New Version?

This is the new 5.0 version of book 1, Inception. Remember how it had an insane word count? Remember how it had annoying scenes? Remember those pesky erotic scenes? Well, those are gone. GONE!

At one time, book 1 had over 171,000 words. I didn’t think it would be possible, but I was able to cut that shit down to 82,000 words! We’re in the zone! YEAAS! I’m in the target range of where a first book needs to be. Contemporary Fantasy & Paranormal Romance needs to be under 100,000 words.

“But, Jen! A book takes as long as it needs to be!” Not when you’re rambling about shit for pages. And not when you need to hire a professional editor. That costs money. Money as a self-publisher, I no longer have. Why? Because I tried to buy a house and the deal went horribly wrong. It forced me to look for a place in one week. All my editing and book cover expenses went towards an unexpected move. I wasn’t happy about it either. $20,000 of our money from savings… GONE! So, I had to find an outside job to recover our savings. Throw in my unexpected medical bills, and you get where my financial situation is at this time. We are just now coming back from being in debt, but Christmas is around the corner. I don’t see any signs of saving until January. Which by then, I have to repay loans that aren’t in good condition at this time. And pay old hospital bills. Spending $8,000 for professional editing just isn’t in the budget at this time. It will be, but not now. My goal is to pay off our past debt first. It’s taking a lot of time, but the end goal is worth it. I’m about $6,000 in debt right now. It’s better than being in $20,000 in debt. That’s where we used to be at. As soon as that’s paid off in February, I’ll go ahead and start looking for an editor.

In that time, I plan to work on the next few books in the series. Get those books down to a nice word count that I can afford. I want an editor I can work with and that knows what the hell they’re doing. I’m so damn picky when it comes to editors. I’ve been cheated in the past. Just no! When I’m ready, I’ll let you know.

All erotic scenes are now fade-to-black scenes. That dropped my word count dramatically. I had to change book 1 in order for another character to have relevance for being in the series. In other words, I was stuck on book 7. I need to fix this and that! Nope! I changed book 1 in order to accommodate the other books in the series that will make sense.

On another note, I made sure to cut out the first five chapters. It was too “telling” and not enough “showing.” It leads straight into the action. That dropped 10,000 words right there. I was able to do this because I suffer from mental illnesses. Bipolar I is one of my many demons. I’m back on medication. They put me on Depakote, a mood stabilizer. Seroquel, for an anti-psychotic. For the first time in ages, I’m able to think straight. I thought that these medications would shut me down creatively, but they don’t. I still have five lanes of highways running through my head instead of a million. I can still hear my characters without feeling restricted. When I edited this last time, my first book makes more sense this time. I was able to fix it without crying or getting upset. I took care of business. I had to change the story a little bit, but I love how it flows now.

I am an author who needs to be medicated. My brain can’t function like “normal” brains. It’s too chaotic and it’s like you’re standing outside with a million people talking to you at once. That’s what it feels like to have Bipolar. You want to go here and there, but all you’re doing is going in circles. “Oh, Bipolar is a trend! Everyone has it!” No, sweetie… I really do have Bipolar. When someone gives you antidepressants, and someone watches you bleach the walls and blinds for three days straight, there’s something wrong. The anti-depressants would help with the depression but not with the mania. I was extremely suicidal while taking those anti-depressants in 2014. I begged the doctor to pull me off of it. He refused. I fired him and found a doctor who would listen to me. I was seeing shit that wasn’t here. I was talking to Elvis and God at this point. What did I take? Citalopram. You can’t give someone with Bipolar, anti-depressants. Not without a mood stabilizer or other medications. I was seeing large black blobs and white figures. I wasn’t well. This is the first time I’ve felt great. I can hold down a job, and I’m feeling so much better.

All I can say is that I’m sorry. It’s taking me a while. I had to get better mentally and physically before I could continue to write. Now that I’m better, everything is making sense and clicking back into place. I’m on this medication as long as my blood work says it’s okay to continue to take my medication. My blood work looks great. I am battling anemia. That is nothing new. I also have psoriatic arthritis. I can see the sun and enjoy it for the first time in years. I’m happy.

What are my next goals?

Let’s finish this series! It’s been a long time coming. I’ll work on my series during my days off. I would do it on my work days, but unfortunately, my new medication knocks me out cold. I wake up in just enough time to make it to work. I am a night shift supervisor for a retail company. It’s quiet at night. I work from 12 am to 8 am from Tuesday morning until Saturday morning. A normal 40 hr work week. It makes me feel better to work with the public. And it helps me work on social anxiety. I have to be medicated. I’m chill. Absolutely chill now. I’m on the second chapter of book 2. Not a lot will change with this book. A few scenes, but it will also start making a lick of sense. Book 3 will need a complete overhaul. Book 4 will be ready to go as soon as I finish 3. By then, I should complete my entire series, hopefully by early next year. I know what to look out for. Then, I can start hiring a professional editor and a better design team.

The hardest thing I’ve learned is to let go of pride. If you need help, get it. I wish I would have done this much sooner.

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Series Update

I’m under new medication for Bipolar & migraines. Yay! Because of the new medication, I’m able to focus on my series better. I must have been out of it for a long fucking time. Now it’s all making sense again. The words and sentences are clicking together. It’s hard to explain.

As we know, book 1 is the problem child. The rest of the books are okay, but not 1. I had too high of a word count. For a debut novel, it needs to be in the target range of 50,000-90,000 words. Well, I took a pair of scissors to the damn thing and managed to cut it down from 179/171,000 words to (get this) 87,000 words. I didn’t like the current storyline, so I changed it. Now it all makes sense. Everything that was in it before… Gone. There are some traits of the previous book still in it, but it changed. Majorly changed. The adverbs are gone. Physical description of characters are gone. I did that on purpose. My theory is that if you’re more focused on the characters, you’re less focused on the story itself. I have hair colors and eye colors for the characters in the book, but I pulled everything else out.

Erotic scenes? Those are gone. You won’t find any erotic scenes. There will be romance but no hardcore sex. I removed all of that. Who cares how characters screw each other! I used more “fade to black” scenes. No romantic love triangles. Fuck that shit. I removed it and placed her with the character she should be with. There will be a time to where my main character is forced to do things, she wouldn’t normally do. That’s all I’m saying.

As for rape scenes. there will be questionable scenes that make the reader think. “Was that rape or wasn’t it rape?” I will NOT go into graphic details for a “supposed” rape scene under any circumstance. I will either fade to black or turn the character’s head away. I tried to stay away from it as much as possible. Not all characters are good ones. We have to let the bad in to tell a story. It spreads awareness and says, “Hey, even in these circumstances, it isn’t okay to rape someone.” The important thing is to watch how the other characters react and handle the situation. Anywhere from “victim blaming” to “I believe you.” Those conversations happen today, and I want to keep them going. We can’t sweep it under the rug and pretend rape doesn’t happen. I believe I can do it tastefully and respectfully to the characters involved. There are gray areas that haven’t been explored yet. Before anyone comes at me, I was raped at sixteen. I was blamed for being at a party. I shouldn’t have been there. That is what we call “victim blaming.” I didn’t wear anything inappropriate. I actually wore jeans, shorts underneath, a tank, and a t-shirt at the time. The guy who did it committed suicide. I didn’t wear skimpy clothes as many books and movies tend to portray. Rape can happen to anyone, not just women.

As for everything else, I kept Feather alive. She will continue to stay alive. As for my final genres of choice, I’m going with Contemporary Fantasy & Paranormal Romance. I kept the word count low for the first time in ages. I worked really hard at cutting useless words, words with double-meanings, and sentences with adverbs. I’m proud of the new story. I kept most of the personalities the same except for William and Saber. Those two had to change. I’m sorry. Book 2… it’s all the same. Book 3, everything will change in it. I might as well delete and start over.

I’m working outside of the home to upgrade systems, pay for professional editing, marketing, and cover design. That’s why I’m working. Don’t quit your day job if you choose to become a self-published author. Oh, and to buy the ISBN numbers. I plan on buying a roll of ten. That should help. Bowker has the best deals for ISBN numbers.

No, I refuse to go in the traditionally published route. It makes no sense to me. I’m an admitted control freak, so no. I see no benefit from those companies since I most likely would have to market my own books anyway. I listened to Dolly Parton. She’s a wise woman and owns her songs. I choose to do the same but with books. I don’t want to pay for a literary agent. I don’t want people to obtain my rights to anything I create. So, it’s all about control. Janet Jackson sang about Control. When I need to focus, I’ll listen to Janet Jackson. I’m in the mode. I’m locked in and I’m feeling much better since my doctors put me on medication. For once in my life, my head isn’t spinning or shooting off in multiple tangents that don’t make any sense. Some brains were made to go in the organic route, mine isn’t one of those brains. It’s okay to be on medication. I didn’t want an out-of-body experience or be asleep all day. I’ve lost more weight since being on the new medication. It makes me thirsty.

I’ll continue to improve my series, one word at a time. I love writing. It’s my home. Hard work and persistence will pay off in the end. In case you haven’t followed my other blog, I do suffer from Bipolar I, Borderline Personality Disorder, SAD, OCD, GAD, PTSD, and Trichotillomania. We managed to get them all under control for the first time in ages. Enough for me to grab an outside job. It isn’t much but it pays. Bipolar and GAD were the last ones to control. Trichotillomania is a battle in itself. I haven’t decided to have a main character represent it or not yet. I’m trying to decide which characters should have what. I want it to be an owned series, and I want to divide up my issues between all the main characters.

I have 475 sentences left to correct (OCD, anyone?) and quite a few “telling” words and sentences need to be pulled out. Overall, it’s looking much better. And for the record, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re a statistic and it can’t be done. I’m so sick of listening to negative therapists/psychologists. Don’t tell me about my disorders because I live them every day, and they most likely don’t. Until you’ve walked around in my skin, don’t tell me crap I haven’t heard before. Yes, I suffer from mental illnesses. Yes, it’s a battle. No, I’m not lazy. No, I won’t let them define me. Yes, I’m stubborn as shit. I’m a fighter. So, my brain malfunctions from time to time, but I’m still alive, fighting these illnesses. If you’re fighting anything similar to mine, you know what it’s like. It’s nice not to have 1 million freeways and intersections snarling around in your brain. I’m back down to five roads and it’s nice. I can live with this. I’m still a perfectionist. I won’t put books with my name on it out into the world. It’s almost there. I just had to change everything over. When you work outside the home, it takes longer.

Get Educated

I remember when my therapist asked me, “Have you ever suffered from an eating disorder?” This therapist made me think back to my younger days. The reasons why I’m seeing a therapist & psychologist is because I suffer from Social and Generalized Anxiety, Borderline, Bipolar I, PTSD, and Trichotillomania. I didn’t have an easy childhood or teenage life. I suffered from a lot of trauma. Maybe my prior posts are incredibly naive and insensitive. Back to the point.

I told my therapist, yes, I did suffer from an eating disorder. I also suffer from avoidant eating disorder, bullemia, and anorexia. I’m still suffering from avoidant eating disorder. It didn’t dawn on me that’s what it is. I was labeled as a “picky” eater. No, I just don’t like the taste of certain foods in my mouth. I avoid mayo at all costs. Then it dawns on me that my middle son also suffers from anxiety and avoidant eating disorder. I didn’t know such a term existed until now. He is often called a “picky” eater. He excludes a lot of food from his diet. Spreading awareness to this new disorder has made me pick up the phone for him. When you don’t know, you don’t know. I remember my parents begging me to eat when I was really little. The food just didn’t taste right in my mouth, so I avoided those foods. My middle son is doing the same thing. This is a time to get educated.

I had to think back to a time. Yes, I do remember eating a ton of food, just to throw it back up. It was a way for me to have control. I remember suffering from the ages of 10 to 20. I still battle not eating today. That’s also a Borderline trait. Food issues is a huge part of Borderline and Anxiety.

I take back all the ignorant things, I’ve said about fiction. As a writer, it is your moral obligation to do careful research when writing about eating disorders. When an author fails to show and lets a marginalized group down by generalizations and stupid anecdotes; Houston, we have a problem. We’ve had enough of women vs women. Stop writing that shit. Stop pitting us against each other. Fuck you, if you write shit to tear each other down. I’ve had enough of these stupid Mommy Wars. I’ve had enough of “those girls.” Or, “those girls are ugly/pretty,” when the prose is by a feminine main character. Come on, now! We can do better than that! It’s 2017! Quit it with the nonsense! Bullying won’t stop unless you stop writing about this shit, like it’s okay. It isn’t okay!

My main character takes it from one extreme to another. Yes, I’ll be writing about anorexia. It is my moral obligation to showcase what that character goes through. First, she over-eats, and then she loses all her weight and turns anorexic. It is my other characters’ jobs to point it out for her. “Hey, I think you need help. It’s okay to ask for help.”

This particular reviewer read the entire book on “Sad Perfect,” by Stephanie Elliot. She took pictures and included quotes on why this book is harmful. Not to just the YA crowd, but to the adults as well. Here I am, stuck at a crossroads. This reviewer gave me my “STFU” juice. Yes, this author is an idiot. But do we need to censor her book? No, she’s entitled to write “said” book. Even when it can potentially damage the youth and adults. The best that we can do is say, “don’t buy” this book. Let that author remain ignorant. Let it hurt her in her pocketbook. Before you jump my case, let me explain. There are over 10 million books in circulation. Those books also contain generalizations. To pull this one, you have to pull all of them. That means Harry Potter, should be pulled for child abuse; Twilight should be pulled for stalker issues, abuse (mental), etc… Fifty Shades should be pulled for mental abuse, abuse, and destruction to the BDSM community; Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, should be pulled for domestic abuse, and murder; Catcher in the Rye, by J.D Sallinger, should be pulled for child abandonment and parental neglect. George R.R. Martin, should be pulled for incest, abuse, and rape. The Outlander series, by Diana Gabaldon, should be pulled for spousal abuse and rape. Do you see where I’m going with this? There are going to be books or have been books out there that have promoted some form of abuse. All we can do is get educated. Avoid those books. If it triggers you, avoid those books.

A lot of those books, the fiction crowd has them. All we can do is spread awareness about the book. Tell your friends in school, college, or job setting. This author will get the message. We can also write letters to her publisher to pull it. I doubt it will be successful. Drawing attention to a book; especially, if it’s bad publicity, will normally increase sales for that book. You don’t want to go on a rampage against that book. There’s no such thing as bad publicity. Look at Trump. He still won the election. You fight with brains; not by harassing an ignorant author.

Ms. Elliot failed everyone. She failed the mental health community. She is ignorant by making statements. “Just eat.” Honey, it doesn’t work that way! And why did she put this in her book, “The crazy house. The place where “crazy” people go? Thanks for spreading more stigma against the mental health community! We are trying to stop the stigma, and you’ve created more stereotypes and stigma, against the entire mental health community. She had a moral obligation and she failed everyone.

Her book has done one thing for me. It’s made me rake my own book over the coals. Will I need to be careful with my own books? Yes. Do I need to be careful with in respect to eating disorders, my main character suffers from? Yes. Is it my moral obligation to tread lightly and remain sensitive to those suffering from mental health disorders? Yes! Jeannie says right off the bat, “I have PTSD.” And you see her PTSD come into play in book 3. It is my job to get that character the help she needs with sensitivity. Which character is going to point it out for her? Ian. He’s my go-to character. He knows something isn’t right about her. He will do it with the utmost sensitivity. Rosalie suffers from Bipolar I. Ember suffers from social anxiety. I gave them my traits, so yes, my books are “owned.” I’m adding eating disorders to Jeannie.

So, thank you, Stephanie Elliot. Thank you for making me re-examine my own books. Even though, my books are “owned.” When we say “owned,” it means that I suffer, and still suffer from mental health issues and physical issues. It doesn’t go away. It is a constant battle. And because of my constant battles, I’ve opted out of reading this book. Here is an intelligent and insightful review on why we should all avoid “Sad Perfect,” by Stephanie Elliot.  “Sad Perfect,” by Stephanie Elliot

To Stephanie, you wrote it, live with it. We, as the consumer, don’t have to buy your book. My advice is to take it off the market and fix your book. You have the moral obligation to do right, by the mental health community. You have the moral obligation, to realize your book does more harm than good. And because you could hurt someone like me. If this book was published when I was in bad shape back in the 90’s, it would have hurt me. Luckily, for me, I’m still in a lifetime of therapy. But there are still a ton of people who aren’t getting the help they need. Whether there are financial issues,  insurance problems, peer pressure, or denial from parents to seek the help/therapy they need. “Just eat,” and “get over it,” doesn’t work for people who suffer from mental health issues.

I’m stable for now. I don’t need a book to tell me, I’m “crazy.” I get that all the time. That’s nothing new to me. But it has the potential to hurt a young girl/boy (eating disorders do happen to men & young boys ). Even when I think I’m at my strongest; something like this could hurt me. Someone, who thinks they’re over their eating disorders, but they haven’t fully healed from those disorders. Maybe we need to step back and realize the harm we could do as writers and authors. Thanks for my reality check. I needed a boot up my ass.

The Fear

If you don’t know by now, I’m an author who suffers from mental health disorders. With those mental health disorders, I tend to carry a huge chunk of self-doubt. That is the self-loathing, let’s blow this shit up. I’ve wavered from side to side. I can’t make my fucking mind up. Every time, I go to hit the self-publish button. The magical and mystical button, I throw up.

All because I remember what happened to me, the last time I attempted to self-publish. I don’t believe my anxiety will ever go away. You know that authors are going to come for me. They are salivating at the chance. That’s a “nope” book. I’m not going to get burned again. It doesn’t feel good and quite frankly, it sucks. It sucks for the current readers, who rated my books five stars… and that’s without an editor. Strangers who know nothing about me, gave me those stars. I didn’t beg, steal, or trade for reviews unlike other authors. I played by the rules and remained fair. If they wanted to leave a review, I’ve never pressured them.

Those one-star reviews… it played with my head. It seriously mind-fucked me for a long time. It throws you in a never-ending cycle of depression. Not only do I suffer from anxiety… I also suffer from Borderline and Bipolar I. “Go kill yourself,” is a common phrase. Believe me, I’ve tried. I’m still here. I, apparently, suck at suicide, too. That wasn’t a joke either. That’s the truth of it all. You go from that indescribable high to that damn depression. You sprinkle in Borderline, and boy… we have a nutcase on our hands. How can anyone relate to this? I have scars up and down my body. They aren’t pretty. I’ve battled these mental health issues for a very long time. I also suffer from various autoimmune diseases. I don’t know if those caused them or whatever caused my mental health issues.

I didn’t have a great childhood or teenage life. Every day is a struggle to stay afloat. It really does feel like you’ve got an anchor on your feet, dragging you down in an ocean. Tonight, I slammed against that wall again. I hate it. I wish I could wake up tomorrow and not have these issues. I didn’t want to do anything. I just sat in a bathtub and cried for over an hour. I don’t know why. I just laid there, crying.

I’m worried that I’ll fail everyone. I’m worried that I won’t be able to handle the negative reviews. That part has scared me off from ever wanting to publish any of my novels. That fear is hurting me. It’s like a singer, standing on stage for the first time. Except, we’ve done this rodeo before. I fell. I fell hard. And now I’m finding new reasons, not to publish my novels. I have psyched myself out.

Medications, won’t fix my problems. That only make things for me, much worse. I tried endless medications. They make me more suicidal. It’s an endless and vicious cycle. I just want to wake up and be normal for a day. I want to do normal things. And I know this mood will pass. I’m just at my lowest, rock-bottom moment.

To people who don’t suffer from mental health disorders, count your blessings. This is an endless nightmare. “Get over it.” That doesn’t work well with a brain that refuses to function on all cylinders. I’m a writer, who has joined other authors who had Bipolar and various mental health disorders. Your mind wants to do so much that you can’t keep up with it. It spins out of control with no rhyme or reason. Some days, you want to slam your head into a wall. Why was I made like this? What did I do to deserve this life? It isn’t fun and it’s heart-breaking to deal with people like me.

When I have an outside job, I’m fine. I bust my ass off and do what I’m told. I don’t know how but I can hide it until I get home… well, most of the time. I have cried in a bathroom or two. I do feel jealous over petty shit. “That should be me!” Oh, come on! THINK! I’m trying to rationalize with an irrational brain. I’m making deals with my own brain just to survive the next day.

What’s worse? Borderline Personality Disorder really is a bitch. One thing another author said to me last night, spun me in a tailspin of self-doubt. And he wasn’t mean or anything. It just pissed me royally off. That’s how I know, BPD, isn’t going anywhere. That bitch laughs at me every single day. That is the main, torturous demon, I want to go away. All because of my fucked up childhood. That still haunts me like a ghost with a ball and chain. No matter how hard I wish it to go into “dormant mode”… it never really hides forever.

I pray none of you have to go through a tragedy or lose someone you love. BPD is a fucking hell that turns your mind, inside-out. It’s a personal hell, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. And the worst part of it all… my husband has to hide all my manuscripts when I’m in BPD mode. He shouldn’t have to do that. I feel like I stuck myself in an internal hell. I want out of it. I want a cure for it. I want to wake up tomorrow and it will be in remission. No cure for people with BPD. It wasn’t my fault! I was a small child who went through some shit. Some really bad shit. Until I can let it go, I don’t know if I can publish my manuscripts. One little thing, triggered it. I’ve had BPD for over 25 years. I remember the day, something snapped inside my head. I haven’t been right since then. And to crucify all people with BPD, without knowing their circumstances… is cruel and evil. We have serious trust issues. We are suspicious of everyone and their intentions. Even if we know in our heads that this is a good person, we still have that 1% of doubt. We hold onto it and fight with everything we have. “This person will let us down. We just know it!” And BPD rejoices when we’re right.

So… bear with me… I remember a passage from the bible and it keeps me alive. “And this too, shall pass.” It will pass and I’ll be my bubbly self again. And I hope and pray for a cure. I need a fix-it-all cure. Not just a pill to numb or silence the endless and millions of thoughts. Seize the day? Not with a fucked-up brain.