How To Write Real Characters

How To Write Real Characters

www.sadiesins.com

For those who don’t know, I come from a fanfiction background. That means for the first one to two dozen stories I dreamed up I was working with a character template laid down by another author. Sometimes by many authors. Fanfiction evolves characters beyond what the original author intended with tens to hundreds of new voices piping in with ideas. It’s a pretty awesome phenomenon. When I decided I wanted to write original stories, erotica at that, I was faced with a problem. How do I write a character from scratch? Not only that, how do I do it in a short format? How do I get the feeling of living, breathing, real characters when I only have 10,000 words to tell a story of them existing, meeting, and falling into bed (and love) together?

This problem stopped me for the longest time. As a new writer, I felt there was no way I could overcome such a complicated problem. How could anyone love my characters and feel for them the same way I did in the fanfictions I wrote? How could I love them—I didn’t even know them!

I researched, and kept coming across this rule of thumb I eventually decided to give a shot. The Blank Slate. Make your main character as flat and mundane as possible so the reader can relate. I wrote Coffee Guy. Jayden is the most unmemorable character for me, and I have a feeling for my readers as well. The supporting characters are more memorable than Jayden, whose biggest characterization is he likes tight jeans, moved from the country, and is a horny bitch.

So… Coffee Guy is pretty popular. Someone new reads it at least once a day if I go by my KU numbers. A lot of that has to do with it being a werewolf gangbang in an office setting with themes of BDSM, breeding, and humiliation. Keywords and hitting genres that interest people. And yeah, I have never worked in an office and have no interest in ever being in one, but hey, that was generic too in the hopes of reaching as wide a potential audience as possible. Offices are ‘adult’ jobs, so adults want to read about their lives or a life they find relatable. You’ll also notice I never revisited Coffee Guy. There was nothing there to go back to. I as an author don’t really care what happened to Jayden. There was nothing plot wise that made me go, crap, this needs a sequel so I can tell that story! It’s a bland fuck fic in a lot of ways no matter the knotting. It serves its purpose but I cannot, as a creative, sustain on writing things like that alone. I would become bored and stop—hence why you’ll never find me in an office. I don’t stick with things that bore me. I have to make the world I want to live in.

Fanfiction As A Cornerstone

Once I did finish Coffee Guy, it helped me see what I wanted as a writer, why I wrote all those fanfictions in the first place. I like to explore characters. I like to evolve them, I like to watch them grow, and learn, and fuck up, and all the things they do as people—that’s the story. That’s all my stories are. Yes, I’ll throw some fantastic elements in there sometimes on the paranormal level, plot to create conflict, but really I write stories (erotic stories) to explore the psyche of characters.

Doing Wrong started out as a fanfic (you can read the fanfic version for free here) This was my practice run. I turned a fanfiction into an original to try and understand the difference of original characters and fan characters. How could I write an entire backstory—one completely different from the fan character I based it off of—and still have it all fit? That’s what I set out to do. Instead, I ended up with a different question. Do I need to write a backstory? Just how original was the character template I was basing things off of in the first place?

What Makes a Character

As a new writer, I had it in my mind to truly understand a character you needed to know everything they went through. Events forged a character, and it was only once you knew that character their evolution through the events of the story would have an impact. Converting Doing Wrong helped me see it was unnecessary. I didn’t need to tell a story about who they used to be and how they got to that point, I needed to show the reader through the character’s actions, and thoughts who they are is being tested, questioned, challenged and asked to change in the events to come. Yes, some backstory helps in this endeavor, but it doesn’t require as much energy or page time as feared. The blanks are filled in by the character’s actions, and when you’re dealing with a short story, action is required over reflection. Things need to happen and unfold before you run out of words and your reader gets bored.

Crafting Your Character

If you’ve read any of my stories, you’ll find a pattern in the beginning, especially in the shorts. I spend the first scene(s) establishing the main character in the world. I understand that the conflicts to come are about changing my character, so I first want to establish who that character is so those changes are seen. Sure, this goes a bit into how he looks, where he lives, that sort of superficial thing. You can use these aspects of a character to help craft the setting. He’s this age, so he’s in this place in his life. He looks like this so he might be a paranormal. That sort of thing. Usually, though, I bring up how the character feels and the conflicts he’s facing in his everyday life. And with me, this is large and exaggerated. Short stories only have a few paragraphs to pull a reader in, so I enjoy establishing exaggerated emotions to keep eyes reading.

The creation of this character is not in how he looks, what he wears, and the things he owns. It’s all about how he reacts to things. Characters, like people, grow when faced with conflict. They also establish themselves and their uniqueness through how they interact with the world around them. That guy doesn’t like broccoli but just left a bizarre date who insisted he eat it, and he’s fuming for being treated like a child. That one is always tanned and dusty from his lawn work job; he doesn’t care what people think, he works hard. That guy hates Valentine’s Day. Why? Well, he’s going to bitch about it in his head and snarl at the people around him who love the day, and eventually, you’re going to find out his home life fuels his resentment of others in love. Yup, that’s how Drunk Blind, Stupid Cupid started.

Erotica Is Different?

Now, for erotica, the only expectation is to have sex be the center of it all. Sex is going to happen. Character growth, change, what have you, that’s more expected in, well, every other story out there that’s not erotica. I’m of the belief sex is a part of a human being and deserves the same respect and understanding as every other element. I write sex stories where people evolve on some level. I find it satisfying. I find the primitive nature of sex helps fuel growth better than other because it’s taking a character out of the societal structure and putting them into their body—a body is honest about its desires while a brain can lie a million times. This is why my approach is so different (and why I love dubcon.)

Let me say, in general, if you want to write great stories and strong characters no matter the focus of your story, this is how. You grow them. Great stories exist to make characters change and grow—it’s suddenly the meaning of life. Why do all these bad things happen? So you’ll become a better person or understand your existence more. If I were to rewrite Coffee Guy again, Jayden wouldn’t even start out a werewolf but a simple human trudging through his mundane life ignoring all the fun his irresponsible friends are having because he’s doing what he’s ‘supposed’ to. Gavin would flip his life upside down—maybe a corporate buyout if we’re keeping to the ‘office’ theme. He’d bite Jayden, and then we’d follow with a series of sexual encounters in this odd office setting guided by Gavin with a focus on voyeurism and Jayden letting go of his uptight need to be what he thinks the world demands. The events would revolve around changing Jayden through plot and sex instead of the initial story of sex for the sake of trying to sell a book.

A Slice Of Life Technique

I’m going to snag an example from Taken By Beasts, my Halloween collection of short stories to show you what I mean by crafting your character in the moment. Remember, the first scenes establish who the character is now before we have the plot come in to change him. And sometimes, that plot is already in motion—short stories require this. And really, when you’re writing a novel, you still want to entice and hook a reader in the beginning. You want things to be in the works before the reader skips off bored.

‘Going Wild’ is a little over 12,000 words. There is no time to fill in every impactful event that happened in Neil’s life to make him the way he is when you first meet him. No, we need to follow him along, learn about him while he’s figuring shit out (maybe he’s doing a little wallowing) and the plot happens. It’s important the things you show of your character are relatable.

Remember how I talked about that rule of thumb of Blank Slate characters? I truly feel that idea was warped from a much better concept: Make Your Characters Relatable! This asks for your reader to fill the voids you leave with things they understand in their life, instead of going crazy into descriptions. It asks the characteristics you do write to engage a reader on a human level. When something happens, you need your character to have a relatable reaction. It might not be everyone’s reaction, your character is unique, but it still needs a human understanding to set it as real in the world so your reader can suspend disbelief. Relatable characters can validate any crazy, unrealistic plot. They turn superhero daydreams into blockbuster movies.

Excerpt: ‘Going Wild’ from ‘Taken By Beasts’ by Sadie Sins (Oct. 2016)

Scene One

Neil dashed to his car, the trail of his black coat swirling around his legs and threatening to trip him up. He was already running late and Dave’s house was over two hours away. If he wanted to make it to his friend’s costume party on time, he was going to have to speed to get there. Normally, being late wouldn’t have been an issue, but there had been a rumble about Dave maybe getting married soon, and an even quieter rumor that he might actually have a kid on the way. Two things Neil knew he’d be a total ass for missing the announcements of. Seeing as Dave loved Halloween and was throwing a huge bash the weekend before, Neil was certain tonight would be the night he’d be telling all his friends.

***First paragraph, what do we already know? Neil cares about his friends and will dress up for Halloween. He’s at an age in his life where his friends are getting married and having kids but they still have a youthfulness where they throw crazy Halloween parties. This is new adult leaning towards adult.

He cranked his radio, hoping to drown out the sound of his straining motor as he pulled out of his apartment parking lot. His car had been getting worse the last month but he really didn’t have the cash to get it looked at. Things had been tight ever since his break up with Kara. Not only had she left him, but also his apartment, footing him with half the rent and utilities until he could find a roommate. Things had been quiet since. Too quiet. He was really looking forward to Dave’s party if only to see all his old friends and remember what it was like to not feel so alone.

***Neil has car problems and just broke out of a serious enough relationship that it effected him financially. Again, this is aging him to be established as an adult in the world but not fully set financially. He’s lonely from the break up and his support system is far away.

He had moved out to the boonies to be with Kara. He had met her three years ago at a party, surprisingly enough, thrown by Dave. She had been the date of a guy who hadn’t lastest long enough for him to even learn the name of. No, Kara had danced her way straight into his heart in front of a bonfire while a group of guys had been drumming—really badly, at that. Neil had never thought he’d fall for a total hippie and move halfway across the state for her, but it had happened. Two months after the breakup and he was still reeling on just what the hell to do with himself.

***This guy is loyal. He will change his life for a girl he just met including leaving his home behind. He’s a puppy when in love and now he’s hurting. Kara went through a date right before meeting him but Neil thought he would last—idealistic.

He had been back home long enough to realize he really didn’t belong there anymore. The suburban town he had grown up in with their shopping malls and Starbucks and SUVs didn’t fit the way he saw the world anymore. The only problem was, neither did his lonely apartment or current job. He had no idea what he wanted out of life and even less idea where to look. Kara had been such a fixture in the world he had built the last three years and having her gone had torn out the foundation of everything he was.

***Neil is at a crossroads. Lost. He doesn’t know who he is. This is pretty common for this age. You don’t need to be at mid life to have a who the fuck am I and what the fuck am I doing with my life crisis. This is relatable humanity and it tends to hit whenever something big happens and a person feels left behind.

He caught his reflection in his rearview mirror, blinking for a moment until he remembered the crazy makeup he had put on for his costume. He had chosen to go as the Goblin King from Labyrinth in honor of David Bowie’s passing. Finding a wig that worked had been a bitch but he was pretty sure his costume was going to be a big hit. He wanted to be able to claim props for the ingenious costume and idea but it had just been another one of Kara’s couple costumes that he hadn’t been able to say no to at the time. Now he was wearing it because he couldn’t think of anything else.

Neil sighed heavily, trying to lose himself in the drive. His entire life, he’d always been a follower. It was just who he was. Some people, they’d talk about all their great ideas and the things they were doing, and he’d wonder how he could help them. He had wanted to help Kara start her new business running her dance and yoga studio. She had gotten frustrated at him, telling him he should have his own dreams. Apparently, his dreams of a big family with her had not been reciprocated. Then she had left him for a man that had built his own solar business from the ground up.

He had wished he was a different person then. It wasn’t that he was incapable of doing his own things—he could do pretty much anything he set his mind to. He was brilliant at numbers, industrious, fit, and rarely got sick. Neil should have been able to have reached any goal he set his mind to. But he never had the motivation to do things for himself. He was always looking for ways he could be useful to other people—It was the only way he felt right in his own skin and even though his friends had tried to change him, he was happy the way he was.

And now he was alone.

***Neil lacks self esteem. It’s part of him feeling like an accessory instead of a leader. He wants to find his value but he’s looking for someone else to give it to him. He assumes it’s in a relationship. This is pretty common—but let’s be honest, not necessarily an attractive main character trait. We’re used to those dashing heros who never second guess a thing. Neil is all about second guessing when he’s on his own. He’s a support character, like the majority of humanity. Neil is flawed in a normal, human way, which makes him relatable and hopefully inspires the reader to want to see him grow and have a happy ending. It’s easy to empathize with Neil.

All the friends he had made when moving in with Kara were connected to her. They had all pretty much chosen her in the breakup. He could understand it—from their point of view, he was the outsider. Even though he had done everything to be useful and pleasant. Generous to a fault; he used to think that couldn’t be possible. Now he was starting to see the faults in giving so much and not expecting anything in return.

Another deep sigh escaping him, he turned the car out onto the winding highway that would lead him first through forest and field before taking him back to his old home town. Still daylight, the drive was alight with a multitude of red, orange, and brown leaves, most on the ground while a few stragglers clung to their respective trees and quaked in the wind. He usually loved this time of year. Campfires and friends, the wild energy before winter came and put the world to sleep under a white blanket. Lately, Neil felt like those leaves, being blown around which ever way the wind chose at the time, small, fragile and without direction.

Hopefully seeing his old friends would change that. He desperately needed to be reminded of who he was before Kara had been in his life. His only fear being, he wasn’t sure if he had much liked that version of himself either.

***Human. Neil is seeking answers about himself outside of himself. He’s aware that he feels lost and like shit and is hoping by going home, he’ll find answers. But even he knows there isn’t any going back—the person he was before got him into the mess with Kara in the first place by falling for someone who didn’t appreciate his value. He needs a solution at this crossroads and he has no idea what it will look like.

Scene Two

“Shit… Mother fucking shit!” Neil resisted the urge to actually kick his car, falling back on stringing together a long line of curse words. Kara had hated when he swore. She would flinch, then say something about how he ‘needed to be positive for positive energy to come his way.’ Neil took a strange glee in thinking up and shouting five more swear words he hadn’t used since he was a teenager.

His car had just stopped. Well, not completely. It had whined when he was trying to get it to go up a mountain path, stuttered long before he even got to the crest of the steep hill, and then had made a terrible grinding noise before abruptly dying on him. And dead it was. It wouldn’t even make a noise when he turned the key, no warning ding or light to announce that the door was open. The fucking thing was dead.

***Remember how we mentioned the car in the first scene? Yeah, that was important. Small hints unveil a story. Neil here can’t even swear without thinking about how he’s breaking his ex’s rules. He’s just starting the path of being his own man and it’s seen in simple shit like swearing uselessly.

Drawing in a deep breath, Neil grabbed his cell phone from his car holder. “Fuckballs,” he muttered in disbelief. No reception. He couldn’t even call for a taxi or a tow. There was no way he’d make it to Dave’s now. He was an hour out into the middle of fucking nowhere, no one knew he was there, and he couldn’t even call for help.

***No, he cannot get a break. We are going to conflict the fuck out of this character to make him grow. Welcome to drama for the sake of plot and character development.

Making sure his emergency break was set so his car didn’t fall down the hill, Neil got out of his car and made sure all the doors were locked. He had taken this road before enough to remember that shortly after this hell of a hill there was a plateau for a long stretch and then a sharp decline with a gas station at the foot of the mountain. He couldn’t remember if they actually did repairs but he felt like he could remember there being a tow truck in the lot next to them whenever he had driven by. He glanced at his phone, swearing again when he saw the time. Nightfall was fast approaching and for all he knew, the place had already closed at 5.

It was his only plan though so he was going to stick with it. Neil had done his fair share of camping. He was hardly going to die if he had to huddle up against the side of a building until someone opened the place tomorrow morning. Decided, he set out up the last of the hill, keeping to the side of the road just in case a car came flying by. It was difficult walking, tall grass and brambles pulling at his clothes and skin, and the footing uneven at best. Still, it was safer than the middle of the road. The last thing he needed was to be hit by a car on top of his shit of a day.

***Our boy insists he’s a follower, but he’s brave, and leads his ass to doing what he needs to get done. He’s got a brain on him and when conflict knocks, he doesn’t hide in the car.

Neil huddled forward in his costumed jacket, wishing he had thought to bring a proper coat as the cold wind whipped around him. His high collared black jacket, ruffled white shirt, and black skinny jeans really weren’t designed to protect him from the elements. He didn’t want to think about what he was going to do come Monday morning. He had no money to repair his car and his boss was a very no-nonsense kind of guy. Being late was not an option. Maybe John would take pity on him? His coworker of the last three years, Neil hadn’t been able to get past simple small chat about the weather when it came to John. Still, his options were really limited and he needed to try them all before he admitted defeat.

***Three years and Neil hasn’t made any connections in his new home to even guarantee a ride into work. He depended solely on Kara and her circle of friends and never build a support system. This is not unheard of at his age—why is it so hard for people to make friends these days? Neil is on his own in so many aspects of his life and it can be relatable.

Neil had just made it to the crest of the hill when he stopped short, the lonely howl of a wolf rising up and echoing off the trees. He raised his head, truly looking around him for the first time in the growing twilight. It wasn’t something he had noticed while zipping along in his car but as the hair shivered up on the back of his neck, he found himself extremely aware of the fact that he was actually out in the wilderness, the world untouched except for the road he was following beside.

The air had an orange tint to it, the sun well on its way to setting for the evening, the forest around him looking nearly black in comparison. Life was rustling around him, or at least, the wind was making all the brush and trees move, Neil’s gaze jumping at each sound as he stared into the dark trees right next to him. He knew he was being paranoid but he felt like he was being watched. Fighting back a shiver, he forced his legs forward, going at a faster pace now that he was on level ground. He wasn’t sure how long the walk was going to take but he wanted to take advantage of the daylight for as long as it lasted.

Scene Three

By the time night had fallen fully around him, Neil was certain he was being followed. Beneath his labored breathing and the sounds of his footsteps crunching in the leaves, he could hear more than one body moving around in the dark. He was doing his best to ignore it; something primitive in the recesses of his mind warned him that when prey showed signs of being stalked, they were soon taken down. And stalked he felt, the sounds of bushes rustling far too close beside him while he kept as near to the dangerous highway as he dared. More leaves rustled behind him from different points, his ears straining as he tried to count just how many were behind him.

***Neil understands fear. He’s self aware enough to no only identify he might be followed but to not appear aware in case it alerted his hunters. Why does he keep thinking he’s a support character? That’s cool beans.

Not human—He could tell that much. Too low to the ground and full of growls and sometimes yips and whines that made him think of dogs, maybe coyotes or foxes. Wolves, probably. Given the howl he had heard earlier, he wouldn’t be surprised if they were wolves.

“You lost, boy?”

Neil stopped cold, holding his breath as he stared deep into the darkness to the right of him. He could have sworn he’d just heard a man call out to him. “Hello? Is… Is someone there?” He asked, his voice too sharp with fear.

***Some people would be so full of fear, defensive, worried whatever/whoever might be out there, it’s better to not get their attention. Neil is the trusting type to call out even though he’s scared. People don’t scare him although wolves might.

There was a crack, a stick breaking behind him. He whirled, gasping when for a moment he saw the burning eyes of a creature shining from the edge of the road, the clouded moonlight dimly illuminating bristling fur and sharp ears. It was a canine. A really big canine. Neil reached for his phone in his pocket, fumbling for a light. By the time he had it shining, there was nothing there to see.

“Ha ha, looks like we have a rocker, boys. A sexy one.”

Neil whirled, holding the light up, met only with a wall of tree trunks. He held himself still, straining to hear but the silence stretched on, broken only by the sounds of rustling leaves. Fuck, was he hearing things now?

He took a step back to where he was heading, jumping when another howl rang out, this one much closer than before. “Shit!” He yelped, clutching his chest where his heart was pounding as he looked around again. His cell illuminated something moving but it was too quick to really get a look at. It had seemed big. Big and furry.

Jesus, he was going to die out there.

***Neil feels mortal. He’s hearing things he’s certain are actually there, and he’s seeing things he’s pretty certain are real. This world hasn’t established if the paranormal are everyday. Neil isn’t in a rush to make a decision, he just wants out.

Whimpering under his breath, Neil forced his legs to move, his steps loud in his ears as he listened for signs of being followed. There were far too many, the bushes beside and behind him rustling as creatures nearly as large as him passed by.

“Aw, he’s scared,” a voice growled from behind him. Neil swallowed hard and kept walking. It didn’t sound human. He was either fucking hallucinating someone talking in the dark, or there was someone— “Come here, baby. I’ll be real sweet to you.”

Neil jolted as raucous laughter suddenly filled the air. “Real sweet, bitch!” Another voice howled, others joining in with half hoots, half yips of excitement.

He glared behind him, his hand shaking as he pointed his phone towards where he had thought the last voice had come from. He gasped, yards away a wolf staring back at him, its eyes glinting yellow even as the laughter faded from the air.

***So I love this. Because even though he’s terrified and thinks he’s going crazy, he does not like being made fun of enough he actually glares back defiantly. Neil has a backbone.

Oh, fuck… Fuck, fuck, fuck. His feet moving on their own accord, Neil backed away from the creature. The wind swept up, leaves swirling around him, his coat flapping wildly and obscuring his view.

“Whoo, look at that sweet ass! Come here, boy, I’m going to ride you!” Someone barked or yelled, the strange shout followed quickly by a howl, then another, the woods coming alive with the sounds of wolves.

All Neil could say for certain was the voice hadn’t come from the wolf he was staring at, although he couldn’t say it had come from a human, the words distorted and full of growls. Hell, he was either losing his mind or he was being hunted by a bunch of verbose, really dickish wolves. Looking behind him again, he saw two huge wolves this time, one pouncing on the other, growling and snapping at its nape. Snarling, the other twisted, wrestling the first to the leaf-strewn ground.

Fuck, he wasn’t imagining that. Neil was done wondering, done trying to figure out if he was crazy as fuck. He was ready to get the fuck away. Fear jolting through him, his hands shaking, he jumped the knee high metal barrier. Somehow he was certain if a car hit him, it would still be better than being caught in the jaws of those giant wolves. The valley was ahead. If he could just make it to the bottom, he could take shelter in the gas station where there would be at least an attendant and a phone.

As if reading his mind, the howls rang out again, clamorous, broken by barks and yips like a crazed battle cry.

***Neil is human; fear makes him either freeze, fight or flight. He is very smartly flighting.

“Mother fucker!” Neil took off, his feet slamming on the pavement as he ran as fast as his shaking limbs would allow. He hit the other side of the hill, the ground dropping down steeply in the dark. Eyes wide, he changed the angle of his feet, his arms wheeling, hands hitting the pavement while he bent sideways to keep from falling. He looked up when another strange howl rang out right next to his position, his breath hitching when he caught sight of the creature revealed in the breaking moonlight.

It had the head of a wolf, the muzzle open to reveal large fangs. But the rest—the rest was definitely human. Broad, smooth shoulders, bare torso, hard muscled thighs…

“Son of a bitch,” Neil whispered in shock the same instant his foot missed a step. He tumbled sideways, scraping his arm and cheek on the rough pavement. He flipped twice, finally catching himself, bruised and pained on the cement, his head throbbing dully. The night fell silent; he wasn’t sure because of the hit to his skull or if the wolves had left. Raising his head, he looked over to the woods, his stomach lurching when he found at least seven of the giant wolves glaring back at him, watching silently. There was no half wolf, half man—Not that it mattered. Neil knew the ones before him were definitely monstrous enough as they were.

***Again, human. Imperfect. He can fall on his ass, get hurt, not be a hero who does everything perfectly.

They weren’t moving, just staring, maybe trying to figure out if he had done all the work for them and gotten himself killed on his own. Not yet. Not if he could fucking help it. Actually—Neil scowled as he took in the panting expressions on the wolves’ faces. The fuckers looked like they were laughing at him!

***Ah, the outrage of being mortal. Love you, Neil.

Ignoring the quake to his limbs, the taste of blood, and sting of his palms, he pushed himself up back to his feet. He didn’t bother looking at the pack next to him—Either he’d run and they’d let him escape, or they’d kill him. He realized with a sinking that he was expecting the latter and really didn’t want to see it coming.

Fairly certain tripping just once more would be the death of him, Neil focused on what he could see of the black pavement coated in slippery leaves. The light of the gas station was in the distance. He was still far above it, the hill he was on inclining sharply before leveling out to reach the small refuge. God, if he could just make it there. It wasn’t too far—a football field, tops. He wasn’t dead yet.

The trail of his coat wrapped around his leg and he gasped, catching himself before he could fall again. He quickly twisted the trailing end around his arm and took sure, shaking steps sideways down the pavement, his hand held out to catch himself anytime too many leaves slipped under his shoes.

***Hyper focused on a task to block out fear. Again, human response. He’s still scared but he’s coping. Survival.

His fearful gasps loud in his ear and his eyes trained determinedly on the ground before him, it took Neil some time to realize that the noises of the wolves had not resumed. Biting his bottom lip, he dared to look back, his steps faltering again when he found the beasts still there. They hadn’t moved from their spot, staring down from the top of the hill like specters with glowing, deadly eyes.

Maybe it was too close to people or out of their territory? Neil could only hope, forcing his gaze forward and away from the strange wolves and focusing on the gas station now only twenty yards away. The ground was already flattening out, Neil’s hands shaking somehow even more as he found his sanctuary in sight. The entire building was a lit up beacon to any traveler on such a cold, dark night. As the light that illuminated the pumps reached him, Neil dared another look back to the hill. A howl rang out, then another until the entire night was filled with the joined cries. He shuddered, his mind flashing again to the voices he had heard… the wolf-headed man…

There had been men up there. Maybe crazy mountain men that thought it was funny to scare the fuck out of some broken down traveler while wearing masks. Or maybe wolf men…

Neil shook his head fiercely, stepping fully into the light of the gas station and pushing the thought from his mind. It was easy to let what he had feared in the dark slip away now in the artificial glow of humanity. Of course his mind had been playing tricks on him. That was all. He had been scared and in the dim light with the trees casting shadows and leaves all around, his brain had just pieced together the most ridiculous, terrifying of possibilities. Werewolves.

Everyone knew werewolves didn’t exist.

Looking at the small blue and white building, Neil altered his direction slightly, heading for the door where a neon ‘open’ sign glowed. There was indeed a tow truck parked in the otherwise empty lot. If his luck held out, the owner of it was inside.

***Neil explains his own rationalization. It is easy when afraid to act like it didn’t happen once you’re in an assumed place of safety. He doesn’t want werewolves to exist so he’s going to pretend it all away to be able to deal with his life. And that would totally work if this was the end of the story. Instead, we’re going to see how Neil acts when around another human being and isn’t just talking to himself.

Scene Four

The door chime that greeted him as he stepped into the gas station was surreal after what Neil had just been through.

“Hey, welcome to… Oh. My liege.”

Neil looked towards the counter cluttered with lighters and small impulse buys, confused to find a young man bowing, his arm sweeping out in a grand gesture. “Umm…”

“Goblin King, right? Labyrinth. I totally loved that movie.” The man straightened, his light brown hair teasing into his eyes as he flashed Neil an easy grin. “Total shame about Bowie.”

***Remember that costume he’s wearing? Yeah, you do now. It’s Halloween! Neil is also realizing as he fourth walls the next paragraph he’s fucked. Halloween and werewolves.

Neil had definitely walked onto some sort of horror movie set. Monster wolves outside and he was either staring at the hero or the hot model first to be devoured. The guy was hot—disturbingly, unnaturally, drooling on the floor hot. At least six-foot-five with a body that had all the right muscles without being built in a gym, the attendant was dressed simply in jeans and a tight gray t-shirt. Bristle darkened his square jaw, his amber eyes startling as he peered out from beneath sharp brows. As Neil watched, the man’s smile grew, revealing just a hint of sharp canines from between lush lips.

“Right, Bowie,” Neil said lamely, realizing he was totally staring and the man was still waiting for some sort of acknowledgment that he was alive and breathing. Fuck, he must look like a total mess. Not that it mattered—there was no way he was making the party now. No, instead he was out in the middle of nowhere, dressed like an idiot in front of the hottest guy he’d ever met.

***Now, if you didn’t read the previous stories, or the back of the book, you might not of realized until this point that this is actually a MM erotic story. I don’t usually take 4 scenes in before establishing our main character likes dick, but this was an exception because it was the last in a compilation, and I enjoy setting up scenarios before having characters go at it. Tension building.

Shit, how could he seriously give a fuck about something like that after being chased by a pack of wolves?

But Neil did, heat rising to his cheeks the longer the young man’s eyes moved none too subtly over him. He wasn’t even gay. Maybe bi—Neil had found himself looking at some guys but he had never actually acted on it. Women had been enough for him, at least, enough to not feel the need to open himself up to a world of confusion and potential social upheaval just by pursuing men. Not to mention, having to deal with rejection by an entirely new gender. No, he had enough problems.

***Aw, Neil. You just want to hug him and give that boy some self esteem. He’s just so damn human.

“I was headed to a Halloween party,” Neil finally mumbled, feeling like it was really important to mention he didn’t go around dressed like some sort of sexy goblin hottie every day.

“That’s too bad. And here I was thinking I was about to be whisked off to a land of magic and muppets,” super hot attendant teased, his eyes sparkling in a way that went straight to his dick.

Neil was pretty sure his night could not get any worse. Missing Dave’s party, the stalking by wolves, and now just having to deal with the overwhelming anxiety of having someone absolutely out of his league treat him like an interesting human being.

God, his life sucked.

***It’s tough, Neil, it’s tough. XD

“Yeah, um, well, the thing is, my car kind of broke down,” Neil said, stepping around a rack of maps to get to the counter, doing his best to not actually look the guy in the eye. He was pretty sure if he did, he’d start babbling like an imbecile. “Uh, well, it fully broke down. Dead. Might not be rising from the grave ever again,” he muttered, running his hand through his hair only to frown when he remembered he was wearing a very spiky wig straight from the 80’s.

“Hmm.” Assessing him for a silent moment, taking in the scrape on his cheek and the way his clothes were disheveled, the attendant straightened, his eyes going alert. “You didn’t happen to walk down that big hill, did you?”

Neil nodded, looking down and wiping his stinging, dirty palms on his form-fitting jeans. “More like rolled, a little bit of falling. Maybe even a flail or two…”

***Neil handles his low self esteem by joking. It belittles him while at the same time makes him feel interesting enough to overcome all his other downfalls. This couldn’t have been seen when he was on his own but now when faced with a hot guy he’s attracted to, his natural humor defense makes a showing.

His smile fading, the attendant stepped out from around the counter. “That’s a dangerous hill, especially in the dark on foot. Are you alright?”

Neil tried to dodge the hand reaching for his face but the man was faster, holding him by the side of the head while he stepped into his personal space and studied the bruise forming on his temple.

“I’m Silas, by the way.” Surprisingly gentle fingers probed the side of Neil’s face through his ridiculous wig. “And I think you’re going to survive, my goblin liege.”

His face bright red, Neil nodded weakly and mumbled out his name while stepping back. He missed when Silas leaned close, the man breathing him in silently, an intent expression on his face. Neil had made the drastic mistake of looking him in the eye and he now felt ready to crawl under a rock until his tongue eventually untied.

***As we can see, Kara must have tied Neil up to catch him because this boy cannot take charge. Maybe it’s because of Silas and he’s not great dealing with this side of his bi attraction, but you get the feeling Neil is just too adorable to handle being attracted to someone. Puppy.

“I have a tow truck parked out back.” Silas tilted his head towards the door Neil had come through. “We can go pick up your car. See if it can be raised from the dead one more time.”

The idea of claiming his property was ruined somewhat by what he was certain was still waiting for him if he dared anywhere near the top of that hill. “Uh… the thing is… there was something…” he trailed off, uncertainty filling him as he tried to filter just what exactly had happened through his fear. “Wolves,” he finally blurted, pursing his lips after.

His eyebrow raising, Silas leaned an arm on the counter behind him, taking in Neil’s nervous expression.

“Wolves?”

“Yeah.” He licked his lips nervously. “Really dickish wolves.”

Silas snorted, quickly schooling his features when Neil glared his way. “Dickish wolves?” He repeated with a note of humor in his voice.

“Yeah. Assholic, really.” Neil thought back to some of the things he had heard being growled and hollered out there in the dark among the howls, remembering the way the fuckers had been laughing at him. “Total dicks.”

Nodding his head with a look that spoke of how Silas was too polite to call someone crazy to their face—definitely hero quality—he pushed himself up again. “Let me just grab my keys and lock up, then we can get your car. Are you a long way off?”

“Uh, it was like an hour walk,” Neil said, his eyes widening. “Really, I don’t think it’s safe. There were like, seven of them at least.” Rude. Really rude, horny wolves that he just couldn’t explain, not wanting to seem absolutely insane at this point.

***Neil is starting to face what he went through because he has to go through it again—It was a weird walk of shame, huh? His fear does not overwhelm his annoyance at being wolf called while scared in the middle of nowhere. This is pretty quirky of him, and don’t you just love him for it?

His mouth quirking at the corner, Silas reached over and under the counter, Neil left to stare at the man’s perfect ass in jeans while he fished his keys free. “The thing is, Neil, there aren’t any wolves in these parts.” Silas ran a hand through his tousled locks as he straightened. “Well, none that would hurt a nice guy like you. You’ve got nothing to be afraid of—Well, except for having your car broken into because some asshole saw it abandoned on the side of the road.”

***I know I’m pointing out all of Neil’s characterizations. Silas has been giving off little hints like a motherfucker. It will continue. The audience is guessing. Neil might be a little dim.

Swallowing hard, Neil couldn’t answer. He didn’t want to go back out there but he knew he also couldn’t hide out in the small little gas station staring at sexy ass Silas for the rest of his life… Maybe he could. There was plenty of food there in the form of chips and microwaveable crap, bottles of fresh water, and even beer. He could even take up smoking to pass the time, given the cartons of the stuff. Silas seemed to think he was amusing—Or was just laughing at him.

Hey, being laughed at would still be better than being torn apart by wolves. Well, verbally torn apart.

“Total dicks,” Neil muttered under his breath, fuming every time he heard that laughter ring out in his mind.

***Aww. Pride, embarrassment, resentment, fear, and self jokes to make it all better.

“What was that?” Silas asked, fiddling with his key ring.

Neil bit his lip, glancing at the handsome man. Maybe the pack would be gone by now? There had to be better prey roaming around the forest by this point.

“Nothing. Think I could use your phone?” Neil asked, wondering if he could call Dave and let him know he wasn’t going to make it. Maybe let him know where he was just in case those wolves decided to use their teeth this time around.

Silas nearly dropped his keys, catching them before they hit the floor. “Sure, if it was working,” he said gruffly. “The wind keeps knocking it out. Too many trees out here. I keep asking them to fix it, but you know how the phone company gets.”

His heart sinking, Neil sighed. Of course. He had seen too many horror movies to expect otherwise.

“You wouldn’t happen to be a serial killer in disguise, would you?” Neil asked nonchalantly while Silas was locking the door behind them.

Glancing his way, amber eyes burning into his, Silas replied with a small smirk, “If I was, I probably shouldn’t tell you. Totally ruins the surprise, right?”

Right. Neil quickly asked where the bathroom was. If he was going to die, he wasn’t going to do it in crazy rocker hair and a coat that could have belonged to Liberace.

***Yup, Neil fourth walls all over this scene. He’s quirky like that. It really helps put you in the feel of a b horror movie.

Sooo… The next scenes are getting to know you, sex, werewolves fighting, and more sex. Don’t get me wrong, characterization happens in bounds still. Neil grows, he holds his own, he even gets into some werewolf face. It’s good stuff. But at this point, this is about the character evolving off of all the information we established him with in these first scenes. The first scenes are the most important for Neil. They build him. We’ve built Silas too, although not as thoroughly. Silas is that 2-D hero we need to ‘save’ Neil from his mundane, lost existence. His requirements are to be the puzzle piece to make Neil complete instead of a full exploration of his character. In a novel, that shit doesn’t fly, but it’s perfect for an erotic short.

Now, if you were asked to describe Neil, you might not really remember what he looks like outside of that Labyrinth costume (and if you don’t get the Bowie reference, alas, you know even less.) But you will know what he feels like. He’s the type of guy who wants to build a family with someone he loves. He wants a place where he fits. He doesn’t think well of himself but he’s starting to realize that he’s worth something even though he’s been left behind. He sure refuses to put up with jeers from asshole werewolves from the side of the road no matter how scared he is. When pushed, Neil pushes back while before he was unclaimed luggage. The more he walks on his own, the deeper he goes on this journey of self-discovery right into the den of a confident, welcoming, amber-eyed Silas and a pack of shit-talking werewolves.

This fuck fic is not a series of disconnected events, it’s a story to not only satisfy on a sexual level, but on an intellectual and spiritual level. When you write real characters, you want to see them grow. You want to see them find joy and love, and contentment just like what you want for people you care about. Conflict resolution involves that resolution at the end and that means not just for the plot, but for Neil. He needs to find who he is in all this, or at least the path that will lead him there, to make this story really shine.

Hey, thanks for taking the time to read my take on writing. <3 Love to hear what you think.

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Exhibitionism For Success

Exhibitionism For Success

www.sadiesins.com

Getting naked

This, my dears, is going to be an uncomfortable post. Not because of nakedness of the literal sense, but of the emotional kind. (Oh fuck, she said emotions. Run.) Why do people feel better in jobs with a name? How about the uniform? How many jobs allow you to hide in a role instead of asking you to be real, fallible, and imperfect? Guess what; self-publishing is not one of those jobs. Being an artist, in general, is about as vulnerable as someone can get.

If you’re a well-adjusted person who has never had anything twisted in your mind and psyche that makes you feel you don’t belong, that you aren’t allowed to succeed, that the world is stacked against you, this post is not for you. Congratulations, btw. I have no idea what any of that feels like. This post if for the people that struggle to find their place because they saw the signs, saw the ones that came before them and they know the world pushes back to keep them down. Even as adults who know the world can be anything they mold it into, they can’t break out of these inner messages telling them they can’t be what they want. This is for the people that fight themselves and can’t understand why they keep losing when they are trying so damn hard.

Writing can be fun, but it’s not always easy

Here’s the deal; anyone who ever said writing is easy was a cocky son of a bitch. Anyone who ever said writing erotica is easy is a fucking douchebag. Just write a lot of porn. Do this, this and this and your life will be set. Make money as a writer and have fun. Just ignore reviews—better yet, you don’t need reviews! Reviews are for novelists and professionals who write ‘proper’ stories, not you. You’re anti-establishment. People will just read your stuff and give you money, and they won’t judge you.

Douchebags.

There’s a reason I go into the actual art of writing erotica. One, because I couldn’t find anyone talking about it and I wanted to. Two, the few who did were really vague; write in genres, or write the kinks people want, write better, or god help me, gloss over sex so the reader can use their imagination. Hello, sex is glossed over everywhere; the whole point of erotica is to get down to the dirty fun. But isn’t that an easy answer to someone who goes ‘I want to make a buttload of money writing sex, but sex makes me uncomfortable.’ Hmm… just don’t write sex? Ugh. You know what else these books don’t talk about? How fucking soul-crushingly painful it can be to do this job.

I’m not even talking about the bad reviews, or the freakouts from the unaware who foolishly didn’t read your warnings, or the book banning, or the fact you didn’t make a million bucks your first book (or tenth, or hundredth). To write erotica, you need to get naked. You need to put all the weird shit in your head in a book. You need to share with the world that you have desires that are unfulfilled in the real world and channel them into stories of epic exaggeration. You need to have an answer ready when someone asks you how you spend your days since you don’t have a ‘real’ job. You need to get the fuck over every goddamn insecurity you have all the fucking time.

It’s okay to like Twilight. There, I said it.

I haven’t read the Twilight series or seen the movies but I remember this one controversial thing that was brought up a few times among my circle of friends and really stuck with me. One of the male actors stated it felt like he was living in a young girl’s unrealistic sexual fantasy. There was a level of disgust and cruelty in that statement whenever I heard it referenced. Something that made an actor millions and brought him into fame, he chose to distance from and shun on a level while millions of women and men loved those movies. This didn’t stop Twilight from being huge, it didn’t stop him from being in it–it didn’t have any effect but to sour some shit and give fire to people to point and go I’m allowed not to like this because the cast doesn’t either. I’m allowed!

You know what that statement could have easily done and I have no connection or communication with the author of Twilight to ask or confirm? Send her into a shame spiral that might keep her from creating again. Because someone who was a part of that movie shamed her creation and her because they felt the need to judge her reasons for writing. Twilight is the representation of a young women’s sexual fantasy and who the fuck is anyone to say that doesn’t have a right to exist and be popular even if it’s not your cup of tea?

Writer’s block isn’t in the hands, it’s in the brain

I have never experienced a writer’s block that focused on a physical limitation. To illustrate, when I started writing I was living in a moldy apartment and suffered from arms that became too heavy to lift. My fingers were so weak I couldn’t hold knitting needles (yeah, I knit. Suck it.) I spent most days in bed—not having marathons of sex—and my brain was so fucked up from the inflammation, I could literally lose and not find my train of thought for ridiculous spans of time. I slept a lot. I also did a ton of writing during this time. Not watching TV, not reading books. Nope, I wrote. When I look back, it’s because I was motivated by death. Mortality really puts into perspective all the stupid shit that doesn’t mean anything.

Getting healthy suddenly added in levels of my psyche I was allowed to ignore when I was going ‘it doesn’t matter what I write or what people think, I’m sick and probably going to be dead.’ Suddenly, I cared. (Quick note; don’t do this. Don’t care. It sucks.) I decided I was going to be a legit writer and make money off this shit and I needed to join the ranks of promoters, marketers, and business-oriented authors and put my smutty books next to theirs and say ‘hey, buy my stuff too. It has value. Even though it’s full of incest and shifter dog dick.’

You’ll notice a lot of how to write erotica books don’t go into promoting your books. The above is why. Because dear fuck. There is Hollywood naked where they airbrush and photoshop the fuck out of you after that spray tan and vaseline covered camera lens, and then there is real naked. Raw, cellulite, hair, bruises, weird moles, scents, moisture, and jiggly bits. Welcome to my fucking world of what the hell am I doing with my life.

Shame for daring to try

I bring up the shame-based culture I live in a lot because it comes up all the time in my work. I exploit it for my darker stuff; shame can make sex poignant and memorable… if the characters don’t commit suicide first because they hate themselves. The real world is not a novel. We don’t solve our problems with a fuck scene. Although BDSM does try, and I appreciate their every attempt.

Shame of judgment is the biggest fear of being vulnerable. It’s such a human emotion. Animals don’t walk around wondering if they’re fat or if their fur pattern is ‘right.’ Do you know how alarming it is to see a dog experience shame? The level of empathetic intelligence I saw when a person yelled at a dog that pissed in the house made me want to cry for that animal. Shame is unique, and humans have this amazing ability to put shame on others. It never raises a being up, only pulls them inward into a spiral of self-hate and frozen fear. The more we strip our protective layers away—something needed when you put yourself out there to write and share—the more likely you’re going to come across this really shitty emotion and freeze.

For whatever reason, people feel shame. It can be as simple as being embarrassed because there’s a stain on your shirt and you’re worried people will think you’re a slob, to saying the wrong word and wondering if people will think you’re an idiot. Maybe you really want to have a job with a uniform because you spent your life being told those jobs have real value. Maybe your parents think making art is a waste. Maybe you do too but you can’t stop from wanting to. Maybe someone hates the stuff you write and feels the need to be vocal all the fucking time. Maybe you’re told you’re stupid for even trying. I know so many people that define their self-worth by their intelligence and they are a fucking mess because of it. Gold stars fuck people up. Achievement based culture is dangerous to the soul.

This is the main reason why ‘smart’ books don’t sell mass market, btw. It doesn’t matter how much you love yourself and your elaborate vocabulary when the person who picks up your book automatically feels shame and self-hate because they don’t understand the words you’re using. For that reader, you just attacked them and made them feel stupid (without knowing they exist.) It’s not your fault; the achievement based school system made them feel to not achieve intellectually was to be a bad person innately. Their parents maybe went through the same shit and probably sent a message that smart people are condescending assholes. And really, this person knows what they like and they don’t want to have to learn a new language to read it.

Why readers hurt writers

Don’t think they’ll be nice about it after their self esteem took a hit. Some readers will attack back with defensive reviews. Others shame books that seem ‘dumb’ to their level because how dare they exist and be popular when they feel ostracized for their high level of intelligence? Those reviews tend to have a push back from the lovers of those books who don’t want to feel judged for liking what they like. Cuz why the fuck should you be judged for liking a book? The most frustrating reviews? You realize the reader isn’t even talking about your book, they’re talking about the book they wanted to read. The one they didn’t write but they are really fucking angry you didn’t write either. It was SUPPOSED to be this way and what a bitch you are for not writing to their standards. It’s the only way to write so you better get with their level of giving a fuck.

People don’t want to be judged and in their quest to rise above it, many judge the fuck out of everyone else. Welcome to humanity.

It’s the playground. You either choose to try and fit in and jump through the stupid hoops the popular kids set up, or you walk away and do your own thing while wondering if you’re going to be hassled. As an adult, it’s harder to walk away because it comes down to cash. The popular tropes make money you need to conform to, and the outcasts have to have ‘hobbies,’ not legitimate jobs. I read a how to write erotica and make money article by someone who claimed to have made six figures, and they managed to not make it sound like they worked their ass off writing and facing their fears but that they knew how to work the system. You know, like what they did wasn’t really legit but a subculture of writing. Just throw magical words out there that hit the right kink and you win the lottery. Even the people thriving don’t seem to understand the value of their work to the people that read it. They don’t want to get into it cuz then they’re getting into why they really write this stuff. Naked.

Being naked sucks

To be clear, I do not write erotica to make money. That’s just the goal for what I’m doing along the way. I write this stuff because I love it. Every story. No matter how sick or depraved or immoral or sweet or sappy or weird. I love what I write. There is no other opinion out there in this world that will ever compel me to do what I do the way that love for what I do does. And in the same breath, there is only one person that can keep me from doing this gig. The stupid fucker writing this blog post. Being naked sucks.

As someone who grew up and still struggles with PTSD, I know all about ignoring emotions. Dissociation is a wonderful coping tool that can lead you to a blade if you don’t deal with your shit eventually. And damn, I have watched many an adult die never facing their shit. It can be done. Writer’s block comes from the unresolved shit inside you. It’s the parts of you ashamed about what you’re doing, or afraid to be judged, or just can’t cope with a new identity as someone who writes. Reality has nothing to do with the things that freeze you from going after your dream. Everything can feel like death to face those inner fears. This is not easy.

There is never a legitimate excuse for not doing the things you love. People spend hours in front of the television. They make it to work usually doing shit they hate. They manage not to starve to death or have their bladders explode every day. There is no excuse to not get to your writing unless you’re dealing with some internal, emotional bullshit. It’s easier to run from it when you start out. Practice. No one judges you the first time cuz you don’t judge yourself. But the wall always comes up and it isn’t your friends, family, or the strangers on the street. It’s you holding you back. All that nakedness you can’t face. All you.

You can’t be vulnerable with a bunch of people on the Internet and then refuse to be vulnerable with yourself. Or more, you can, but that’s where this shit gets more broken. It’s dangerous to put your self-worth in other people’s hands. Depending on how you feel about yourself and how critical you are, it can be dangerous to not realize self-worth comes from you and you’re crushing what little you have. It’s your job to feed your self-esteem. If it’s bad, you got to get on that shit. If you don’t like what you look like naked and can’t change how you look, you need to learn to like what is there.

Feeling ugly is pretty fucking common no matter how you look

This is not easy shit. People seem to have perfected how to destroy themselves while creating beautiful things at the same time. Your fear, shame, and pain are not unique. We can all feel this way at some point. When you pursue a living where you strip for an audience and put your thoughts, emotions and sexual desires out there which are not considered ‘the norm’ (even if they are ‘the norm’) you are damn likely to feel this way more than others. It’s a process. Knowing it needs to happen and that you will grow stronger is the way you get through it. At your pace, because there is no instruction manual. There is no one size fits all to being a writer on the edge of acceptable culture.

This is a real problem for artists—and not just the ones that delve into sexual fantasies. Anyone that delves inside themselves to create something outside of them opens up for the possibility of being judged, ridiculed, questioned, shamed and shunned. This is reality and the brighter you shine, the more likely those disenchanted and bitter masses want to tear you down to feel better about how they are stuck. Name one popular thing or person out there that doesn’t have a list of people who tear them apart whenever they can. I can’t. Part of being seen is understanding that people will come at you and put their personal shit into the words they say to hurt you. You are you but you might represent something else to a total stranger and there is little you can do but prepare.

Do you know how many people don’t share their practice, only the final results? They don’t want to be burned by showing it didn’t start perfect. It’s why I spent years posting every sketch, every crappy attempt when I was growing as an artist. Even then I forced myself to recognize my growth instead of focusing on my feelings of fail. We can’t see growth if we’re ashamed we haven’t reached our goals.

When I used to sing, there was never a wall or computer screen; it was literally being face to face with people who were going to decide if my ability was worth their time and ears. Naked. And when I sing alone in the car, I still hesitate when I pull up next to another car. I think I sing okay but what will they think? Naked in the car. We do this to ourselves. One little thought can crush our self-esteem!

Your self-esteem is your personal responsibility

Knowing vulnerability is going to come up and preparing for it (as in, learning to love yourself no matter what the fuck anyone says) is part of a creator’s job. I’m sorry no one ever told you when they said being an artist was a quick way to make cash. And the ones who say being an artist isn’t a real job? They don’t fucking even know the work it requires. Nothing demands this of you the same way. Maybe if you went out to save people by being a therapist, you would need to face this internal stuff. Maybe leaders of countries or amazing parents that want to really not fuck it all up go through this. When it is your job, your livelihood, and everything is riding on it from money to artistic integrity, you are taking on yourself and every insecurity you have. It is not easy but the rewards of who you can become and how you see yourself can be worth this journey.

This is the shit you need to walk this path. Bravery. A willingness to be naked and let the world beat the crap out of you. Knowing your strength comes from within. Forgiving yourself for not being perfect. Falling on your ass and taking a photo of it to share. Letting yourself fail and then get back up and try again.

Margaret Cho is a naked goddess

So back in the day I caught this amazing stand-up of Margaret Cho who went into this whole bit of how she ended up crapping her pants in her car. No one would have ever known she was sitting in her own shit mortified. Then she embraced it, called her friend to tell the crazy story, and then tells a fucking audience where she later broadcasts on television. She made laughs and cash out of one of the most embarrassing moments of her life.

I’m not saying you need to embarrass the life out of yourself or defecate your pants to be an artist. But you do need to embrace your imperfections and get over being human. And no, it is not easy, and I won’t bullshit you, and you might think you got it all figured out only to one day face this all over again because you want to run and hide.

The lucky people get over shit right away. The well-adjusted. I am not one of them, and I know there are plenty out there who are the same. It’s work. And it’s okay. You are a work in progress. I am a work in progress. I may never be the writer I dream of being, but I will never question if I’m a writer. Every step I share—even the shitty ones—prove to me and the world that I am on this journey. If I didn’t do it from the beginning with those years of making (let’s be honest) bad art, or questionable fanfics, or humming in my car, I don’t know if I’d be able to do what I’m doing now. You can’t expect it to happen overnight. But take each step for what it is, honor it and your horribly uncomfortable emotions, and know that you will be ready to take another step soon enough.

Level Up

You will level up! It happens. You might not grow a foot or sparkle with inspirational gaming music, but we reach taller and gain goals when we push hard enough. Even if you feel like most days are scrambling just to get out of the pit. We grow.

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Book Banning Is Discrimination

Book Banning Is Discrimination

www.sadiesins.com

No one ever told me writing would result in a constant struggle with society. No one ever said sex isn’t protected under freedom of speech. It’s convenient for a company to have a ‘policy.’ The rules. This type of writing is okay while this type doesn’t belong. We don’t make the rules; we just enforce them. Banning books is discrimination. It is an attack on free speech, and it discriminates against not only the authors but the readers of those books that are told their topic of interest is not welcome.

I am a bisexual woman, and I have been discriminated against a hundred times more for the words I write than the people I fuck. Every book feels like I’m slamming on an invisible door, shouting I have a right to exist. I write dark fantasies. I am willing to admit that dark fantasies exist in every human being and I write about them. I know the dangers of denying the aspects people keep in the shadows. Many of my stories go into what shame is and how it holds people back. Shame begets shame. It never makes someone feel better. Freedom from shame is the only way to learn to love yourself as you are. Human, not divine.

I was raised in a shame-based culture. Most of that shame came from an institution I endured every Sunday. It’s where my parents learned shame, and I was indoctrinated into the soul crippling, self-hating world of religion. God loves us all just so long as you are weak, hate your body, and are obedient. The freedom of religion to practice in America is protected under our laws. They allow religion to write incredible fantasies of people dying and coming back to life, of magical acts and winged men and demons. These laws allow religion to tell children their bodies are unclean, women are born inferior, and sex is wrong unless it’s for reproduction.

Look in any bookstore; the bible isn’t in the fiction section. It’s not hidden away although it inarguably has harmed more people than I can even imagine by the shame it places on everyday functions, never mind the wars it has been the center of. You know what you’ll be hard pressed to find in a bookstore? Books about sexual fantasies.

They have to hide under romance. The promise of love makes sex okay. You can find some very dark sex in crime and horror. Apparently, murder or just the genre can legitimize the act of sex. It has to be an addition, not a selling point. Sex sells, but it’s not allowed if you’re blatant. No, then that book is wrong. The ideas are wrong. The people that want to read it are wrong, and so are the authors. No, that book needs to be removed so that no one else will know that something so wrong existed in so many. Let them feel ashamed for not knowing that there were others like them, that their fantasy is normal, that every fantasy is normal and healthy. Let them hate themselves, hurt themselves, conform to be something they were never meant to be. Let them be straight and shining and soldiers of God until they slit their wrists to finally be free.

I laugh that I was named after an angel. The only angel that could have been a woman; Gabriel transcended genders. There is no fucking escaping religion for me. I worked in a church for ten years, sang in a choir, was a cantor, and once fully believed in God because I knew the absolute fear of death at the age of seven and I didn’t want to die. I hated my body because my religion told me god didn’t talk to girls, that girls had to obey and be weak and never question. I didn’t know that even as I broke free of that brainwashing through bitter, bitter years to get to the other side, I would still be fighting it in my society as an adult.

I am not fighting morality or ethics or laws when my books are banned. I am fighting an overreaching religion that wants people to hate themselves and their bodies and their minds so that they will conform. People are easier to control when they hate themselves. They’re easier to break. And what better way to break someone than to tell them that their creator god is disgusted by their natural sexual urges?

What gets a sex book banned in a supposedly enlightened society?

Better yet, why are certain dark themes prevalent in gay fantasy? I was first introduced to dubcon, bestiality, incest, BDSM, noncon, and shota all in the mm genre. Why do these themes exist and why are people—those normal, healthy, godfearing people—so confused about the right of these topics to exist in fantasy? Why can you write a serial killer that murders hundreds in gruesome ways but can’t write about a kinky sexual encounter without fear of being banned?

Most topics in sexual fantasies are metaphors even if the reader and many authors are unaware. The same way dreams share certain themes, so too do sex fantasies. Familiar archetypes are used to get deep into the psyche of a reader. Incest is coming of age, learning to love self through the closest individual you grew up with. Dubcon/noncon and straight to gay are coming of age about learning to love self through a sexual experience one is too afraid to embark on without a guiding hand. BDSM is about giving up control to learn to accept self and sexual urges. Shota is coming of age to accept sexual desire. Bestiality is coming of age to accept what society would label as ‘abnormal’ desires. Slavery—BDSM without consent—again, being forced to accept sexual urges. All degradation is about being forced to accept what society labels as ‘abnormal’ (normal sexual urges) while still having society look at you as abnormal and feeling that shame; it’s facing the thing that tries to oppress you. All of these topics are about the battle against society to have sexual freedom. The irony being, that these are the topics banned from society.

I’ve been reading and writing about sex for a while now. When I decided to do it for a living, I looked into what people responded to, why these topics were so popular. I wanted to make stories speak to the truth in every kink so that even if I wasn’t fully familiar with it, I could give the reader what they were looking for. Abduction, control, the stealing of control, degradation; every ‘dark’ topic, every kink is a battle against social norms and self. What better place to find acceptance than in LGBTQ fiction? LGBTQs can explain how we are born this way and that still, we fight against a society that tells us that we’re abnormal, the minority, not fully included. For the many, those demented ideas from society we unwittingly took into ourselves and used to self-hate. Look at the LGBTQ section of a bookstore and realize that every other book in that store is about straight people and their lives, hopes, dreams, and fantasies. LGBTQ is condensed into a section instead of accepted as part of the norm. Together but not equal.

Shame makes for bad policies. It allows a group to discriminate while claiming protection or decency. It closes eyes and hearts because people are too uncomfortable with their own wiring to look closely. They make a rule, a wall, and refuse to deal with it.

Shame makes for bad actions. That gay nightclub shooting in Florida was a man fighting against his own natural sexual urges. His religion, his personal society, told him that being gay was wrong, and although he fought, he could not win the battle deep in his psyche. It resulted in death, chaos, pain and fear. Human beings are not meant to hate themselves. Shame is a learned idea, one that causes pain in that individual and then spreads pain as they grow. I write stories that explore shame and then relieve it because on a base level that is what many are looking for in a sexual fantasy. Shame has become so indoctrinated with our sexual urges that the fantasies that free us must go through the exploration of that shame first.

Unfortunately, people that are full of shame can’t see that. They’re too busy seeing the act or feeling the emotions that make them hate their bodies for not responding in a ‘divine’ or ‘moral’ way. They don’t want other people to feel so much hatred towards themselves; but they don’t realize it’s not the text that made them feel that way, but the cruel, unaccepting society they grew up in. They repeat what was inflicted on them. They oppress, suppress, hide away, and pretend that those things that made them uncomfortable don’t exist. Because of this, the people that suffer, that are looking to be free from shame, have to do so in the shadows while being told, once again, that they’re wrong, inappropriate, abnormal because those ideas aren’t accepted here.

Every time one of my books is banned, I not only feel the blow personally for being told that I wrote something that even freedom of speech cannot protect but I feel the blow for my readers. They are told that the story they enjoyed was wrong and that they are wrong and not accepted in whatever community removed that book. They are being forced into the dark over fiction, over natural urges, over the fact that they dared not to hate themselves while others still do. Every time my books are banned I face the question of should I be financially supporting an institution that discriminates against my readers and me? If I walk away, am I giving that institution exactly what they want by pretending that the topics I write don’t exist and aren’t popular, healthy and normal?

Every book I put out into the world becomes more than just a book but a push for civil liberty because of these sweeping, discriminatory policies. It is exhausting.

Banning books is discrimination. Banning books about sex is sexual discrimination. Going into a genre and deciding that one sexual act is okay and another isn’t is discrimination. You can talk all about morality, about ethics and the need to protect those from dangerous or uncomfortable ideas but what it boils down to is that someone made a rule that allows to discriminate against one type of writing. They made a policy that discriminates against a group of people. With that policy, they try to shame people into leaving or conforming instead of accepting those individuals for who they are. They take livelihoods away and hurt self-esteem. It is discrimination and goes against freedom of speech.

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Newsletters That Sell

Newsletters That Sell

www.sadiesins.com

I’ve been getting some feedback the last month, stuff I hadn’t focused in on too much because I was so busy with the Demon Arms edit. But a fair amount of readers took the time to respond to my newsletters, for varying reasons. And many of them also felt the need to thank me for writing interesting newsletters in those responses. No other author newsletter addresses them the same way. They enjoy hearing about my life, or my rants XD and getting the free and discounted books and learning about the other writers in the mm world.

It’s pretty intense when I think about it, and it got my mind going. One, I’m glad I’m doing something right that people would take the time to thank me. Seriously, wow. Two, what the hell is going on in these other newsletters?

I’ve been busy, I have, and I isolate myself from all the digital bombardment to get stuff done. So I went into my emails because I’m on a lot of author newsletter lists (Instafreebie *__* The struggle is real.) The first one—very first newsletter I opened—was a call to Kindle users to preorder their newest book. That’s it. Picture of book, blurb, preorder here. Wham, bam, thank you, mam, but without the thank you. It was like someone threw an advertisement into my inbox. To be clear, this is the entire reason I’m writing this blog post, because holy fuck, I was offended. Offended for me as a reader, and offended for all the readers out there that have to put up with this likely well-intentioned but poorly executed newsletter.

The purpose of a Newsletter

Let’s get into this. What is the purpose of a newsletter? Now if you’re an author, your immediate reaction might be ‘to sell my books, so I don’t starve.’ I get that, I do, but I want you to look at a newsletter from a reader’s point of view. Why do you, as a reader, open up an email from an author you enjoy enough to follow? What do you want to get out of that experience? You probably want to know about their upcoming book—it is nice to know that there will be a creative escape coming up soon. What else? Do you want to know a little bit about your author friend? Maybe it’s not all about just that author? Maybe it’s about the fact that you like the genre you’re reading, and you want to know what’s happening. In my case, in MM in general. Maybe you want to be cheered up from a shitty day and here’s this familiar writer that has a chance to connect with you.

I don’t know how to break it to you, my author friends, but that newsletter is not for you. It is for your readers. And not just all your readers as a whole, it is for every single individual that clicks on your email and turns their eyes on your words. You are dealing with living, breathing, thinking human beings and it is your job to engage them. That is what being a writer in general is.

Language is about communication. There are two parts; the quest to express in a way that embraces the essence of yourself and thoughts, and the need for another human being to read and understand your words and be moved by it. You cannot just have the first half and assume you’re at the top of your game. If you are not engaging another soul and ensuring they respond, you are failing as a writer. And damn, the newsletter is the perfect place to see this all go down.

A sampling of newsletters

I’m going to summarize and share my reactions to the next five newsletters chosen at random in my inbox.

1) Uses my name in the greeting—I personally hate this because I know it’s just a robot, but I understand the mentality of it to try and engage the reader. I see this too many times with mass produced store emails, so it’s hard to view it differently. It feels forced and fake to me. The soul focus is on the book with language that tries to engage. They use ‘you’ like they’re talking to me—but again, it feels really targeted. They’re trying instead of relaxed, and I can tell. This particular newsletter is featuring someone else’s book, not the author’s, and it’s in the genre I enjoy. I feel a little sold—this newsletter is a total salespitch—but they’re pitching someone else’s book so I automatically feel like the author cares about their author friend and is sharing something with me, so I’m more open to look.

2) This one has a cute title and starts with the author talking to me like we’re having a conversation. I immediately know that a real person is talking to me and I feel like they realize that I’m a real person in return. And as they talk to me, they tell me about their book for sale and preorder. This is a very focused newsletter—the author is all about writing and the books for sale. They offer a few freebies at the bottom from the author’s works and lists what looks like every book they’ve ever written at the bottom. This is very focused on the author of this newsletter. Yes, they are kinda engaging, but they only seem to have one thing on their mind—buy my books.

3) Next one is a genre based newsletter focused on mm. Get a casual greeting, a little update about the author, and then a shit ton of book deals. It took me a moment to remember who this personality was from the small greeting (had to scroll to the bottom) but when I did, I had a smile cus I like this person, and when I have the time, I totally love a free or cheap book. Straight and to the point. I enjoyed the deals, and felt like a human being was talking to me like I am a human being.

4) Oh, baby, so this one I love, but there is a specific reason. This newsletter offered me information that concerns my job and how to do it better. This is an author reaching out to other authors to help them with a very common problem. Not only do they admit their personal difficulties with this problem (which humanizes them) but then offers to help me. For free. No call to buy a book, no call to buy anything, no need to even go to their website where I might be bombarded with sales pitches. I was just given free information, and I’m smiling.

5) Last one. This is an author I immediately recognize by name and enjoy, so I’m looking forward to an update. They start out telling me about what’s going on in their life (I’m so jealous; they seem to be having fun. XD) And then they want to give me free books in the mm genre and show me where I can snag some cheap reads. At the bottom, they tell me where I can find their books and their bestsellers. I’m not offended by it—this author has treated me like a person, talked to me like we’re in a conversation, and has a generosity that I appreciate. But I’m also not in a rush to read through their stuff atm. If I wanted to, I would have just searched them on Amazon.

What should a good Newsletter do?

Engage

Engage your readers. That’s the point of a newsletter. It’s also the point of writing a book. There is no other point to a newsletter but this, and when you understand that, you will start getting a response. Engage your reader. How do you engage your readers? Given my own personal responses to the above, I have a few ideas.

Have a genuine voice

When someone speaks naturally, they not only reveal that they are human, but they see the person they’re speaking to as human. And yes, you are talking to humans. Talk like you’re talking to a friend—because you are! The person reading your newsletter took time out of their busy life to read your words. They are taking the time to ‘listen.’ Do you know how freaking huge that is? Appreciate it and talk to that person like you’re talking to an actual person. (Have you noticed how I’m talking to you, the reader right now? Like you’re a human being that I expect to be following along? Yeah, just fourth walled for this post. Hardcore.)

Give it away

Give them something. Be it information, gossip, sneak peeks, free books, deals, or an invitation into your world. Give that shit away. Someone opened your email. There better be something in it.

No strings

Give something away without strings. Yeah, there is a caveat to the above. When you give something away, make sure you’re not guilting the fuck out of your readers. They are not reading your newsletter to feel bad about not buying your shit. They are not there to feel ‘required’ to comment, review, share, read, etc. They are there because they want to be there and they don’t want to be manipulated. Your readers are not idiots, and they know when they’re being sold, and they know when someone is putting pressure on them. Don’t be a douchebag salesman.

Ask

It’s okay to ask. Just to add to the no strings thing; it’s okay to ask of your readers. It never hurts to ask. But no guilt, no requirements, no pressure. You are there to open their eyes to the world you live and work in. You can invite them to look around, meet authors and books—your readers will love that. It’s an experience. They might love the chance to give you a review or share your stuff because they want to help you or new authors. Some are desperate to give something back because they might feel guilty that you keep giving them so much free stuff (sorry, babes.) But you want their actions to come from a place of honesty, not guilt. You’re dealing with human beings. Do you want to feel pressured and guilty every time you open an email? I sure don’t.

Entertain aka Share

You are inviting your reader into your world. You’re giving them a view of life through your eyes. So do it. Tell them about your life, or something you stumbled across that made you laugh, cry, stand up and go Oh my fuck! Whatever. I’m not a particularly entertaining person (that I’m aware of,) but I do love to share. There are comedians out there, charismatic, brilliant people I am never going to be. I pretty much just ramble about my life because that’s my thing. I rant, rave, gossip with the sole purpose of reaching out and hoping to get a human reaction back. I share because I am seeking connection. Because of it, I have brought up controversial topics. Anyone in ‘business’ will tell you what a bad thing that is, that it might alienate your readers to bring up politics or your failing health, or the dark things happening in the world. It’s your call.

Just remember, when you hold back, you are holding back who you are. You are placing a wall up that says your readers can see only this much of you. Boundaries are good, they’re important, but be aware where yours are, why they’re there, and how they affect your ability to communicate. I write some pretty intense stories. I’m not even talking about the erotica. Demon Arms goes into very raw, difficult feelings of what I experienced in foster care; abandonment issues, self-hate, fear of connection, trauma. My ability to share these difficult emotions—and believe me, I fight with my vulnerability no matter how many times I share these things—allows for a more engaging, real story. My readers can feel things they might have never felt. Or, more likely, they get to experience familiar feelings in a totally different context and explore those emotions safely. Books are great like that; they’re a safe place to learn about yourself and the world and not be judged.

Do you know how relieving it is to know other people feel the same shit you feel? That they get scared, inspired, angry, embarrassed, anxious, horny, joyful just like you do? That they face adversity in their daily lives and want to know that others face it and make it through? Those very uncomfortable things in life are real. They are far more real than a stiff sales pitch. So if you have an engagement problem, this is a good place to look. Do readers email you back and tell you about their lives, about their problems or joys? Mine do, and it is fucking amazing to have met so many people just by sharing my writing. It is a gift every time I get an email reaching out to me, and I genuinely feel like an ass when I don’t get to them in a timely fashion. Someone shared a bit of themself with me, and they deserve to know how fucking amazing that is. It is to be cherished.

Are you afraid to connect? Are you afraid that if people truly see you, they won’t like what’s there? If this sounds like you, it’s going to make it very hard to engage with your reading base. To be clear, I still feel all this terrible shit. Every book. I share deep, personal things in characters that I’m sure can be picked up by my readers because I don’t hold back. I’m terrified about Sorcerer Slayer and keep hitting writer’s block because of some of the fucking shit I’m digging up. I almost had a damn breakdown releasing the edited version of Demon Arms because going through that book reminded me of every fucking thing I put in there of myself that made me feel small and worthless and not wanting to be judged. But at the end of the day, I push through because communication is not one sided. I expressed all of that stuff so that it could be understood by another person. To not go that next step would be to fail myself and anyone that needs to know they’re not alone in the world.

I know the struggle, and we are all different about how much we can handle. It’s up to you if you want to let it hold you back from sharing and connecting.

Stop selling your books

I see a lot of newsletters that are very on point, aka, they are all about the sales pitch. Sometimes it’s the sales pitch that doesn’t look like a sales pitch. I get it—there is a lot of information out there that tells authors that you need to sell your books while looking like you’re not actually selling your books. My response to that is just stop selling your fucking books! Stop. Step into your newsletter and realize you are having a conversation with another person and they don’t want to be sold; they want to be informed and entertained. They are there by choice. They sat down in front of their computer or phone and opened your email because they want to. They know you write—we all fucking know. It’s not something you need to sell them. They’re going to buy your book if they’re in the mood and can afford it just so long as they know it’s there.

So what the hell are the two of you there for if not a sale? Connecting. People interact to connect. Yeah, very simple. If in that connection you can offer them a piece of work you created that helps them have a new experience, lighten their day, fall in love, or get them off, awesome. But you are offering them an experience, not selling a book. And if you’re not offering an experience, you need to rethink why you’re writing.

It goes back to that communication thing. You just spent days, possibly months creating a piece of work that reflects emotions, experiences, and ingenuity that you did your best to express as genuinely as possible. You are trying to communicate with your art. You don’t communicate your art by selling it, you communicate it by having it be experienced. Those that enjoy the experience come back for more. They understand that to do what you do, you need to make a living and when they can provide, they will. Not because they feel they owe you but because they want to thank you for those experiences. They want to thank you for taking the time to address them as a human being, for being vulnerable and open and real and doing the same thing we all try to do every day. Reach out. Your newsletter allows you to engage with every reader that might come your way. It is a gift and readers can tell when you treat it as such. (even if you might rant about some bullshit at times >_> )

I seriously hope this helps people. A healthy newsletter is the lifeblood of a self-published author. It’s how we make a living. And still, I’m telling you straight; it’s not where you sell your book. Any questions, shoot them down below and I’ll get to them when I can.

Posted in Self-Publishing Tips | Leave a comment

What It Really Takes To Self-Publish

What It Really Takes To Self-Publish

www.sadiesins.com

So you want to self-publish

I’m going to assume you can write a story. Maybe you had an experience where you read a story, was so disappointed with the execution and thought, ha! I could so do that better. Then you sat your ass down, and you did. It’s awesome, it’s better than anything else out there, and you deserve millions. Now what? Just what does it take to self-publish a book and make a living from it?

Here’s a rundown of all the things I do to self-publish. When looking at this list, remember this is all on me. Being self-published means you’re doing all the work—wearing all the different hats. Sometimes you’re going to purchase one of these services from another person in a hat that does it better. But if you’re low on funds, or want the challenge, you’re doing it yourself.

So what old school reference are we talking about when I bring up hats? Too old for me to know. Totally. >_> But here are the jobs you can expect to do if you want to self-publish successfully.

Researcher: This is something you’re going to be constantly doing. Even when you know it all, you’ll return to this hat because things change and you need to stay with the trends. It involves reading and asking questions from people that know more than you. Taking classes, courses, and observing what works so you can replicate it. Reading this article is researching.

Writer: Author of books. Rinse, repeat indefinitely.

Editor: Fixer of books. Eyes may bleed.

Formatter: From text to ebook. Html might be involved. From text to print book, again html, templates, etc.

Marketer: Packages books into a polished product that’s prime for sales. Coming up with catchy blurbs and quick one-liners that draw a reader in. Having an eye for what works and brutally cutting what doesn’t. Creating a brand, not just a bunch of books.

Manager: Makes sure you’re organized and all the things that need to get done get done on time without fuckups. The writer of schedules, guider of energy and snapper of whips. Rewarder of lollipops. <3

Artist: Book cover artist, website designer, banner and advertising designer. This is practical art and mostly involves graphic design than anything else. It involves an eye for trends and an understanding of how book marketing requires certain visual cues depending on the genre.

Promoter: Selling your product and you. Putting your books out there in front of people. Creating newsletters and sending them out. Seeking out other authors in your genre to cross-promote. Coming up with deals, looking for the next big thing and jumping a ride on the train (trains are these things that used to exist… Nevermind.) Advertising. Going to local book stores. Getting ARCs and reviews. Utilizing social media, giveaways, and any new shit you can to get your name heard. Blogger and tweeter of interesting things.

Networker: Communicating with other people in hats, usually of the creative and promoting kind. There is information to be had, support to give and gain, and it’s nice to know you’re not the only one working your ass off trying to whore your creative babies out in the big world.

Accountant: Money in, money out, taxes, financial goals, advertising bills, minor freakouts, etc.

Public Figure: Yeah, this too. Answerer of emails, talker of your books, blogger of realness but not too real, because hearing about the ear infection you had full of puss doesn’t really draw the people in. Being personable and thick skinned and not having anyone to hide behind because this is part of your job. Being seen.

Website Manager: Running that website you need to have for your readers to find your books. Html, coding, bandwith, SEO, ping and trackbacks, etc.

Mailing List Manager: Pretty self-explanatory but should be listed as its own thing. Why? Because a mailing list is the most important tool you’re ever going to have as an author. It’s more important than all those books you haven’t written yet.

That must seem like a lot of work. I do it every day. I started self-publishing November, 2015 and I’ve written and self-published 38 books already. Did you know I’m disabled? Did you know I was bed bound through most of that time? I only recently moved out of a moldy apartment that was crippling not only my body but limiting my brain capacity. So yes, that might look like a lot of work but a disabled chick without a college degree did it while suffering from mold toxicity and Lyme disease. I think you can handle it.

Every job of a self-publisher can be outsourced

Okay, so the nice thing about these many hats is if you have the money, you could hire a team of people to do this shit. Look at them all. It’s like a damn publishing house all in one exhausted little self-publisher. Every job you do could be hired out to people that are more experienced and more confident than you are. But the reality is, if you had the money you probably wouldn’t be that driven to self-publish in the first place. You could just hang around with heart in throat every time you submit to a publisher while picking away at your next masterpiece novel. Getting published could be easier than all the work that goes into this, but it might not have the same results—be that good or bad depending on your abilities.

When you’re published, the end results are not in your control. You’re completely dependent on the ability and experience of the people you’re working with. For someone inexperienced that doesn’t want to go into all the work above, that might sound like a great deal. But if your book doesn’t sell, or you don’t understand what your book could make in the first place because you’re ignorant, you don’t really know if you’re in a good deal or what to do to change things. If you self-publish for long enough and then choose to be published, you’ll be going into a situation with a lot more understanding than someone who’s on the outside looking in.

If you’re already a self-published writer, congratulations on making it this far because this is a shit ton of work and there is no one but you to keep you on course. There is no A+B = Guaranteed Success Forever. No advanced payout, not promise of anything. No one is rushing to take your kids to daycare and do your laundry and clean your house so you can run a business. Every book is a new launch, every moment in between launches is writing, promoting, and list building, and every experience is working towards the next experience. And my god, I love it all.

Do you know what an adrenaline junkie is? O_o Let’s go with masochist; I might seek the pain a bit. XD There are certain things, particular hats that I loathe but I’m of this horrible mindset that when I recognize I’m not good at something, I have to study and work until I can kick its ass. It’s this messed up thing in my head and I am not happy sitting still. Ever. No matter how tired I get. No matter how much I’d rather live happily under a rock. I want to grow, I want to live, and I want to mess it up along the way. Curiosity is my BFF, and if someone says I can’t do something, I immediately go ‘like fuck I can’t.’

If I self-published for the money alone, I wouldn’t. The money starting out wasn’t enough; the money now is enough and moving towards more than I know what to do with, and even though my eye keeps drifting that way to see cause and effects of actions in dollar signs, it is not why I self-publish. It goes back to that adrenaline junkie of a masochist that needs to feel like I’m doing something valuable in my life. I created a job that makes me feel good about myself, and I feel like my books offer the world something that we need more of—shameless, sexy fun that accepts our darkest fantasies. I also enjoy using my brain and solving problems and the biggest problem in my life at the time was how do I make money while not having to leave my sick bed when I had no college degree or cash to spare and was living off of disability.

Problem solved in the form of self-publishing.

If you’re doing this for the money alone, there is going to come the point where you’ll need to reconsider everything. You’re either not going to be able to break the threshold and you’ll need a new strategy for profit, or you’re going to surpass all your expectations and be left wondering what the hell is next. See all the work above? You should probably figure out just why you’re ready to put yourself through all that. It’s not just work, it’s boundaries you push every day with yourself. Creative boundaries, social boundaries, questioning and push back to every fear and doubt you have about your skills and your self-worth and if you should be allowed to make a living doing what you love. This is not just a job, this is a growth of you in every step. Are you ready for it?

The Cage of Can’t

I always think it’s such bullshit when someone tries to sell you a system. Just do 1, 2, and 3 and have perseverance, and you’ll be a millionaire! They absolutely disregard the reality that it doesn’t matter how much someone wants something, or how capable they are to follow guidelines or adapt. Most people aren’t held back by a lack of ability or knowledge—google is everywhere. One web search can tell you everything you ever needed to know about self-publishing. No, we’re held back by ourselves.

For me, it was the challenge of being a battered child that grew up with PTSD. Inescapable trauma that twisted my thoughts, my actions, my perspective of self, hopes and dreams. An invisible cage that kept me from doing the things I wanted to do by ‘deciding’ I can’t. Lyme disease and mold toxicity, the things killing me for the last four years? Wake up call. They allowed me to stop running and face my shit with therapy. Near death was my rock bottom of I’m done living like this. My cage was able to be identified and stepped out of but don’t think for a moment that I’m still not fighting old ideas of self and world. Every day is a reimagining as I prove that I can write a fantasy and sell a book. And most days, it’s that battle of self that is more emotionally exhausting than the jobs above.

You don’t have to have lived my past to have your own cage of can’t. Maybe your mother told you that you were book smart, not street smart and you don’t think you’ll ever be able to promote yourself. Maybe your fifth-grade teacher said your story telling was unimaginative and every time you go to write, you wonder why you even bother. Maybe you keep hearing people insist that work is for making money, not doing things you like and you think you’re an asshole for wanting different.

I mean, really, who the hell do you think you are wanting to do something you love every day when other people you know and love settle, compromise, work themselves sick doing things they hate just to feed their family? What a selfish ass you are for wanting a different path when it’s good enough for them. That has to hurt someone, right? There is no way you can be happy without destroying someone somewhere. If you make more money, someone else will obviously have to have less. That’s just the law of the universe, so you better stop dreaming because getting ahead is the most hurtful thing you can do to everyone around you.

Yeah, so that might seem like the most unlogical thing ever to a rational person but people have these emotional hidden ‘truths’ ingrained inside from past experiences that keep them from moving forward, and they are rarely rational. Nope, they just might appear rational because the human in charge of these twisted ideas puts a lot of work into convincing themselves that these emotional truths are literally true. They get covered in bullshit to keep the owner of these thoughts safe in a familiar, unhappy world. It might as well be some ordained voice on high telling them that they better not try because the possibility of change is terrifying.

My answer to that? So be terrified and do it anyways. You are the only one holding yourself back. Not your job, not your family, not your friends and neighbors, not your financial situation or the world around you. You are choosing to not go for it and you can make a different choice. Add the hat.

Grower of self: It’s the number one job you have and taking it on is something only the rare person does. This is what defines if you will make it as a self-publisher. It requires bravery, a no bullshit attitude, a willingness to feel like shit, cripplingly vulnerable, and then get over it and be ready to feel like shit again. It’s a goal of eventual self-worth enough to realize you deserve the things you want and more. It requires you to trust yourself, be able to listen to advice that matters from experts, be criticized and not take it as a personal attack. This is the bridge past holding yourself back—and we all do it. Even a little, we stop ourselves from being more.

Do you want to feel unstoppable? This is the hat. Do you want to start a task and grow a career, help people, come up with new ideas and never hit a wall you can’t surpass? Right here. This is what allows you to fail, repeatedly, because this gives you the power to get back up each time and try. It’s the difference of a pause where you reassess the path compared to a dead stop where you tell yourself you’re not good enough and never will be. This is the hardest, most rewarding job you’re ever going to have no matter what you decide to do out in the world.

This is what it takes to do all the stuff above, and no amount of lying to yourself will change it. And no, I won’t lie to you either. I can tell you how to do everything and you can understand it perfectly, but that doesn’t mean you’ll ever even try. No matter how much you want it. People that hold themselves back won’t make it until they allow themselves to succeed. Get a therapist if you are in an invisible cage you can’t get out of. It’s your tool to being free to live life on your terms.

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Growing, Not Grown: The Process Of Being A Creator

Growing, Not Grown: The Process Of Being A Creator

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There is something rather confusing and profound about writing a story that not everyone gets to experience. It was something I didn’t actually even realize until recently. I was having one of those personal reflection moments—exhausting, don’t get me started on self examination!—and was thinking how I really don’t think of myself as funny. At all. Then I read over a part of a book I’m currently writing and burst out laughing.

Because it was funny.

This did not, for whatever reason, alter my previous thought about my ability to be funny. I still don’t really think I’m a funny person. My characters, on the other hand, they can be funny. Either I am completely disassociated from the reality of my ability to be funny, or I just can’t comprehend my own humor from the seat of my brain, or maybe, just maybe, writing allows for another option. To create something more than you.

Getting Stuck

Part of the difficulty of sharing your art—let’s be honest, like the biggest damn problem—is the feelings of vulnerability you experience before, during, and sometimes long after. Your creation is a part of you. It was built from your experiences, data that you took in then worked your hands, imagination, and soul around, and then put out into the world. And when you understand that (or even when you don’t) there can be this internal pressure to keep it all inside and not dare let your creation free for fear that it will be judged, torn apart, and with it so will you.

The ego can be so very fragile—or at least, we can perceive it to be. Because for some people, when their ego is hit, they just stop. The feeling is too uncomfortable and they would rather not feel that way than put themselves out there again. Other people, they can do it for a little bit but then reach a point where they can’t go any further.

Maybe they tell themselves the first few creations are practice and with that, they allow themselves to fail, to not be perfect, to accept that criticism is to be expected and it’s not a judgment of them but a sign of where they are in their craft. From this vantage, these people create and they grow. Then comes the point where, for whatever reason, they decide they’re no longer practicing. They’re a professional, or worse, they should be a professional by this point.

Well, if they ‘should be,’ then in their mind they’ve already failed by not being. And if they’re a professional now, they’re not allowed to make mistakes. Criticism is now death; they need to be perfect and everyone should be able to see it. Maybe they struggle through, adapting by losing the love and joy they put into their art. They’re professionals; it’s not about them, it’s about creating a ‘product.’ It’s not a piece of them, it’s a smart pattern repeated to make sales. In this way, they protect themselves from that sting of vulnerability but even though they’re producing, they’re not creating anymore. They stopped, it’s just harder to see. Continue reading

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Reward Your Readers

Reward Your Erotica Readers

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Make a habit with your readers, an unspoken agreement. That way every time you put out a new story, they know they’re going to be rewarded for reading. Here are a few of my rewards I like to give my readers.

Pique their curiosity

Give them a story, a relationship, something beyond just sex. Oh, don’t get me wrong, in erotic writing, sex is damn important. But consider a serial reader, someone that’s consuming a dozen erotic shorts when they have some free time. Everything starts blurring together in a swirl of limbs and sweat and the same old hookup. Give them something that’s going to make them stop and smile, or remember you the next time. Hook them with a plot point or a really amazing character. Give them a new world that can be seen in the background of all that grinding.

Just because there are a million erotic shorts out there that all seem to look the same, doesn’t mean you need to bow to the masses. That stuff is already written. Contribute something new and be remembered because of it. Just because you’re writing smut doesn’t mean you’re not creating something of value. Write something that you’ll value and you’ll find the readers that will as well.

Emotional attachment

When your characters are invested, your reader is as well. It might surprise to hear I do this given I don’t indulge in a lot of sickly sweet romance bullshit writing. But I still try to write an attachment to my characters even if they manage to be able to breathe without their lover holding their hand twenty-four seven. (I may have issues with a lot of unrealistic romance XD) I feel this helps fuel the passion in a story and gives the reader more investment when they see the characters are invested. My erotic relationships may not be normal, or really healthy by any means in a lot of stories, but when a character still craves the affection and feels satisfied by it, the reader picks up on it and mirrors it as well.

This is why I don’t write sex scenes where the characters are actually disinterested in the sex. I’ve read a few straight to gay novels where the ‘straight’ character has a sexual encounter and doesn’t feel a thing. And hey, maybe it’s ‘realistic’ or some shit, but it was also boring as fuck to have them go through the motions and not want to be there. It made me not want to be there reading. It’s like reading about someone going to work, doing work things without any emotional interest at all. Why would I pay to read that, like, ever? I don’t want to go through that. I’d rather read about them bitching then being bored.

Keep the tension going

Keep your reader engaged. This can be done easily with either the tension in the plot (yes, there can be a plot in erotica) or the emotional tension between characters. When stories are too easy, people get bored. They already know the answer to if the characters are going to end up together—it’s usually expected that it’s going to happen in erotica—so what’s going to keep them reading after they just read the same setup and fuck in ten other short erotic fics?

Don’t make it easy for your characters. Put some very good walls up when it comes to them getting together, be it from physical conflicts to emotional ones. Make your reader wonder if even though those characters might have just had great sex, they still don’t know if they’re going to want to actually move in together. Give them a reason to keep reading to the end of the story.

Go big, bold, dramatic

Give them something epic that they can’t get in their own bedroom. This goes for what the sex consists of to the emotions and circumstances that go with it. There’s a reason alpha male and billionaire are big buzz words for many of these stories. Big sexual drives and big money. It’s like Cinderella but with hardcore sex. This is about creating a fantasy of sex, something that gets people beyond hot, not just lukewarm. So don’t be afraid to exaggerate beyond what normal hot blooded horny people can reach. It’s not a commentary on the idea that everyday, normal sex is boring and dull. It’s delving into a fantasy where your reader is allowed to indulge in what they’re probably never going to get in real life (unless there are werewolves and vamps out there I’ve yet to discover >_> )

Tie up the ending with relationship and plot conclusions

This not only satisfies your reader on a completely different level but it also just helps you end your story with ease. The question of if that sexual interaction is going to end, begin, cement a relationship should be answered, or at least insinuated at. Is your character scarred for life after their hypnosis and screwing? Did the planet survive the alien invasion? Your readers might be interested to know that life goes on beyond the peek into the scene. You don’t need to spell out all the details but you could if you’re floundering for a way to end your story.

I’m a fan of a happy ending—Yup, even with all the dubcon I write. I can read some really dark erotica just so long as I know the characters care about each other on some level. Some readers may not be so picky but they might still be curious. Satisfy their curiosity.

Fuel their fire

Sex it up. Why skimp? Make a habit of giving your reader plenty to indulge in when it comes to sweaty moments. If you’re not comfortable in writing elaborate sex scenes, I suggest doing the next best thing, which is building that sexual tension through the story. Foreplay—for the love of fuck, use it! XD Literal foreplay can build your reader up to your big scene so that once your characters are screwing, it feels a lot more epic than just another smut fic. The push and pull of the characters ‘should they,’ ‘shouldn’t they,’ can do a lot for a simple little story.

End it with sex

Give your reader a reason to read it all. If you really want people to read to the end of your story, let them know you’re going to follow through with something steamy and satisfying. I love sex at the end of a story. Even a taste is better than reading to the end and then feeling let down. It’s erotica. It’s a sexy story. There’s an unspoken expectation that a happy ending in this type of story is a bit more happier than other books if you get my drift. *eyebrow waggle* So give it up already. Don’t end with the loving couple driving off into the sunset, go a little further till they hit that honeymoon suite and start getting it on.

Now if you’re putting all your stories in the KDP program that doesn’t allow you to publish anywhere else while it’s enrolled, and where as a writer you just found out that one page of your book equates to less than ½ a penny, your 300 page book it took you how many months to write is only going to get you $1.50 if someone bothers to read it—and they have to read the whole thing. What better way to get someone to the end of your book than with something sexy lying in wait? This is the same for your short 50-page story you’re lucky to get 25 cents for even though you were so damn brilliant and had the best dialogue and took a week of your life to spend on. Give your reader a reason to want to read to the end.

Longer isn’t always better

How do you keep a reader interested; short refreshing bites or a long meal? Sometimes your reader is busy. Most of the time I am so freaking busy that even though I would love to indulge in some reading, I won’t even look at a novel no matter how good someone tells me it is because I don’t have the time to invest. I will give a short story a shot if it looks interesting and sexy enough, but if I’m ten pages in and nothing of curiosity or steam has occurred, I’m out. I was actually recently trying to get through a great sci-fi—no sex involved—the plot just seemed so damn amazing but the writing was so dry I couldn’t do it. I was genuinely upset that I couldn’t push through, but the author was writing through the eyes of a sixteen-year-old boy and sounded like he was fifty and boring as fuck. I couldn’t get to the plot because the style wasn’t engaging enough.

I won’t watch a video of a news article because I can read the damn thing faster. People are in a hurry. What the hell are you going to do to get them to stop and pay attention to you?

Sometimes you need to keep it short. I refuse to publish anything under 10,000 words—it’s just something I stick to. I feel like I need to give my reader a promise of substance even in my short stories. Still, I make sure those 10,000 words are jammed full of sexy and plot without dragging things out. We’re living in the world of television programs and web shorts. Most tv shows are designed so that people can get up or do chores while listening to them instead of giving them their full attention. I’ll be honest, I dumped the tv years ago. I watch Netflix on occasion, and I’m usually typing through the shows unless it’s something actually worth my time—Aka, British. And yes, I am at the point in my life when I feel like my time has actual value and I won’t waste it on half-assed plots and flat characters in a sitcom. I will make time to masturbate before wasting it on tv. My brain is important and I will rot it on some quality tv or nothing at all. My readers’ brains are just as important.

Now, you’ll get the occasional reader that will tell you that such a low word count isn’t worth the price. They’re probably used to reading long ass romance novels or for some reason they think what it takes to write something is the same as what it takes to read. It’s not, otherwise they would be writing that story they were looking for instead of quantifying a book by the number of pages instead of its content. $2.99 for a short story isn’t asking a lot—and as the writer, I don’t even get that, looking at more of $1-$2 after Amazon takes their cut. When you see a book for $0.99 you’re looking at someone that is either having a sale to gain viewers, someone that thinks they’re a terrible writer, or someone that doesn’t actually value their work. I don’t think you get over 30 cents when you sell your book that low. That would take 100 people buying your book just to make $30 bucks. Talk about crazy. Imagine getting 100 people interested enough to buy your book, only to make 30 bucks? Tragic.

Don’t undervalue your work just because some people can’t fathom 3 bucks for a short smutty story. Most people know that’s the normal price, and they’re more than happy to pay it, especially if you’re the type of writer that rewards their readers. (See what I did there? I went on a tangent and then brought you back to the title of the post… Oh, you got it… I wasn’t subtle… XD)

Love what you do!

Every story you put out there is, whether you realize it or not, is creating a relationship with your readers. That’s a huge thing because people are damn busy and we live in a world where it’s normal to jump from craze to craze without looking back. Being good to your readers gets you good things in return. If you’ve ever gotten a difficult critical review you’ll understand just how gratifying it is to have a loyal reader come along and dare to say how much they actually like your book. People may love to read about sex, but there are still a million shy people that can’t actually speak up about it. So in return, don’t half-ass your work.

If you want that awesome feeling of having a reader take the time to tell you how they really appreciate your different view on a smutty story, you need to put the work into it. I know there are plenty of people that are selling writing erotica as some quick fix get rich scheme, but I can’t imagine anyone writing every day while not loving what they’re doing. And really, as a reader myself, I can tell the difference. Authors that love what they’re doing have those really cool plot twists, they give their reader plenty of sex (because they freaking love sex!) and you can tell that their characters are more than just pawns in a scene, they’re living breathing people that are having experiences.

I’m drawn to authors that love what they’re doing and I think these are the writers that have the staying power to keep going. Because when shit gets tough, they still have that love for their craft, for the story they need to share and get out there. Don’t be afraid to love what you’re doing when you’re writing erotica. Don’t curb yourself for some market when you really want to write it differently. Being different in a sea of the same is a beautiful thing. Be beautiful.

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Exploring Kinks: #4 Incest

Exploring Kinks: #4 Incest

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So today’s kink of choice to discuss is incest. There are a dozen different varieties of this but I’m going to be focusing on the immediate parent/child and child/child pairings, be it by blood relation or just role relation (step, adopted, etc.) Which is actually important to realize with this topic. What makes incest such a hot topic for a lot of readers—and believe me, this has a huge fanbase—isn’t necessarily the genetic taboo. A lot of the times it has more to do with the perversions of the family roles represented in incest. Some of those roles and people’s natural reactions can be used in other fictional pairings, such as long time friends, or child with a friend of the parents to get the same triggering that attracts people to incest.

Let me say when I use the word ‘child’ in this topic, it’s to denote son/daughter/brother/sister, not anyone under age or a minor. Also, I should probably say that I’m not encouraging incest or anything in real life. This is all fiction. If you are in an incestual relationship, I have no judgments, just covering my ass here.

Again, I will stress the importance of understanding what you’re writing and why your audience responds to it. It helps you be a better writer, for one—always important. Don’t become stagnant; it’s boring. But maybe even more important, an audience that responds is a happy audience. It doesn’t even have to be a good response—People don’t go to watch horror movies because watching people get cut up into bloody bits makes them feel good. But they do crave the chemicals that are pumped into their system from the feelings they do get. No matter what you’re writing, as long as your audience feels it, trust that you’re doing something right.

Okay, diving in… Continue reading

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Exploring Kinks: #3 Animal Characteristics

Exploring Kinks: #3 Animal Characteristics

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Hey guys, so this topic is another favorite of mine in erotica. It actually has a couple of layers going on, which I’m going to show you. It’s not just about animal characteristics, but also what you’re trying to achieve with those behaviors. You’re not just imitating an animal. Sometimes you’re actually trying to talk to the animal inside your reader.

This topic actually fits really well with the first two. Why? Because dubcon and noncon feed your inner animal. Don’t believe me? Well let me try to prove it to you.

So to start, what do I mean by ‘animal characteristics’ in writing? This is about people acting animalistic in their lives where prim, proper behavior is disregarded as boring and dull and you instead get a more raw, primal experience going on. Growling, biting, clawing, ignoring appropriate settings and mating behaviors instead for blunt sexual release, embracing pain, nudity, dirt, blood, battle, and death—Think of anything some highly religious person would consider ‘godless’ and I’m pretty sure it has animal characteristics in it. The stuffy religions are fucking terrified of the primal human animal.

What do these characters look like? They can vary depending on intensity but some shining examples would be werewolves, shifters, vampires, demons, monsters and aliens, usually with humanoid features. You could also have outright animals but I prefer the extra duality that comes with humans acting animalistic. Continue reading

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Exploring Kinks: #2 Noncon

Exploring Kinks: #2 Noncon

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This is post is about noncon aka non-consensual aka rape in fantasy, and let’s throw a bit of dubcon in there just to cover all our bases with this topic. I’ve already written a post on just dubious consent, but for this one I really want to focus on that really controversial topic, noncon.

For starters, setting the parameters. This is fantasy. More specifically, this is erotic fantasy where the intent is to create a sexually stimulating experience for the reader by having your characters go through an experience of noncon. I will not automatically refer to this as rape because I feel rape is not a fantasy term. I don’t think there is anything arousing about rape in real life. When writing noncon fiction, I do not write it with the intent for people to go out and force someone into sex. I am well aware that many fantasies can only be enjoyable because of the safety that fantasy allows—basically, the disconnect from reality.

So, how can the fantasy of noncon, which is emulating rape, be considered arousing to a person that doesn’t find actual rape arousing in the slightest? Honestly, I’m not a hundred percent certain. I can’t tell you why, all I can do is illustrate that it happens, a lot of people experience it, and it’s perfectly natural. I intend to dissect this topic to help people understand why this is a very common fantasy, and to help pull back the shame, anger, and confusion around it. I can’t explain arousal, just show the mechanism for it. Understanding is the first step to accepting, and believe me, we all fit better in our own bodies and lives when we learn to accept the weird shit in our heads. Fantasies shouldn’t be judged, no matter how freaky they may seem to some. Continue reading

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