|This is the first G-rated short story I've written since joining the WSS contest on Good Reads.|
If you’re an independent author, you’ve probably felt powerless at least one point in your career. We all have our own version of what this means. Would you like to know what my version is? Well, I can’t describe it in one sentence or paragraph. This calls for the skills of a list man. Ahem. To me specifically, being powerless is…
1. Not having the energy to write anything despite reducing my schizophrenia medication.
2. Having schizophrenia in the first place and knowing it can strike anytime without warning.
3. Setting high standards for myself and beating myself up for not meeting those standards.
4. Slaving over my next novel or short story only to have nobody, and I mean absolutely nobody, care about it, except for the fave whores of course.
5. Not being able to share my work with my family due to the fact that our interests are too different.
6. Being devastated by a negative review and stewing over it for weeks or months at a time.
7. Joining a writing group only to be overshadowed by the lifers and overwhelmed by the large number of proses that are submitted.
8. Reading an e-book and being mentally drained after only a few pages or chapters.
9. Advertising myself everywhere I go only to have nobody listen to me.
10. Posting blog entries only to have no followers or cool comments of any kind, only page views.
11. Having to walk on eggshells when it comes to sharing my work on Face Book for fear that my dad will call my mom and tell her I’m depressed.
12. Scaring off potential beta readers because my writing is either too offensive or I’m too shy around their critiques.
13. Being too afraid to Google my name for fear that my only fame will be on cyber-bullying websites like Portal of Evil and Encyclopedia Dramatica.
14. Turning on the TV and listening to a conservative politician demonize poor people like me for being “lazy” and “dependent on the government”.
15. Not having my own car to drive to potential writing hotspots.
16. Living in a town where the only people who care about writing are Debbie Macomber fans.
17. Not having a day job because I’ve never had one before in the first place.
18. Being the only person in a college class who receives all criticism and no praise, while the other students get a mix of the two or all praise.
19. Never realizing that there are other authors in the world who share my sense of powerlessness.
20. Not being able to think positive thoughts when I need them the most.
As I write this list, I just now realize I have twenty items on the fucking thing. Twenty ways to be powerless. And yet, I continue my writing career anyways because of one unseen force that has been present in me since birth: the creative urge. It doesn’t matter if it’s a blog entry, short story, poem, or even a Diablo II: Lord of Destruction character. I need to create something or else I’m unhappy. Even when I’m reading other people’s work, I’m creating something: a psychological legacy. I’ve always believed people to be artistic canvases with life events being the colors and brushes of choice.
It’s because of this strong creative urge that I have a hard time asking people for sympathy for my plights. Truth is, I don’t need sympathy or excessive protection. I need understanding. I need intelligent and wise conversations, not weak excuses. I keep telling myself that if for some reason the entire world hates my writing, it doesn’t make me a bad writer. The creative urge as I call it provides me the confidence to pursue a writing career despite the statistics dictating otherwise. Yes, I’m feeling powerless right now. Yes, it won’t be the last time I feel it. But regardless of all of that, I will never give up. Ever.
***LYRICS OF THE DAY***
“Just going to stand there in watch me burn. That’s alright, because I like the way it hurts. Just going to stand there and hear me cry. That’s alright, because I love the way you lie.”
-Rihanna singing the chorus to “Love the Way You Lie” by Eminem-
My novels are available on Smash Words, Sony, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Page Foundry, Baker & Taylor, txtr, Oyster, Flipkart, and Scribd. American Darkness is available on Amazon and Lulu as well.|
American Darkness (contemporary drama anthology)
Brawl Mart (urban fantasy novel)
Confessions of a Schizophrenic Savage (poetry and song anthology)
Dragon Machinegun (sci-fi, fantasy, and horror anthology)
Garrison’s Library: garrisonslibrary.blogspot.com/
Sitka: June 19th, 2014 Cat of the Day: catoftheday.com/archive/2014/J…
Q: How do you deal with writer’s block?
A: My favorite way to deal with writer’s block is by imagining the scenes of my stories from beginning to end. Sometimes when I’m alone (or at least when I’m sure I’m alone), I’ll do a back and forth dialogue between characters out loud. If it wasn’t for this method, the characters in my current novel Fireball Nightmare would all be two-dimensional wash-ups. It’s supposed to be a fast-paced bloodbath, but stories and emotions are just as important as the high-octane violence, if not more so.
Q: What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
A: Listen to your heart. Write about things you feel are important to you. Taking advice from others is okay and often recommended, but ultimately, you’re the one who makes the final decision on your writing, not the audience, not the editors, not the admins, just you and you alone. If somebody tells you your writing sucks, put as much distance as possible between yourself and that person. Nobody has the right to bring you down. If you still feel like your writing sucks, then keep working on it until it doesn’t. Never give up hope.
Q: How do you get inspired to write?
A: I draw inspiration from a lot of different sources whether they’re from other books or not. I’m a huge fan of heavy metal music and I often use it to channel aggressive feelings in my writing, especially during scenes of violence. I’m also a fan of professional wrestling as evidenced in my 2014 dark fantasy e-book Brawl-Mart. People like to criticize wrestling for being “fake” and I always tell them that Harry Potter is also fake, yet nobody’s complaining. Yet another source of creative fuel comes from the computer game Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. If it wasn’t for that game, I wouldn’t have such a fascination with barbarians. Deus Shadowheart, the main character of Fireball Nightmare, probably wouldn’t be a barbarian or even in existence if it wasn’t for Diablo II.
Q: Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?
A: When I was a child, I loved playing with Legos and I had a set from the pirate franchise that was a volcano with a swinging skull door in front. I called this set the Volcano of Doom and it has since been the inspiration for the main deity of Fireball Nightmare, Vahd (which is just a respelling of the acronym for Volcano of Doom (VOD)). Realistically, Fireball Nightmare is just an excuse for me to use a favorite barbarian character of mine named Deus Shadowheart and an idea I had for a dark fantasy apocalyptic role-playing game I made up called Valley of the Damned. When two kick-ass things come together, it’s instant magic. The makers of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup know this very well.
Q: Describe your desk.
A: It’s a hand-me-down from my older brother and has been in my possession since 2008. I have to be careful with it because it’s small and shakes easily. The upper tier has my computer screen, pencils, flash drives, and tissues on it. The middle tier holds my fan, house phone, speakers, tape player, keyboard, and sometimes a bottle of Diet Mountain Dew. The bottom tier is where my computer tower, printer, and power strips are located. In addition to writing stories and poetry, my rickety desk has also been used to draw some…interesting pictures.
Q: Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
A: I’ve lived in many places over the course of my childhood, but the one place where reality hit me the hardest was when I was going to high school in Chehalis, Washington. My freshman year was best known for the verbal bullying I have endured and almost committed suicide over. Due to the crippling PTSD (and eventual schizophrenia) I’ve suffered, most of my writing is influenced by dark and disturbing themes such as death, bullying, mental sickness, sex, and violence. I do have lighthearted stories in my archives, but I will always be known as an R-rated author.
Q: When did you first start writing?
A: I’ve been writing all of my life, but the time when I started taking it seriously was January of 2002. My first writing project was a videogame idea called Final Fantasy Hardcore. It had the same magical premise and romantic leanings as the games in the Final Fantasy series, but it was set in a dystopian future and had tons of mature content. My two favorite characters from this series are a charismatic barbarian named Deus Shadowheart and a perverted scientist named Dr. Scott Cain. Ever since scrapping Final Fantasy Hardcore, I’ve been trying to find a story for those two to be a part of. I think I’ve finally nailed it with a dark fantasy novel I’m currently writing called “Fireball Nightmare”.
Q: What’s the story behind your latest book?
A: My most recently published e-book as of now is American Darkness, which isn’t really a novel, but a collection of emotional short stories in a contemporary setting. There are 22 different stories jammed in this anthology, but the pride and joy of this series is one called “Another Brick in the Wall”, which obviously takes its name from the Pink Floyd songs. It is a classic verbal confrontation between a strict US History teacher named Sid McDonnell and a stressed out student named Sam Keith. This is a scenario I have always fantasized about, especially considering I had some rather unsavory teachers in high school and college who deserved a tongue-lashing.
Q: What motivated you to become an indie author?
A: My circumstances were the reason I chose self-publishing over traditional. I live in a town called Port Orchard, where young adult writers don’t have an outlet for their creativity. If I wanted to go somewhere to fulfill that need, it would have to be either Seattle, Bellingham, or Tacoma, all three of which are big cities that are too hard to get to. I don’t have a car or a driver’s license, so I have to depend on others for transportation. The people in my family who have driver’s licenses have schedules of their own and can’t ferry me to the big cities on a daily basis. Instead of stressing myself out by traveling to the big cities, I choose to use the internet to make my presence known. I have a lot of work to do in order to market myself, but I wouldn’t have self-published if I didn’t believe I could do it.
Q: How has Smash Words contributed to your success?
A: I haven’t sold very many e-books yet, but when the money starts rolling in, it will be because I chose Smash Words. Simply having a place where my writing can be immortalized is good enough for me. I write regularly on Deviant Art, Good Reads, Blogger, and Face Book. Smash Words is different from these places because it gives me a platform to organize my writing into a tangible product instead of just bits and pieces. Sometimes people need to see the bigger picture in order to make a decision about whether to be a member of an author’s audience.
Q: What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
A: Exercising my creativity is always a fun part of the business, but my favorite part comes from the feeling of accomplishment I get after I write something. I have taken something from my screwed up psyche and made something beautiful out of it. I liken this to the scene in the musical Pink Floyd the Wall where the main character smashes his hotel room in a fit of rage and afterwards makes a piece of art out of the remains. It’s a creepy way to think of my accomplishments, but then again, lots of creepy things go on in my mind.
Q: What do your fans mean to you?
A: My fans mean everything to me. Every time they give me a compliment or critique on my writing, it helps me become a better writer. Even if it’s a short compliment like “very well-written”, it’s enough to boost my confidence to continue putting myself out there. I’m shy at first, but when I begin to get comfortable with a group of people, we do so much for each other.
Q: What are you working on next?
A: It’s a dark fantasy novel called Fireball Nightmare. The first act, which is known as This Is Violence, deals with a forest-dwelling barbarian named Deus Shadowheart who will go to extreme means to protect his home from city developers. The main reason he does this is because he is a servant of the volcanic mountain god Vahd, who will erupt into apocalyptic fire if his forest is destroyed. The second act is called Valley of the Damned, but I won’t get into it right now because too much of the plot will have been revealed.
Q: Who are your favorite authors?
A: This is going to sound ironic coming from a lifelong writer, but I didn’t actually become a bookworm until 2009 when I picked up a copy of The Cleaner by Brett Battles. The books I read in college were slow-paced and dull while The Cleaner was exciting and quick. It’s because of this drastic change in pace that Brett Battles will always be my favorite author. Others include fellow introvert Susan Cain, Sherman Alexie, Carl Hiaasen, and Stephen Chbosky. Realistically, I’ll give my patronage to any author who can dictate a fast pace with his or her writing. Bonus points to go to any author who can almost bring me to tears. I haven’t cried since 2007, but I came very close to doing so with many of the authors I’ve read books from, particularly Stephen Chbosky.
Q: What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
A: To be honest, I don’t have much of a professional or social life in my small town of Port Orchard, Washington. To put it bluntly, I’m unemployed and have very few friends. I don’t have much of a reason to get out of bed every day, so the closest thing to inspiration I have is walking to the grocery store to get three giant bottles of Diet Mountain Dew. Walking is a fun exercise that helps me clear my mind, but more importantly, it’s an opportunity to rock out to heavy metal music on my MP3 player.