In the Next Year – An Essa Birthday Special

Today I turned 34. Now I must say my life is a lot better at 34 than it was at 24. Based on the fact that my happiness seems to double every 10 years, I’m pretty sure being 44 will kick ass.

But I need to put some plans in place if I want to make it to 44. So as my demographic changes from the ‘young persons box’ to the ‘adult’ box, I have made the following changes.

I will stop cyber stalking people that piss me off.

Seriously, there is nothing more I like in the world than starting a fight. Unfortunately, those fights seem to suck up a lot of my time. I mean, what’s more interesting? Writing a 700 world article on the benefits of RLSA in a paid search advertising campaign, or hunting down a hate mailer’s personal details and posting all his info on Craigslist with a discreet request for some hardcore S&M man-on-man action? Can you blame me for being immature and choosing the latter?

But I am a professional and I need to spend more time actually working as opposed to pretending to work while I hunt some poor internet douchebag down so I can call him at home at 3 am…14 times in a row. Jesus, I have got to stop drinking.

I will stop drinking…so much

I’m pretty sure I have 4 out of 7 of the early signs of liver failure. On the upside, I’m losing weight like crazy. 6 pounds in a week? Most cancer patients on chemo can’t brag about that much. It’s easy to lose weight when your diet consist of hops, barely and disdain.

So I will stop drinking so much. I will do the responsible thing.

I’ll switch to marijuana.

I will be less afraid of bugs

I have had the same dead roach on my bathroom floor for the past few days, because I’m afraid of picking it up. I’m not sure if it’s dead. To anyone who has ever dealt with a roach, you know the second you pick that thing up to throw it away, it starts twitching around and freaks you the fuck out. Seriously, they’re like the terminator. Just DIE already.

I’ll publish enough to live on my book sales.

Right now, I can live on the royalties alone. Hell, I sold 1509 books in the month of May, but that will taper off. I’m planning on living on my royalties for the summer while I expand my catalog. Expect to see the end of the Strangely Sober series in July, as well as the beginning of the Blue Suede series in August. Then expect my lazy ass to take a few months off while I roll around in a giant pile of money.

I’ll start brushing my hair again

Yeah, I haven’t in weeks and I don’t even have cute white girl dreadlocks anymore. Instead, my hair has congealed into a tennis ball sized mass at the back of my head. Before you call me out on my lack of grooming, you need to understand what it is to be a Floridian.

Namely, the second you step out of your shower, you already start to sweat and feel dirty again. Something like that will really kill your motivation to look pretty. Your only goal becomes preventing yourself from dissolving into a ball of humid goo. Hair-brushing tends to take second place.

That doesn’t work as well when your hair reaches your waist. So either I’ll start brushing it, or I’ll just get drunk and cut it all off, but either way, I will make a decision.

It’s amazing to me how much the past few years have changed my life. I haven’t seen the inside of a cubicle in two years and I’ve been avoiding my student loan officer for the same amount of time. I’ve gained a fan following, gained a following of anti-fans and might even have a hate site by now. I’ve written 6 books, pissed off men, pissed off women, pissed off everyone in my home town, learned how to buy weed on the internet and learned how to tie a cherry stem into a knot with my tongue.

I have a feeling that 34 is going to be a kick ass year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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?

tampon

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.

jason-alexander-sized

“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.


Update on Gio’s Gift

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.


Dealing With Bad Reviews…Get Over It

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.


Friday’s Featured Blogger – H.E. Ellis

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

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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


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