” then your right. I’m still the same person I was when I wasn’t hot. Only difference now? I get hit on by men twice my age on a regular basis. Yay! Believe it or not, personality does matter. If you’re pretty, but a complete cunt, life isn’t going to be great. One of my best friends from childhood is absolutely stunning. Seriously, she’s actually painful to look at, she’s that hot. She’s also never had an ex who doesn’t want her dead and she has spent most of her adult life searching for a man who wants her for more than one night. When I was in High School, there were ugly girls that were popular and pretty girls who weren’t. Life isn’t all about looks. People do see beyond that.
Anyway, I’ve had enough. The same old tired plot lines are dead. Let’s stop beating the shit out of them. Am I saying that everything has to be literary fiction that makes you think? Hell no! I hate thinking, even though I’m really good at it. I’m just asking that everyone stop rehashing the same old bullshit and think of something new.
Now, novelists, get to work. Get out there and write me a book about a 500 pound heroine who meets and marries a homeless man (who is not a vampire). It least it will be a decent change of pace.