Rose Water

 

I start running my fingers up and down the ceramic vase.  The friction of my nails against it conjures a noise like distant wind.  Up and down, up and down.  The stunning blood red bloom escapes my notice.  I’m proud of not looking at it.  I can’t see the water in the vase but I imagine it’s rippling behind its black wall, insignificant to all but the spiky stem slowly sucking its cool liquid.   

I’m thirsty.  I’m jealous of the flower. 

The most beautiful flower in existence, its oil is worth its weight in gold.  Nobility in cultures spanning the globe valued tiny vials of it.  Princesses soaked in ornate baths strewn with fragrant petals.   I try to swallow but my throat is still parched.  My nails are still dragging across the vase, making me think of black sand.  But my finger pads bear no tiny midnight granules infiltrating the unique crevices of my flesh. 

My skin is dry. 

Up and down up and down and the wind groans against the window beside me.  I refuse to look at the rose.  Maintaining a dead stare ahead, my arm a failing ninety degree angle as my fingers refuse to stop their wind calling rhythm. 

Great beauties all have secrets.  Sprits their faces with rose water in the morning.  Put rose oil in your bath.   Put rose oil behind your ears, it will give you confidence. 

Wake up and smell the roses.  Hold the stem between your teeth while he twirls your body around a wooden dance floor.   Toss the bouquet to the next lucky woman.  Candy the petals, sprinkle their delicate fragrant parts in sugar.  Put them on a cake that would take renowned experts hours to create.  Consume their beauty. 

Become them. 

‘I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden…’  I start to sing softly.

I want the water.  I want to drink the water and bathe in a tub of rose water laced with rose oil.  I want pretty pink petals to float past me.  I still won’t look at the flower.  I’m so damned thirsty.  I shake my head in refusal. 

My eyelids flutter, gaze rolling back into my head.   I don’t want to groan so instead my breaths come in gasps, further drying my throat.  My desperate voice creeps out against my will and I sing the tune again. 

‘I beg your pardon….’ 

My weak, dwindling will.  My fading desire.  My dying beauty. 

I stand, humming and grab the rose by its head.  I crush the petals until I smell the fragrant aroma and know it’s staining my hand.

Laying the broken bloom on the table I grab the vase.   It’s awkward on my lips but gulping the rose water is easy.  I drain it and set the empty vessel back down, putting the crushed rose back inside. 

But the rose isn’t crushed.  It’s still vibrant, still beautiful.  Like it’s just bloomed and been cut from the garden. 

Then the door opens and my love enters along with the wind I called.  It carried him to me.  He’s holding a bouquet of blood red roses.   His smile fades a little when he sees me.  As if he doesn’t recognize me. 

It takes no time to reach him.  I’m so refreshed by the rose water.   

I think I will have a special rose oil bath later. 

My fangs pierce his neck like thorns.  But they go much deeper and I drink.  He struggles but I won’t let him deny me this.  This feels so much better, like a rare tonic.  His salty rich red energy fills me and I grunt against him with satisfaction. 

Forget diamonds, forget chocolate, this is what I needed. 

I look deep into his fading eyes and helpfully place a stem between his teeth.

‘They’re beautiful.’  I kiss his damp cheek. 

He’s still alive when I take the roses and leave. 

 

 

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By jmnauthor3000

Stare

 

Ian walked into the bathroom, regretting not putting on slippers.

Yesterday, he’d encountered a massive black spider in here.

What if it crawls over my feet?

He ignored the chill on his feet and checked himself out in the mirror, instantly comforted.

Ian smirked at his reflection, running his left hand through floppy blonde hair.  Happy that he didn’t have any dark circles beneath his eyes, even in the unflattering fluorescent light, he still looked good.

Handsome devil.                              

Ian suddenly jerked his arm in reaction to a tickling sensation and heard a squeak.

Do spiders make noise?

Ian’s breaths became rapid, his chest puffing at an alarming pace he couldn’t control.

In out in out in out…slower Ian breathe slower

Whatever it was wasn’t letting go of his hand but it wasn’t biting either.

He’d abandoned his reflection and backed away from the sink to the middle of the bathroom.

Spindly, curved black fingers made him think spider!…but this was something else.

Chest still heaving he turned his hand over slowly.

Can’t startle a poisonous animal attached to you…something about that

‘I’m not poisonous.’

Ian cursed and the tiny yellow eyes widened.

‘Wha wha whaaaaat’ his voice wouldn’t elevate above a terrified whisper and his tongue refused to cooperate.

‘Get your breathing under control, Ian.’  The creature’s gruff, demonic voice didn’t match its size.

Coarse black hairs sparsely covered the thin grey skin of the…whatever it was.

It was ugly. 

‘I’m your fear’ its tone was mocking and superior.

‘I’m afraid of spiders.’

‘You don’t know what I am.’ It replied.

At any moment, it was going to strike.  Bite him, something.

‘You don’t know what I want.’  Again the base voice spoke with a superior, mocking tone.

‘Ah!’  Ian decided that any potential pain or even death would be worth it and began to violently shake his right hand.

It didn’t move, only dug its dull claws deeper.

Ian stopped.  He drew breaths yet it was as though the oxygen had been siphoned from the air.

Staring into its yellow eyes, the thing’s gaze was as though it too was terrified.

Ian fell to his knees.

Again the voice came out of its snout, completely at odds with its vulnerable, diminutive appearance.

‘You are frightened of being ugly, aren’t you?’

When the bright yellow eyes widened, oxygen permeated the air again.

Only it was like ice in his throat.

Hideous.  Ridiculous.  You don’t even know what it I am.  You wouldn’t even look me up I bet.

Some think I’m cute.

Handsome devil.

Ian’s internal voice was still his own, but was saying things he hadn’t sanctioned.

Delicate bones started to move, back and forth. Tiny joints shifting in a strange dance

The tiles beneath Ian’s knees were freezing.  He needed to get up but it was impossible, one handed.

I am going to melt you.

A sound like a whoopee cushion being sat upon filled the room.

The yellow eyes popped out like buttons and the pee wee sized bones evaporated.

Mini dumbo ears and grey skin sagged onto Ian’s palm.

Like a macabre deflated balloon, it slipped off his hand onto the floor.

Ian picked it up, unable to find the eyes.

No wiry hairs, no snout or blood or any evidence of a living thing.  No tiny teeth or claws.

‘Ah!’ Ian shouted

His palm stung as though shaved glass injected his hand.

Ian grimaced, expecting to find bleeding flesh, but it was unbroken.

Ian’s gaze narrowed as his skin…moved

Like some tiny animal rolled over beneath it.

Ian looked into the mirror and shouted in a voice that wasn’t his.

It was making fun of him.

Yellow eyes stared back.

They were his now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By jmnauthor3000

Magic

 

A luminous shower of undeserved magic

Land on skin

Seep into pores

Deep into the soul

No escape

Wincing, belly clutching

Trying not to look

Trying not to feel

Hidden

Frightened by the knowing gaze

Of discovery

Slow panic

Threats of throttling

By invisible hands

Unknowing

Overcome

Blessed without innocence

Unglamorous sin

Seen by Angels

Ashamed

Vibrant, luscious fruit

Without appeal

Desperate to tempt

The blood in the Moon

Close, so close

Brazenly exposed

Poised to rain down

With neither guilt nor malice

 

By jmnauthor3000

Leo the Lion

 

Stalking prey with horns and hooves

Disturbing the dust

A twist of the head

Could take out an eye

Blinding proud feline features

Thirsty lions admiring their amphibious twin

Glory swallowed by growling throats,

Besotted by shapes and sinews

The curve of the yellow eye forever powerful

A brave, hungry stare

In the light of the pretty moon

The lithest of swift creatures

Trapped by regal jaws

Piercing hides with horns and hooves

Death in the dust of an ancient earth

Leo’s spirit, reflected in the sky

Defiantly beautiful

Deadly Pride

Hunting in the moonlight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By jmnauthor3000

Blue Moon….

 

Blood shot eyes bulge at a rare beauty

The moon controls everything

The ebb and flow of the tired cliché that is life

A silver flute better played by others

with far more dignity

Not like a self loathing leech with nothing to suck

Not one drop of decent blood in that slimy mouth

Falling into the dark

Starving while gorging

Bound yet alone

Pulling on unrelenting ropes

She always gets away

And always comes back

Waking up to the horrors

Surrounded by muck

A white luminous eye

Watches the waltzer behind the window

Dancing the dance of the insane

Basking in elusive light

Cower, writhe and sweat

Beneath Lumina’s blanket

Sleep free of shadows

 

 

 

 

By jmnauthor3000

All the President’s Men…

 

I’m gonna weigh in on the whole President’s Club incident.  I’m going to talk about sex and sexuality so if that makes you uncomfortable then please don’t read this.

I cannot imagine applying for a job where I was expected to ‘hostess’ a group of intoxicated men. 

I actively avoided situations as a single young adult where men and alcohol would be present. 

But then, I avoided people, period.  Still do. 

I don’t know the ladies who signed up for the job.  The cold hard fact is that if you are beautiful and young and female, there are some pretty quick ways you can earn cash.  Not that there is no market for men cashing in on their sex appeal.  There is.  But Hooters is better known by most than Tallywackers (which by the way, I researched for the sake of writing this).   

It’s January, these rather young ladies wanted to make some money.  I am sure many of them accepted they would have to cope with an evening of rich men leering at them.  Perhaps some of them even thought ‘Well, I’ll have a drink and just get on with it.  I could use the money.’

When I was young and ‘hot’ I worked in a Catholic book shop.  I didn’t make much money.  I couldn’t have gotten my own apartment or say, bought a car.

I was still a reasonably privileged girl and never in a position where I had to consider doing that. 

Then again, not everyone who goes with cashing in on sex appeal is poor or from an oppressed group.  There’s a whole world of psychology behind it I don’t understand and thus, hesitate to condemn.   

Again, some just know that it’s a quick way to get some money.  It’s a job.  It’s a car payment, a month’s rent.  A bit of that student loan paid off.  

Supply and demand. 

You want a special patron saint card?  Three bucks. 

You want boobs?  Fifty bucks. 

I still truly believe that love and sex are beautiful wonderful things to be shared between consenting adults (whatever orientation or gender identity, if it involves mutual desire, consent and grown-ups then fine).

Not everyone is like me. 

So, do I think that these women knew what sort of an evening they were in for, signed up, put on black panties, smiled and accepted the money?  Sure. 

Does that mean that they deserved to be touched or groped or propositioned? 

No.  A thousand times no. 

Honestly? Even if you DO work in the sex industry (as far as I know these ladies weren’t sex workers, they were just young ladies willing to look pretty and sexy, serve drinks and canapes), there can still be such a thing as ethics.   In fact, it’s essential.  It’s business. 

Any business should have a code of ethics.  I would have thought those President’s club men knew that. 

I mean, the sex industry is older than whatever varying businesses the fellows at that President’s Club men only dinner are involved in. 

Tales of young people choosing to strip because it’s a sure fire way to earn cash if you can do it, are abundant.   It sure would pay more than working in a Catholic book and gift shop. 

Do I wish I would have stripped?  No.  But I don’t judge women who do choose to do it.  I want society to change, yes.  I want to live in an ideal world where stripping and sex work isn’t a lucrative (if short term) option for earning money. 

I also don’t want to live in a world where grown, professional adults want to attend an event where serving staff are specifically hired to appeal to them and be…

sort of like yet not quite sex workers but are they sex workers not really no actually definitely not but oh they’re attractive why can’t I touch if the beautiful smiles they signed a non-disclosure agreement right?  Okay gropey gropey it is then what the hell I’ve had a scotch and it’s for the children’s charity yay I’m rich.

*sigh*…anyway…

I have both a daughter and a son.  Would I encourage my daughter to ‘hostess’ one day?  No.  It’s my preference as a parent for her to make her way in life in a way that isn’t reliant on youthful beauty.  But it doesn’t escape my notice that times can be tough and life is expensive. 

But I don’t want either of my children to feel ashamed of themselves or their bodies for having thoughts and feelings that are completely normal.  

I will tell BOTH of my children that in no way do they have to tolerate being touched in a way they aren’t comfortable with, and in no way do they have the right to touch someone else who has not given their full, indisputable sober consent. 

I’m not particularly happy that my kids are growing up in a society where sexy, attractive, young and willing or representations of such are the most valuable currency. 

It’s normal and natural for human beings to have desires, to find others attractive, to crave approval and praise, to seek pleasure.  I’m fine with all this.  As long as ethics are involved.  And yes, ethics also have a place in sexual dynamics.  However you roll. 

Let me give you a blunt, really uncomfortable scenario.  It’s opposite day okay?  I’ll imagine, I’m in a room full of shirtless, fit twenty-thirty something men and I am at a ‘ladies only’ function.  Personally I find this scenario unlikely and I wouldn’t attend a strictly ladies only function. 

But for the sake of argument, it’s opposite day. 

Would I notice that the men look nice and have a certain appeal?  Sure.  I am a grown, heterosexual woman with pretty decent eyesight.  

The men might have been told that they might get a grope or two off of some tipsy cougars.  They might have been told to wear cologne and make sure they’ve flossed and rinsed. 

They might have shrugged and agreed.

So, would I feel it’s cool to stroke one of their biceps?  Let my hand linger on one of their shoulders for too long?  Caress a freshly shaven jaw? 

No.  A thousand times no.  Those fellows aren’t sex workers looking for a client.  They didn’t agree to be fondled.  

I struggle to see the fulfillment in that sort of exchange.  Also.  Ew!  And why are we living in a society where this is what we want to do at a party? 

First of all I’m married, just as I believe a few of the gentlemen at the President’s club would have been.

Plastic surgery for the wife?   

Second of all just because the serving staff are appealing doesn’t mean I have some ‘drunk girls just wanna have fun…you know how women are after thirty wink wink’ permission to touch attractive young men simply because they are walking examples of society’s ideal for male beauty.

Which by the way, isn’t fair on men either.  Making people feel redundant for not being a prescribed physical ideal is both low-brow and cruel.  We ALL need to do better at fighting this. 

Now, this is the point where the old school folks might say, ‘yeah but men are different, they are visual, etc….’ 

I say fuck that and the bullshit horse it rode in on.  Visual eh?  LOOK, LOOK, LOOK. 

But keep your hands to yourself unless enthusiastically, stone cold soberly invited. 

There won’t be any confusion, trust me.  

Those high society, upper level elite rich men are in no way excused for being corrupt knuckle draggers. 

They should have known better.  Anyone should know better. 

No matter what level of society you reside in. 

I hope we can rise above the bull shit and be better.  Just…be better.   

 

By jmnauthor3000

Blue Monday

 

Today, is Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.   We remember the birth of a brave man who preached love and inclusiveness as we watch news segments reminding us that, decades after his death, we are far from being some egalitarian society.  

We’re fairly polarized and pissed off with each other right now.  All the while, vengeful cowards slither between the cracks of our damaged bonds. 

Today is also ‘Blue Monday’, a date when things seem that bit more grim and lonely in temperate regions of the world (or rather, the places of the world where December, January and February mean winter).   

When one is feeling sorrowful and cold, it is assumed that the best remedy is sunshine and smiles.   Think of beaches, think of hugs.  Go talk to someone.  Meet up with people.  

That is far easier said than done some days.

Sometimes, it’s no bad thing to go to a dark place.  To tell people you need some space.  It’s okay for it to be cold outside.  It’s okay to be alone.  It’s okay to have a glass of wine in January. 

But just as you can’t condemn yourself so easily, neither can you condemn the world.

It might be necessary to cut certain things (and yes, certain people), out of your life, but to say that the world as a whole is doomed and humanity is a wretched collection of fools? 

No. 

The same color of blood flows through our veins.  The stirrings of life wait beneath the iced over mud of this injured earth. 

Love still is a powerful force.  But it will always be challenged.   We will always question ourselves and each other. 

Even if the dark night consumes me, I’ll know I wasn’t the only one.  There are others like me, who aren’t like me, who look nothing like me and have lived differently, who felt the same. 

That love is good and hate is wrong. 

That, yes bridges can be dangerous.  When they crumble, many could perish.  That it is only logic to say  borders and boundaries are necessary, for we need protection from chaos. 

Yet ultimately, a well guarded bridge is superior to any tyrannical wall.   It is unhealthy to deliberately cut off the natural circulation of the human desire to thrive and live.  We’ll all as one choke in the vice grip of resentment and ignorance.  

I know, even in these most isolated moments, many would agree. And they are all the colors of the rainbow.

Happy Blue Monday. 

 

 

 

 

By jmnauthor3000

Dystopia Appeal

 

Right now, I’m writing a dystopian romance.  It’s painful.  I don’t like reading the dystopian genre all that much.  I got a lot out of reading The Handmaid’s Tale and Day of the Triffids, but I have absolutely no desire to return to them.  Sorry.

Right now, every author and their mother probably feels inclined to write a dystopian story.  You know, what with the worryingly polarized state of the world, threats of nuclear war, the environment being screwed and all.  Things have happened so fast and I don’t think everybody can keep up.  There is so much to be angry about.

Everyone wants to go back to the past, to when times were simpler, the kids were younger, they were younger.   The future….frankly doesn’t seem bright.  Turns out politicians really are quite corrupt.  And big business people kind of only care about money.  Wow.  Whodathunkit.

So, why I am forcing myself to sit and write dystopian I don’t know.  But I have to.  It’s rather odd as I am a firm believer in “write what you would fancy reading”.  So, this is more of a challenge, because for me to want to read dystopian I have to think of things that could make it appealing.

I don’t want to talk about the story itself too much as despite how pretentious this sounds, my idea is good and I don’t want any vultures taking it.  As a writer, I have moments of being completely up my own backside and moments of soul crushing reality where I accept how common and  not special my ability is.   Anyway….

Like everybody else, I can’t STAND the news.  We all have different reasons for not being able to stand it, but…one way or another, we can’t stand it.  It’s utterly depressing.

So, writing about a “fictional”, polarized, post-catastrophe, “future” is about as appealing to me as swimming in toxic waste.  So, how to make bathing in discolored, mutation causing liquid sound okay?  Hmmm.

Anyway, it’s a challenge.  As I said, I’m pretty sure everyone could come up with at least a premise for a dystopian story these days.   I question my ability to cope with this challenge…but then I see the alternative.

Do I wanna try and go pure romance, maybe head for the cheeky side of things and conjure up a “hunky” billionaire , or a country boy with an endearing southern accent and a “heart of gold” who falls for a likeable-strong-yet-vulnerable woman?   I’ve gotta be honest, those stereotypes have been ruined for me.

Those fellows like Eastern European women who are at least fifteen years younger than them or sixteen year old girls at the local mall.

Or, maybe a hugely successful film producer who is desperately in love with a young actress yet can’t bring himself to break protocol and declare his affection….oh….oh wait no, that won’t work either.  Ewww…

Or I could push the boat out and write a story about a gifted actor, conflicted about his bisexuality and finding himself attracted to a certain co-worker and doesn’t know how to express the growing tenderness between them….oh….oh no.

I mean, from time to time I enjoy escapist romance novels with a dark side but all those aforementioned aren’t sexy, risqué dark sides.  Those are creepy and sad sides.  Let’s face it, in real life ultra rich (and hence, usually white), people are viciously protective of their money and power, and too many “heart of gold” sweetheart types are homophobic religious zealots.  And, shock/horror….Hollywood does have serious issues with immorality, narcissism, power abuse and some messed up gender dynamics.

So, dystopian it is then…with a bit of romance.  But no “hunky” billionaires,  good ol’ country boys or Hollywood dudes get the position…eh hem.

I have a theory that excessively reading romance novels keeps women and girls down.  Reading them gives me this high and this distant admiration of the sorts of relationships that frankly…don’t exist.  Yet we still hold up high, the rich business man, the cowboy, the aristocrat, the Hollywood “heart throb”.  Long as within our lonely, wine soaked, (you realize, I include myself here), minds we believe these “fictional” characters are always noble and attractive, the real life versions of them can behave how they like.  We forgive them.

Real relationships are hard.  They do involve a lot of compromise, and a lot of flawed characteristics that need to be dealt with both within ourselves and within our partner.  Apart from your average lady or gentleman occasionally behaving like an idiot, nobody’s hair smells like apples all the time.  And men’s jaws don’t clench as they brood over some amazing-money-making–yet-helping-those-less-fortunate-decision whilst oozing a fragrance of sandalwood and organic homemade soap.

Perhaps that’s it…real romance requires dressing up, because reality does.  So does dystopia.  I only pray that fictional dystopia isn’t a pleasing reflection of the actual horrors that lurk in our real mortal future.

Dystopia isn’t fun to begin with.  It has to have some far-fetched, silly elements that make it a bit atmospheric, enticing and well yeah, sexy…without being sexist or violating or erotic in a way that would make family members uncomfortable.  Okay.  It still has to have a message, without any preaching or self-righteous rants that interrupt any decent story.  Sure.

Therein lies the challenge of dystopia appeal.  Let’s keep the worst bits fictional people.

I bid you good day.

By jmnauthor3000

Querying and Agent Hunting

 

I am at a point now with my work where I am researching agents.  I am researching who represents what genre, reading about good books on Amazon represented by successful, available agents. 

I avoided this process at the beginning of my ‘serious’ writing.  

Frankly, I was very, very stupid when I first finished a draft of Into the Arms of Morpheus in the early 2010s.  I nearly got scammed by a fake agency who fed me some bull shit about me having a ‘strong voice’ and if I sent them $2,000 they would work with me and edit my manuscript and for sure my author dreams would come true.  I told people.  I got excited.  Then I decided before sending any money I’d best do at least a bit of research.  I found out that people had been swindled out of money by this agency before.  I felt disappointed, rather pathetic and unbelievably idiotic. 

Of course I’d submitted to proper agencies and they hadn’t responded.  Like, at all.  I do understand why as I know that my manuscript at that time and my querying method…was shit and incorrect.  Oh the shame.

I’m over this of course.   I worked on into the Arms of Morpheus, I sent it back and forth to numerous beta readers, I worked with an editor (who did not charge me ANYTHING like what the bogus company asked and she has worked with me on pretty much every piece of writing I’ve produced since).  I finished it, had it formatted, a cover designed and self published on Amazon. 

Some folks loved it.  They found it dark, moody and atmospheric, they enjoyed reading about lesser known Greek gods with really messed up issues.    Just not enough of those appreciative types have seen it. 

Folks who read it hoping for a hunky Greek god seducing a university student and then the two falling hopelessly in love were sorely disappointed.  I understand.  I don’t mind stories like that.  I just don’t write stories like that.  Greek god gets all loved up and sexy with girl next door.   I prefer tales involving inappropriate, unusual obsession OR slow burning unavoidable magnetic connections between individuals OR the very clever, more subtle side of evil. 

Since Into the Arms of Morpheus, I’ve contributed to a few indie short story collections, all author profits of which went to charity.  I got to work with some pretty great indie writers.  I’ve brought out some short Halloween stories in 2016 and this year.  Initially, to help me along with my writing, I’ve done #NaNoWriMo (twice) and #JuNoWriMo (once), both are worth it if you are struggling to finish a draft.

I currently have a completed, (it’s been through the beta reader process with numerous drafts), and edited novel that I believe has a chance in the traditional world of publishing if I find the right agent.

Regarding my other stuff?  I’ve earned like…less than fifty dollars from my work so far…since 2013.  Sure, most was for charity but sadly I don’t think those collections sold well either.  

Let me be clear, although I would LOVE to earn a living from my writing, that isn’t why I do it.  I do it because I’m good at it and I want to draw people into worlds they’ve never thought about before.  I want to make them stay for a while and although it might be a bit disturbing or strange at times, I want them to come away saying that they liked it and it made them look at something differently.  

I’ve matured and wised up since my rather embarrassing poor judgment.  I am still maturing and wising up.  However, I am still somewhat naïve, a bit too passive for my own good and kind of desperate for recognition.   I’m just not a TOTAL dumbass anymore.  

I’m researching agents, knowing full well I might hear absolutely nothing in response from any.  Knowing full well I have to follow the submission guidelines perfectly, that there is no point submitting to an agent who isn’t into my genre or generally prefers stuff set in Scotland or North Carolina that’s from the perspective of the family dog. 

Knowing full well that not one of these agents is obliged to give one flying crap about my work.    There is a process here, there is protocol and I am learning all about it before I begin to follow it. 

I dig indie writing and the whole phenomenon.  I understand the concept of control over one’s work and the idea to just keep going, keep bringing good work out and promoting the bejaysus out of yourself. There are consistent, niche writers who can flourish in the indie publishing world. 

I have enjoyed so many really good indie books and thought, ‘these should have been traditionally published, they are so good!’.  I’ve read some real crap too, like, embarrassingly poorly edited horribly written crap that gives indie writers a bad name.   Then again, some stuff on best seller lists I’ve been quite unpleasantly surprised by.  Great agents can represent books that aren’t to my taste yet they sell like hotcakes.  Successful indie authors can write books that might have been snapped up by an agent within a week of submission.  

I used to think I was just a ‘niche’ writer.  I don’t think I am anymore.  There’s plenty of quirky, off the wall, genre twisting yet still genre identifiable writing that is represented by good agents. 

However, I’m no salesperson.  I have no contacts in the traditional publishing industry.  I’m not an editor.  I have Masters Degree in English Studies, yet I still get formatting and stupid crap wrong.  I’m a good writer, not a marketing person. 

I’m not all that assertive or particularly logical in real life.  I’m well behaved and polite, but not a particularly good grown up.  I’m still often childish.  I’m a storyteller.  I’m an author. 

And I need an agent, someone to recognize, drive and push me and sell my work.   

So the hunt continues, as does the perfection of my query letter.  The bottom line is, if you even think of pestering these people with e-mails and messages, they will block you.  They have enough to do. 

I suppose, I have to draw an agent the same way I would draw a reader.  In a way, it’s easier as an agent has a vested interest in discovering something good that no one’s seen before. Most readers, aren’t bothered about searching for something a bit different but still really good.  They are guided to the best seller lists that just sort of present themselves via well known book sellers.  Agents have to toil, reading many dull synopses, tossing aside incorrectly submitted queries and those with too much information about the writer’s personal life.  But if you follow the rules, they do have to look.  Readers don’t. 

I just have to do everything correctly, stand out and lure them in.  Easy, right?  Sure. 

By them, I mean someone ethical and qualified to represent my work.  Not one of those many vulture/hack/crooks sniffing around struggling writers trying to tell you they will get you a career doing what you love as long as you give them such and such an amount of money.  Just send the check.  Bah!

Getting an agent does not equal a long and illustrious career as an author.  Not necessarily.  But that, plus the tenacity to keep working and creating interesting, exciting worlds people want to hang out in, does give you a fighting chance.  The world is chock full of decent writers with great potential.  The world only has so many good agents.  And they are really, really freaking busy. 

I might fail miserably.  I have to accept that.  Yet I have to try.  I have to write.  And then somehow, I have to sell my story.  I don’t do it for just me.  I’m isolated enough. 

That is why, I need a champion salesperson. 

Yes, that’s what they are paid to do.  However, they wouldn’t have worked to get into the publishing world ,(a harsh industry from the looks of it and you should read the qualifications and experience of some of these people-jeez!), if they couldn’t care less about books. 

They don’t sell shady prescription drugs, with endless shitty side effects, that should likely be banned.  Or excellent health insurance plans only the wealthy can afford, and crappy exploitive ones for the poor bastards that can afford very little.    They don’t sell slave workers in third world countries.  They don’t sell mobile phone plans to old folks who barely even know how to turn a smart phone on.  They don’t sell endangered species as pets. 

They sell books to the folks who can get them seen AND read. 

I’ll find an agent.  In the proper way, via the appropriate channels, following guidelines, etc.  I won’t query with two from the same agency, I’ll only query those open to my genre. 

All the same.  I’m going to get inside more reader’s heads. 

 

By jmnauthor3000

Happy Halloween: Releasing #vampires, #ghosts and #history…but mostly vampires.

 

I’ve just released a trio of Halloween Stories.  Last year my theme was along the lines of ghosts, witchery and a general fascination with this time of year being one of ‘openness’ to the other side.   The title of last year’s Halloween trio was ‘The Eve on Which the Veil Fades’.

This year, the theme is vampires.  The title is Born By Blood:  Three Stories of Vampires, Blood and Piercing the Veil.  My stories are fairly light horror.  There is a bit of sensuality, some moments of fantasizing, references to intimacy, but no ‘below the belt’ bits are mentioned.   So, sadly…erotica fans I haven’t done anything too sexy.    Not that I have a problem with that sort of thing, as long as there is a story to tell and an ‘adults only’ policy/rating is adhered to.  I really wouldn’t say these stories are for the kids.

I feel that kids can far too easily gain access to depictions of very grown up situations these days, be that on the internet, Netflix, or via their e-reader, etc.  Sex does sell, and teenagers who are discovering that part of their humanity are bound to be curious.  Parenting in this era of ‘put-parenting-controls-on-every-device-you-have-yet-mainstream-morning-radio-refers-to-sexual-pleasure-on-the-fucking-school-run’ is difficult.

That said, I’ve blogged about wanting to write about vampires before.  Sex isn’t something you can avoid when writing about vampires.  I suppose you could focus on the blood and use a young vampire wanting to drink it and compare it to wanting to eat too many sweets, or i.e. a teenage Christian vampire story and use it as a metaphor for chastity…#Twilight.   That might not be for you, but I’m cool with that.  Whatever.

Or you could use really young, crazy attractive people and have a sexual tension mixed with bloodlust party.  It’s a writer’s discretion, or that of some producer who wants to use youthful sexuality to sell horror stories.   Meh.

As for these stories, I’ve used characters over eighteen and in their twenties.  I just didn’t feel comfortable using anyone under eighteen and frankly I took advantage of that age being the one where (in my own personal experience and I suppose in traditional NA ‘New Adult’ stories), people find grown up love for the first time and are of age to marry.   I didn’t stick to that age purely because I didn’t think older vampires could be interesting, quite the contrary.  Now that I’ve said that…I may have come up with a new story concept.

The opening story, ‘Bed Time Moira’ is the only story with a contemporary setting.  It’s the shortest of the tales, it focuses on how vampires prey upon their victims.   It begins with the reader picking up that Moira has been somehow chosen.  But how will it happen?  Who is it?  Will anyone save her?  How does she feel knowing that this day in age, she has been targeted by a vampire?   That was fun to play with.

The middle story, ‘Lady by the River’ begins in the historical region of Lorraine (today Eastern France) in the 1720s.  We find a woman who has been pushed to marry someone whom she doesn’t know and then she is forced to immigrate from Lorraine to Eastern Europe (today the Banat, where Hungary, Romania and Serbia share a border).  So, there is a bit of that history, which is by the way tediously related to my current novel length project (I’m approving edits and deciding final chapter order on that one).

Camille, the protagonist is a woman who would have welcomed love and intimacy as an escape from the drudgery of her peasant life, yet she finds something different not long after marrying.   Sexuality is a part of this story in that this was a time and place when many found such urges and desires as something to be suppressed and controlled.

The final story, ‘Puritanical Blood’ is from the perspective of a young man in colonial Rhode Island in the early 1700s.  He is of Puritan stock as are his neighbors.  They all own slaves and some make their money in rum production.  Writing characters who were slaves I did find uncomfortable and sad.  It’s not a part of history I enjoy delving into.

Yet delve I did, because it was there and in my opinion still casts its traumatized shadow over us.  Owning kidnapped, trafficked human beings and considering them property was a part of every-day American life in the North and South in that era.   That’s a horror story in itself…nonfiction.

Thomas Winterborn is in love with his neighbor, Mary.  He fantasizes about her and wants to be an important, successful man with her at his side.  Unfortunately he suffers at the hands of an alcoholic, rather rum soaked father.  He is also reliant on the skills and expertise of their slave, Prince.  In this story there is a sense of things not being what they seem.  This story also has the most grisly scene.

So, there you have it.  Three stories, for 99 pence or 99 cents on your #kindle.

Soon it will be All Hallows Eve and the veil will fade.  It’s a time when creatures of the night, spirits, even lesser appreciated deities can cross over and get close to us.  Maybe you’d like that sort of thing.  Maybe not so much.

I will leave below links to The Eve on Which the Veil Fades and for Born by Blood:  Three Stories of Vampires, Blood and Piercing the Veil.

Happy Halloween!

US Amazon links:

Born By Blood:  https://www.amazon.com/Born-Blood-Stories-Vampires-Piercing-ebook/dp/B076PNKHRQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1509112692&sr=8-1&keywords=Born+By+Blood+jessica+nicholls

The Eve On Which the Veil Fades:  https://www.amazon.com/Eve-Which-Veil-Fades-ebook/dp/B01M7V680M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1509112749&sr=8-1&keywords=the+eve+on+which+the+veil+fades+jessica+nicholls

UK Amazon links:

Born by Blood: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Born-Blood-Stories-Vampires-Piercing-ebook/dp/B076PNKHRQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1509112791&sr=8-1&keywords=born+by+blood+jessica+nicholls

The Eve on Which the Veil Fades: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eve-Which-Veil-Fades-ebook/dp/B01M7V680M/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1509112840&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Eve+On+Which+the+Veil+Fades+jessica+nicholls

 

 

 

 

 

By jmnauthor3000