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.

New Rating System

As I’m reading a ton of books as of late, I chose to come up with a better rating system. It seems more productive to have this in place. So, starting with “Heartsnare,” by Stephen B. Williams, I’m  rolling out my new way of reviewing books. It is a fair system to all authors. This is how it will go. I think it’s a great system, and I can still use it for nonfiction. The plot for nonfiction is usually what the author is trying to explain or their point of the title.

  1. Characters: You either earn a one up to five stars on characters. Are they likable, lovable, redeemable, or relatable? Did they blur the lines with their characters (ex: not all good/bad)? Did they throw in useless characters in the middle of the book with no rhyme nor reason? Did the author accurately spend time with each character to develop them? For SFF (science fiction & fantasy), did the author use abundant character archetypes?
  2. Plot: Does this novel have a good plot? Five is the most an author can earn for the complexities of their plot devices. Did they use minor and major plots? What’s the purpose of a story if it doesn’t have a plot? I know a lot of authors don’t use plots. But there’s always a plot somewhere in a story even if it’s a minor plot. Is it character or plot-driven? Yes, I’m dissecting all books at this point. I want to say this when I read a book… “Wow! I didn’t see that coming!” If you’re able to do that, I’ll give you a five for this category.
  3. Book Covers: Does this book cover have anything that pertains to the novel? One to five stars if the book cover accurately depicts what’s happening inside the book.
  4. Writing: This is very important. Is the author clear? Is it well-written? Do they know their tenses? Did they write in the same tense, or did they change tenses in mid-chapter? Did they use correct grammar and spelling? Did they use too many adverbs? Does any phrase stand out? Is there too much slang? Did the author jump from point of views in one chapter, or did they properly put in a chapter to switch  point of views? One to five stars earned for a well-written story. Redundancy… Does it sound like a broken record? Are they showing or telling? A writer should always show and never tell. If character B is a dick, show me why he’s a dick. Give me dialogue as to why he’s a dick. Don’t tell me he’s a dick with no solid evidence.
  5. Formatting: Are the words falling off the page? Did they use accurate scene and chapter breaks? Is it properly spaced & titled? Formatting can help or trash a good book. How about the table of contents? Is there a table of contents in proper heading 1?

I will take a tally of all five categories and rate each book according to the score. So, if you earned a one on book cover, but scored a five on writing, formatting, plot, and characters; I’ll add up the score. Divide the total number by five and that’s your rating. Let’s try this shall we? 1+5+5+5+5=21/5= 4.2 for a round-down of 4/5 stars. If it’s 4.5, I would round-up to 5/5 stars. They don’t distribute half or partial stars for book reviews.

Diversity doesn’t earn you extra points with me. I love it, but I don’t necessarily need it. All I want is a clear story that takes me there. It needs to flow like water without me trying to decipher what the author is trying to explain.

A book has to be horrific for me to give it a one-star review. Basically, my first rough draft was a bit of a mess. As long as I can read it, I can review it. It has to be worse than the first draft, I stupidly published without editing it at all! Laugh now! Yes, it was my newbie mistake. I took my books off the shelf to properly edit my works. I took many years to study how to write. I don’t bother to edit blogs. But when it comes to my books, I’m on top of that shit. So, unless your book is as bad as that draft of mine, I’ll be okay.

Debut Writer Mistakes

Oh, boy  did I make quite a bunch of mistakes in my new writing career. Trust, I’ve made them all. Let’s do a double facepalm at my mistakes, shall we?

  1. Publishing my very first book: They tell you not to do this. If you do this, it’s going to be ugly. There will be a ton of mistakes that you don’t realize until you press the “publish now” button. I know you’re excited. That elation you get from finishing something so pivotal. Oh, Lawd… if I could rewind 2011 and do it all over again. Surprisingly, it received 4.2/4.3 reviews! And yet, it is/was a complete mess! I got lucky. Damn lucky!
  2. Publishing my first rough draft: “You didn’t!” Oh… yes! I did this one too! “How could you?” I know! I didn’t know a damn thing about books! I didn’t have a mentor. I did it all on my own which refer back to the end of number one. I was lucky not to be raked over the coals. For a rough draft, it didn’t do too bad. I still won awards. All with a first rough draft.
  3. Bad Grammar:  I thought I had impeccable grammar skills. Until I realized that the words “then and than” were wrong. I seemed to forgot everything from my English classes. Apparently, I mixed up “pique, peaked, and peeked.” I still struggle with my commas today. At least my comma placement improved over the last couple of years.
  4. No Editor:  I’m a stubborn person, and I foolishly went without an Editor for the longest time. I still don’t have one, but I need one. I’m still shopping around for the perfect Editor. It’s hard to find one of those creatures. Even if you think or believe you’re a grammar-know-it-all, they will find your mistakes and expose you. KABOOM! And everything you wrote, you doubt.
  5. Making Bad Book Covers:  Now some of mine weren’t bad. They really weren’t. But when I first started to now… it’s been a long journey of finding that perfect book cover. For Epic Fantasy, you need to spend the money if you hope to self-publish that bad boy.
  6. One-Dimensional Characters:  This is how bad it was! They had no personalities. My characters were FLAT! Now all of my characters have personalities, problems, issues, flaws, and something redeemable in all of them! Ugh… Can we please redo 2011? Research character archetypes. That will get you started. You need those if you choose to write a fantasy. Who is going to be the hero/heroine? Who is going to be the jester? Who is the martyr? That’s what I mean by character archetypes. And you can mix those character archetypes, too. The possibilities are endless.
  7. No Chapter Titles: Yep, for my early book readers, there are no chapter titles. It just says “Chapter 1” and so forth. Now my chapters have titles.
  8. One BIG Chapter:  I put ten scenes without any chapter breaks in them. You didn’t have time to take a piss, eat, or shit. Scenes should only be three per chapter. The max word count per chapter is 5,000 words, MAX! Mine had 17,000 words per chapter. Oops! I really didn’t understand what I did wrong. Now I have 72 chapters and it makes an easier read. I still need to cut shit out. I try to stay within the 3,000 word range now. Any longer, we’re cutting that scene down. There is a thing called “page break” and “chapter break.” Chapter breaks are used when a scene dramatically changes. You need those. You can use whatever you like to divide the scenes. Keep it down to three scenes… TOPS! My book went from seventeen chapters to seventy-two chapters. That tells you something.
  9. Word Count Overkill: For a debut author, you need to cut that shit down to 100,000 words or less if you’re working on an epic fantasy. Some other genres is much less than that. The appropriate word count is 50,000-120,000 words depending on your genre. Right now, my book is sitting at 160,850 words. It used to be 179,000 words. I still have to kill scenes if I want to take the traditional route. I most likely won’t with this series. But still, I need to cut out more scenes. It’s way too long. Ain’t nobody got time to read a 550 page book! Come on now! Not with chasing around kids, a full-time job, and whatever takes you away from reading. In the old days, they can get away with it. Not in 2017. Yes, it would be War without the Peace if that book was published today. Literary agents won’t make an exception to that rule. They won’t bend for a 160,850 word count. Not today! Not when you have to compete with e-books, publishing, and editing costs. Your book takes up a certain amount of space on a shelf. Don’t be greedy. If you can, cut your book in half. If you can’t, you need to start cutting down that book. Now, if you were J.K. Rowling, you can publish whatever you want. But chances are you’re not. Debut authors MUST cut it down. If you can’t do that, good luck in finding that literary agent. You’ll find your manuscript in the reject pile immediately. Like I said… “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
  10. Genres? What Are Those? In the beginning, I couldn’t tell you what genre my books were in because I didn’t understand the purpose of a genre. “Well, I’m a cross-all-genre-writer!” That’s a good idea, but don’t do it with your book. Now is not the time to do that mess. Before you put the pen to paper, pick out your genre. Make sure your book fits that genre. So many authors put their books in the wrong genre! The shocking thing is that traditional publishers release those books in the wrong genres. Now I can say with clarity, “My series is epic fantasy as my main category, and Paranormal Romance is my secondary category.” It took me years to figure that out. Like 8 years.
  11. Age group? Huh? I didn’t know who my target audience was. I didn’t understand that at all. Now I do. Target age groups: NA, YA, MG, MA, General! People still struggle with age groups. I didn’t know what my series age group should be for the longest time. It isn’t a section you check off, it is your TARGET age group. Meaning the age range for people to read your work. The next is who you want to sell your book to for the age range.
  12. MG (Middle Grade): Middle Grade is for ages 8-13. Do you want this age range to read your book? You don’t want to put an erotic book in the MG section. No, you’ll face daggers from pissed parents.
  13. YA (Young Adult): Young Adult is for ages 13-21. Young Adult is quite popular these days. This is a very lucrative genre. Don’t write erotica in this genre either. Do you want a 13 year-old child to pick up your erotic novel? I think not. If you’re going to write romantic scenes, they need to fade to black. Kids don’t need to read about that stuff. Yes, they have high school drama, bullying, and popular/unpopular kids. Those are themes to consider when writing a novel.
  14. NA (New Adult): This is for the target age range of 18-30 somethings. 30 is a little too much for this genre. These usually cover your high school graduates, college kids, college graduates, motherhood, or they switch from job to job. This is the “undecided” group. Now you can use your young erotica in this genre. Anything pretty much goes in this genre. That’s why people prefer to read Young Adult over New Adult. And this is where my series sits because I have “undecided” college kids as my main characters. They change their minds quite often as they develop with age and time.
  15. MA (Mature Adult): This is for the settled class. Yes, they have erotic tendencies. These people have life figured out by now. They know what they want sexually and go their shit together for the most part. Hopefully, they do. It can contain 18 and beyond 30 somethings. There are some mature 18-year-olds out there that do the right things.
  16. General: This just means everyone can read this book. Don’t use sexual themes in this genre. It’s friendly enough for the MG and YA crowd to read. It isn’t too complex or hard for them to digest information.
  17. World Building? What’s that shit about? I tried to get away with not building a world in my epic fantasy. You obviously can’t do that if you’re writing an epic fantasy. I was being lazy as fuck. If you’re going to write in ANY fantasy, make sure you build a world. If you don’t, you’ll be labeled a lazy writer. I admit it! I’m the first to admit it! I had a city, but no country, or why these supernatural creatures were there in the first place. In Epic Fantasy, you need maps. I didn’t do that either. That’s my EPIC FAIL! How dare I besmirch the good names of Tolkien and Martin! They are the current leaders in Epic Fantasy. Now I built my fantasy world. It only took me 8 years to create a dynamic world. I also alternate in between two fantasy worlds. Now I have a country, cities, and dimensions. Everything has a name to it. I have towns, cities, who lives where. Different races, and different archetypes! GO ME! Developing an epic fantasy does take many years. You can’t write one overnight. You could, but it isn’t recommended you do that shit.
  18.  SERIES: Yes, I started with a series! “Well, E.L. James did it, why can’t I?” Never ever start with a series if you’re a debut author. Even though James did it, she still faced numerous criticism over her series. To me, it wasn’t well-developed. It has a ton of problems in it. I don’t believe a quality Editor actually edited her work. There are so many errors in the series, it makes me think that it was all a bad rough draft. Had she took the time, I’m sure her series would not be as bad as it is today. Either way, she still made her money. Proof that all you need is a great marketing scheme, and no real quality Editing. I believe she could have done much better than what she did. If you don’t mind your name shown in a bad light, go for it.
  19. Improper Formatting: What’s that? You need to know how to format, even if you’re a traditionally published author. That saves a lot of stress and anxiety in the long run. I have a copy of my first draft. This is the time to laugh. It is in a huge 8X10 book, and it was still double-spaced! And yes, I published it that way without realizing what I did wrong! Make sure you single-space if you decide to self-publish. Learn to use “Heading 1” for chapters. You need that for e-books. It makes it a much easier read. When I receive arcs (advanced review copies) of books, I never have chapters in their proper places. It’s hard for me to close the book on my e-reader. Please! For the love of all things holy! Learn to hyperlink your chapters! Until Google Doc improves, write in WORD! Microsoft Word is what Editors use to edit your books. Pretty much all editors use Microsoft Word. Microsoft gives you the option to pay yearly for a low fee, or monthly. I can’t do other programs because I’m “old school.” I always used Microsoft Word since the 90’s. It’s my go-to program. I can hyperlink my chapters and format in a breeze now. It does take some time to work it, but I figured out how to format quicker with it. I can even configure my table of contents with ease now. Three hashtags in a row will automatically break up a scene for you. You can go back in and turn those hashtags into a scene or chapter break. I just figured that one out for myself. Even an idiot like me, can figure it all out. YouTube gives you great demonstrations.
  20. Flash drive It: Let me tell you what happened to me. Let me paint you a horror story. I just finished working on the draft to my third book. Guess what I didn’t do? I saved my work, but it was all on my computer! Well, my laptop at the time, crashed. It’s a writer’s worst nightmare. I cried and begged my laptop to come back on. The cold sweats, the panic, the anger. Let me save you the heartache. Well, they sell these little nifty devices called “flash drives.” You plug them into your laptop/computer and save your work there. Make sure to update your flashdrives every time you decide to go to bed, or as soon as you finish writing your novel. Make sure to have at least 2-3 of them. Save your work on them. Not only save your work on flashdrives, but save your work online. Whether you use Google Docs, Cloud, or OneDrive. If you’re saving your work online, encrypt it & lock it down. Thankfully, my husband rigged my laptop long enough to save all my books on a flash drive for me. It required our television and a fan to cool it down. We got it though! And my husband got lucky that night. 😉

 

The purpose of this post is to laugh. It is also to inform new writers on what not to do in the future. I’m human and make mistakes. But as I learn to evolve, I become a much stronger writer. Don’t do what I did. Learn how to market your books. Learn how to format. Learn how to edit. Because an Editor makes mistakes too. They can’t find all the errors. Also learn to let go of your work. Even if it isn’t the best, at least you tried. And don’t beat yourself up when you get things wrong. That’s life. Everyone makes mistakes. Find a good mentor. Ask people for help. Pride destroys a ton of writers. And so does self-doubt.

 

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.

“Abuse” in Literature

I’m probably going to ruffle some feathers today. I don’t personally care. In the world of fiction, fiction means it isn’t true. It was locked away in some author’s brain and he/she chose to write a prose that lit people’s fire to complain.

A lot of books are taking the hit. “Carve the Mark,” by Veronica Roth; “The Outlander Series,” by Diana Gabaldon;  “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E.L. James.  I can go on and on, and list a variety of books. Even my own books has some shades of abuse, or where someone is forceful with another character. Instead of allowing other characters to correct the abuse, people feel outraged! “How dare you write this drivel! It’s abuse!”

It’s fiction. It isn’t meant to be true. Those authors owe you nothing. I owe you nothing. If you’re taking fiction to heart, you might want to switch to nonfiction. It’s like coffee. Decaf may be more of your flavor. To censor authors, demanding authors to write YOUR story is a bit naive. My antagonists, in my series, does some horrible shit in the future to my protagonists. I’ll be damned if someone tries to tell me, I shouldn’t write my series to be so violent. I’m making it a point to say that these are horrible antagonists. They kill because they can. The worst death will be in book 4. It’s a terrible way to kill off a character or characters. Here’s a piece of advice, don’t read my books. If you can’t handle gruesome deaths, my series isn’t for you.

On that note… I have read a lot of books. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Scarlet Letter” has an abusive spouse in that book. It’s considered a classic and many schools still distribute this book. “Romeo and Juliet” by, Will Shakespeare… suicide.

Demanding us to take abuse out will backfire. That promotes a form of censorship. Abuse is put in the books, so you can be made aware of traits. Traits that an average person would avoid. Anything goes in fiction. If people feel the need to take our books as gospel, they need a mental evaluation. Seriously! I’m reading “G-Man,” by Stephen Hunter. It isn’t a politically correct book. It will be offensive to certain races when it’s released. The time period, although unfair, is 1934. There will be offensive language because that’s what that time period was about. Mr. Hunter is an elder author. I doubt he’s going to give a fuck that you find his book offensive, or not. It is a high-octane read. There are guns, and squashing of brains. This is a “manly” read. And even though the grammar is a bit off, I still enjoy this book. I’m allowed to enjoy any book. We have that pesky first amendment, and thank goodness we do. Unless you live in a country that doesn’t allow “Freedom of Speech.” For that, I hope your country changes their minds.

Pfft… “You’re an advocate for abuse!” No. I know what abuse is like. I lived it and survived it. No, I’m an advocate against stupidity. And it’s been known that in the past with historical fiction, those things did happen. They did beat their women before the 1980’s. Domestic abuse was rampant for the time period. You cannot apply 2017 thinking into the past generation. People complain about Jamie from “Outlander.” “He took a belt to Claire! That is unacceptable!” But what they forgot to mention is that Claire grabs a knife and told him, if he ever belted her again, she would cut him. They are only focused on the abuse of Claire. When did the book take place? 1940’s and Claire travels back to the 1780’s. If that’s a time period to avoid, it’s the 1700-1900’s. Women were treated like property back then. You didn’t have rights or opinions. I’m amazed the author made Claire so mouthy. If we had spoken like that, we would have been hung, stoned, or torched. You didn’t mouth off back then as a woman. They killed your ass. Expecting 2017’s morals to inflict on a time period of yesterday is a joke. Those rights didn’t exist for women. Abuse and rape did happen. It wasn’t something to be swept under the rug. Diana is showing you how horrible those time periods were. She isn’t doing it for a thrill. No author writes something to get a thrill out of abuse. We do it to make a point.

As for E.L. James, it was her duty to study BDSM. She failed at doing that. After reading “Grey,” she made her case even worse. The manipulation, the beatings, the abuse. Any normal woman would have left Grey. That didn’t happen. But then again, she owes us no explanation. Like she cares anyway. She’s raking in the millions. I can imagine her swimming in money on her bed. I would, if I was her. I would pile that money on my bed and swim in it. I don’t believe she knew it was going to take off the way it has. It probably shocked her. I don’t know and I can’t speak for James. When people pointed out about the abuse, she successfully avoided the conversation. What I believe is she had an “oh shit” moment and has nothing to say. Not smart enough to avoid Twitter, but smart enough to dodge those questions. I would write a book in the opposite direction, if I were her. But I’m not James, so I can only guess. She still got your money. And as annoying as her series is, she was still entitled to write this series. Freedom of speech, remember? No, I’m not a fan of hers. I didn’t care for any of her books. It took me 3 months per book. That’s how long it took me; due to errors. Gross errors. But I can also see why, people love her series. It did make people read again. I can at least thank James for making people read books. Hopefully, they will trickle into other great books. James, an excellent marketer, but a terrible writer. Random House UK, still published her novels. Proof that you don’t need an excellent editor. Or how about the author who recently published, “Reasons to Vote Democrat?” His book is number 1 and it has nothing in it. You don’t even need to write words in a book these days!

As for Veronica Roth, she did write a lengthy post about “Carve The Mark.” A FICTIONAL book that has self-cutting and apparently racism. I haven’t read the book, but I will. If those are your triggers, avoid it. Don’t buy this book, if it triggers you. Frankly, if something triggers you, you’re not properly healed. You need help. I mean that with the utmost compassion. Veronica has something she wants to show you. What is she trying to show you? You jumped all over her for this first book. Let’s see what she does with the rest of her series, before we jump the gun. I have this feeling she’s about to show us something important in future books. I don’t believe Roth has a mean bone in her body. I don’t believe she’s racist and woefully ignorant when it comes to cutting. If she is… she needs educated. She wanted to tell a story, and I want to see, before I make my final judgment call. She is writing fiction, so it wasn’t meant to be treated as gospel. Even in nonfiction, there has been some gruesome scenes. No author is exempt from coming under fire.

People might point out some “issues” in my novels. Spike’s temper in book 2. In his defense, he had his heart, broken. He’s scared to have it broken again. A lot of men have been burned by bad relationships. I’m showing you that people can heal. People can change. Is he meant to be a dominant character? Yes! He is an alpha. Telling me I shouldn’t write about an alpha male, doesn’t sit well with me. He’s trying to keep Rosalie alive. There are antagonists that want to kill her. He will do whatever is necessary to keep her safe. The same with William, Ian, Raziel, Gabriel, and the other Enforcers.

We can call into question of my first book. Ian drunk-texted Jeannie because that was the only way, he could deal with the pain of losing her to William. When you’re 20, you tend to type shit, you shouldn’t type. Of course, you don’t see his side yet because I’m waiting for his side of the book. You don’t see that he’s drunk. You don’t see the guilt, after he sent those messages to Jeannie. And I left that off purposely. I’m still within my rights to write “said” novel. If you’re so against abuse in literature, write your own book. If you’re not up to seeing how other fictional characters deal with abuse themselves, write your own book. Don’t come into my yard and demand me to answer. I’ll simply say it’s fiction. It wasn’t meant to be true. I’ll defend my series to the death. There are wonderful characters and dynamic plots. I won’t change my terrible antagonists to suit your agenda. Going after fiction; you need to invest your time on other important issues. Life isn’t meant to be a bed of roses, rainbows, and unicorns. Life is messy and a difficult road to travel. There are many forks in the road. You have to decide your own path. Authors are NOT responsible for your “safe” places. We are making you face life. Let our characters choose what is and what isn’t right for them; before you tout abuse.

 

A Moderate Approach

You’re either too far to the left or too far to the right of things. Caught in the crossfire are the children in the next generation. They’re sick and tired of all these debates. We’re already setting fire to everything and it makes absolutely no sense to me. I opted to pull majority of my kids out of public school for the 2017-2018 school year. Why? Because I can! I told them that, if this state leans too far to the left or right, they were getting their butts out of there. With science diminishing and religious bills fixing to pass, I chose to yank them out of public schools. Will they return? Not until we have a moderate approach to their education. Putting my kids in the middle of your political agenda, doesn’t make me a happy camper. When kids are seen as money, I have to put my foot down. I should have put my foot down sooner.

In the school system they are in, they focus less on science than the other school district, they went to previously. They refuse to negotiate my middle son’s problems. He does have issues. He does suffer from high anxiety. So barking orders to him and expecting him to be quiet and listen, just doesn’t sit well with me. He’s a “hands on” learner. They often rush him to complete homework and he’s a slow learner. He likes to take his time. He’s always been that way. When he gets it, he flourishes. To them, my son has become another number. Another child they can incorrectly pass along the school system. When your child is crying and he’s having a meltdown, because they sent him home with a huge packet of homework, there’s a problem. It didn’t sit well with me. “You will learn this or you will fail!” Even in his snow packet, he’s slammed with more homework than my fifth and first grader. He’s only in third grade. He’s working on his packet for the entire day, while my other kids get to do things. Their snow packet is only a page. His is thick. Papers stacked on top of papers. Most of it is repetitive homework assignments. The same thing over and over again. I would have lost my mind, too, if I were him.

But it did piss me off when he cried. Here is my son feeling helpless and hopeless. This was a kid who loved school. Now he cringes every time he steps foot in the front doors. I’m also pulling out my eldest son. He’s having issues with bullying and the science isn’t taught as well as it was in the other school district. He needs classes more advanced for his brain. It’s not a sign that says, “hey, my kid is smarter than yours bullshit.” It’s a “he’s bored and we need to challenge him more,” type of scenario. Because he doesn’t associate with his peers, he is often ostracized. And it doesn’t help matters when he explains why Kentucky doesn’t have volcanoes. Yes, just like my character Zane; I have the real life Zane in my son, Zach. If you want to know where Zane’s personality comes from, look at my eldest son. Zach would rather have a telescope and a microscope. Genes, atoms, technology, architect, astronomy, and musical theory has tickled my eldest son. He loves Einstein and thinks highly of Einstein. He wants to decipher codes and all of that stuff. He’s always wondered about the world around him. How things worked, made, and how technology works. He will sit down in front of the science channel for hours. And he’s only 11. It’s my job to recognize those strengths and weaknesses in each child. Danny is extremely gifted when it comes to art. Art is his niche. He sees the world differently than Zach does. But both of them have a love for science. They will both watch the science channel for hours, if I let them.

They don’t care about MTV, the latest style, the music, or anything of popular culture. They’re not interested in sports. They actually loathe sports with a passion. Only my third son wants to participate in sports. They are not interested in violence in any form. They don’t bully or enjoy being bullied. They are curious adventures. They want to know why the sky is blue (for which they have an answer). They want to hypothesize things. Like yesterday, Zachary mentioned a metal, I didn’t know existed. He’s already rattling off the periodic table of elements. I’m lucky to remember such things. My memory has slipped over the years. I printed him maps of the world and he’s already naming off countries, providence, and cities. And I’m lucky to give out directions to the post office.

The common core approach isn’t working for us. It hasn’t worked for us in a long time. Religion, although we believe in monotheism, just doesn’t work for us either. “What about them trans people?” My son said it best. And this is what he said. “I don’t see what the big deal is and it’s not like you’re going to look at another person going to the bathroom. Why are grown adults arguing over this? I really don’t like Trump.” This is coming from the same  11-yo child. The same child at age six, told me this and (I may include it in a book). “I don’t want to kill my brain cells. Do I have to participate in sports? I don’t feel like injuring my brain or my body for sports. That makes no sense to me.” I didn’t tell him to say that and he came up with his own conclusions. I laughed for a good minute. I had to ask him, “Are you sure you’re not my Uncle George, reincarnated? He thought the same things too.” But yes, I did laugh. I never expected him to say those things. I’m often impressed, by how his mind works. He’s always thinking of something. And he can insult a person like Sheldon Cooper or Shakespeare at age 11. I had to lecture him when he pulls out the insults. At school, I can’t control what he says. At home, I’m on top of that brain of his.

I taught my kids to question everything. Question authority. Make them educate you, and you counter them. Try to see the logic from both sides of the coin. Why do conservatives feel this way? Why do liberals feel this way? What are they trying to tell you? Question both sides. Study everything, even if, you believe it’s pointless. Note everyone’s agenda. Everyone has an agenda. Study all of them. There you will find the hypocrisy from both sides. Let them trip over their words and actions. Counter them with intelligence. Never counter a person with swear words or anything of that nature. Life is one big debate. Study all the religions and political beliefs. Broaden your minds with nonfiction. But even take those with a grain of salt. Science, math, language, and history will always be constants. What we are doing now is considered history. Learn the fallacies of mankind. Work to improve things for mankind, but don’t forget how we did things in the past. Learn to survive in case of an apocalypse of some form.

Even as an adult, I’m still learning new things. I tune out the political banter and news. We know what’s happening and has happened. How can we make things better for the world and universe? There are environmental factors and evil people doing evil shit from around the world. Nobody is immune from any attack. With differences of opinions, there will always be wars. Land and money controls all of us. Our quest for greed makes us intolerable human beings. Even the wealthiest of liberals want everyone else to spend their hard-earned money, but not themselves. They have the power to end everything. Yet, they want to showboat and accept numerous awards that mean nothing to them. They are just as much to blame as the rest of us. That’s where some of the hypocrisy of liberals come into play.

If I became wealthy from my series, you better believe most of my money would go to help people. All I need is one comfortable house, a car, and my kids go to college. I don’t need awards or mansions. Awards just sit there and collect dust. Helping out my fellow mankind would be a dream within a dream.

In the meantime, I’m homeschooling my children, and I’m going to continue to write my books, (which are moderately based books). You see how my true mind works. I’ll show you the problems with a society, and you can see where it leads.