I spent my Turkey Day being productive

4131644338807023243-account_id1The puppy was sad today.  He didn’t get any turkey bones (duh!) or leftovers.  And I haven’t had time to play tug or fetch!  Oh, the horrors.  But he’s still pretty darned cute, so I had to share.

Instead, I spent my free time writing the next book (or one of them, at any rate) and researching marketing.  You see, I’ve finally hit the point where I realize that I just can’t do it all.  I mean, that’s a great thing, and I have all my fans to thank for it – which is the point of this holiday – but I’m a little sad, too.

So, I started looking at how to grow my fan base.  Word of mouth is one of the best methods.  My fans have been great to me in this respect.  So many of you have shared a book or series with your friends/family, and those readers have become new fans.  But, discoverability is the bane of every author’s life.  Trying to find people who are looking for their next favorite book?  Well, I assure you, there’s a rather big haystack around the needles we call ebooks.

Now, with the planned release of most of my books in paperback?  Well, I’m getting down to crunch time.  I’m going to have to market this, and that doesn’t mean slapping crap together and calling it good.  I have way too much pride in my novels for that.  I also respect my readers.  And yet, I’m still no marketing expert.  I’m an author!

So, come to find out, there’s all these amazing services to help morons like me deal with those tricky things like numbers.  I looked into a few ad management programs.  The one that seems to have me the most interested is Adespresso.  It makes this gobbledy gook into something almost fathomable.  And finding nothing but good reviews? (like this one on boostlikes.com) doesn’t hurt at all.

And then, I stumbled upon more things I didn’t know.  (Again, on boostlikes.com but this time about managing page assets.)  You know, when I started this whole independent author thing, I assumed I was going to spend a lot of time writing.  Now?  I spend a lot of time acting like a business professional.  It’s a little overwhelming at times, but then I remember that pretty much every bit of knowledge I ever wanted exists on Google.  So, all I have to do is learn a little more – and find the right tools for the job.

2222839362934652383-account_id1And if I do, hopefully, I can get back to releasing books almost as fast as my fans can read them.  That’s the goal, at any rate.

And so, I’m hoping to grow my readership while reducing my workload.  And more books coming out soon will mean more fans.  Tenacity is so very close, and I have a lovely addendum to the Wolf of Oberhame series that I think you all will love.  But anyway, I think I’ve been responsible enough for one American Holiday.  Now, I just need to convince Revan that he should get his lazy butt off the bed and come help me with all this turkey.

It’s a holiday, after all.  I get to spoil my puppy, right?

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Sexy Alpha Males – or not

cover man.jpgHe is man, hear him roar.  We all love the alpha male.  He’s that dominant warrior, the decisive instigator, the one who takes charge when the going gets tough.  Alpha males aren’t just a staple in romance, they’re in just about every genre from batman to Fifty Shades of Grey.

They’re also shallow.

I’ve mentioned before that I like my male heroes to be a bit more than a bank account and six pack abs.  I also like them to THINK.  I like men who are decisive but respect those who can run through all the options before coming to a decision.  Even sexier is the man who can admit when he’s wrong.

But we don’t glamorize that.  We hold up the icons of medieval chivalry.  We cheer for such brainless acts as holding a door but roll our eyes at shows of sensitivity.  Have a problem?  Just beat it into submission, intimidate it with money, or, um, bully it a little?  I mean, isn’t that how so many alpha males are written?

Not all.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen some amazing examples – but the vast majority of them are just jerks.  It’s like the only way we know to show strength is through cruelty.

But lately, I’ve been helping my close friend Kitty Cox with her upcoming book.  Her hero is a cowboy, and a hot one!  He’s dominant but knows his place.  Her heroine is a strong-willed woman with not only a mind of her own, but the finances and connections to be self-sufficient.  She likes him, but for reasons besides his sexy body, lack of money, or overbearing manliness.  She likes him because he’s got a heart of gold.

It’s been refreshing.  This cowboy is a gentleman.  He holds the door, buys dinner, and tips his hat all while losing absolutely nothing to her strength.  Granted, I’m a bit annoyed that my alpha read of her book just ended in the middle, but WOW!  Why can’t we see more icons of masculinity like THIS?

And I think it’s because we just don’t know any better.  We’re so used to the tried and true tropes, but to quote Chance from Flawed, “they’re also tired.”  Pushing the boundaries of acceptable sometimes means harkening back to a day and age when people treated each other a bit nicer.  Sometimes, being the man means taking the shit kicking so someone else doesn’t have to.  Sometimes, being a hero isn’t about flexing, it’s about thinking, feeling, and shutting the hell up.

And so, I’m looking for some books with hot as sin alpha males that aren’t jerks.  Prefer romance, fantasy, science fiction or modern drama (contemporary fiction).  Feel free to tweet or DM me (@aurynhadley), message me on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/AurynHadleyAuthor/), reply here, or drop me an email with anything you might have.  I’m always up for indie authors and DO leave reviews – but honest ones.  Hoping y’all have some suggestions, because I’m gonna need something to hold me over!

That’s not an elephant

woman-1081873.jpgLately, it seems that if we – the people – talk about anything, it’s taken as a spin on politics.  Ok, this kinda makes sense after what happened in the American election… but I don’t want to talk about politics.  I want to talk about the human condition.  You see, that is what I write about.

The problem is that much of the human condition is debated in politics.  That makes this a very big, very grey line.  I think I can walk it.  At least, I’m willing to try.  My goal isn’t to offend anyone or to rally for anyone.  It’s to talk, think, and ponder – because that’s what authors do.  We take the status that people know and understand, bend it a bit to make the whole thing fantastical, and then give it back with a shiny new skin.

For me, I have two themes that keep appearing in my work:

  1. Strong women can be sexy and sensual without losing power.
  2. Hope can overcome anything, because it’s what inspires us to do face the hardships.

But just stop and look for a second at how close I just came to politics!  Hope was a big thing for that one guy about four years ago.  Women?  Yeah, well our rights are always center stage in American politics.

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So, for the record, I want to clear up a few things:

  1. I don’t care how you feel about taxes, borders, or preferred political party.
  2. I do care about human rights regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion (or lack of religion).  I believe that people – even those who disagree with me – deserve to be treated with hope and compassion (the caveat: and in the same manner they treat others).
  3.  If you’re a hypocrite who thinks the rules apply to you and no one else, I hate you.  If you’re an idiot who can’t wrap his (or her) mind around his (or her) own ass, I want nothing to do with you.  If you don’t buy my books because of it?  I’m perfectly ok with that – trust me, those two dollars won’t change my world that much.
  4. I’m kinda big on that whole equality thing.  I mean, if you haven’t noticed, or anything.
  5. I do feel strongly about politics.  I also think that it’s best kept right beside my porn collection and dorky coffee cups – where no one else can see.

So.  Now that I have all that out of the way….

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For most of my life, I have identified as an Egalitarian.  I believe that all people should be treated under the same standards.  No matter what God you pray to (or don’t), you should have the same protections if you’re declared insane.  No matter what gender you identify with, you’re held accountable when you rob a store.  No matter what race you were born into, you have a right to stand up for others when you see inequality.  And, most importantly, no matter who you are, if you want the privilege that comes with something, expect to do the work and take on the responsibilities to get it.

I think most people can agree with me.  Not all, and I get that, but most.

black-and-white-people-bar-men.jpgNow, the irony here is that I spent most of my life refusing to be a feminist.  I think that it’s too easy to swing the pendulum in the opposite direction.  I believe that the state of humanity drives us for a little vengeance when we finally get some traction.  That means feminism, for most of my life, has seemed like just as big of a problem as sexism, but in the opposite direction.

I think that men are often stuck in a very difficult place.  Look at any of our modern romances!  We want them to be strong, sexy, unrealistically beautiful, and yet be sensitive without showing any weakness.  Conversely, we expect them to love us for our fat, out of shape, aging bodies, not think a thing when we’re too tired to be all sweet and sexy for them, and lose it at the drop of the hat (or some hormonal swings, but it’s kinda the same from their point of view).  That’s not exactly fair, and to me, it’s not really all that appealing.  I mean, I get it.  Wouldn’t it be NICE if it worked like that?

But it doesn’t.  So we try to bend the rules, ideals, and mythos to make it happen.  It won’t.  It can’t.  Men are just as human as women.  They have their own dreams and goals.  They’re just as valid as ours, and a little masculine escapism isn’t subjugation.  It’s just one of the glorious aspects of human nature.

black-and-white-car-vehicle-vintage.jpgConversely, my husband is a feminist.  I have no idea how, but he’s managed to capture the perfect balance between strong and protective yet sensitive and domestic.  This is a man who not only believes women are equal, but he lives it daily, proving it through his actions.  He cooks, cleans, and romances me regularly.  I work, work, work, work, then work some more.  We have complete gender reversal in our house – yet not.  He “cleans” the house with a shop vac.  He plays with a welder, drives a tractor, and cooks on the grill.  I write sensual sex scenes, love painting my nails, and have an addiction to salon day.

He feels manly, I feel feminine, and together, we have the most disgustingly perfect relationship in existence.  (Where do you think I get my inspiration from, people?).  But lately, something has changed.  I think it started a few years ago, but I’m honestly not sure.  Somewhere along the line, I decided that I was tired of the sexism that most people didn’t even notice when it was happening.  Worst of all, a large chunk comes from women!  The societal expectations for us are so ingrained that we can no longer see the inequity of it, and that makes me so sad.

couple makeout.pngBut, my problem is that I’m not sure if it’s safe to talk about.  I mean… politics!  How can I rant about sexism without sounding like a parody of the nightly news?  How can I talk about romance novels and those sex scenes without getting into birth control and reproductive rights?   Including diverse characters and not discussing the prejudices they face every day?  Popular culture and all the misogyny?  I mean, things like men who think they have a right to treat women as property?  That was kinda all over the news… and pretty darned political.

Well, after a week of thinking about it, pondering the implications, and weighing my options, I’ve come to a decision.  I don’t care.  If continuing on like I have before labels me as a liberal nut job or right wing idiot, then have fun with that.  I must admit, I’ll be interested to see which it is.

And so, this was a very long way around my coming to a decision.  You see, there is an elephant in this room.  For those of us who try to transcend things like daily life, we’re hyper-aware of it.  We can’t rant about our political beliefs on our facebook pages – that are viewed by fans who aren’t interested.  We can’t toss out a tweet about it without drawing all the wrong kind of attention.  We also can’t close our minds to the other side, because um… it’s kinda our job to write about changing views.  We authors call that character growth.

So let me take this moment and point it out.  These are elephants:

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My opinions are not, and I’m going to have them.

They are what inspire me to write.  They’re what fuel my next story.  So yes, I will be talking about women’s issues, because women are a very strong part of my storylines.  I also will not promise to avoid anything else in popular media.

I’m sorry if that offends anyone, but the stories must go on.

 

 

 

How the real world can inspire a villain

mobil test2.pngAll of my stories are based on hope.  The Rise of the Iliri more than others.  Yesterday, I was in the process of finishing up another round of corrections to fix a massive and glaring plot hole, when politics happened.

Now, typically, I don’t care to discuss politics.  (I still don’t.)  But I do love talking about equality for women and rape culture, and that’s what has me shocked right now.

You see, I don’t care if you’re for government spending or against it.  I don’t care if you like regulations or hate them.  Doesn’t matter to me if you agree with immigration reform or desire isolationism.  All of those decisions are logical, rational, and I can easily understand the argument.

What I simply can’t wrap my mind around is how easily bullies are rewarded.  I’m not just talking about the presidential election but also pundits, celebrities, and pretty much anyone that spends some time on the TV-thing most people have.  We as humans love strong personalities.  We love them more when they’re leading our charge.  But why?

Why do we tell our children that it’s not acceptable to be a bully, then elect someone who, um, basically ran his campaign on it?  Is it because we ignore that one fact due to another more important concern?  How do we overlook the signs of behind the scenes threats and power grabs? Is it because she could make history and give ourselves a step up in the world?  You see, it’s not an either-or (for the US presidential election comparison), but a whole culture that none of us want to face down.

We talk about rape culture.  We talk about sexism, misogyny, racism, elitism, and all the isms.  We hate those things – even as we ARE those things – but we never notice the bias inside.

There’s that age old question that gets tossed out about how if two kids came into a convenience store, and something ends up stolen, which do you check first, the black kid or the white?  I got asked that.  My answer was the one closest to the missing item.  For most people, the answer is the thug from the hood – er, I mean the black kid.  Because that’s how we’ve been prepared to think of specific groups of people by the media, and no matter how you hate it, it’s racism.  Just because everyone else agrees doesn’t change that.

See, conservatives are stupid.  Liberals are lazy and out of touch.  Mexicans are criminals, Blacks are poor, Asians are smart but have no common sense, and so on.  It also applies to gender, but there it’s more subtle.

When a man stands up and screams about what he believes in, he’s a leader.  When a woman does it, she’s PMSing.  When women react in the exact same way as a man emotionally, we’re typically seen as being melodramatic.  If we embellish, we’re just desperate for attention.  If we want to look good, we’re sluts.  If we don’t, we’re slobs.

The problem is that there’s no way to win.  There’s no one to lead this problem (whichever version of the above applies to you, dear reader).  Our only hope is to do it ourselves.  Our only option is to take the abuse so that others won’t need to suffer later.  Our last chance to make this thing that has been plaguing our minds for years into something right…

Now pause a moment.

Stop and read that again as the backstory for a villain instead of a political rant.  Look at all that motivation, that actualization!  It’s real, it’s plausible, and it could be a setup for a very nasty person.

In my case, it’s applicable to the Emperor of Terric.  On some planet out in the middle of the Tau Ceti system, where the population can’t even remember Earth, that little bit of human nature is still applicable to my villain.

Angel4_pre.pngIt’s also an amazing way to stop worrying about the things I don’t like in the real world and find a better place to rest my mind.  I can escape the problems of today for those of fantasy, let my mind stop and relax because the threat can’t touch ME, and wallow in the actions of someone stronger, braver, smarter, and less real than I could ever be.

And for a few bucks, the cost of an indie book written by someone else is worth the sanity it will give me, because yes, I’m sick to death of the political silly season, and I don’t see it slowing down any time soon.  I plan to spend the next drama laden cycle wrapped in the digital pages of a whole lot of good escapism.  The kind with villains who aren’t real, can’t affect me, and won’t show up on the news after another mass shooting, political scandal, or whatever.

I’m going to take this real life insanity, and turn it into the best inspiration I’ve ever had.

 

 

 

A little R&R is so revitalizing

woman underwater.jpegAs many of my fans know, I’m crazy about this writing stuff.  Sadly, I’ve also learned that I seem to have a limit.  After a year of writing every single second I could, well, I got tired.  So I took a break.

It was a week.  Maybe two.  I just didn’t want to sit down, shut up, and type for hours on end.  You see, I’ve just moved into a cute new house and there’s so much to do!  Unpacking, cleaning, organizing, lounging around with Mr. Perfect doing stupid things with the puppies (like throw sticks, play tug, and such), nap, and other completely non-productive things.

It was great!  But it kinda got boring.

Ok, full disclosure in here.  My father has been really sick, too.  He’s on the mend, but not completely better.  Things are still a bit of a toss up with his health, but it’s now a matter of how long before he’s ok and not IF he’s ok.

So, yeah, like I was saying… I got tired.  I watched some TV.  Now, I don’t actually own a television, so all of my entertainment is online.  I watched a few movies, too.  I had some great ideas of how to handle things that had been frustrating me – and some ideas of how not to.  I started thinking, and thinking, and thinking…….

And in all of this, I just ignored social media.  It was so liberating!  I did the fun things I used to do that gave me the ideas for all these books in the first place.  One year, nine (or so) novels.  I missed my dream of 12 books in 12 months, but meh.  I’m still ok with 9 books in 12 months.  I mean, I wrote those.  I collaborated, edited, helped with cover art, became completely insane, recovered, turned into a bookzilla (which is like a bridezilla, but for publishing) and um, well… got drunk.martini-1117932

For those of you who follow me on twitter, you may have seen glimpses of that stupidity.  (I’m @aurynhadley for those who didn’t know.  Come, join the fun).  Um, but yeah.  I got wasted, laughed like I haven’t since high school, completely embarrassed myself with my co-author, editor, and their husbands, and ate some amazing food.  Thank God I’m not a puker.  Just sayin’.

And, if you can’t tell from the tone of this post… well, I’m feeling it again.  My biggest problem right now is which book to work on!  I have an addendum to the Wolf of Oberhame series (I’m thinking about calling it “When We Were Gods” if that says anything) but I don’t know if I should just finish the last little bit and put it out there, or wait.  I mean, it’s not really IN the series, but it would fit right about now.  Oh, and then there’s When We Were Crowned.  Yeah, had to do a massive cut and start the middle over.  I turned wrong somewhere, but it’s way better.  Trust me.

And the next book in the Rise of the Iliri series?  Yeah, I finally know what’s wrong and how to make it better.  Re-write number three is IN progress.

Oh, but there’s also “Two of a Kind” which I was starting in the wrong place.  Had to jump ahead to the good stuff and ignore all the boring back story.  What was I thinking?

Angel3.pngLet’s not even talk about that folder filled with sci-fi that has been BEGGING me to do some work on it.  Ahem… and torture my cover guy for images…

Or the dystopian?  That one is just begging me to finish and keep going.  But I have those other series to complete first!

Then there’s the post global warming with a fantasy bent thing.  No, it’s really good, trust me.  Like When We Were Kings kinda good.  It’s just hard to describe because it’s really sci-fi that reads like fantasy and has dragons.  Well, wyverns, but who’s counting legs?

Um, right.  and the “not a vampire” series, the steam punk thieves, the sentient world, energy-based alien shape shifters, and so much more.  So many books!  So little time!  I need like 6 more of me, so we can write them all out.  As it is, someone is going to end up waiting, and I hate waiting.  I want to know how they all end, and the characters are keeping their secrets just as much as I am.  So you, my dear readers, are somewhere down the line.

But it’s ok.  I’ve rested.  I’ve recovered.  I’m writing like some kind of psychopath on way too much caffeine (because I am) and loving every second of it.  I’m thrilled, and I’m really hoping that all of this doesn’t get bogged down in editing.  Because……. we’re in my second year as a “real live” author, and I want to make it better than the first.