Flawed: a Sneak Peek

FlawedSMALLGames are a way of life.  Men, women, children – we all love them, and some people make their living in virtual reality.  Whether that’s playing games professionally like Riley Andrews (Challenge Accepted) or designing them, games have become a lot more than child’s play.

Destiny Pierce grew up online.  Her best friends are virtual.  Her gossip revolves around the next release.  By age 17, she’s already made a name for herself blogging about the thing she loves most, and even picked up a few part-time gigs – until they realize she’s just a kid, that is.  But her life is about to change.  Graduation is around the corner and she thinks her toughest decision is whether to take an entry level position at a game company or head off to college on a sweet scholarship.  But nothing is ever that easy.

(Content warning: contains graphic language and situations, may be triggering for some.)


Unlocking the door, Destiny tossed her backpack on the couch, grabbed a Coke, and ran up the stairs as fast as she could. First, her finger pressed the power button to turn on her computer, then she stripped out of her school clothes. Baggy fleece pants and a t-shirt so old and worn that it was nearly transparent took their place. She’d promised her guild that she’d join them for the raid at eight but still had to do one more read-through before posting her latest blog entry.

Dropping into the well-worn chair, she ripped open a mini Snickers, shoved it in her face, and opened a browser. A gulp of Coke washed the whole thing down. Probably not the best choice. Chocolate and soda – that definitely wouldn’t help her drop a few pounds. With one hand she pinched the flab at her waist, while the other clicked the button to log into her blog.

Well, not like she needed to be pretty to become a game developer. The biggest question was whether to get a degree first or ride the wave of her recent fame. Electronic Arts wanted her to come in for an interview for one of their massively multiplayer online games, but the letter lying on the kitchen table was too tempting to overlook. A scholarship to the school of her dreams, the University of Southern California, wasn’t something to take lightly. Then again, could she really learn anything new, or would she just be spending money she didn’t have for a dream she was about to achieve on her own?

Destiny shoved her hands through her hair and let her eyes scan the blog. That image wasn’t in quite the right place. Nope, she wanted that to say now instead of not. What the hell was that sentence supposed to mean? Oh, right. Well, it needed to be rephrased. Then she read it all again. When the whole thing was good enough, she pressed the button to post and started on the comments. Most of them were readers who didn’t bother to log in or sign up for an account.

Anonymous: Dum fukin bitch. Nothing wrong with girls in Legend. Them elves are hawt!

Anonymous: It’s called rock, paper, scissors. If you could do more than just make a sandwich you fat fuck, you’d know that.

Anonymous: Talk bout Legend agn & I’ll rape you.

Fyre: Is it more appropriate to alter the attire for female models, or offer equally scandalous clothing to the males? What about offering players both, so that those who choose to sexualize their own avatar have that option, and those who find it foolish can select armor that actually appears to serve a purpose?

Anonymous: I fap to your stream. Luv me a fat hoe.

Soul_Reaper: Face it, more dudes play than babes. Armor reflects that. If you got a problem, go play Hello Kitty Online.

Anonymous: Glad someone said it! Legend is just bad!

She couldn’t take anymore. Yes, she knew she was opening a can of worms when she called out a game for its atrocious representation of women. Not only was their “armor” barely more than dental floss, but the women were always abused, assaulted, or treated like objects. Granted, her faithful fan “Anonymous” wasn’t helping her ego any. Fyre had a point, though. Was her problem the unequal options, or was it simply that she was so sick and tired of being told she was only good enough if she dropped twenty pounds? She clicked his name, which gave her the option to respond to his account privately.

You raise a good point about character clothing options. While I personally find it irritating that a few strips of flimsy cloth represent top tier damage protection, none of us are fooled into thinking that games are equivalent to real life. Mostly, I believe the issue isn’t the clothing (although getting to see some hot guys in leather straps would be nice for a change) but the use of females as quest objectives.

Let me explain. In the few instances where a male needs to be saved, the storyline always includes him doing everything possible to help himself. Women, instead, are stupid, rushing headlong into danger because of a failed love, lost item, or any other superficial BS the designers feel is “good enough” to keep the story going. It’s not. Women make up almost half of the population of online games, now, and we want to be tough, smart, sexy, and super-powered, too.

She sent it and started deleting the most crass of the anonymous comments. Her blog was supposed to be a place for gamers to discuss the mechanics of both the available games and those currently being designed. She popped another Snickers into her mouth, her hand moving down the list, deleting based on the first few words in the quick view. Pressing a button, the icon spun, removing all of the nastiness and hate.

Her computer dinged softly, indicating another private message. Really? When she opened that folder, she was shocked to see that Fyre had already responded.

As a man, the objectification of women is a little too easy to overlook – sad as that may be. I think that people of alternate lifestyles, such as the transgendered and homosexual, also need representation. Back when I was a kid, only little boys played games. Now, that’s not the case. Must say, I love your blog, Deztiny, and enjoy hearing your perspective on your stream.

Pretty sure you won’t answer it, but one last question. As the most influential private gamer this year, if you could persuade a development team to make anything, what would your dream game be?

She chuckled at the misspelling of her name but wasn’t upset. The guy was obviously a fan, but she was neither Dez nor tiny. Easy accident to make, though. Granted, her mom freaked out if she spent too much time talking to any one person so she’d answer this guy another way. Since he sounded genuinely interested in her opinions, she’d give him an eyeful.

See tomorrow’s post for a detailed answer. Short answer: I want it all, and I want something that feels smooth. Raid in World of Warcraft tonight at 8 pm EST, lachesis@streamgamesnow.

He responded immediately.

Will be watching. Won’t cry if you happen to give up the secret to holding agro! Love your blog – best insights I’ve heard in a long time.

That was exactly what she’d needed: a nice little boost to her ego. Granted, most of the work she’d done for Sony and EA so far was contract jobs, but the non-disclosure agreement still held. Not to mention that she didn’t want everyone to know she was just a kid. It seemed like as soon as people found out she was still in high school, they assumed she was an idiot. Never mind that she’d proven herself over and over. Nope, all that mattered was that she was chunky and ugly.

Her inbox dinged again, but this time, the message wasn’t from Fyre. With a sigh, she opened it. Someone had caught a screenshot of her talking on the stream and photoshopped a penis into her open mouth. Destiny just deleted it. If her mom ever found out some of the things these people said to and about her, she’d make her stop blogging.

What her mom didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her. Destiny focused her attention on the game of her dreams. Oh, she already knew what it was. She’d been wishing someone would make it, but the technical hurdles would require a very specific team. Hm. Maybe she’d address that as well. If nothing else, it would look really good on her resume.


Two weeks later, Destiny finally got a response from Fyre to the blog she’d written for him. At first, she’d been a little annoyed, but she realized that since her inbox received a few hundred messages a day – something she didn’t keep secret – he’d probably just read it instead of commenting. Didn’t matter. It still made her smile to see a fan that actually cared enough to hold a dialogue about something other than how girls should be seen and not heard.

When she opened the message, she found it short but oh so sweet.

You are brilliant. I think someone is making your game. Watch TGC, 9 pm EST.

That was in seven minutes! She Googled the channel, opened it, and begged for it to load faster. Her computer was a piece of crap, but it was all her mom would let her have. If she had something better, she might try more than just online role-playing games, but shooters were out with the dinosaur she was running. While the website did its thing, she flew down the stairs, found another Coke, grabbed a handful of candy, and scurried through the living room.

“Destiny?” Her mom called. “Did you get your homework done?”

“Yeah, Mom. Like hours ago. Hey, don’t forget. I have that interview with EA next week. I wanna call Dad and see if he knows what I should expect for pay.”

“You’re seventeen years old!” Her mom sounded exasperated instead of thrilled. “You need to get a degree, or you’ll never have a real career.”

“Doesn’t work like that anymore, Mom. Hey, I gotta go. TGC has a segment on a new MMO. Yell at me tomorrow, but I know the debate by heart, ok? Love ya, night!”

And she fled before her mother could say anything else. Two minutes past, she was back at her machine, thankful that this show had a long intro. She cracked the Coke and took a big gulp, slipping on her headphones.

” – Up and coming development company. Chance Hunter is here to tell us how Deviant Games plans to change the entire landscape of the gaming scene.”

The camera moved to an amazingly beautiful man. His eyes were greyish and sparkled with intelligence, his smile was perfect, but his hair was startlingly red. Naturally red, but he not only pulled it off, he made it delicious. Destiny grabbed her phone and sent a text to her best friend, warning her that this show would be worth watching for the hottie if nothing else.

“Deviant Games plans to compete with the other AAA companies. Unlike most indie game developers, we have the financial backing to make this happen. Our first project is Silk. Set in a fantasy realm unlike any you’ve seen before, Silk explores the galaxy through trade, travel, and of course, the battles that go with it. The journey is smooth as, well, Silk.”

His voice was nice, too. He had to be the public face for the company. No, the text across the bottom of the screen said he was the owner and a developer himself. Chance Hunter. She’d have to look into him – for completely professional reasons, of course!

Then the camera panned out, showing concept art for the game. The world was like a fairy tale. Most modern games were going hard and dirty, with deserts and post-apocalyptic scenes. Silk was swinging the other way. The flowers were gigantic, the trees were in vivid colors, and everything was green and lush. In the sky were visible planets, each of them colored differently, offering the potential for more worlds in the future.

“’Combined arms’ is a common term for first person shooters,” Chance went on. “What we want to do is bring this idea to Silk. Infantry – whether that’s for player vs. player or player vs. the environment – will require actual player skill, not just button mashing. Conversely, vehicular combat, which includes powerful mechanical suits, will give players an auto-locking system. Most of us call this tab targeting. We also hope to have a storyline that is intricate, detailed, and fresh. Raids will no longer be ‘tank and spank.’ In order to succeed, our fans will have to challenge themselves to do more and do it better.”

“How far along is the project?” the announcer asked.

Chance smiled. “Not far enough. Deviant Games has been working for eight months to get a functional development platform and game engine. We’ve achieved that and are now diving into making this dream of ours – the entire game community’s – a reality.”

“So, should we expect the typical races? Elves, dwarves, and the like?”

“No.” Chance smiled like he had a secret. “The old races are tried and true, but also tired. Think more Star Wars and less Lord of the Rings.” He tilted his head. “We also plan to push the boundaries in other areas. Male, white, and straight will not necessarily be the standard for Silk. This world of ours is diverse. We have people with different sexual orientations, different races, and different religions. Why would a fantasy realm that spans multiple planets be any different? In Silk, women are not objects; they are people. Armor is not dental floss – unless you find one of the rare magic pieces available to either sex character. And, not all races come in just two sexes. Some aliens may be… different.”

“Is this a game or a comment on the state of society?”

“Aren’t all games a comment on society, or our desire to escape from it? This is a game, meant to be played for fun, but one that gives everyone a place to belong.” Chance leaned back. “That is why we play.”

The large screen behind him flickered to a blurred and distorted clip of a game. It looked a lot like FoxFlight. She squinted, trying hard to make it out while the reporter kept going.

“Rumors say that you’re an avid gamer yourself. Playing a lot doesn’t necessarily make you able to create something good, though. What do you say to this?”

“They’re right.” Chance turned to look at what was playing. “Yeah. That’s me. Unfortunately, no matter how much I try to assure the public that Silk will be the next best thing, only time will prove that. We want to learn from the mistakes of other games, not copy them. Most of us know about the debacle with that one Star Wars game or how FoxFlight doubled their subscriptions by listening to the community. That is video game history. With that said, we also realize that our community won’t always be right. Making a game easier isn’t necessarily better. We get frustrated by the challenge and rant, but we all secretly love it. It gives us a feeling of success to overcome the impossible.”

It was FoxFlight! That meant his character information was that blur at the bottom left. She squinted harder, turned her head, and pulled her eyes open, trying to make it out. Damned professional videographers and their ability to distort the information she wanted. His character name was just four letters. E? Second letter was definitely a Y. R or N? She leaned her nose to her monitor.

Chance was still talking. “I think Destiny Pierce from The Gamer’s Fate just posted a brilliant article about what the player base is looking for. In a word: inclusion. That is exactly what we hope Silk will be.”

Her heart hung in her chest. He’d just said her name. Her name! He’d just given her blog the biggest promotion she’d ever had! Not that she really had a problem with her viewership, but more readers meant more advertising dollars, which meant more respect in the community. That this guy read her blog was great, but that he cited her as a credible source?

The four letters suddenly coalesced in her mind. Fyre. “Holy shit,” she breathed. “You fucking listened to me.”


The Gamer’s Fate

A Blog on the State of Gaming

By Destiny Pierce

The future of the MMO market is looking interesting, to say the least. At this time of year, developers try to increase their investment money by hyping the newest games in the pipeline. A few brave souls have already announced their products instead of waiting for F5 like the big names. Here’s a short list, and something to hold you all over until I can satisfy your appetites for some real gamer news.

Star Wars – Yes, it’s true, they’re making another MMO based on this IP.

Earth 2.0 – Will it be console only? There’re a few hints that a PC version might be a reality. Unfortunately, most of the hype for this game is from unsubstantiated leaks. The screenshots look amazing. The game mechanics and the potential for cooperation with another, more popular MMO are inspiring. Fingers crossed on this one, but I’m willing to bet that concrete news will be sparse.

Silk – O.M.G. These guys may be the wave of the future. [Check out the interview with Chance Hunter on The Gamer Channel here]. If they can manage to pull this off, I think a few big names might be scared. Expect to see popular titles try to steal their ideas and rush them into production (expansions for existing MMOs) before Silk can change the world.

WoW’s next expansion – Oh c’mon, we all know it’s coming. I’m going to bet there are some pigs and at least one poo quest. Probably a new set of gear, a new raid, and a whole new set of daily quests to keep us playing.

Reader Comments:

Anonymous: If you leave your house, I will get you. I will rape you. I will kill you. Keep your vag out of my games, you don’t know shit.

Anonymous: Who gave U the right to say what I like?

Discreet: Love your blog! Saw it on TGC!

Anonymous: I’m gonna kill you, bitch. I’m gonna rape your mouth hole and kill you.

KZP12: No way Earth will go to PC. No money in it. Already have Dust, so don’t need it.

Minx: Post these sexist comments over on Fat, Ugly, or Slutty. They’re epic.

Anonymous: How’d you get the damage modifier numbers for Aimed Shot in yesterday’s post?

Anonymous: I know what you look like. I know where you live.

Anonymous: Fuck me, Destiny. I want to fuck your little ass.

Anonymous: She won’t look pretty after I’m done with her. Fat little fuck. Oh Destiny, you shoulda kept your nose outta the boys club, bitch.

KZP12: You guys are seriously fucked up. If you hate what she says, that’s one thing, but damn.

Anonymous: You think you’re hot shit bitch? Yeah? Just wait until I’m done with you. I’ll tie your ass up and rape you over and over until you never touch a game again. Bitches like you ruined MMOs. We’ll make sure that no one will want you when we’re done, and you’ll beg us for more. Damned bitch like you? Getting raped’s the best thing you can hope for. I won’t even bitch that you’re so damned fat. I wanna see you cry, Destiny. I’ll fucking rape you until you cry, then drink all your damned tears. Ain’t no one gonna find you either. Up the ass, in the mouth, and I’ll rip your twat so wide any other man will feel like a damned broomstick in a cave. You should have quit, you cunt. You’re mine now, and I know where you are.

Soul_Reaper: I’m screenshotting this shit. That’s just fucked up.

KZP12: Hey, wasn’t a new blog due today?

Minx: Been three days since her last post. What happened?

Soul_Reaper: Email attached to my account. Contact me for screenshots. Destiny hasn’t posted in a week, and she always is on time. Anyone heard anything?

Minx: Nothing. Wonder if the guys with little dicks finally got her to quit.

Soul_Reaper: maybe she’s finally on the inside?

Anonymous: Destiny Pierce is my bitch.

Soul_Reaper: Nine days? Seriously? Anyone heard anything?

Soul_Reaper: Update – police contacted me today for screenshots of older comment sections. I think something happened to Destiny. I may not agree with her on everything, but I hope she comes back. I hope she’s ok.

Anonymous: Prayers for Lachesis.

Anonymous: Destiny we miss you.

KZP12: [click here for video] Found that on the news. Shit looks bad, guys. Someone abducted her. Destiny is missing.

Soul_Reaper: Shit, that sucks. Hope she’s ok.

Anonymous: Hope she’s still alive.

Anonymous: Prayers for Destiny.

Anonymous: We miss you Destiny.

[click here to read the next chapter]

FLAWED available June 30th.  Pre-order now on Amazon


The secret to my success…


Yes, that is a keyboard.  It’s a very pretty version of what I use, and while I don’t get any kickbacks (I really should with as much as I hype this thing) I think every author should know that this pricey keyboard DOUBLED my typing speed.  Yes.  Doubled.

I type fast anyway.  On a typical laptop, I hit around 90 – 120 words per minute.  On my Corsair keyboard, I can hit 210 without straining.  I can finally type as fast as I think!  Why?  Because the mechanical keys with brown cherry mx switches (technical stuff there) require less pressure.  Each keystroke is, therefore, faster – and it really does add up.

Oh sure, the above keyboard (Corsair K95) sells for anywhere from 160 to 240 dollars (US).  If you don’t need all the fancy function keys on the left (those G keys) you can get a K70 (same thing with less buttons) for about 80 bucks (US).  But here’s the best part… they really do last forever!

Most authors type enough to destroy a keyboard.  The repetitive presses of each key required to make a 100,000 word novel is about all the thin plastic keys can take.  For me (who writes stupid amounts) I wear out a cheap keyboard in about a month.  Literally wear out.  Like holes in the space bar, no letters on the keys, certain letters stop working kind of wear out.  To date, I have written 30 books, with at least another 10 books worth of cut scenes, and have only used 2 Corsair keyboards, a K95 and a K70.  My second one is still pretty darned shiny and new, too.

Now, if you’re playing at writing a book – and it seems most people are – then this isn’t something you need to worry about.  But for all those people who ask how I can write so much, so fast, and keep pumping out the books?  Well, this really is my greatest secret.  A good keyboard is the tool of our trade.  It’s the method our thoughts use to reach the “paper”.  Having to stop, backspace, and fix a missed letter?  That’s breaking the line of thought, the intensity of action, and it does show.  The way we feel when writing comes across in the nouns, verbs, and descriptive words we unconsciously choose to make a statement.  Having to stop and think about where we were in the action kills the mood as quickly as parents do with infatuated teenagers: in its tracks.

A good quality mechanical keyboard is most often sold as a gaming keyboard.  That’s because gamers are so competitive, and they realize that a millisecond difference in keystroke could be what drops them to second place.  The need for longevity, tolerable pricing (because most teens aren’t rich) and the ability to withstand coffee/mountain dew spilled in the keys means that it works perfectly for the frazzled author.  For me, the brown switches (the types are named after colors) work best, but many prefer red.  Thankfully, these are the two most popular options.  Blue is a bit mushy for my tastes.

So yes, keyboard buying can get rather intimidating, but if you have questions, feel free to message me on Twitter (@aurynhadley) or ask me on facebook (www.facebook.com/AurynHadleyAuthor).  I’m always happy to geek out for a moment.

Now, if I could just figure out how to get those kickbacks.


It’s not a yacht.

2016-05-11Being an author means we get cool things, right?  All too often, I see people talk about making enough from their book sales to buy a yacht.  I don’t want one.  Instead, I got a house.

Ok, so I already owned it, and it’s certainly not a mansion.  Our little dream home is a one bedroom cottage in a lovely, quiet town.  It’s also a wreck, but my husband I see the potential for lovely evenings on the porch with our laptops, enjoying crazy storms and mosquitos while the puppies play at our feet.  To do that, we need to do a little work, first.

Yes, that’s me in the bottom of that picture.  I was sitting on a “cooch-choo-choo” (aka floor roller), drinking a bit (hence the fancy name for the floor roller) and papering my floor.  Once that is done, we’ll start putting the finishing touches on the walls.  I’m thrilled because hopefully I’ll get to move into my lovely little cottage in another month… give or take.

The downside is that this is a LOT of work.  The husband and I always dreamed of building our own place.  Sure, what we’re doing doesn’t exactly count, but it does satisfy that urge to live in a home that we made together.  The hundred-year-old house is perfect for us and a complete dream come true.  It’s also the reason I’ve been pushing out my backlist so fast.  The extra income from book sales has all gone into either making more books or those “tiny” things a home needs, like a new roof, walls, floor, appliances….

Well, and that amazing lipstick red hair.

But, this is what I bought with the “big” money I made as an author.  Renovations are ahead of schedule.  Things we weren’t sure we could afford are actually happening.  My little author’s retreat is becoming a reality!

Now, while I won’t be taking time off to tour the world on my yacht (which seems rather miserable to my stay-at-home minded self), my releases may slow down just a bit.  That means 6 weeks before y’all get the next book instead of just 4.  I mean, you might have to wait as long as two whole months before the next release.  (I doubt it, I like releasing books too much).

And when I get the chance to finally move into my dream home?  Yeah, there’s an office dedicated to writing.  My husband jokes that he’s going to build a box around me, with a warning light for when he shouldn’t interrupt.  I figure the frantic slapping of keys will be enough of a sign to warn him off.  Either way, I anticipate my writing to get back into full swing – and then some!

So, if you wonder why I’m behind on my reading, reviewing, and social media commenting… now you know.

She didn’t ask for this

FlawedSMALLShe had it all going for her.  Destiny was pretty, smart, and had already started proving herself as one of the best up and coming game developers on the scene.  Unfortunately, she also had opinions, and a certain group of people had a problem with that.  They told her to keep her mouth shut.  They told her to get back in the kitchen.  They sent her threats on her blog, social media, and any way they could be sure it was seen.

Then they did exactly what they’d promised.

One day Destiny was the biggest name in the gamer scene, the next she was just gone.  What they’d done to her was too much.  She couldn’t think about it, couldn’t face it, and couldn’t even handle the touch of another person.  Everything she’d loved was ruined, including her.  Three years after she vanished from gaming, her only escape was to obliterate her mind with as many chemicals as she could consume.  She prayed that one day it might even kill her, so she wouldn’t have to face reality ever again.

They’d won.  They’d broken her completely, but they hadn’t been able to take away her love for it all.  Deep down, she still dreamed of creating the perfect game, that blissful escape from the hell of everyday life that she wanted more than anything else.  So when Chance walked into the hardware store looking for network cable, she couldn’t keep her mouth shut.  She couldn’t help but answer his questions.  The only problem was that she knew just a little too much.

And he knew exactly who she had been.  Destiny Pierce.  They said whatever game could get her on the payroll would make it big, and that’s exactly what he needed.  Silk was falling apart before his eyes.  His bank account was draining so fast he was sure it had a leak in it, and the release date was approaching way too fast.  This was his one chance to break into the gaming scene, but if Silk failed, so did the entire company.  What he needed was a miracle.  He needed help to make all of this work.  He needed the broken little girl who was so high she couldn’t even focus on his face.

And then he had to figure out how to make her better.  She was broken beyond recognition, but that didn’t mean she was ruined.  She was just Flawed.


Flawed is the prequel to Challenge Accepted.  The subject matter in this book is for mature audiences, and may be triggering.  This book sets the stage for the rest of the Eternal Combat series, which delves into the best parts of gaming – and the worst.  It’s anticipated for early summer, 2016.



Tick Tock

clock-face-1082319_1280Writing.  Day job.  Marketing.  Editing.  Publishing.  Cover designs. Day job.  Friends.  Family.  Pets.  Writing.  Editing.  It’s a never ending list.

The more tiny tasks I add to the list, the more they add up, the more they play in my mind, the harder it is to just focus and write the next book.  I think time is the one resource that I forgot to account for.

In my rush to get everything done, stay on the schedule I’ve set, I always forget a few very important things: sleep and friends.  I stay up late into the wee hours, updating book lists, checking ads, and more.  When the next morning rolls around, that meeting with my best friend, the lunch with my husband, and all of those “normal” person things just don’t sound appealing.

And thus, I, as a writer, have become a hermit.  This is why writing is such a solitary job.  It isn’t because our friends don’t want to know, or don’t want to see us.  It’s because we’re so worried about doing a million tiny things that sound unimportant that we forget one big thing.  You can’t write if you aren’t living.  You can’t isolate yourself from humanity, and then convey the experience of being human through your words.  You can’t refuse society and still expect the world to “get” what your writing is trying to convey.

And so, I am trying hard to remember that I need to go outside.  I need to laugh over coffee with my best friend.  I need to tell crass jokes, tickle my husband, and take my dog for a walk.  I need to be me.  I can’t let the characters in my head consume me, for that is the path to insanity.  I may peer over the edge into that abyss on a regular basis, but I intend to be nothing more than a tourist.

Ever get shocked by a book?

I found a book.  I found a good book.

I managed to find a book that shocked and awed me, while pulling me so deep into the character’s miserable life – yet giving me a tiny glimpse of hope to hang onto – that I couldn’t put it down.

The Color of Rain, by Cori McCarthy is stunning.  The prose is gorgeous.  The writing is emotionally compelling.  The situation is dire.  The ending is bittersweet.  Everything about this book made me yearn for more.  It made me want to keep reading.  This book made me hope.  I couldn’t stop turning the pages, begging for the main characters to get a lucky break, terrified they wouldn’t.

And it’s so dark.  Not the world.  There’s none of the “brown and dirty” that I often find in these kinds of books.  The world was lovely, rich with color, people, and cultures.  It’s what lay under all that which made it so ominous.  The villain masked by a pretty face.  The desperation obscured by possibilities.  This book took my heart, crushed it into a knot, then threw it onto the floor and waited for things to slowly return to their proper state.  It left my emotions dangling by a thread while the characters suffered things that should happen to no human, but patched me up at the end.

In other words, I was taken along for a ride.  I’m just thankful I had a seatbelt on this rollercoaster.  Well done, Cori McCarthy.  Very well done.

Check it out on Amazon

If I see another gamer, it will be all too soon

CA Red book Character 2I’m trying hard to get ahead of my release schedule.  That means I’m typically working on a book a couple ahead of what is planned for release next month.  If you look at the list on my sidebar (on aurynhadley.com) I’m working on the book that comes AFTER the last one listed.  In this case, it’s another book in the Eternal Combat series.

And right now I really can’t stand gamers.  I said this before when I was working on the gladiators.  When I’m done tweaking every last comma, semicolon, turn of phrase, and checking for overuse of words in a paragraph, I’ve burned myself out on the story.  I hit my editing hard, at the exclusion of basically the rest of my life.  When I finally come up for air, I’m not in the mood to look at it for at LEAST a week (usually two).  But that’s ok.  By my release schedule, I’m often writing a book planned for 2017 and editing a book that’s in a totally different series.

This is why my release schedule is currently alternating between the Rise of the Iliri series (military science fantasy) and the Eternal Combat series (contemporary romance with gamers and high tech).

You see, a girl can only research DDOSing, facial recognition by social media, MAC addresses, IP vulnerabilities, VPNs, mobile hotspots… and the list goes on.  In a few days I’ll be back to diving into the genetic recombinations necessary for a tertiary gender split with a preference for a tiered result in sexes of offspring.  Can you tell I’m a WHOLE lot of fun at the holidays?  Yeah.  I take dorkiness to a whole new level!

Unfortunately, I can’t really complain about the damned iliri for a while.  Not until my readers have a chance to experience that species on their own.  Don’t worry, it’s coming up quickly, and I’m pretty excited.  Thrilled enough that I am eager to get back to the seventh book in that series!

I still want to write an urban fantasy/paranormal romance.  Got a couple of plots in mind.  Think I’ll save that for 2018.

The things “Real” authors do

computer-1185637_1280A long, long time ago – ok, almost 3 years ago, now – I sat down at my computer with this idea in my head.  Before that, I had never thought of writing a book.  Oh sure, I had ideas on how to make stories better, but I wasn’t “born” to be an author.  I didn’t have some inner desire to “do this” when I “grew up”.  Instead, this story just popped into my head and forced me to let it out.  Five novels later, I was able to take a breath.

It also kinda sucked.

No, wait.  The STORY was amazing.  The writing, however, wasn’t the best.  Granted, the story was almost (but not quite) enough to make up for the massive amount of newbie mistakes I made.  An editor made them better.  A few dozen beta readers made it good, and then an editor made it into something to be proud of.

But by that point, I was well on my way to being an “author”.  Now, if you’ve ever written anything, you’ll understand that there’s a very wide, grey line all the way around that word.  If we write, we’re writers, but when are we authors?  Is that better or worse than being a writer?  The same thing?  It’s all so confusing.  But I had this book.  People liked this book.  So maybe I should think about letting them have the chance to read it.

And so I dove head first into research.  As I mentioned before, I ended up choosing to publish my work myself.  So far, it’s been a great decision.  I’ve probably made more money (albeit not that much) than I would have with a traditional deal.  Keep in mind, I published my first book about six months ago.  But, in order to make those dollars, I had to treat this like a job, not a hobby.  Thankfully, I came prepared.  Thank you, Google.

tumblr_n0qucd56B61sjoq1co1_500I read, read, read, and then read some more.  I saw that successful authors had certain traits, and tried to emulate them.  First, it was the process of getting the book ready.  I didn’t skimp on making sure that REAL people (besides me) saw it.  I also didn’t go for friends who would pamper my feelings.  I chose the meanest, nastiest, smartest people I could talk into reading this beast of a novel.

Then, I looked at cover art.  Ok, some of my stories were nearly impossible to design the cover for.  Looking back, I realize that a few hundred dollars would have been money well spent.  Instead, I decided to my own professional art skills.  I thought it would be a great way to save money.  I was wrong.  In the end, I spent about the same to get what I needed (software, assets, etc) and added time on top of it.

And when all of that was done, I started thinking about marketing.  Oops!  Talk about putting the cart before the horse, right?  I mean, if you build it, they will come?  Won’t they?  Yeah, not if they have no idea it even exists.  Marketing comes first, and social media is a great way to start.  For me, twitter was the obvious choice.  It doesn’t matter WHICH you choose, just so long as you can commit to putting something out there every day.  It doesn’t need to be related to your book, either.

You see, it takes TIME to make friends in our little virtual worlds.  People aren’t looking to find the next greatest author.  They are looking for intelligent people who have something entertaining to say.  Trust me, no one is going to follow you because you WROTE A BOOK.  There’s a zillion people who have done that, and most of them suck at it.  They will follow you because you entertain them – even if that’s just posting bad spider jokes or cat pictures.

And now, I look at my growing fan base and have to pause.  All those things I researched, all that advice I found… I’m doing it.  When I first held my book (er flash drive) in my hand, it was overwhelming.  I wanted it all RIGHT NOW!  But, not even a year later, it’s coming together nicely.  I have books.  I have fans.  I have followers, friends, and whatever you call the people who read this blog.  The best part?  I also have sales.  Sure, I’d like more.  I mean, I want EVERYone out there to read my books.  I’d love to be able to quit my day job and focus solely on creating the next best escape from reality.  Until then, I’ll celebrate the little victories…. like 1000 people following me on twitter.  =)




The road to success is paved with books

Road KnowledgeEvery author wants to know how to make enough writing books to give up their day job.  I’m no different.  So, I’ve been tracking what works and what doesn’t.

First, let me assure you that the chances of you making it big with just one book is VERY slim.  Oh sure, some do, but some people also win the lottery.  If you wouldn’t bet your financial future on those kinds of odds, then you shouldn’t put it all on a single book.  There are just too many factors to the market for that to be a safe bet.

And if you research it, you will get information that runs the gamut.  Some say it’s all about many short stories.  Others say it’s about putting your book on every single twitter list and blog you can find.  There are places who recommend you do press releases, send books to your local library, and so much more.  I can’t tell you if those work for everyone.  I CAN tell you what is working for me.

I started off working full time at two jobs.  As one died down and fizzled out, I needed to increase my income.  Here I was, sitting on a back list that made jaws drop (which is how I’m pumping out so many books so fast, they’ve been written for a while).  So, before I dove in, I did my research. What sells, what doesn’t, and how do I make the most of my obscure status.

The first thing I saw was that romance is hot.  Hey, I had a cute and sweet romance novel.  Sure, it jerks out a few tears, but it’s definitely romance, and also romantic instead of just erotic.  I wasn’t ever expecting it to get a publishing deal, so I decided that One More Day would be my first foray into the world of self-publishing with Kindle.

It did well.  Now, it wasn’t a best seller, and it sure didn’t buy me a new car, but since I’d been researching, I was told to expect about $50 USD from my first book in the first month.  I made almost $250 without doing more than sending out a few tweets.  Hey, that means I don’t suck!  Ok, so it was time to learn from this.  I chose a series that is almost finished (Wolf of Oberhame) to check the fantasy market.  The plot line is relatively simple, the writing flows, there’s plenty of action, and it’s a bit more PG-13 to start.

08-05bUCzIBut when I tossed that out to the world, it fell into an echo chamber.  No one really cared.  I got a few reads from my previous fans, but that was about it.  The ratings were high, the page reads and sales weren’t.  Hmm.  Well, I owed it to my fans to finish the series, so I got to work on improving WWWK and send When We Were Dancing to the editor.  The corrections that came back meant a few months of work, but on February 12th, When We Were Dancing went live.  Sales skyrocketed.

Now, I cheated a bit.  I gave away When We Were Kings (book 1) during the initial release of book 2.  I offered preorder buyers a nice discount ($0.99 if bought before release, $2.99 after) and I paid a bit of money (less than $20 bucks) to get book 1 some attention on social media.  The result was dumbfounding.

My income during release weekend eclipsed that of both my previous books’ first month combined.  This was my third book, and second in the series.  My marketing was minimal, trusting my fans to honestly want to know how the story ends, and it seems to be working.  To me, this says, “Write the best books you can, and people will buy them, if you prove you can deliver.”

And now, I’m offering two more series.  The Eternal Combat Series follows a group of gamers as they deal with the unexpected repercussions of sexism in their hobby.  Rise of the Iliri is straight science fantasy about the rebellion of a subjugated species of humanoids.  VERY different books, both series are mostly done (editing and cover art are the holdups).  And I’m finishing the last of When We Were Crowned (because the changes my editor demanded means about 50,000 words need to be changed and re-written).

While I’m on this mad dash, I’m tracking numbers.  So far, the best advertising I can get is from Rochelle’s Reviews.  One one side they review romance and erotica novels.  On the other, they have just opened a branch of Science Fiction, Paranormal, and Fantasy.  Both offer readers a place to easily buy the books and to shop for more.  It’s like a portal to the riches of literature.

A measly splurge of $14.99 with Book Tweep hit a larger segment of the reading market than I expected.  I will most likely do this for the first month of each book’s release.  Studies show that buyers need to see something a few times before they trust it, and the daily tweets appear to be working.  It’s not enough to annoy my followers on twitter, but it does seem to bring sales.

But most of all, the best way to gain success seems to be just writing more books.  Each one advertises the rest.  That link on Amazon to my author page, where all my books are easily found is doing half my work for me.  And, of course, the links I place in each novel so my readers can find what they are looking for.

Next month, we’ll see if things are still looking up, but right now?  Yeah, I’ve already gone to part-time and am trying to decide what I need to make to quit altogether.  I have a good feeling that it’s really going to happen.  Hopefully, this time next year, I’ll be a full-time author, traveling on a road paved with all my books.

Where am I going to fit that other book?

Leyli Tristan poses 3So, I have books scheduled to release in March, April, June, August, October, December, and February.  I’m still filling in the months in between, but if I want to keep it nice and consistent, that means When We Were Crowned should come out in July or September.  Now, there’s a gap there in May… can I get my people moving and hit that?  Hmm.

Next week, I get back to working on the Gladiators.  One thing I can tell ya about When We Were Crowned is that there will be a whole lot more ladies weaving through the storyline. I also know that this one is going to mix the combat from WWWK with the politics of WWWD, for a story that I sincerely hope my fans will approve of.

But first, I have to introduce all of you to a few more worlds.  From contemporary drama to outlandish Science Fantasy, I think you all will love the next two series, and I’m working hard to get the all out to you as soon as possible.