Urban Fantasy Short Stories Meets Kindness Promotion.

 

Ten authors have given their time and talent to write an #UrbanFantasy short story for the Good Things anthology.

The multi-genre loving Mia Darien has chosen the writers well, (completely disregarding myself).  The contributors’ back catalogues involve, fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, mythology and romance stories (both short and novel length).

She also chose the Random Acts of Kindness organization to be the charity receiving all author profits.

The Good Things anthology is not official merchandise of the charity, however they were very gracious in accepting our form of donation.

Here is a list of each story’s blurb, title and author.  It will be available for Kindle ereader as well as paperback via Amazon.  My story’s blurb is last.

If you wish to know my inspiration and the background behind my story you can keep reading.  If not?  Just have a little peek at the following blurbs and ignore my ramblings afterwards.

Here are the blurbs, followed by their titles and authors:

When a century-old treaty with a rival pack is broken for the sake of forbidden love, the alpha heir of the Wesley pack, Kane, is deposed and his unwilling cousin, Xavier, ascends in his place. But when Roman Diallo, the king of the werewolves, makes mention of the rising danger to all lycans, Xavier must quickly take control of his destiny for the survival of his entire kind.

“Alpha Ascension” (A Wesley Werewolves Story) by A. Star

The deal you made with Death was clear: Your memory of me in exchange for my life. But Death is never so kind, and what we had was not enough.

“For You” (The Letters #2) by Angela B. Chrysler

If it’s not easy being a telepathic, it’s even harder to give away the bride when that bride is your ex. But the things we do for love can go above and beyond what anyone would ask for.

“What We Do for Love” by J. Kim McLean

Broken dreams, an ancient enigma tainted by the past, a mystical bond beyond time and space.

“Outreach: Part One” (An Orlosian Warriors Story) by Dariel Raye 

When the key witness in a high profile trial needs protection, “human taser” Special Agent Serafina Torres is put on protective detail. But when said witness is a vampire and those in the spotlight are anti-preternatural activists, how could it possibly go smoothly?

“Personal Responsibility” (An Adelheid Story) by Mia Darien

Quinn Carson’s unique ability lands her in a heap of trouble when she overhears something she shouldn’t. Enter Daniel Cain and his unusual special forces team of telepaths, hell bent on bringing down the supernatural trafficking ring she stumbled upon. Drawn to Cain despite her better judgement, Quinn decides to help, risking her own life–yet again. But will this become a case of no good deed goes unpunished?

“Psyched” (A Legendary Consultants Story) by Abigail Owen

Kamry is keeping a low profile in her new life, keeping the old one as far behind her as possible, but nothing ever goes as expected. She gets help in an unexpected place to learn how to keep her past at bay, while also getting a step up into her future.

“Kamry’s Hope” by Crystal G. Smith

When Jesse’s husband is injured and in a coma following a car crash, she will stop at nothing to bring him back to her. Even Odin himself won’t stand in her way as she confronts the very gods to save the man she loves.

“An Act of Love” by Kat Jameson

How does a Lakota young woman find her way back to the reservation? With the help of a new friend, and some very ancient spirits.

“Windsong” by Christi Rigby

A soldier keeps vigil in front of a city center church. Nyx, the primordial goddess of night, stalks the shadows of the same town, craving worship. And a beautiful young woman uncovers the truth behind the powerful mother she never knew.

“The Will of Nyx” by Jessica Nicholls

Here is a link to ‘Good Things’ on Amazon.  It will be available for kindle as well as paperback after August 18th.

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Good-Things-Urban-Fantasy-Anthology/dp/1535202564/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1471377847&sr=8-2&keywords=Good+Things+Mia+Darien

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Good-Things-Urban-Fantasy-Anthology-ebook/dp/B01HYA2XI0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471377847&sr=8-1&keywords=Good+Things+Mia+Darien#nav-subnav

The world in The Will of Nyx is taken from another story I wrote, entitled Into the Arms of Morpheus.  It’s set in Manchester, England.  As far as cities go, Manchester is the one I know best. I went to university there, and lived in the greater Manchester area for ten years.   I still go back and visit due to having family and friends in the region.

Nyx, (The goddess of night) and Morpheus (The god of dreams), are two of the Greek deities taking part in the story.   Most folks into mythology would agree that greek gods and goddesses can be a little on the selfish side.  It isn’t in their nature to exhibit ‘kindness’.   They are forceful beings looking for pleasure and/or yet more influence.

When Into The Arms of Morpheus was released Nyx, in particular, was described as ‘arrogant’ and ‘fierce’.  She has a bit of an ego problem.  What with the obsessive desire to be worshipped and all.  I hope you find my version of her interesting.

As far as the mortal characters are concerned, all too often, bad things happen to good people.  Simple, innocent folks who just want their own small slice of happiness.  Then the likes of Nyx and Morpheus come along and take an interest in them.  Awww…

I do my best to write what I would fancy reading.  I’m a sucker for tales of decent people who find themselves at the mercy of far more powerful and volatile forces.

All in good fun of course.

I hope you enjoy my story.  If not, there are nine others by some quality writers.  At any rate, it’s for a good cause.

Happy reading everyone!

By jmnauthor3000

Good Things….

 

Brace yourself.  This is the nasty side of me speaking.  The lousy, self-absorbed side.

And I am going to talk about *eyes rolling*…#kindness.  Yes, I just hash tagged #kindness.  Like a pretentious, self-congratulatory jerk.

Because it’s so freaking easy to be nice.

Random Acts of Kindness Charity was co-founded by one of the actors starring in the show, Supernatural.

I’d heard of the show.  I don’t like television.  Most of it I find mediocre at best.  Full of people who might be on the attractive and quirky side but who generally deliver substandard self-indulgent crap.  Granted part of that is the fault of the writers, but I like to be mean to good looking people who want to be successful and famous.

I don’t like shows about people dying in hospitals, or being murdered, or laughing about the every day things we don’t realize are so funny (Apparently.  I mean I’m not convinced). I’m not hugely into sports.  Reality television disgusts me on a level I can’t quite describe.  The news is usually biased or frustrating or sad.

I haven’t designated any dedicated viewing time to a TV show since the BBC put out Desperate Romantics back in 2009.

Before that I’d say it was when there was a remake of Dark Shadows going on in the early 1990s.  Yes I have since had a look at the original 1960s series but my eleven year old self thought Ben Cross did a fine job.

The other eleven year old girls I screamed at to leave me alone so I could watch it at a slumber party in 1991 didn’t share my enthusiasm.

I took my obsessions seriously.   None of your bubble gum crap.

At any rate, I would like to thank Mia Darien for introducing me to the joys of Supernatural.

Thank you Mia.  Um, and while we are at it…thank you for asking me to participate in another one of your anthologies, as well as all the editing and cover art work you do.

I wanted to come up with a post that would amount to something along the lines of…

’look at how negative the world is, people are always being awful to each other, how about we try being kind to one another?’ 

Bla bla bla.

You know, like that.  Only without being so utterly predictable and saccharine.    But I’m struggling.  Just like I’m struggling to be *wave of nausea approaching * #kind and generally #positive.

Sometimes it feels good to be a bit negative. Sometimes the pull to be unkind, to do the wrong thing is enticing. Or at the very least, it’s easier.  To be selfish and not care about other people.

Take right now for example.  I want to wrap myself up in a big fleecy, black blanket and play with the imaginary friends in my head.

I like being alone.  Or drunk.  Or asleep.  Whatever.  As long as I don’t have to face anything bothersome.

Like life or the real world.

Sometimes I want everyone to bugger off who doesn’t care for shows like Supernatural so that I can binge watch, without judgement or interference,  to my self-centered little heart’s content.

However the credits will eventually role or I will wake or sober up.

Damn.

There’s the real world with its bad news and unfortunate people.  There is that empty, empty feeling inside of me again.

The one that is only filled with….*cringe*…love and interaction and stuff.  The void inside that is only satisfied by connecting with other human souls.  The void that calls us to contribute something positive and good to the world.  Ugh.

I’d rather read about ghosts.

*Sigh*

Fortunately, it is actually possible to merge paranormal fantasy related entertainment and being a kind, loving person.  It….*swallowing nervously*…*feeling uncomfortable*…. actually is.

I dare you to have a look at The Random Acts website.  I…*eye roll* experienced this foreign warmth and emotion upon reading some of the sweet, kindhearted actions random folks thought of doing for others.

Really.

It made me realize I’m not alone when I feel all gloomy.  When I want to shut everyone and everything out.   I’m not the only one who wants to do that from time to time.

Which surprised me because isn’t that the whole point of being a selfish jerk?  My nasty side’s general idea that everyone else is either sickeningly happy or…not as good as me….or well…evil.

It came as a bit of a shock that I’m not alone in feeling horrible.  Huh…how about that. Other folks have to fight their nasty sides.  Other people have problems.  Wow.

At any rate, if you are like me and you like reading about vampires, wolves, ghosts, gods and magic, or basically #UrbanFantasy then…

It will be possible to purchase Good Things for your e-reader as well as order a paperback on August 18th, 2016 via Amazon.

Lousy me, or in fact any of the nasty sides of the other authors won’t earn a single penny.

Random Acts of Kindness will.

Because, it’s okay to want to do good things. 

An impartial ear.  A non judgmental hug.  A brief reprieve from loneliness.  A compliment.  A cookie.

Because whether you’re a pretentious self congratulatory jerk, a greek goddess, a vampire or you know, just a nice person…

A good thing is a good thing.

Link to Good Things on Amazon (out August 18th).

https://www.amazon.com/Good-Things-Urban-Fantasy-Anthology-ebook/dp/B01HYA2XI0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1468353217&sr=8-1&keywords=Good+Things+Mia+Darien

Link to Random Acts of Kindness site.

https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas

Other charity anthologies I’ve been involved in:   I’m not all bad.  Not really.  Actually if you’ve been kind enough to read my blog post this far, I should tell you at this point that I’m actually a nice person and it’s cool if you dig other television shows or even reality tv.

I don’t think other people are evil.

And those girls from 1991 still talk to me.

Here Kitty Kitty (The Exotic Feline Rescue Center),

Reaching Out (The American Red Cross),

Bellator (Wounded Warrior Project),

Amor Vincit Omnia (Breast Cancer Charity).

By jmnauthor3000

‘I’m not a woman anymore. I’m a Mom.’

 

There was an article in the New York Times about ‘Mom Hair’ and how to avoid it.  The New York Times!!  Really???

I just have to do this.  I’m a Mom, I have been for a while now.   And frankly, when I watched comedy skits about ‘Mom jeans’ or even ‘Mom hair’ aka ‘The Cut’…I’ve giggled a bit.  I do find Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to be very very funny women.

But alongside my giggles at the ‘Mom Jeans’ skit, alongside the little glimmer of hope that at least these lady comedians are acknowledging the ridiculousness of such things, I also sunk a little inside.

Because I thought that ‘wait a minute…I’m a Mom.  I have been for a few years.  And now I’ve got to be careful that I don’t have any personal style reflecting this?’

Don’t get me wrong.  I love SNL.

It didn’t escape me that there were lines like ‘I’m not a woman anymore, I’m a Mom.’  It’s funny.

It made a point.

But sadly not everyone will grasp the undertone of the joke that says ‘isn’t this ridiculous?’

Yes, SNL, and all you gifted comedians it is ridiculous.  And no it shouldn’t even matter.  Surely you must realize that you are solidifying a term, a phrase that not everyone recognizes as absurd or insulting.  Some people, even yes writers for the New York Times think that ‘Mom Hair’ is a shameful thing and it’s to be avoided.

It’s heartbreaking that the line ‘I’m not a woman anymore, I’m a Mom’ is part of the joke.  It was slipped in there between the laughs and the funny ladies posing and pretending that they don’t realize their ‘Mom look’ isn’t flattering.

The fact that it’s been given a name says something.

Wanna know what it says?  ‘Oh please please don’t look like this.  It means you are a Mom.  It means your body has done things that deplete it.  It means you have to care about other people very often…much more than yourself.  You don’t have time to be ‘hot’.  It takes great care and time to be a ‘Yummy Mummy’ or a…well you know the other stupid crude term coined in the film American Pie. But even then…you are a Mom.  You are completely and utterly defined by the fact that you care for smaller, younger people.’

Wanna know what I say?

‘*EXPLETIVE SAVAGELY THOUGHT BUT UNTYPED* YOU!!!!’

Yes thank you I know I’m a mother.   I remember sitting on a rainy day in a hospital, feeling like a ton of bricks just crashed down on me. I remember realizing that things would never QUITE be the same for me after this.  And no I wasn’t entirely positive.  What I didn’t think about was that I should now be mindful of my hairstyle and the cut of my jeans.

It doesn’t mean I don’t love my children.  But it does mean that yes, I got it.  I got that a demanding role was now to be expected of me.  I could screw it up if I chose, and contribute two horrid people to the world by neglecting or abusing them.  Or I could be an okay human being and encourage them to be good people.

It’s called being a parent.

It isn’t easy for mothers OR fathers.  I’m not going to rant about the disgusting double standards of appearance expectations for women and men because do you know what I think the standard is?

I’ll tell you…

FEMALE expectation:  ‘Don’t get wrinkled. Don’t be fat.  Be pretty.  Keep your tummy flat.  Small or big chests are okay depending on the taste of the person looking at you.  And they are looking at you.  Assessing your standard of beauty.  Rating you.  Constantly.  For GOODNESS SAKE don’t look like a Mom because that’s just gross.  But hey, there are multiple articles, beauty treatments and salons that are there to help you.  Go spend some money.  If you are poor and not necessarily that attractive, it’s recommended you lower your standards.  A LOT.  Because of course you want some sort of approval.  All women need approval.’

MALE expectation:  ‘Be exceptionally manly.  Have impressive abs and biceps.  Because that way, even if you are starting to get a bit older that’s okay.  It’s nice when men look distinguished.  But don’t look so old you can’t hook up with a hot younger person.  But if you are a wealthy man, there are websites that would help you with that sort of thing.  If you are willing to be a bastard with no soul.’

That’s a thing, btw.  That’s a successful business that exists.  Because apparently, ‘love is a concept invented by poor people.’  Someone said that.  That’s a thing.  That’s a business.

I recognize that it isn’t easy for men when they realize they have gained weight.  When the hairline is receding.   It hurts to be told that the older we get, the less likely it is we will be considered ‘hot’ or ‘attractive’.  It shouldn’t hurt.  But it does.  Because they want it to.

I can think of one skit where a very buff, topless Patrick Swayze dances next to a very overweight Chris Farley on SNL.  It had nothing to do with Dads and it was classed as controversial and mean spirited by some.  It was.  No offense meant to the dearly departed actors who performed in it.

People who live with a weight and general looks struggle do not deserve ridicule.  Looking after your health is a good thing.  We should all do it.  We should all make the effort.

Not because it’s important to be a ‘Hot Dad’ or a ‘Yummy Mummy’ or *cringe*…whatever.  But because of this:

We WANT to get older.  We are blessed to get older.  Not everyone gets the privilege.  But when you get there you want to be happy.  Not struggling with health issues that contribute to a miserable existence of endless doctor appointments, inability to travel, inability to be active, constantly dealing with all manner of pain and discomfort.

You don’t want to be struggling with a media filled with messages saying how inadequate you are.  Now, yes we can turn off the television and cell phones, computers, ipads, stop getting the paper, etc.  Yes.  We can.

BUT why should their insulting content be allowed to continue without a bit of hitting back?  Yes okay, they were technically referring to the cut of a pair of jeans and a hair style.    But there was another message there.

‘I’m not a woman anymore…I’m a Mom.’   

I laughed.  But my heart sank…because they wouldn’t have said it if there wasn’t some little grain of truth in it.  They wouldn’t have said it if it wasn’t funny.

But let’s be even more fair.  Perhaps the articles suggesting remedies to ‘Mom Hair’ are ‘kind’ reminders to women not to ‘let themselves go’.   Okay, let’s look at it that way.  Sure, because that’s fine, right?  It’s basically wealthy, attractive, successful people reminding poorer, insecure people to take more care of how they look.

*EXPLETIVE VIOLENTLY THOUGHT BUT UNTYPED* YOU!!!

If by using the concept of one’s sex appeal is the best and most effective way to encourage parents to generally care for themselves better….well….

….then what the ‘I’m not a woman anymore, I’m a Mom’ is wrong with us?

‘Mom Hair’…’Mom Jeans’…’Dad Bods’…gimme a break.

Go drink a smoothie and see your highly qualified, extremely expensive personal trainer, wealthy entertainment industry, relatively well known media news type people.

And God bless you and keep you.

But if you try and get my interest or make me laugh by using the above terms again?

I am going to actually type my anger words.

Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to go for a run.  Because I like it.  It makes me feel good.  It gives me a sense of escapist joy that has positive side effects.  But I also want the continued use of my knees so I do very basic yoga (via free online videos).  It calms me down when I feel enraged.   I am going to try not to drink excessively or eat too much cheese.

Because I WANT to get older. Because I want the privilege of smiling, crying, breathing for many years to come.  I want to enjoy my old age.  I want to enjoy being a woman.  BECAUSE I AM ONE!!

I want to enjoy being a mother.

DON’T YOU DARE *EXPLETIVE VIOLENTLY THOUGHT BUT UNTYPED* TELL ME NOT TO LOOK LIKE ONE EVER EVER AGAIN!!!

By jmnauthor3000

The Dark Side of Summer Solstice

 

Summer Solstice.  The lightest, longest day of the year.  A time for new age spiritual types, pagans, Wiccans, to perform rituals, celebrating the power of the sun.

A time for yoga articles saying it’s about finding a light inside of yourself.

When you don’t feel there is one.  When everything inside is pitch black.  When in fact, the sun that has just decided to come out is irritating.

I’ve seen enough of the damned sun.  I don’t care if it’s warm outside.

I’m ready for an excuse to be selfish.  To completely indulge myself and forget about everyone else.  I don’t want to care anymore.  Yet at this time, I’m being asked to care.  To think.

To love.  Constantly.

To be ever ready to be useful.

Have I been okay this week?  Have I offended anyone by not doing enough?

Do I look okay? Am I being selfish?  Does anyone think less of me?  Are they okay?  They don’t seem okay.  I must comfort them…

Has anyone noticed the empty bottle that was not opened when company was around?

Empty bottles don’t disappear.   They hang about and stare at you till you put them with the ‘acceptable’ recycling.  They are the embarrassing relation next to the elegant green glass that went well with dinner.

Does anyone else find responsibility to be completely and utterly soul destroying?  That, by ‘setting a good example’ this penetrating dullness seeps in that cries out for relief?  It’s mind numbing.

It’s simply a part of mortal nature that we can’t be perfect.  You can’t ask for good behavior ALL the time.  It isn’t natural.  It isn’t normal.   I’m a woman.  Not an angel.

At some point, we crack.  And the more you push, the more you demand of the good one, the quiet one, the one who never has a problem, the more you lean on THAT person, the more you punish them for the slightest discrepancy….

The more dangerous they become.

One day can go by like a dream.  The night can be an intoxicating epiphany where everything is clearer and more enjoyable.

Finally.  Happiness.

The following morning poisonous and cruel, filled with injections of shame every few moments.

A savage circle.

Time is slow and I am not a good person.

Yet the ‘wonderful’ light goes on and on and on and on.

#Summer Solstice.

It’s like it’s saying…’Look, I’m here.  Even if you don’t appreciate it.   Even if you won’t do anything about it.  I’m here.  And I always will be.’

And I reply…’I know.  And no dark deed I perform will change how beautiful you are.’

By jmnauthor3000

Amor Vincit Omnia

 

Amor Vincit Omnia, literally means ‘Love Conquers All’. So it should. Love is the driving positive force in our world. It should be more powerful than anything. When Mia Darien first approached the authors with her idea for another collection of romance short stories, one of the criteria presented was that the stories have a theme of ‘beauty is only skin deep’.

This theme is fitting seeing as all author profits from this collection will benefit a breast cancer charity.  I’m going to go into why. Cancer treatment, in particular breast cancer treatment for women brings forward certain sensitive body image issues. Issues that shouldn’t be there but are.

From the survivors I have read about and spoken to, their main concern has been to become themselves again. Whole and complete no matter what treatment options they went for. To regain their health and to live.   The threat of the disease coming back, and the difficulty of living with the memories of those who did not make it is hard enough. It’s important to them, during and after treatment, not to be defined by cancer. To live and to love.

Because cancer sucks.

Now…about those body image issues…

I do believe that love conquers all. But in our selfie, looks and physique obsessed culture, there is an underlying notion that worries me. This notion is that the type of fulfillment that comes from true love can somehow be replicated or sped up by having a society and marketing approved appearance.

Let’s be honest, body shaming whether it be fat shaming, slim shaming, AGE shaming, even the varying double standards about what is classed as attractive for men and women, is RIFE in our society. There is even the shaming of those who are supposedly too attractive. Really.

The media can’t get enough of it, in fact thrives off of it. These days, there will be one article or post shaming those who shame, then another one after showcasing unrealistic standards of supposed ‘ideal’ beauty.

Now, there is nothing wrong with being traditionally ‘beautiful’. It’s cool to paint your nails and have the odd facial.  For the record I love essential oils. But drilling into the public consciousness again and again and again that only a certain thing is attractive is wrong. Breaking that one down, the all too frequent message is this: That only youth in all its sexed up, newly voluptuous and toned glory is accepted as ‘hot’, appealing and worthy of romantic love.

I get that marketing is necessary, but come on media…come on. Really? Again?

I honestly think that what media and society class as ‘flaws’ are appealing. A missing body part or two? Hot. Scars? Definitely beautiful. Laugh lines? Gorgeous. Freckles are particularly pretty in my opinion. Those little shadows that live under the eyes of deep thinkers can be hauntingly beautiful. A bit of extra oomph in a lady’s posterior? Haven’t we yet learned that that is actually quite attractive? Not everyone is blessed with oomph, some of us are slimmer than we’d like to be.  It’s okay to be naturally slender.  It is graceful looking, even ethereal one might say.

Shouldn’t it be obvious that there is a great difference between self care and self obsession? It’s a GOOD thing to exercise and eat healthy. We should all do it, it will make for a happier, healthier and YES by default more attractive world.

Yet it is the first two that are the most important. Happy and healthy. The last is just a side effect. When people are happy and healthy, it shows. People glow. So, why is that the ‘attractiveness’ side effect is still the driving force for marketers and consumers? This focus feeds a weakness in our world instead of encouraging strengths.

When people are eaten up by insecurity and loneliness, it also shows. Way too many reach out to the virtual world for comfort and find the opposite. They find inadequate connection. They probably yearn for love, they want to feel desired.  Don’t we all?  Still, what they find are endless images ruthlessly designed to market products to them.

Wanna know what I hear when I see some of the ads knocking around these days?

‘Don’t get old, don’t be ugly, don’t get fat. Or no one will love you. See this wealthy famous person whose career totally rides on them being classed as hot? They use this product. So should you. Maybe someone will find you desirable. Then you will be happy.’

I appreciate what actors and pop stars do and all, I like music and films.  Famous people are real, actual people and it isn’t right to lay into them as though they have no feelings.  I can grasp that.  All the same, stay the hell out of my bathroom and gym routine, celebrities *evil glare*.

Erm, A-list celebrities? News Flash! You have enough money.

Marketing people with no soul? I feel sorry for you.

Again, I stress that taking our health seriously SHOULD be encouraged.

There is no one who doesn’t benefit from being in good health. Each day we learn more and more about what is good for our bodies and what is not. That’s great. Let’s go with that. A part of this whole fight against cancer thing involves eating and living right.

But enforced obsession with our looks is wrong.

The marketing industry’s continued bombardment of our screens with ‘perfect’ images is wrong.

Genuine true, mutual soul fulfilling love is a natural, gorgeous thing that can’t be artificially reproduced. Us human beings NEED real love.

You know why? Because only in its purest and truest form can love conquer all.

And supposedly ‘perfect’ looks have nothing to do with that.

Look out for Amor Vincit Omnia on Amazon, November 11th. Stories by Mia Darien, Angela B. Chrysler, Christi Rigby, Crystal Smith and myself Jessica Nicholls.

http://www.amazon.com/Amor-Vincit-Omnia-Anthology-Romance-ebook/dp/B016VSSOLG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1447143654&sr=1-1&keywords=Amor+Vincit+Omnia

By jmnauthor3000

Never Judge a Book by its Cover.

Never judge a book by its cover.  But we do it.  ALL THE TIME.

I am seeing lots of sexy covers on Twitter.   Twitter is great for writers.  It is a way to instantly draw folks to a link or a website.  A writer can flash out a rather appealing picture, to tempt romance lovers to purchase a story.

Let’s be honest.  Sex sells things.  It just does.   It lures people in a way nothing else can.  It makes people terribly uncomfortable.  It causes extreme debate as there are some VERY different beliefs out there.  It makes people angry and…sometimes very lonely and sad.

I’m talking about this because I follow a lot of romance writers.  I have written romance short stories and it is one of my favorite genres for reading.

The typical covers of romance novels aimed at straight women usually involve shirtless men, looking manly.  Exuding attractive masculinity catered to catch the eye of the lady reader.  Real, actual men perhaps role their eyes and even feel a little affronted by the image of these perfect fantasy men.  Maybe they do think ‘How the hell am I supposed to live up to THAT for my significant other?’  Maybe they really couldn’t care less.

I can relate to both the insecurity and the ambivalence of how marketing folks, writers, media people etc. portray how we all should look in order to be at our most ‘appealing’. On good days I just roll my eyes at the endless images of impossibly hot twenty something people trying to get us all to buy stuff.  On bad days…I feel like punching their stupid gorgeous faces.  I get it.  I benefit from idealized, unrealistic appeal and I suffer from it as well.   Don’t we all?

But back to the saucy covers aimed at straight ladies.

The fellow on the cover isn’t only going to take his pants off at some point in the story.  He is supposed to capture the imagination of the reader, make her giggle, make her angry, make her heart melt.  He’s supposed to be dashing yet flawed, he’s moody and wildly passionate. Perhaps on some level he is extremely successful.

That is one formula anyway.  Or perhaps he is such a good natured, sweet guy, hard-working to the core.  Maybe he doesn’t have much but he is so lovely and has a heart of gold.   A salt of the earth darling.

And yes, at one point, he will take his pants off for the lady who by default has to be worthy of him AND likable by the female readers.

So, in a way that IS more intimate and all engrossing than a few minutes spent watching explicit footage or images.   In my opinion a good romance novel beats naughty movies and reality television hands down.

But the cover aim is rather the same.  Look at this.  You know you want to.  Look at this, spend your money, download it, open it up, get involved.

I am aware of a few romance writers who are established enough that they don’t need the swoon worthy cover in order to attract readers.  To some their covers might appear rather dull, just a title in cursive with a colorful background.  But by the name you know it is probably going to be good.

I just had to point out that the insides of these covers vary.   I recently read a fantasy romance novel (fairy themed) that was pretty quality.  It wasn’t the cover on twitter that pulled me in.  It was the quote beneath it that got me.  It revealed the intensity of the couple’s feelings for one another in a unique, very intimate way.

There is no real marketing formula for that I’m afraid.  It just requires imagination and talent.  A writer either has that or they don’t.   The story I read, involved a lot of imagination and it was pretty funny as well as sensual in a psychological way.

My point is this, covers are great.  But much like us real life human beings, behind our physical appearance, no matter how glamorous it is, no matter how dull there could be a whole different world behind the lame or hot ‘cover’.

In this writing era of twitter, blogging and instant downloading onto ereaders, when it comes to the romance stuff…the words should still be louder than the covers.  That SHOULD be what still matters.

By jmnauthor3000

The overachievers, the best sellers…and me.

I’ve got a thing against doing blog posts where I talk about non writing related, personal things. As though I’m really special and everybody should be so interested in what I happen to be thinking about.

Thankfully I happen to be thinking about something writing related.  People who know me will be aware that I lost a huge manuscript, more than likely due to my own negligence.  I didn’t back up.  I got it checked out.  It’s gone.  But the plot remained in my head, I got it written down and I am in the process of rewriting.  Again.

The whole ‘novel length’ manuscript process is hard for me.  I doubt I will ever be able to bang out one best seller after another.  But I will never stop writing.

Now…writers.  We are of many different personality types, different genders, different perspectives.  Some of us are loving parents.  Some of us are not very family friendly.  Some of us are academic overachievers with six pack abs, various trophies and charming social attitudes.  And some of us are dream-boat or siren-like beauties AND best selling writers.  I’m…not talking about myself by the way.

Some of us are incurable introverts who find public interaction very difficult without alcohol and undergo a constant battle to avoid unhealthy, self-induced mediocrity.   I’m…kind of talking about myself there.

I am confessing the little twinge of jealousy I experience when the overachievers step out with their winning smiles, flat stomachs (in my imagination at least) and novel releases you just know will do well.  And here is me…the technologically useless dippy ‘indie writer’ lady who lost a manuscript she was almost, kind of starting to feel a little bit proud of.

I’ve never been ambitious.  I knew writing wasn’t something I sucked at from a very early age.  It was natural.  It felt good.  But I have always lacked that zesty confidence and ‘go getter’ attitude that would push a ‘winner’ to use my…erm…thing that I don’t suck at.

So really, how dare I feel jealous of the winners in life, best seller types?  Do I want to be them?  If I really look deep inside myself…I’ve got to say…no.  I want to be me.   I want to be a writer.  It’s probably the one shot I have at being kind of good at something career wise.

Okay fine.  I admit I dig running, fitness, healthy eating and all that.  I also really freaking love pizza and wine.  I also love my children and want to raise them without hired assistance.

So, I shed my tears and learned my lesson over the loss of my manuscript.  It hurt.  But it taught me a lesson.  Okay, yes it taught me that I need to back my stuff up.  It also reminded me that this is no joke to me.  I might not be the most talented (really what sort of nauseating muppet goes on about their talent?), I might not be the most prolific, I might not be the best looking, I might NEVER be a best seller,  I might JUST manage enough working out to keep my health in reasonable order, but I…

I AM good at this.  And I will not stop.  There.  I said it.  What a nauseating muppet.

Really no offense meant to over achievers and best seller types by the way.    It’s fine.  I love overachievers and best sellers, I read their stuff all the time.  No offense to muppets either….

By jmnauthor3000

Greek mythology? I’d like you to meet my Dark Urban Fantasy

The Masquerade Crew Book Tour for Into the Arms of Morpheus is soon to begin! What this means is that my story, Into the Arms of Morpheus will feature on varying book review blogs/websites between Monday, September 29th and Friday October 3rd.

In honor of this, I thought I would pay tribute to the gods and goddess I used in my story.

This is how it’s going to go down. I’m going to give you the info that I found on the net about them and how I used it to create my characters.

Info and stories were minimal but here are some bits I picked up from http://www.theoi.com and of course, good old wikipedia.com. I poked around quite a bit to be honest. However I tended to stick with sources that used direct quotes from major works involving Greek mythology and reputable dictionaries.

Don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE to spend a lot more time reading about and searching for these guys but since I was working on a fantasy story I only needed the commonly known information.

So, here we go…Greek Mythology? I would like you to meet my Dark Urban Fantasy🙂.

Morpheus – the God of Dreams.

(Greek Mythology). Morpheus is not to be confused with Hypnos, who is the God of Sleep. According to theoi.com Morpheus is the son of Hypnos. Morpheus is the leader of the Oneroi, the gods or spirits of dreams. He is the head because he was responsible for taking on the likenesses of mortals. The other two were Phobetor (who forms the shapes of beasts, snakes, etc.) and Phantasos (who takes the form of rocks, rivers and other inanimate things).
I’ve seen other sources stating that Morpheus is the son of Nyx and one of the many brothers of Hypnos (Sleep) and Thanatos (Death), BUT theoi.com uses direct quotes from Homer and Ovid. I’d go with those guys, who said he is one of the Oneroi who spawned from Hypnos who spawned from Nyx.

Morpheus appears in Ovid’s Metamorphoses where he takes the form of Ceyx (the son of the king of Thessaly) in the dream of Ceyx’s wife, Alcyone. Morpheus makes himself appear sodden and grey with a dripping beard to inform Alcyone of his drowning. After hearing this, Alcyone becomes mad with grief and flings herself into the sea. Zeus changes them into halcyon birds (part of that whole metamorphoses theme, everybody becomes something else). Before he assuming the form of Alcyone husband, Morpheus flew to her on ‘noiseless wings’. It seems he usually took on jobs for the gods of appearing as anyone within a dream (usually the dreams of kings or rulers).

(My Dark Urban Fantasy). Morpheus is certainly a god in his own right. It just so happens that his domain is dreams. To me, (though I’m no expert but I think Ovid would agree), Morpheus is rather like an awesome actor. He is ghost-like, but a master of convincing dreamers he is who he tells us he is. It’s important to remember that his expertise isn’t just in appearing as someone else, but he can get right into the human psyche, right into our deepest and darkest thoughts. So, as far as the dreamer is concerned, Morpheus is that person.

Another part of his role in my story is that he gets into the dreamers blood as well. Morpheus is where the name of the drug morphine comes from – that ultimate narcotic. He has a sedative, and hallucinogenic effect. So as far as my story is concerned Morpheus can make things all dreamy and fuzzy, but he can also make illusions and fantasy vivid. He can mess with your mind in a way that no one else could.

Morpheus rather likes being ‘worshipped’ by lovely young Sylvia. It’s ironic that the title makes use of that beautiful phrase ‘I’m going to fall Into the Arms of Morpheus’ because as much as Sylvia might want to literally feel his arms wrapped around her, that is completely and utterly impossible. He can make things so lucid the dreamer can be convinced it’s all real. Let’s face it we do have physical reactions to mental things. But Morpheus does not know physical touch. He cannot lay so much as a finger on anybody. All the same, he can get you.

Nyx – the Goddess of Night.

(Greek Mythology). Nyx is basically night, personified. She is the bringer of darkness and shadow to the world. She is a direct daughter of Chaos who is pretty much the beginning of everything. So, Nyx is one of the first created beings. She’s all over the place in small patches mentioned here and there in mythology but never for very long. She is the mother (apparently without use of a guy) of Thanatos (Death) and Hypnos (Sleep). Thanatos and Hypnos are sometimes depicted as twins. It’s more consistent to say the Onerei came from Hypnos. So, Nyx is Morpheus’ grandmother…technically.

I found one interesting and another very interesting bit of information about her. The first is that though she was often in the backgrounds of other cults in ancient Greece, she did have her own set of worshippers at one point.

The other is that Zeus is scared of Nyx. Zeus was angered by Hypnos on one occasion for conspiring with Hera to let him put the big Olympian to sleep but Hypnos pretty much went to his mother for protection (Nyx). When Zeus realized Nyx’s wrath was a possibility, he backed down. Homer called her ‘a subduer of gods and men.’

(My Dark Urban Fantasy). I don’t think I stray too far away from who she really is. BUT I’d say I present her in a slightly more vulnerable way at first. Mainly due to her little obsession with Poseidon. Really, she is too strong of a female for the sea god’s liking (he likes his cute little nymphs…which is in keeping with mythology).

However, she is at a point where after thousands upon thousands of years of just being this giant silently powerful entity, she is ready to be part in the mortal world, for at least a short while. Her feelings for Poseidon are the most ‘human’ feelings she can conjure. So, I found it the best place to start with her. In my humble opinion, feelings of romantic love and desire can bring the mightiest down to their knees.

I’m also distancing my gods and goddess from their family connections. I don’t mention who is related to who. It’s not necessary or needed in my story.

Major Disclaimer! I’m not going to lie…if Nyx were to request Morpheus, (who is technically according to Greek myth her grandson), to pretend to be Poseidon in a dream that would be wrong and very gross. Stop! Remember that Morpheus can be omnipresent and project illusions and images. He doesn’t have to personally perform them or be involved. He gets personal with Sylvia. Not with Nyx. So, lets make this clear. No poor little dream gods are being manipulated and abused by their grandmothers. It’s more like this…eh hem…

Nyx: ’Give me a shot of that stuff I know you have what makes me see that stuff I like.’

Morpheus: ’Okay, there you go. I’m off over here anyway.’

(Morpheus goes off on his way to see what Sylvia is thinking about, probably him!)

I like to think I did a better job of describing it than that though😉.

In contrast to Morpheus, Nyx can take mortal form and interact on a tangible basis. She usually calls herself Nina, whilst ‘playing mortal’. Even when in this form she is dominating. I honestly believe that only Nyx, the Night Goddess herself could override Sylvia’s need for Morpheus. Only Nyx, could override Sylvia’s issues with physical contact.

She is indeed a subduer of gods and men. She can render any god or mortal unable to see or have any sense of where they are or who they are. At one point in my story she blinds Death. I think Nyx’s greatest weapon is the ability to make you feel so utterly alone. She can override all the gods and strike terror in the heart of hardened warriors. There is a possibility of her being an ally more fierce than any in existence.

I sometimes think of Nyx, protecting people on secret missions in her shadows. I also think of the evil that resides in her murky recesses. She is horror, heroics and sensuality all in one. The night goddess has been there, though all of man’s existence, lurking and knowing. I would really rather be on her good side. I freaking love you, Nyx.

Death (Thanatos)

(Greek Mythology) – Thanatos (Death) is the son of Nyx and brother of Hypnos, some saying even his twin. He is associated with gentle, non-violent death. Apparently it is his sisters the psychotic Keres who are associated with violent bloody deaths. Thanatos is not to be confused with Hades, who runs the underworld. Thanatos doesn’t really run anything. He just kills people.

The Greek poet Hesiod confirms him as being the brother of Hypnos. There is a quote describing that whoever Thanatos gets a hold of will never escape his grasp. He is without passion or mercy and described as hateful towards mortals and ‘deathless’ gods. With Thanatos, there is nothing, only death. The good news is it won’t hurt.

Again, there are many mentions of him but not a lot of detail. Homer describes the twins Thanatos and Hypnos as having the job of carrying a slain hero to his homeland. I assume that this is to do with a painless, swift delivery from the battlefield.

(My Dark Urban Fantasy) – Death is not the main character in my story, but he does play a part as there is literally a ‘killer’ on the loose in Into the Arms of Morpheus. I don’t refer to him as Thanatos (which is literally Greek for ‘death’), only ‘Death’.

I focus on his cold quality. The Killer puts him up on a pedestal because Death is unmoved by love, passion, romance or tenderness. Mortal weaknesses such as a love of pleasure or attention are reviled. To the wannabe murderer it is a rare glory to rise above such things. In the Killer’s eyes, Death really doesn’t give a *cough* about that.

This god just can’t relate to feelings. It’s his lack of relating to feelings that probably give him anything like, well…feelings. He becomes irritated by mighty Nix daring to show vulnerability. She should be above such things. At no point does he call her mother.

It did occur to me whilst writing Into the Arms of Morpheus, that Death is a pitiable character. Even though they are dark and lesser known, it is possible to really desire and want Nyx and Morpheus. Hypnos? Of course, we all just need to zonk out sometimes.

Death? No. No one wants him. Not really. Not him as he is. Maybe some fantastical totally invented version of him, maybe some badly informed gothic type who confuses him with Hades. But not Thanatos.

Of course, you would want a quick and painless death as opposed to the psycho Keres sisters. But even in that case, you want an instant, blink and you miss it millisecond with him, and you will never even remember him afterwards. No wonder he is a hateful sort. He doesn’t really get any recognition.

But when he gets near, there is a palpable sense of the inescapable. Unlike Morpheus, he can touch you. When he does, you’ll never get away. It’s over. Goodbye.

So, there you go! Thank you wikipedia.com and theoi.com🙂

I hope you will take the time to get to know Morpheus, Nyx and Death in my story, Into the Arms of Morpheus.

By jmnauthor3000

You don’t have to be American to be awesome….

Now, you don’t have to be American to be awesome (or a total bastard)…but it sure helps!

I did the ice bucket challenge and donated to ALS http://www.alsa.org/about-als/what-is-als.html I am an American. I love red meat and dislike fish. I don’t go to church. I drink a little too much. I’m going to be honest, I feel a little bad about most of these things. Apart from being an American.

I also don’t feel bad about donating to ALS. Feeling rather ashamed about my bucket challenge (water wasting) enthusiasm, I did donate to The Water Project – http://thewaterproject.org/bucket-challenge-for-clean-water.

I can’t help but notice on social websites, folks who are doing the ice bucket challenge, and those who refuse in adamant disgust.

It’s taking off in the UK (they like to have a bit of fun too…well most of them). It is initially an American craze, an American charity and U.S. folk are known for being a little ‘over the top’ at times.

Granted, even some Americans have refused to do it on the grounds of not wanting to waste water. But what some folks (like the ones at the water project) have done is find an alternative. Alternatives can be both clever and awesome.

I’m not insanely irrationally patriotic. I wouldn’t dare defend every cultural craze, every foriegn policy decision, every bomb, every shady bit of history, every shot that the country I come from is responsible for. But that does not mean I don’t have a lot of love in my heart for the place.

I still would offer my respect to ANYONE who is willing to put themselves in harm’s way in order to protect those who are vulnerable. Hence my contribution to the Bellator and Reaching Out Anthologies (two short story collections one for The Wounded Warrior Project, one for the Red Cross).

I don’t LOVE it when the marketing crazy, commercial/advert saturated madness goes a little too far. But I’m a self-published writer…I have to freaking market a little!

I’ve been living abroad for a long time, and I’ve learned to just brush it off when certain people (usually those who have never spent any significant time in the US) go on about the evils/ignorance/general distastefulness of the US at me as though I am personally responsible for it all and I should be ashamed to come from the place. Whatever.

People are suffering right now as a direct result of wasteful practices and general greed. Even within supposedly ‘rich’ countries there are huge gaps between the haves and have nots.

Then there are the parts of this earth that contain such extreme suffering, it boggles the western, well fed mind that such conditions still even exist.

Then there are the things we don’t even know about. Things there isn’t a charity for. Words are words. No doubt any of us would fall to our knees at the sight of a child suffering, going without the things we take for granted every day.

Let’s be honest, most of us don’t see real, actual, proper suffering. We just see facebook and twitter posts, and we get a little annoyed about them….*sheepish look*.

Because ALL of us, no matter where we come from, should all be aware of our actions, how every little thing we do has an affect on someone, somewhere. From how we do the dishes/washing up, how we treat our bodies, to how we interact with other people face to face. We’re never going to be perfect, we’re never going to get it exactly right.

Still, we should put a smile on our face, and fill our hearts with love instead of hate and self-righteousness. We should look around at how even just our words can affect others, let alone our actions. The more barriers that go up, the more ‘us and them’ attitude people take, the less peaceful the world gets. And THAT is something I do not want to take part in.

Bellator is Latin for Warrior.

Bellator is latin for warrior.

I’ve recently contributed to a collection of short stories entitled Bellator.    All the proceeds go to The Wounded Warrior Project.  My story is entitled ‘With Our Own Blood’.  The lovely Mia Darien has been coordinating capable authors in the genres if sci-fi and fantasy.

I’ve heard the phrase ‘write what you know’ many many times.  I agree with it.  It’s a bit strange to write on a topic or within a genre you have no passion for.  It’s insulting to be unwilling to do any research.  I also agree with the phrase, ‘write what you fancy reading’.  It’s unfair to subject readers to something you wouldn’t enjoy yourself.

My short story revolves around a ‘warrior witch’ called Diana.  She lives in the woods, her favorite method of killing involves using a knife (close quarters)  Diana can destroy human remains with her bare hands.  She’s cold, she’s a loner, and anyone who threatens her beloved siblings or parents is as good as dead.

So, write what you know, yes, but stories would be rather dull if authors only attempted to create characters that they themselves could perfectly imitate.

Still, when it came time for Diana to do some killing, I stopped writing for a bit.  I really needed to think and research.  Luckily I came across some great reference material, and memoirs.  I learned the distinction between ‘fantasy violence’ and ‘gritty violence’.  This was mainly thanks to Rayne Hall’s Writing Fight Scenes.

Writing gritty, brutal, realistic, detailed violence is not for me.   As much as I enjoy Lord of The Rings, the Hobbit, etc. even the fantasy violence was a stretch.  But I kept at it.

Finally Diana’s knife came out of its sheath.  Understanding from professionals and experts how men and women traditionally differ in violent situations was also a great turning point in getting Diana ‘active’.   Male fantasy warriors are cool, but I think fighting (and writing) like a girl is pretty awesome and I wanted to explore that.

I’ve read a few memoirs of military folks, special operations people, etc.  As inspiring as I find their stories, it’s a world that is way more foriegn and unknown to me than fantasy or sci-fi tales of ‘warriors’ in the Bellator anthology.

I actually live in the Middle East.  In a very expat filled, western friendly, holiday destination type of place.  Not the terrifying, religiously and politically complicated battle zones that service people risk thier lives and die in every day.  When I’m there, amongst comfy surroundings I think of what is just over the border in far less friendly countries it’s…a little strange.  Funnily enough I finished ‘With Our Own Blood’ in my native Midwest.

I’m a privileged lady who gets to escape the Middle Eastern heat and spend the summers in the US and UK.   Both countries have issues, but oh my goodness am I glad and proud to have ties to both places.  Since being back in the West, whenever I’ve seen military men and women or retired warriors who bear the scars of thier service, I want to go up and hug them.  Of course I’m a shy civilian, and I reckon hugging people who don’t know you might freak them out.

I’m not capable of doing what they do, what they have done.  But I am so grateful that they have.  I can’t imagine having a spouse who has been through what they have, so my heart goes out to wives, husbands and children connected to folks who are willing to die to keep us safe.

I’m certainly not capable of what Diana does, but I’m glad she came to life for me.  And if her story is part of a collection that benefits Wounded Warriors, I’m honored.  I think she would be too.

Bellator (edited by Mia Darien) is a great collection of short stories.  It is available on Amazon (for print and kindle) Smashwords, and Nook Press.  ‘With Our Own Blood’ is included in the collection.

nicholls quote art-2

By jmnauthor3000