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

 

 

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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.

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

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Marquis de Sade on Perverse Writers

Marquis de Sade on Perverse Writers

As I was finishing the first drafts of the third part of SICK, I picked up the infamous Marquis de Sade. I had been wanting to read him for years. Would he be as depraved as I had been told?

The first thing I noticed was the similarities between his characters’ (or de Sade’s) logic and the philosphies of John Branch (my MC). I never read de Sade before, but hundreds of years later, the argument between nature and religion is the same. Do we live according to the instincts and impulses we were born with, or do we live according to what society deems as acceptable?

Despite the obsessive focus on anal sex and the tiresome naïveté of the protagonist, who, though heroic, gets duped time and time again, de Sade writes with admirable zeal and devotion. Most surprisingly, I felt an undertone of love throughout his writing for every facet of this confusing existence we humans face.

But of all the quotes I collected from my readings, I thought my fellow writers, those who are brave enough to go to the darkest depths of the human psyche and those who aren’t afraid to explore the places others dare not tread, would appreciate this one the most.

“…he is like unto those perverse writers whose corruption is so dangerous, so active, that their single aim is, by causing their appalling doctrines to be printed, to immortalize the sum of their crimes after their own lives are at an end; they themselves can do no more, but their accursed writings will instigate the commission of crimes, and they carry this sweet idea with them to their graves: it comforts them for the obligation, enjoined by death, to relinquish the doing of evil.”

 

I believe de Sade is taking stab at himself here. No doubt the public thought he wrote solely for these reasons, and he was mocking them. It was obvious to me that his drive to write was fueled by a calling much more profound than the reasons he mentions here, though I’m sure the thought of his ideas propogating into the future put a smirk on his face at the time of his death.

Since I first began writing, I often wonder why I go to such dark places. I never expected or intended to. I outlined my theories in this post here. But, I think what is important about de Sade and books like SICK, is to face the ugliest of humanity, to seek the truth no matter how horrific it is. No matter how hard we close our eyes, our sins will not go away. Sex slavery still exists. War, torture, and vice persist. There has been no decrease in the atrocities of the human world since de Sade’s time. That is why we still must write about them. That is why we must rip off the covers we hold so tightly to our chins. Maybe one day we will figure out why we keep harming each other, why we keep destroying the world, and and we continue denying the truth about ourselves.

 

 

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How to Become a NY Times Bestselling Author with Writing Coach Anna David

How to Become a NY Times Bestselling Author with Writing Coach Anna David

I can’t tell you how excited I am to have Anna David here today. I’ve been working with Anna for about a year now and it has been the greatest honor. She’s a quick-witted, candid writer and an inspiring voice in the addiction recovery field. She’s also one of the funniest, kindest, and wisest people you’ll ever meet. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief of In Recovery Magazine, the host of the Recover Girl Podcast, and is the coach to the next batch of authors to hit the NY Times Bestsellers List.

Almost every writer I know has fantasized seeing their name on the NY Times Bestsellers List, but most writers have no idea how to get there. You can’t arrive somewhere you’ve never been before without a map. Anna David has mapped out a step-by-step method to take aspiring writers from obscurity directly to a publishing contract. I have sat in on her courses and I can tell you her information is like gold.

Learn all about her first-hand publication experience, her advice to aspiring writers, and how you can join her exciting new coaching program in this interview.


Interview with Anna David

Did you always want to become a writer? When did you decide that was what you wanted to do?

Always. When I was seven, I saw in the Guinness Book of World Records that the youngest author to publish a book was six and I was devastated that I couldn’t be the one to set the record. Of course, I didn’t finish writing my first book for another 20 or so years. There was never any question in my mind about what else I would do. I had no other skills! Everyone told me it was a bad idea—my dad never stopped talking about how I needed to go to business or law school—but I didn’t listen.

When did your drug abuse begin and how long till it spiraled out of control?

My coke use got bad when I was in my late 20s but I had loved it from the first time I tried it, when I was 16. I didn’t do it regularly until I was about 27 but the way I thought about it was never “normal”: I was obsessed with it. When I started doing it alone—with just my two cats, Camel Lights, Amstel Light, vodka and a whole lot of paranoia for company—it was definitely out of control. Though in many ways it was out of control from the beginning, in terms of how I thought about it.

After you got help and became involved in the world of recovery, what made you decide to focus your life and writing around addiction and recovery. Was it scary to ‘recover out loud’ as they say?

I never thought about it, really. I’ve always been a chronic confessionalist, telling the whole world my private business without realizing they may not care or it may not be appropriate. And I’ve always written about my own life, even when I was writing fiction—whether I was fictionalizing my own experiences or, in the case of my second novel, writing fiction around a world I’d researched. Addiction and recovery was my experience and so that was my material.

CHEAT SHEET FOR WRITERS

6 STEPS TO BECOMING A NY TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR

 

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Do you feel like your experience with drug addiction has made you a better writer? How?

I don’t think so. I will tell you that my writing was God awful when I was high. I used to do coke and then try to write screenplays and TV specs and I would write these ridiculous specs of shows I’d never seen. One day, not high, I came up with a novel idea: to write a spec of a TV show I actually watched. I wrote that one sober and suddenly had a slew of agents fighting over me. Turns out drugs made me a TERRIBLE writer.

In my opinion, the only thing that makes someone a better writer is reading. And writing. And rewriting. Mostly rewriting.

Party Girl, a roman à clef novel about your cocaine addiction, is about your crazy life as a celebrity journalist in LA, and the dysfunctional relationships that ensued. How did this idea become a reality?

My first job when I got sober was as a columnist for Premiere magazine, writing a column called Party Girl. It seemed hilariously ironic to me that my whole life I’d been a wild party girl and as soon as I became someone who went to meetings and coffee and hung out with her cats and became, in many ways, suddenly boring, I was suddenly wearing the “party girl” moniker. It struck me that this would be a great premise for a novel: a girl gets a job writing about her wild and crazy life right when she stops being wild and crazy and so she has to create a persona based on who she used to be. I had that idea and so I just sat down and wrote it, in about nine months.

I know my readers, most of whom are aspiring authors, are dying to hear about your publication experience. Can you give a brief outline of your steps to becoming a published author–from writing process, to agent, to NYT Bestsellers List?

It was a very different world when I got into it. First of all, there were magazines—that people actually read. Also there were far fewer writers. People weren’t writing blogs that suddenly made them famous. Social media didn’t exist. And I wrote for a lot of magazines so agents knew my work. I was lucky enough to have two agents who wanted to sign me by the time I finished writing Party Girl. I went with the agent I preferred and she sold my book to my top choice publisher (Regan Books, then a division of Harper Collins) within a week. It was dreamy. But my commonalities with Cinderella ended there. Judith Regan ended up being fired in the biggest scandal to hit publishing a few months before my book came out and the book ended up being released under a fake imprint that HarperCollins invented for my release. People talk about being orphaned when their editors switch jobs. This was like the orphanage being burned to the ground! My next book deal was half the size of the first and it wasn’t until my NY Times bestseller, in 2010, that I felt things even out again.

What do you think is the most important thing for a writer to do if they want to land a deal with an agent or major publisher?

Write the best proposal you can. Have creative ideas for promotion. Know the books in your genre that did well and try to create one that fills a void those books did not. And of course sign up for my coaching program!

Now your coaching writers to follow the same path to the NY Times Bestsellers List. What kind of stories will make the best fit with your methods?

Anyone writing a memoir, particularly one by someone who’s writing about their biggest struggle and how they came out on the other side. Because of my audience, at least half of my clients are always writing addiction and recovery memoirs or at least stories that involved addiction. But hey, any trauma works!

What’s your best piece of advice for writers just starting out?

Besides apply for my program? Read as much as you can. Also, don’t get wowed by all the self-publish success stories you hear. If you’re like me, and your dream was always to publish a book, then you owe it to yourself to try for the big leagues. The mainstream route—getting published by one of the big New York publishers—is competitive but I tell everyone at least try that first and if it doesn’t work, you can always self-publish then. But your dream when you were little wasn’t to upload your book to Amazon and tell your friends to buy it; it was to sign a contract with a big publisher, work with an editor, have the big release—the whole nine.

If you try that and it doesn’t work. you then have a completed book proposal—which is the perfect outline to go the self-published route. But every writer deserves the opportunity to try.

Do we get to expect any new novels from you?

Nope! Pretty busy with my day job (editing In Recovery Magazine), speaking and coaching. But maybe one day (famous last words). 

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Thanks so much to Anna David for sharing her story and her expertise with us.
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SICK – The Complete Series Now in Kindle and Paperback

SICK – The Complete Series Now in Kindle and Paperback

Hello dear readers.

I know some of you were waiting for SICK Part III to come out in paperback. Well, it’s here and it’s beautiful! In fact, I reformatted the entire series in a smaller 5 by 8 inch size with updated covers in a silky matte finish that eerily feels like human skin.

Signed copies will be available for purchase on this site at the end of November 2017.

REVIEW THE SICK SERIES

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Project 13Dark is Reborn and Fully Funded – Here’s how to get the first issue.

Project 13Dark is Reborn and Fully Funded – Here’s how to get the first issue.

You all may wondered about the status of 13Dark. The great news is the first issue is fully funded and is about to come out. Due to unfortunate personal circumstances, I won’t be appearing in the first issue as planned, but I will be in the final issue. So, get started with DEAD VOICES featuring fresh, unique dark fiction from Tice Cin, Ross Jeffery, and Samuel Parr. Do it now. There are only 3 days left to back us!

JOIN PROJECT 13DARK

Get Your Issue#1: DEAD VOICES, plus book bundles, original signed artwork, writing coaching, and more!
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THE STORY THUS FAR

Earlier this year, 13Dark ran an ambitious £32,000 kickstarter to launch a new publishing venture. This venture would publish the works of 13 incredible voices in dark fiction, including names such as Richard Thomas, Moira Katson, Christa Wojciechowski, Eden Royce and Veronica Magenta Nero. 13Dark would also introduce newer voices such as Samuel Parr, Andy Cashmore, Tice Cin, Matthew Blackwell, Jamie Parry-Bruce, Anthony Self, Tomek Dzido and Ross Jeffery. These amazing stories would be released one-per-month and be accompanied by incredible artwork from Shawn Langley. While the campaign wasn’t funded successfully, many fans flocked to stop 13Dark from falling by the wayside, helping us to raise money via purchasing writing coaching and book bundles from us directly. Further to that, we were humbled to find our writers and artists decided to stick by our side and help us get back on track. Now, 13Dark has been re-configured and reborn. Instead of 13 individual stories published over 13 months, there will now be 4 issues of 13Dark, with 3 stories per issue, and the last issue including 4 stories. All of work will explore the sacred and profane, the holy and damned, the beatific and the demonic.

 GET THE FIRST DIGITAL ISSUE  AND
YOUR NAME IN THE THANK YOU SECTION
WITH AS LITTLE AS £ 3 ($3.88)

 

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Dead Voices will feature fiction from Samuel Parr, Tice Cin and Ross Jeffery, three new but astonishing voices in dark, weird fiction. But don’t take our word for it, read some samples on the IndieGoGo page.

 

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A Sign of How Much You Love Your Dogs

A Sign of How Much You Love Your Dogs

Nicknames are a sign of affection in most cultures. I just got back from a 6-week trip to the US. I’m rarely away from my dogs for that long and I realized just how many names I call them during our conversations. As a solitary writer, I speak to my dogs more than anyone. If the amount of Spanglish and other assorted nicknames is any indication of how much I love them, I love them muchísimo. Here’s a list of them so far.

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Extracts from †3Dark Stories: ‘Bethesda’ & ‘Under Soil’

Extracts from †3Dark Stories: ‘Bethesda’ & ‘Under Soil’

Via the blog of Joseph Sale

Hello everyone,

We are on the homestretch of our Kickstarter Campaign, so, to thank all you AMAZING people out there who have backed us, we thought it was time to give you all a little taster of what’s coming. Here, below, we have two story extracts.

The first is from ‘Bethesda’, our Issue 1 story by Ross Jeffery. ‘Bethesda’ is a hopeful tale of religious experience, told with a unique and convincing narrative voice that becomes quietly, profoundly moving. ‘Bethesda’ is set in England.

The second, from ‘Under Soil’, by Tice Cin, is set in Cyprus. This dark fiction tale is woven from a Gothic style that slowly unveils a deeper meaning to it. Sensual and intense, this is as vivid as an acid trip, or else, a direct encounter with something beyond the shadow of our daily lives.

A post shared by Project 13Dark (@project13dark) on

Be†hesda – Issue I – Ross Jeffery

I’ve been watching him now for a while: the pale man, as he trudges back and forth from what I assume must be his car, or mini-van, parked at the foot of the hill, stopped from entering the promenade by the safety barrier. It was put in place to stop cars driving onto the beach to unload their cargo. There was a girl who I went to school with a few years back. Jessica was her name. She said that she saw an elderly man crushed to death by one of those cars; he’d been buried up to his neck by someone who’d gone off swimming, leaving him with just his head sticking out, encased in the heavy, wet sand. He didn’t see it coming. The driver didn’t see him either. The huge petrol-guzzling Range Rover drove over his head popping it like a tomato. She said that the blood sprayed out from under the car. But it wasn’t just the head, the Range Rover crushed his limbs beneath the sand. Dead on impact, she said. There was so much blood, it formed a tributary down to the sea. Apparently, it took a good few days for the tide to wash away the blood. It kept on coming back like the blood on Lady Macbeth’s hands. Gone one moment, back the next. Immediately after, the local authority met and decided there would be no more ‘incidents of this nature’ and so installed a barrier which put a stop to drivers bringing their cars down onto the beach. There were obviously complaints about it all, uproar in local neighbourhood partnership meetings, but in all honesty who can complain about the inconvenience of carrying your beach equipment a hundred yards after an elderly man has been crushed until he popped like a geyser.

X

The man just stands there now, looking out to sea. He raises his hand, shielding his eyes from the glare of the sun on the water. The light refracts off his large watch, sending a blinding beam across the beach in my direction. He lowers his hand and turns to his windbreaker. He reaches into the chest pocket of his jacket and pulls out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. I can’t make out the brand but catch a flash of red from the pack: Marlborough Reds, strong stuff. He lifts the pack up to his mouth, his lips reaching out and claiming one of the sticks, he slowly pulls the pack away revealing this cigarette hanging from his mouth. In one fluid motion he moves the pack down and into his pocket and when bringing his hand up, opens the zippo lighter with a flickering flame. He inhales, deeply, two jets of smoke pour from his nostrils. With a flick of his wrist the zippo is closed and he places it in the breast pocket of his shirt. He stands there staring out into the surf. He only moves to lift the cigarette to and from his mouth; he doesn’t even move to pick up a child’s red Frisbee that lands a foot away from him. He stares out to sea. He doesn’t move when the children shout at him to pass it back, call him a weirdo, a paedo and a bunch of other derogatory remarks. Just stands there in his backdrop of Jamaican merchandise. I watch intently as one of the boys, the youngest, slightest one is pushed by his friends in the direction of their fallen Frisbee; I see the boy stiffen with terror as he moves, well pushed, towards the Frisbee. What does this say about the boy’s home life if he thinks that interacting with a stranger could cause him to suffer? A dog yaps near me as it jumps over the groyne I’m sitting on, distracting me from my observations. The owner of the dog says hello and good afternoon to me, I reply by moving my mouth but not speaking the words, and add a little head nod for good measure; I’ve always found that odd, total strangers saying hello. I used to shrink into my coat every time my father would say hello to total strangers when we were on family walks in the country. After the stranger is gone. I look back to the man. He’s gone too. The kids are laughing and punching the runt in the arms; he seems to have successfully acquired the red Frisbee. But where is the man?

 

 

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Under Soil – Issue II – Tice Cin

Her body is dead earth. It has the soft mulch of being left outside for too long and being rained on. The rain never stops. Flesh quivering, the panting of her breath moves hair that has fallen across her collarbone. Small needle marks blemish her skin and raise blood to its surface. Shooting over her legs, threads of blood meet each other as they flow from head to toe. The interlacing of red is divinely timed. Her colour is renewed and replaced interchangeably by the rain, then the blood, and back again. This skin is lace that embroiders the ground. This was the call and now was the time to answer. Standing up, her feet sink in soot, cleaving it free from the gravel beneath. Divinely timed. Heading for the hills, her footprints suck in blackness, leaving traces of her body in their trail. Bound between sky and earth she is the first of her kind. Sent to shake life from her skin, she moves through the heat of the day. As the sun pinches her cheeks she walks with it roasting and drying her offerings, liquid intermingling to infuse gravel with metallic clay. She stops. Knees hitting the ground, she pulls at her ribcage. First she becomes aware of the pressure on her thumbs as they grip skin and bone. Then that pain is nothing. The sound of skin peeling sends white noise crackling into reverb around her and when it stops she holds two ribs in her hands. An un-stringed cello, she buries them in the ground. Piled over bone, the slow erosion of hot rock here blends with soot, marbling and intertwining body with earth. The first death will be here. Fire the reward of the wrongdoer. Volcanic ash and hot sand carried the stench of carrion as brother buried brother out of sight. This palpable toil. The men warred so quickly yet with so much fire that their bodies were swallowed in dirt before they ever had the chance to make surrendering moves. The walking prayer. When making something level again is no longer a crime, then she will come. Balance hums into being. Her fingers are like wings that drag along the floor as she walks and her hair gestures forwards sensing each step that she needs to take. Marking the area of this sin was all she has to do. She is here to give to an earth that is dead. Her lips part, lower lip hanging like a corpse’s dislocated jaw. Out from her mouth rolls a shard of flame that lingers at her feet before rippling with open arms over the dry hill, leaving nothing but green behind.

———————————————————————————————

We hope you enjoyed those extracts and that it demonstrates what we intend to do with †3Dark. If you did enjoy them, please help us make this project come alive by offering a back or telling your friends about us:

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We have TONS of incredible rewards to offer you, but more than that, you will get the satisfaction of knowing you are a true patron of the arts, have supported the work of aspiring authors, and are making a vision live.

Please note: Our incentive offer is still valid: if you can get a friend to back this campaign and then confirm it to our Facebook page, Twitter, or in the comments section of this KS, we will send you a FREE eBook from Dark Prophets Press!

Well, that’s enough from me. I hope you enjoyed reading this fine work. Onwards and upwards †3Dark.

Until next time!

Joe Sale

Project Lead, †3Dark

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Thank you for visiting.

Please enjoy this novelette on the house.

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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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