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.

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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

The New Moon

 

So, it’s Halloween season…and tonight is the new moon.

I am not alone in loving this time of year.  I always have.  I have many wonderful memories of carving pumpkins, dressing up, eating too much candy, feeling good with people, getting far too drunk,(wine and vodka are the ‘candy’ of my adulthood and yes, I do need to cut down),  reveling in all the seasonal decoration and frivolity.

Escaping reality and delving into a little world of fantasy and folklore for a night is just a ton of fun.

I also have crappy memories, disappointments with people I thought cared about me, feelings related to being left out, misunderstood and more than a few recollections of god awful hangovers.

This year, things are different.

It’s a drizzly, chilly day here in England.  The news is dire, depressing as usual.   The weather has been weird this week, oddly warm then back to cold and drizzly.   Mother Nature has wreaked havoc over the past months.  And that’s nothing to make light of or use for some clever anecdote.  That’s just worrying and a sign that something isn’t right. People have died and are suffering greatly.

Music on my favorite radio station is dystopian and fatalistic, bemoaning the instant gratification culture of our generation, yet resenting the ones who came before.

It really couldn’t get much darker.  Hence it’s very apt that it is the time of the new moon, time to accept the darkness and the void, to release things you don’t need and prepare yourself for the new.

If you are into spiritual paths, manifesting and all that stuff, this is the time to light candles, meditate and visualize.

I feel held back by something and I need to let it go.  There is a lot of talk about ‘making things great again’, going back to a past where the future was brighter, the present was more enjoyable and there just wasn’t so much polarization and dread in the world.

For some at least.

I don’t believe this is just an American discussion.  Like it or not, wherever you live, you affect the world and it affects you.

Such is the price for international trade and commerce, military interventions past and present,  the internet, social media and generally being a living creature on this earth.  Us mortals are not so easily defined by boundaries and carefully constructed national narratives.

Yes of course you can still be American or British (or both) or European or German (hence both) or African or Kenyan (hence, both) or Asian or Chinese (hence, both) or perhaps you are American or British (or both) and you carry a bit of everything in your blood and background.   No offence to Canadians, Australians, Brazilians, Indians etc….but we’d be all day listing the world’s nationalities, geographic locations and ethnic backgrounds.

What I’m saying is, no one is going to steal anyone’s heritage or history.

But we can’t escape our humanity.  It will always be there.

Whether or not it is acknowledged is another thing.

We all exist, we’re all here.   Yes you might be as Caucasian as they come having grown up near a small town in Iowa where your family lived on the same farm for generations.  And yes, you have a voice, you draw breath.  You are here, you have a story and I’m sure it’s very interesting.

We are all one of many.  Hence we can’t only stick to one way of looking at things.

Swallowing any story as long as it serves an agenda is immature, unenlightened and tragic.

It sucks.  Long as it makes you feel better as a person and it vindicates you from any responsibility towards your fellow human beings, you’ll go along with it, blind and trusting like a morally underdeveloped child knowing he/she is going to get a piece of cake at the end of the deal.

Or a bit of money.  How sad.

We have a lot to learn from the past.  We can’t deny it existed.  We also can’t look at it with any slanted, agenda driven political motive.  We can’t look to the past to define us.

That’s dangerous and frankly, quite ignorant.

We can’t pretend that the history tied to our own story is more relevant than the one tied to someone very different from us.   We’re all here, now in the present.

History, they say, belongs to the victors.  Perhaps…but the ‘victors’ are now dead too.  Maybe their death monuments are grander than history’s ‘losers’.   But how long will that last?

Eventually, stone also crumbles.

It’s new moon, don’t use the past to make things better.   I want to be a better person, to look ahead.  Try to find a better, more compassionate way.

It’s ALWAYS better not to turn a blind eye to the cruel, immoral behavior of others, even if it would benefit you if you did.

It’s terrifying to imagine the huge void of risk, responsibility and the unknown.  But this whole ‘F the future the past was better let’s go back to that’…it won’t work.

It isn’t that I don’t love a good 80s disco.  That’s fine.  But…

Better to look to the challenging void, then to glorify some past riddled with injustices and mistakes that though they didn’t haunt us then…

They do now.

I release all that holds me back with the new moon.

Blessed Be.

 

By jmnauthor3000

National #Poetry Day

It’s national poetry day in the UK today. Apparently the theme is freedom.  I’ve written a couple of pieces that I’ve arrived at whilst contemplating the best sort of freedom.

Where I’m from originally and where I live, these are for the most part, ‘free’ places.  I don’t suffer from political persecution and I wouldn’t desire any continuation of practices that encourage persecution of certain groups.

That’s my opinion, my experience.  I recognize that, opinions can be innately selfish.  I often think of being free of my selfish nature and want to care more and love more when it comes to my fellow human beings.

I also believe the worst way for us to act as a group and as individuals or whatever would be to encourage ignorance and the incessant numbing of any pain.

Uncomfortable emotions, depression and loneliness.  Anger.  These are all issues that within ourselves and within the human experience as a whole, need to be dealt with.

In a beautiful, utopian society freedom from ignorance and freedom from internal (and external obviously) pain would be like….well, like heaven.

Anyway.  I’ll shut up and hope the following pieces speak at least somewhat along the lines of freedom….though admittedly that word is never directly mentioned.  The first is called ‘Words’ and the second is called ‘Void’.

Off we go….

‘Words’

Words are weak

Words are wisps and vapor

Like smoke feebly blown from the mouth of a dying man

Words cannot always describe the terror that lives within silence

Words cannot rescue you from what lurks in shadows

Yet they’ll gnaw inside

Damn things, awakening a specter of pain

Words linger on the tongue, leaving a rotten taste

Leaving the dust of an ancient shell crunching between the teeth

Still, meaningless and dead

Words spoken by lips you never knew

Brittle pages that somehow survived

First tense, second tense, passive voice, third

Lament for the powerless word

Inscribed in stone, shoved behind a glass

Confine all words to the museum of evaporated knowledge

Until no one cares enough to read

The myth, the legend, the fable

Bury them deep beneath a dull grey monument

Here lies passion

Fears are phantoms

Love is a ghost we don’t believe in anymore

Death is a distant memory

Of someone we knew before

No

A warning

Declaring war on words

They’ll find you

They’ll get deep inside

A place

You never knew existed

They’ll stun and bind you

Long before you fight or hide

Words are the companion of consciousness

It’s true

Without them

You’ll die too

 ‘Void’ 

A void

An empty shell

Prepared to wither away

Dwindle and shrink

Into the abyss

Devoid of happiness

When all the poison

Used to fill it

Evaporates

Accept the hunger

At least, it’s something

It is what it is

At least, it’s something

Feel it

Filling the void

Turn it into something else

Better this, than filling the space with poison

Caustic and maddening

Eroding what once was beautiful

The absence of youth

The lack of soul

Can no longer be blamed

When embracing the pitiful and selfish

At any age

In such an event

It is all

Within and without

Chronically shamed

Famed for nothing

But lacking the necessary fervor

To love enough

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By jmnauthor3000

The Last Days of Summer

 

Summer is winding down and it’s time for some last minute fun.

This is a blog post relevant to a #giveaway hosted by Dariel Raye. I’m also going to talk a lot about my enjoyment, understanding and relationship with paranormal romance as a writer and a reader.  And a little bit about insomnia.

Dariel Raye, is a musician, animal lover and #romance writer extraordinaire who tends to stick to the genre of #paranormal and urban fantasy for her love stories. Quite often, her couples are multicultural/interracial. Because, love doesn’t give a flying *expletive omitted* about race or ethnicity. Only sad fools would be bothered by such traits between lovers.

I’m sure if you asked Aphrodite, she’d roll her beautiful eyes at the prudish stirrers of hate and tell them to ‘*expletive omitted* off.’

Dariel Raye’s characters are frequently shape shifters or angels.   In one of her stories, there is intense attraction between a good hearted veterinarian and an attractive gentleman who adores caring women and whose incisors occasionally lengthen.  Nice.

A few hours before dawn, I found myself reaching for my #kindle to read Outreach, An Orlosian Warriors Novella by Dariel Raye. Normally I would force myself to go back to sleep, but I thought, no it’s summer and if the only quiet time I get to myself will be in these dark hours, then I am going to delve into a world filled with the descendants of angels, demons, disturbed characters with tragic histories and an explosive love story.

It was great.   I love Dariel Raye’s stuff, it’s indulgent and escapist yet beautiful in its use of damaged humans and dark angels.   I wished that the story would have gone on a bit longer actually as four am rolled around and I knew that sleep was not going to be my friend.

Thank goodness for American style coffee pots.

Insomnia is an unusual occurrence for me. I love early nights and generally sleep soundly until sunrise. In fact, I love sleep so much that I wrote a story about a girl who has an unhealthy obsession with the Greek God of Dreams, Morpheus.

When I came up with the concept for my first novel length project, Into the Arms of Morpheus, I was envisioning Morpheus as a typical Greek god in contemporary paranormal romance literature

I assumed I would write a tale of standard seduction.  But my writing took me on a complicated path and I discovered some character traits I wasn’t expecting.

I can’t deny I was inspired by the phenomenon of ‘heart throb’ types. The sort, molded into something innocent young women are powerless against.  They might not realize it, but heart throbs become less human and more like ideas, images and fantasies. Let’s say, otherworldly.

Morpheus became a different sort of character. Whether he’s really good somewhere deep down or whether he is a villain, I’m still not completely sure. He is worryingly appealing yet agonizingly evasive.

The goddess, Nyx in all her might came to me as well.  She’s got her own agenda.   On a side note, I am into #ASMR and there is a #goddess series by @pandora_asmr where she plays Nyx, hypnotizing you to sleep.  Pretty cool and awesome to see #Nyx getting some recognition.   In case you haven’t noticed, I champion the strange and unusual.

Maybe someone will do an ASMR video as Morpheus?  Any enterprising #ASMR #artists?  I could have used that around 4:30 am this morning….

Back to Morpheus in my story….

I was obsessed with mythology during the writing of Morpheus. I set the tale in rainy, wet stone and cobbled Manchester, England, a place I lived in the vicinity of for many years.

Morpheus, is probably the world’s best actor.  He can become anything. He understands human nature more intimately than anyone living or dead because he can delve into anyone’s subconscious and know their deepest secrets, desires and fears.

But poor Morpheus, has his limits and weaknesses. He lives his own immortal tragedy. Greek gods might be powerful, but they can be petty and arrogant.   They are in a position to toy with mortal lives when they see fit.  In Into the Arms of Morpheus, they take advantage of their position.

Because they are all a little messed up themselves.  I’ve chosen those from #mythology who aren’t normally in the lime light.  Personally I find those a little more interesting than the standard attention seeking types.  Not that I want to get on Zeus’s bad side, but he is actually scared of Nyx.

Moving on from my own story, Dariel Raye is hosting a #giveaway on August 25th. There are many #authors taking part.  I’m giving away a signed copy of Into the Arms of Morpheus to a winner of my choosing. I’ll be deciding around Saturday morning.

It’s free it’s fun and you never know, one day I might be quite famous.  I might also dwindle into obscurity and heartily embrace regular daytime wine drinking (tempting…oh so tempting) but at the end of the day you still get a free book.

So if you fancy some #mythology based urban fantasy in the wee hours, or if you want to go someplace quite dark while basking in the sunshine, if you want to meet Morpheus, Nyx and Thanatos (Death), then come on over on Friday.

There is a multitude of other authors taking part.  Plenty of romance writers of course, but of a wide scope.  Authors who specialize in the erotic, fantasy, paranormal, mysteries, gay romance, multicultural, shape shifters and other creatures of the night are on Dariel’s lineup,  there is a little something for everyone.

Summer is winding down, soon the crickets and birds will quiet, the leaves will change and the air will get colder.   Soon one story will end and another will begin. You might as well have a bit of fun and curl up with a book to remind you of the last days of summer…

Here is Dariel’s Link:

https://www.facebook.com/dariel.raye.3

 

 

By jmnauthor3000

‘Going Backwards’

 

My name is Jessica and it’s been two weeks since I last ate a doner kebab pizza.   I have one finished historical romance, (with a ghost story), out for formal editing.   I’ve written a dystopian romance (it doesn’t have any sci-fi or space element to it). I will get to that in the autumn.  I’m currently writing vampire stories in preparation for a Halloween release.

It’s summer break. I stand on the verge of over a month of upended routine. This means writing will be sporadic.  Not nonexistent but…sporadic. There will be time for reading, and I plan on filling my head with as much vampire, fantasy, paranormal, historical and romantic stuff as possible whilst negotiating…summer.  Forget you, reality.

Yet all that aside, I would like to take a moment out there to talk about a few things.

Namely, jealousy, insecurity and loathing.

I will give an example. When I walk into a book store and see successful, best selling books by well known actors or artists.   I am jealous.

It strikes me as unfair that these people are allowed the pleasure of writing and getting published like…bam.  Never mind that said folks are actually producing quality children’s books as well as staring in well known programs and they entertain me or make me laugh, the fact that they get to enjoy instant success with another artistic medium due to not only their talent but their already established name really grates on me.  I tried to convince my son not to buy ‘Billionaire Boy’.  It didn’t work.  Little bugger read it right in front of me.   This success in literature grates on me.

I am ashamed to say so but dear God it does.

*cue glaring green emoji*.   I’m sorry David Walliams and Bear Grylls.  Forgive me, I wish I was a better person.

Whenever I see crappy reality television celebrities bringing out memoirs I honestly feel sorry for the people who buy them. Not jealous or spiteful, just a bit sad.

I loathe marketing people. Folks who think of nothing but sell sell sell….they fill me with disgust for the human condition. I feel these people should be on an old fashioned market stall, smiling and bowing and scraping for every penny because they don’t care about a damn thing apart from making money. If they want to worship money they should wind up in a lonely ‘heaven’ of heavy coins to swim in.  Like in that treasure room in Gringotts bank in Harry Potter or Smaug’s lair in the Hobbit.

They don’t deserve to earn millions and talk about targets and set about looking at website traffic and stalking people on social media to find out what’s #trending.  Perhaps there was a time when people sold products they genuinely believed in….but now I think too many folks think sell first and product quality or validity later.

I desire their happiness and dignity on a pike before the city gates.

Ever heard the song ‘Going Backwards’ by Depeche Mode?

It makes me think of ‘cookies’ and market researchers and opportunistic sales people. Maybe that’s not what Depeche Mode meant with the song but that’s what it conjures for me.

I read about a blogger selling five star reviews to struggling authors. That is both pathetic and disturbing.  I officially loathe that blogger. But that ruthless woman makes money off of people desperate to be seen in the exceptionally competitive world of books and literature available online.

There are people selling ‘wellness’ and ‘truth’ and ‘self confidence’ and ‘success’ and ‘inner peace’ just like there are people selling sexual imagery and war. They mostly have orange faces and whitened teeth.  I trust very few people with orange faces and whitened teeth.

My point is, we are supposed to be moving forward in society. We are supposed to rise above jealousy and bitterness and animosity against our fellow human being. We are supposed to ACTUALLY help one another. Not pretend to help people so as to benefit and line our pockets.

So….why am I so filled with loathing, insecurity and jealousy towards my fellow human being?   Because the lack of balance in this world upsets me and I blame salespeople. I blame those who have sacrificed their morality on the sacred slab dedicated to lost souls and butt kissers so that they can go on holiday in Thailand.

I don’t blame David Walliams or Bear Grylls.  I might be jealous of them…but I don’t blame them.

To a certain extent I blame a lack of education and poor life choices of the hoards who love crap like reality television, celebrity gossip and the memoires of reality television stars.

So if I see anyone sat around a pool this weekend reading a book with some orange faced, bleach white toothed person on its shiny, overpriced cover….

I am going to make sure they are engrossed in their book so that I can discreetly roll my eyes as I walk past them.

They won’t notice me.

No danger there.

Happy Summer.

 

By jmnauthor3000

Doner Kebab Pizzas, Yoga and my Conscience

 

The other day I was stuffing a piece of doner kebab pizza into my mouth whilst ordering a well known fitness application for my phone. Already my stomach signaled that it was time to stop eating.

My behavior that afternoon just wasn’t right.

My conscience wasn’t speaking to me, I’d made it sick. I shouted to the children through a mouth stuffed with processed, over seasoned meat, salty sauce, dough and cheese to cease scrolling through Netflix, searching for films I knew were too scary for them.

At that point my conscience crawled out of its sick bed and said in a gruff voice that shouldn’t belong to any lady’s conscience,

‘You are actually going to have to go in there and stop them from putting on a horror movie.   You know it’s going to give them nightmares.   Let’s be honest you don’t want the not-so-little anymore buggers to be clinging to you at midnight, while you are struggling to sleep due to a bloated stomach and heavily put upon digestive system. Do something with yourself! You horrible, horrible person.’ My conscience then slammed the door, grumbling about what a jerk I am and how tragic my first world problem obsessions are and stumbled back into its lair.

My conscience, by the way is a really disillusioned washed up old drunk.

It might not be the most gorgeous, sparkling conscience in the world, but it does know what’s wrong and what’s right.

Monday meant premiering my fitness app. This well known fitness app involves message notifications, exercise goals and a pre-set timer and requests to connect to my camera and all my other apps. This makes me uncomfortable even though I see the point in using it for social media and sweaty selfies, etc.  Promotion.  Convenience.  Surveillance and money laundering.  Whatever.

I could say I’m disappointed with it, but in truth it motivates me.

To my shame, seeing images of beautiful young, fit, likely wealthy and successful women doing exercises motivates me. It’s not that I want to compete with them. I will never be a beautiful fitness guru.  They just look so friendly! I like them. My conscience thinks I’m pathetic but God help me, I actually like the fitness ladies who now live in my phone.

Surely, they are re-inventing the stereotypes surrounding attractive go getter type women. They aren’t all cruel, tan, toned creatures seeking to crush me. It’s okay not to hate them. It’s okay to buy an app like that. It doesn’t make me a dork/sheep. Right?   I won’t wake up one day to a world where I am a starving beggar in their empire of pretty, young, tech savvy and healthy.

This whole affair makes me feel quite pathetic yet…I know it’s doing me good? Conspiracy theories of ebusiness and app tycoons seeking to run our daily lives aside, what harm could it be doing?

I did yoga this morning via said app.   I even listened to the music score that went along with it. I didn’t hate all of it.   When it came time to do the ‘balance’ moves I struggled. I kept keeling over and needing to grasp onto a chair.   I’m not particularly balanced physically. Or emotionally.

I ate vegan sausages on whole wheat pasta with roasted tomatoes and garlic for dinner this evening. There is no wine in the house. This is on purpose.  I am physically incapable of ladylike drinking.

As I said, my conscience is already a drunk. There is no hope for me.

I’m trying to save money. I’m trying to lose weight. I’m trying to be a good parent.   I’m trying to do the right thing. I’m trying to succeed with my writing.

*Conscience pipes up from its lair* ‘You are talking about yourself like ALL the time!’

Yes, thank you conscience.   This is a blog and blogs are very often exercises in admittedly self centered ramblings and personal opinions so why should mine be any different?

That aside, I keep seeing tweets and articles about how talent is not exactly rare. There are many creative types around with the ability to write something interesting.  What makes them succeed is their tenacity. The moves they make and the work they put in to succeed. To get your work seen, you have to complete all manner of research. You have to know who would want to help you get your work out there. You have to source dozens of these people. Then you have to present something impressive.

So, you’d better have it.

Even then, chances are the ones in positions to help you will be incredibly busy, dealing with the thousands of other creative types trying to make a living from their art. FYI, if any ‘agents’ ever ask you for money after getting you all excited, telling you that you have a strong voice, etc., do NOT engage with them or send them money.

*Sound of creaking bed springs as my Conscience sits up slightly*

Conscience: ‘F-wording vultures.’

Anyway….

Writer’s write. Talent is common. Tenacity is what makes or breaks you….etc. etc. etc. Eye Roll. Yawn.

*Cue the sound of empty bottles falling and rolling on a wooden floor, shuffling feet and a groan.*

Okay, I’ll formally introduce you. Everyone? This is my Conscience. Conscience? These are like the two people who occasionally look at my blog…

Conscience: ‘Okay. I suppose getting your work seen is like getting fit or being a better person. You have to make the effort. You have to ‘get over yourself’ and just work at it.   Stop obsessing over your little insecurities and the many things you become paranoid about. Grow accustomed to rejection and the fact that higher ups might look at you and think ‘Wow, that sucks. Go away.’ Steel yourself against that because it doesn’t matter. What does matter is what you learn in the process and that you never EVER give up. And the fitness ladies in your phone are not your friends, okay? They are attractive fitness people who had an idea, pursued it and now they make money off of people like you. But that’s okay, because you do need to get healthier. And maybe….just maybe one day those ladies will buy your book and find it an emotionally enjoyable read and will get in touch about how much they liked your book. OMG you really want that don’t you? You’re so freaking sad and weird at the same time! You really, really need to get out more. Jeez…crazy obsessive woman hauls herself over the coals for buying a well known fitness app and there are people starving in the world.    Give money to charity or something. I need a drink….’ *cue the sound of a bottle uncorking and a body collapsing on a bed with broken springs*

Okay. So…I won’t order Doner Kebab Pizza next weekend.  Or any apps for that matter.

My name is Jessica and my conscience is a disillusioned, washed up old drunk.

Once upon a time, I imagine it was a glorious, bright eyed sort with the world of moral choices at its feet.

I’ll get back to work then….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By jmnauthor3000

Balance and #Health and #Wellness and Stuff.

 

Balance. Control. Discipline.

I like gorging myself on rich food and drinking wine over the weekend. Then I want to hit the gym, run and drink green smoothies all week. Mealtimes involve a healthy chicken and black bean burrito, with no cheese or sour cream. I’ll eat nuts and whole grains, dabble in yoga and meditation, etc.

Then Friday comes and an intense urge accompanied by euphoria hits as I start on a bottle of crisp, zesty chilled Sauvignon Blanc and salty rich snacks. The delirious deliciousness is so good, I become ecstatic with happiness. Everything makes sense on Friday night. The world is right. By Sunday I’m on ice creams and chocolate bars in a desperate attempt to pick myself up off the floor.

Lately, I’ve allowed myself to slip even further from my lifestyle standard. I’ll even eat a rich pasta dish and drink wine on a school night. Not to the point of being a hung over wretch the next day, but certainly not in a position to get up at 5:30am to go for a run.

I just sort of do my day, minus any significant exercise. I try and stick to lower fat lower sugar eating, but it doesn’t pack the same punch. It doesn’t have the heady feeling I get from eating lean protein style foods after sweating and panting, then exfoliating and moisturizing afterwards.

Eating a chicken sandwich on whole wheat knowing I barely managed to roll out of bed and wash myself just isn’t the same.

Then you hear words like moderation and balance. Yawn.

Yet here I am again. Sunday. I didn’t get out of bed until ten. I’ve eaten more chocolate than I care to admit. There are empty bottles in the recycling that I am responsible for. I’m staring down the barrel of another week.

I’m staring down the barrel of the rest of my life.

It’s not the vanity, it’s the mindset captured when I’m being a good girl. I love my indulgent weekends. But they can’t spill into my week. Not anymore. I honestly do have stuff to do.

And it’s not just about my expanding waistline. Or even the puffy eyes. Or a sluggish thought process and general state of confusion as to how exactly I got here.

My urge to nap during the day, a habit I find offensive in other situations, disgusts and compels me at the same time. It’s not those sort of things.

Okay well yes. It is those things. It’s also that I still want to be able to drink a glass or two of wine and not feel like a piece of crap who does this way too often. I want to drink that glass knowing that I earned it. Not panicking that I’m going to feel tired tomorrow, yet being unable to stop myself from swallowing yummy chilled Pinot Grigio.   Chardonnay sucks.

I want to eat a piece of cheese and a few olives and not feel disgusted with myself. I want to enjoy a piece of cake and not become immediately embroiled in a ferocious yet silent debate about whether to eat cake until I feel sick or whether to stop eating all together and just cope with my salivating, twitching and excessive drinking…I mean blinking… I mean I like cake. Shit.

I’m very knowledgeable about healthy eating. I’m not limited in my ability to comprehend what is good for me and what is not. I’m just exceptionally good at justifying bad health choices.

For example, my subconscious theory that if I consume a bag of nacho cheese flavored tortilla fast enough, it doesn’t count. I have processed fake cheese corn stuck in my teeth but hardly recall eating anything so anyway what’s for dinner?

Another example? I hold sugary soft drinks in high disdain. I do not see the point in sodas or artificial fruit drinks at all. Until I wake up with a hangover and find myself chugging lemonade like it’s going out of fashion.

I’ll go back to snubbing it on Monday.

No thanks, just water for me.

At least wine has a bit of integrity. Whatchamacallit Zero? Whatsit Light?   Bubbly Diet Whatever? Bah! My nose and I are going to go right up, thank you very much. Until we’re above a cold can of yourself because your carbonated caffeinated qualities accompany spicy fattening comfort food perfectly. When I drink you, I know I’m slumming it and possibly drinking cancer or dementia inducing chemicals yet I secretly fear the day you are no longer produced.

As for the ‘full fat’ soda brigade? You make me sick. Until I feel sick and drink you down like a ragged traveler who’s been lost in the desert for weeks. I love you ginger ale, don’t leave me!

I drink infused water now. My water has pieces of lemon, mint, cucumber, berries and ginger floating in it. I’m still gaining weight. It turns out my home grown kitchen herb infused H20 does not offset the doner kebab pizza I scoffed on Friday because I was freaking sick of cooking stuff involving home-made chicken stock and chopping up varying forms of bastard salad. F word I hate salad.

I’m really quite proud of my ability to resist chocolate and sweets.   My true weakness is salty stuff.   I’m also nauseatingly proud of my honesty.   I have a problem with consuming too many salty carbohydrates. Yet you come see me on a Sunday, or when Mother Nature tweaks my biological situation and I’m stood looking at an impressively sized American candy bar and wondering if it’s big enough.

I adore running. My knees remind me that I come from a long line of short, stout (yet really awesome) peasant laborer type women who were built for constant work, but not for the elegant, graceful art of running. Bend, stoop, stir, lift, push, pull, grunt, carry, hurry up, give birth, but don’t run for goodness sake your joints can’t take it. Really?

No…I will lose enough weight off my middle one day so that I can enjoy running and my knees will shut up.

I like the gym, the cross trainer and doing weights. I don’t talk to anyone there yet I love the feeling of unity in health. We aren’t all perfect, but we are here and let’s do this people!   I don’t resent the beautiful types who are there. The fact that I mentioned that shows how open minded I am. It does not betray any insecurity at all.   I welcome all my gym brothers and sisters with open arms.  Even the annoyingly attractive and fit ones.

I avoid eye contact like the plague and the thought of doing a group exercise class truly horrifies me on a level that needs its own blog post but…solidarity people! We can embrace health and find a better version of ourselves.

In all seriousness I love sweating. I also love eating. And drinking.

And green tea is really really boring.

So, what to do? How to find balance in health and habits? The thing is, I know I’m not alone. Lots of folks are struggling with weight and healthy lifestyle habits.

Lots of people freaking hate salad. Even with a nice dressing, extra chicken, or some alternative vegetable that isn’t lettuce. You are the bane of my existence lettuce!  I heard, that lettuce has chemicals in it that actually cause hunger. Who would have thought that a bit of produce can be so cruel as well as prone to becoming soggy and tasteless?

Then again, I do like using lettuce as an alternative ‘wrap’ to tortilla or buns. Burger meat in between fresh lettuce leaves is actually okay. So is taco meat.

Fine, maybe I can’t use lettuce as a scape goat for my poor lifestyle choices. I can’t blame the unappetizing bits of soggy green stuff on café sandwiches for making me choose the cheese toastie instead.

Maybe I have to actually swallow back down my urge to isolate myself with a huge piece of black forest gateau.

Maybe I should eat in public more often. And slowly enough that I remember what I’ve consumed. But control doesn’t come easy. It doesn’t grace you with any benefits unless you make the effort and practice good old, agonizingly boring self control.

Sometimes, that means acknowledging your own madness.

Hello. My name is Jessica and I’m not entirely balanced.

 

By jmnauthor3000

Bad Day

 

When you are alone.

Your words are meaningless.

Your emotions a lead weight.

Your dreams unfulfilled.

And there is no savior for any of this save for you.

Alone.

Only you can claw yourself out.

Reality is a dull and hungry existence.

Food turns to grey matter on your tongue.

Drink doesn’t satisfy until you are sick.

Your body repels and protests your every decision.

Your mind punishes you.

For the shame of knowing better.

For the shame of having no excuse.

For the horror of no escape.

And the anger, the poisonous, pointless anger.

Because you are in so deep.

Swallowed by the version of you, you never wanted to be.

And only you, dreary wasted you, can claw yourself out.

 

 

 

 

By jmnauthor3000