Subterranean

Subterranean

Writers can get grouchy when life gets in the way of writing. It feels good to create something everyday, even if it’s a tiny off-the-cuff poem.


Subterranean

This is how she moves

in the dark

under the cover

of words

This is how she lights up

when the moon

winks

at her thoughts

They are His

and can be

nothing less than

perfect

And so she scurries out

to dismember theorems

and poke sleeping dogs

Because nothing

is safe

and everything

is sacred

in the dark

under the cover

of words


 

You try!

Writing Goal for 2018

Writing Goal for 2018

Life has been crazy. Life has been great. Life has left little time for writing. Writing is something I love. Writing brings me joy. Writing has become something frantically pounded out on the keyboard whenever I get a free minute. It happens after everything else is done, when I am tired and burned out.

But not this year. Nope. It’s time to make writing fun again. It’s time to get back the reason I began writing in the first place. I started by making a video look book for the story I’m currently working on. It was dead in the water and I needed something to get me back into it. It took me a whole Saturday to make this video and I will get absolutely no reward from it except the act of creating it. I used to create for pleasure all the time when I was a kid. Lately, I have forgotten how.

I encourage all creatives to create for the joy of creating with no expectation of what will happen to the end result. Only then will it be fun and only then will it be authentic and good. Forget about marketing and reviews and sales. Do it for yourself!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

When was the last time you did something creative just for fun?

What is your favorite creative outlet?

What are you working on this year?

Should an Author Publish His First Novels?

Should an Author Publish His First Novels?

Where I live in the mountains of Panama, the only change of season we see is from rainy to dry. This begins to take place in November. There’s a shift in the wind and the town braces itself for the Fiestas Patrias (Panama’s Independence Days). Strings of small plastic flags crisscross the streets and flap with a smacking sound as if applauding you whenever you drive beneath them. Grey clouds hover above the town as barjareque, (not quite rain, but heavier than mist) falls on the tourists and marching bands, covering them with a sparkling layer of microscopic droplets.

November also signals National Novel Writing Month, which I first participated in 2012. I had been wanting to write a novel my whole life, and the only thing that forced me to get a book started and finished was NaNoWriMo.

I completed my first ever book, surprising myself and triggering an addiction to finishing books ever since. Now when the winds of November change and I hear the echoes of the marching bands practicing for the Independence Day parades, I feel like a horse at the starting gate ready to race to my word count with all the other bucking writers.

I think anyone who’s participated in National Novel Writing Month start to look forward to it as a yearly tradition. It’s something to get excited about, and you are not alone in your enthusiasm and anxiety. You can connect with other writers who are on the same crazy train. NaNoWriMo helps to stop the usual procrastinating and put writing first for a whole month.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to participate in the last few years. My job consists of mostly writing now and my creative juices and tolerance for sitting at the computer are wiped out by the time I finish my work for the day. I’m often traveling during this time for the holidays, which makes it difficult to scurry off to some quiet place to write.

I also don’t allow myself to participate because have to stop piling up manuscripts. It’s becoming a problem. I wrote three novels in a mad dash and they are still left rumpled up and tossed aside like piles of dirty laundry on the floor. I have no business writing more Nano novels until I clean these up, right?

But I wonder… just because I wrote them, does that mean they should be published? Is it worth salvaging them? These were my first practice novels, before The Sick Series, when I had no idea what I was doing. Hell, I don’t even know if I should’ve released Sick on the world. I can just leave these drafts in some dark corner of my Dropbox and begin something with my new writing experience. Jack Kerouac’s debut novel was lost until 2011, and thank god it was because it was deemed sophomoric and might have barred him from the literary world.

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New Writing Contest – Win $100 for 690 of Your Beautiful Words

New Writing Contest – Win $100 for 690 of Your Beautiful Words

I’ve been obsessed with tragic love stories since I first read Romeo and Juliet. I guess all of us are afraid of happiness because we know it will never last forever, so we don’t want our characters living happily ever after either.

Here is a contest from Shonda Brock for all those who love to write about doomed lovers. Submit your best 690 words on CURSED LOVE for a chance to win $100 and publicity on Shonda’s blog and social media profiles.

Be sure to check the rules before writing and entering your submission … and good luck!

Contest rules:

  1. Contest is open to all amateur and professional writers.
  2. Piece can me now more than a year old.
  3. Piece can not have won any other contests.
  4. Entrants must be 18 years or older.
  5. All genres are welcome excluding erotica and those with extremely graphic scenes, fetish themes, and/or overly-explicit language. Such entries will be disqualified at the discretion of the judges.
  6. Contest begins 10/30/2017. Entries will close on 2/14/2018.
  7. Winner will be announced 3/14/2018.
  8. Top five entries will be published on Shonda Brock’s websites and social media profiles.
  9. Winner will receive a VISA gift card in the amount of $100. If winner is outside North America, they will be given the equivalent in an Amazon eGift card.

 

CLICK HERE TO ENTER YOUR STORY!

 

 

Victims of Self-Published Book Covers

Victims of Self-Published Book Covers

Designing graphics is part of my job as a digital marketer. Still, design is not my specialty. I never had any formal training and I feel like I have much to learn. Despite my insecurities, I decided to design the covers for my self-published books.

I had four main reasons for designing my own book covers: first, because I love my stories and want to craft every part of them; second, because it was fun; third, because I felt uncomfortable trusting another person with my vision; and fourth, because designing my own book covers saved me a nice chunk of money. Hiring a professional book cover designer for three ebook covers and three paperback covers would’ve cost hundreds, if not thousands.

The first step for me when I design a new cover is deciding on an overall concept. I usually start by brainstorming some keywords from the theme of the story. Then I go to Dreamstime to find a picture that conveys the statement I want to make. I buy the image with the appropriate rights, download it, and use it as the foundation of the cover design. From there, I put on some music, experiment, and let whim take over.

Here’s a look at my before and afters!

Sick Part I

This book starts in a hospital as Susan Branch watches her husband throw a tantrum in the surgical recovery room. I wanted something that captured the smell of antiseptic and skin and blood. I looked up “stitches” or “sutures” and found this photo.

I confess, I think it’s a picture of a woman’s C-section, but it was so perfect with the staples pulling at the skin, the redness around the punctures, and the seam of the wound cascading into focus.

All I had to do was crop it and add some effects and filters to bring out the details and give it a sickening hue. And Viola! Thanks to this woman who was willing to photograph her scar and let it be sold on the internet.

Sick Part II

Just like the C-section wound – another mystery, why and how does a picture of a bruised man end up being sold on Dreamstime? Does the hospital or do the police sell pictures like these? I don’t know, but I’m glad I found him, and I hope whoever he is, that he is okay now and doesn’t mind that his torso is plastered all over the internet.

I don’t remember how I came across this image. I think I searched up “bruises.” Because my character John Branch shares his gruesome story in a very intimate way, I thought it would be good to be up close and personal with his body for this cover. The nipple hair, the moles, and the bare skin – it’s almost too close for comfort, just like John’s story. Perfect!

As you can see, I chose the color of this book cover based on the background of the original photo. I wouldn’t have normally thought of turquoise in a million years, but in this case, it worked since it invoked that institutional vibe of hospitals.

This man in the photo looked older than my character. He is in decent shape, but a little too flabby and he has lots of skin imperfections. John is supposed to be slightly repulsive, yet strangely alluring. I had to give my cover man the slightest bit of liposuction in the love-handle area and I removed some of his moles (ick, just that word) and blemishes. I also added more bruises and boosted the color to make it more garish. 

 

Sick Part III

For the crowning jewel, I chose this image of a couple entwined in a yin and yang formation. Our first impression in the book series is that John is bad and Susan is good, but later we realize there is a spot of bad and good in each of them.

John and Susan are like Adam and Eve, who by discovering the truth about themselves, must live a new world of darkness and uncertainty. They’ve lost their innocence, and in this cover, they appear to be curling up and hiding their faces in shame.

I added a peeling texture to the skin to signify the disease of pain and denial that had been eating away at them. John’s plague seems to be spreading onto Susan. I used a dark pink hue instead of what would’ve been a more womb-like red so that it didn’t look gory. This is not your typical horror or suspense story, and I didn’t want readers to have the wrong expectation. John and Susan are the doomed lovers inextricably intertwined, floating and lost, gestating until they are either transformed or destroyed.

This book was laborious and frustrating because real life had interrupted its development repeatedly. During the stretches of weeks and months I couldn’t work on it, I used this image as my screensaver to keep the story in my unconscious. My characters looked like they were in utero, and I told myself they were incubating in the womb of my mind. When I did have time to get back to my writing, they’d be ready to be born.

Thanks to these two beautiful people with the perfect skin that I ruined. It took a long time to get this cover right, but now it’s my favorite.

So, there you have my three self-published book cover victims – a woman who’d just given birth by C-section, a poor man who had been assaulted or in a car accident, and two nude, nubile models in a spotless studio. These strangers are now part of SICK. I hope they don’t mind.

 

Did you design your own covers?

If not, what was your experience like working with a professional cover designer?

If so, what’s the story behind your covers?

 

REVIEW THE SICK SERIES

REQUEST REVIEW COPIES
Horror Novella Review – Violets Are Blue by Carrie Green

Horror Novella Review – Violets Are Blue by Carrie Green

Violets Are Blue - Horror NovellaGreen creates an uglier, more frightening antagonist than any monster or ghost.

I discovered Carrie Green while on the hunt for fellow female horror authors. What I love about her work is that her characters are the real people among us everyday who’ve been deformed inwardly by dark motivations. There is no exception for her novella, Violets Are Blue. What’s the most most frightening monster of all? A hateful mother-in-law.

Violets Are Blue – Blurb

Newly-wed Sarah is delighted to move in with her mother-in-law, Martha, a widower who had raised her son, by herself, on an isolated Midwest farm.

A kid from a broken home who had been raised in a group house in Chicago, Sarah had struggled to put herself through college on scholarships.

She considered herself self-reliant and willing to work hard for her dreams. She wants only one thing in life—a real family.

Todd was the love of her life, so that she was sure that she’d love Martha, too.

It never occurred to Sarah that Martha would see her as competition, to be eliminated.

Violets Are Blue – Review

***** 5 Stars – Every woman’s worst nightmare.

Imagine finding the perfect man. He looks like a Greek god, he’s hardworking, and has a charming personality. Your dreams come true when you get married and move from the city to the vast farm he grew up on. You look to the future with hope.

This is the dream of Sarah. She is unsure about moving to the country, but full of curiosity and willingness to adapt to her new life. She arrives with her new husband, Todd, at the farm and christens their love in the cornfield.

Everything is fine except the fact that her Todd’s mother, Martha, still lives in the house and is not going anywhere. She is a widow whose husband died in a freak farm accident, and her son has taken place as the man in her life.

Sarah tries her best to win the hulking, bitter old woman’s approval, but to no avail. In fact, Martha begins to actively antagonize Sarah, but Todd is unwilling to accept that his mother could do anything wrong.

Sarah knows it’s a no-win situation. She resigns to avoiding Martha and doing the best she can to focus on loving her husband instead of the worrying about what the old woman thinks. But Martha is not going to stand by quietly and watch the couple live happily ever after.

This is one of those stories that is infuriating and suffocating. Once Sarah marries Todd, she marries his family, and it’s too late to escape. Also, the reader knows Martha is evil and her well-meaning son cannot see it. The protagonist is without one ally.

I deeply sympathized with Sarah and how she tried to make the best of a nightmare – being trapped alone in a house day after day with someone who maliciously hates her. Green creates an uglier, more frightening antagonist than any monster or ghost.

BUY THE BOOK

Violets Are Blue - Horror Novella

Connect with Carrie Green

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Read My Review of Carrie Green’s Roses are Red

3 Degrees of Self-Mutilation

3 Degrees of Self-Mutilation

Self-mutilation. Think about that word. What first comes to mind?

In The Sick Series, most readers will find John Branch’s self-mutilation horrific and incomprehensible. He is deceitful, manipulative, and selfish, but his compulsions and desires are the spawn of self-hatred, neglect, and lack of love. What do you think we should do with a man like John Branch? Most people would probably say he should be locked up, put on meds, and forced into therapy.

But what is the difference between what John Branch does to his body and what happens under the plastic surgeon’s knife? Women and men who want attention from the opposite (or same) sex, are willing to get sliced and chopped and patched back together. They risk infection and death and deformity. They will stick foreign objects inside their bodies. Think about that. Slicing open your skin, sticking a foreign object inside, and sewing it up.

Swaths of flesh are removed to tuck the tummy. Nipples are cut out and placed elsewhere. Fat is violently vacuumed from asses. We aspire to self-love and self-acceptance and but our behavior show just how fragile our sanity is.

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Why I Dedicated My Book to the Freaks

Why I Dedicated My Book to the Freaks

This book is dedicated to the freaks and misfits, the broken and the scarred,

the ones who live in hiding and the ones who live out loud,

those who are frightened and those who are brave.

Love yourself. Grow freely.

You are beautiful and you are not alone.

Pain. Most of us go through great lengths to avoid it, numb it, or bury it. While writing The Sick Series, I spent hours researching one of the most gruesome and disturbing compulsions known to humankind – to mutilate oneself.

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SICK: The Book Viral Review

SICK: The Book Viral Review

This review originally posted on BookViral.com

A powerful and gritty novella that plumbs the highs of hope and the depths of despair, Sick proves a genuine page-turner with Wojciechowski delivering an extraordinary read. With relentless momentum we are drawn to her narrative as intrigue mounts, feeling sure there is a twist coming but deftly misdirected as events spin further out of control. Mining the darkness of the hidden psyche to show us a glimpse of a reality few will ever experience to leave us deep in thought, it’s an ambitious theme to tackle in a novella but here it works in Wojciechowski’s favour. Her prose are tightly spun and characters are superbly nuanced with dialogue which brings an unrelenting sense of immediacy, telling her story in short staccato bursts that are just enough to bait us and keep us off balance as Susan grapples with the uncertainty of Johns downward spiralling health. Like most issue novels, this is not an easy read, but it becomes increasingly poignant and transcendent as Susan begins to see through the veil of deceit the real John has hidden behind. 

 

Wojciechowski has clearly set out to write a highly compelling story that brings the trauma of Factitious disorder (formerly known as Munchausen Syndrome) into focus and her ability to tell a story that is so dark and full of pain speaks volumes to her talent as a writer. Highly original, it is recommended without reservation.

Thanks to Book Viral for their review of Sick Part I.

RECOMMEND SICK FOR THE CRIMSON QUILL AWARD

 

 

Buy the book.

Buy on Amazon US

Buy on Amazon UK

 

Submit your book for review to Book Viral.

Sick Part I Audiobook in Production

Sick Part I Audiobook in Production

I’ve been getting requests for The SICK Series in audiobook format and I’m thrilled to announce that I have partnered up with Tiffany Marz to bring Part I of the series to life.

Tiffany Marz is a talented and versatile actress, model, and singer. She was the first artist I listened to and I knew she was ‘the one’ right away. She has an amazing range of voices and accents, and her production is mint.

I will be interviewing Tiffany on the blog soon. I know you’ll all be interested in learning more about her.

Also, I will be writing about the process of creating an audiobook for your self-published books. Leave any questions you want me to address in the comments section below.

 

Ready for The SICK Series in audio?

There will be FREE promocodes available.

Click here to be notified when the audiobook is released.

No time to read words?

Absorb fiction, non-fiction, and more with Audible.

Listen in the car, at the gym, or on your dog walk.

Get started with a FREE 30-day trial and 2 free downloads here.

 

 

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"Anyone who has ever secretly longed for the significant other of a close friend will immediately identify with this well-written story set in the South of France. The dialog is sharp and the characters believable. The writing is both funny and poignant."
–Max Tomlinson, author of 
The Cain File

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