A Thin Line Between Love and Lust

A Poly Love Story…

How the hell did I end up reading this one? In fact, I had told myself that in my support of other indies, I would actively avoid taking on erotic Western romance stories, or anything of the like. But he happened to be a Twitter follower who asked me to give a read, and I tend to be soft on my followers. Plus, this one had the whole poly-lover angle going on with it, so here was a twist.

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Surprisingly, I wasn’t bored out of my mind. There were a lot of points in the story where I genuinely wanted to know what was coming next. Then there were points where I went, “For REAL? YEAH, RIGHT!” But I’m not so open-minded as Nicky, who happened to be my favorite character in the book because of her unapologetic, go-getting, straight-forwardness, and her innocence, despite her sexual appetite and awareness. You wonder if shared trinogamy could exist in the real world, outside of the Mormon countryside or Islamic marriage setups, and you question the believability of the unfurling situation. But then you get jolted by some scenes that remind you there’s a structure in place that involves honesty and open communication, like every time Prince stumbles upon a new woman he’s attracted to and fails to let Nicky know his growing interest. She is quick to show her possessiveness and let him have it, which lends an air of “realness” to the situation: there are rules. Sister lovers are permissible, but no one-night stands with bimbos, and no secrets. There’s still such a thing as cheating in this arrangement.

There were also a few points where the vernacular made me chuckle, specifically Miles’ winning line: “I don’t know about cooties, but they fa sho got coochies.” It is absolutely something I could have overheard one of my young cousins say growing up, and I was impressed with how the writer was able to nail that.

I did find a lot of Prince’s poetry and mushy sentiments to be unrealistically sappy (i.e. Carrie’s response to Petrovsky’s amorous behavior in Sex in the City), but the character also openly references his own corniness throughout the book. I would cringe if my boyfriend ever led me into a room lit by candles with a bed covered in rose petals. I AM NOT A ROMANTIC. But the book does a good job of making you think, “This can’t really happen,” and then you realize, even if you would never in your life be down with it, it’s not implausible that others would. Even outside of the fairy-tale version C.E. Long paints for you.

Also, I kind of wanted the assimilation of Nyla to fail. I almost wished she would remain resolute on her feelings toward the situation just to prove that not everyone would be down with this, haha.

I’m bad.

~Tael

Why I’m Not LitRPG

I’m the first one to jump and say that Chaos (un)Controlled is a YA that blends gaming and RPG elements. When I was trying to box my genre for self-publishing, I learned of a newly emerging genre, LitRPG, which encompasses books that involve characters within a game. Basically a blend of literature and role-playing. My first thought was “Oh wow! I’ve finally found an actual niche rather than YA Contemporary Science Fantasy because that’s a mouthful.” Upon additional Googling research and website perusion (yea, I make up words that sound cool; I’m a writer, what of it?), I discovered I was WRONG.

The exemplary Ready Player One is a good fit for that category. Besides that one though, the books I found using this particular tag were far too literal. Like, avatars, hit points, NPCs and all that. And orcs. Chaos (un)Controlled takes RPG elements, but the entire story is not an RPG. I consider it more the story-boarding side of a game before the actual mechanics are introduced. Hardcore LitRPG seems like an extremely niche category not meant to have widespread demographic appeal; it’s meant to draw in those old Dungeons & Dragons and MMO players. I never got into PC gaming, with the exception of The Sims and the wildly entertaining Theme Hospital. I was strictly #TeamConsole, and PCs were generally the platform for MMOs. I remember the first time I got a trial disc in the mail; I believe it was EverQuest. It looked amazing at the time, but it required a subscription and A. My mom was not going to pay this for me and B. She also didn’t believe in putting her credit card online back then. -.- That would have been my PC gaming induction and I missed it.

Chaos (un)Controlled brings gaming elements into a real-life story, but could just as easily be bringing real-life elements into a gaming structure. It purposely creates a realistic world and a dream-like setting side-by-side, putting a magnifying glass to each world and blurring the edges. But I can’t call it LitRPG. Rixa doesn’t sign in with her avatar and follow a strict numerical hit-and-attack point system. She’s not hooked up to the OASIS online. She doesn’t battle harpies and goblins and griffins. She harnesses an internal power driven by focus and emotion. She crosses planes bringing her real life and fantasy life together.

While a LitRPG summary like “involves a character submerged into an alternate reality where characteristics of a role playing game are inherent,” is enticing and almost seems perfect, Chaos (un)Controlled’s storyline seems far different from novels with that genre tag. For now, I continue to remain the lone wolf on the sidelines. YA Contemporary Science Fantasy it is.

Ninja out.

*Fades into the shadows*

(Ya’ll remember fading in chat rooms, right?)

~Tael

Dat Writer Professionalism

Self-publishing should conjure up a desert wasteland backdrop with a hooded figure in black creeping along the outskirts of society. You’re avoiding big corporate publishers and taking your book rights into your own hands! You’re a rebel. You’re a revolutionary! You’re sticking it to the traditional industry route and to hell with all the rules!

Except, no.

The self-publishing world is not as vagabond as it once was, since the road to stand out amidst the millions of other indies who believe in their work is pretty similar to the corporate publishing route.

But I wanted to be an OUTLAW like one of these guys!!

Outlaws

Unfortunately, self-publishing may not give you the badass points you were hoping for. Remember, there’s a widely accepted code of conduct and professionalism for the most success, to help you stand up against those big-name publishers. My approach so far has been to be chill about it, like Spike Spiegel, because who didn’t like Spike Spiegel?? He remained composed, kicked so much ass because of it, and always came out on top. Until…you know.

Months ago, I tried to reach out to a website about possibly listing Chaos (un)Controlled during it’s free period on Amazon. It wasn’t one of the traditional promotion sites; I was trying to think outside the box and it was an NYC website I’d been following for years now. Since the main premise of Chaos (un)Controlled is Rixa climbing a ladder in the New York Public Library while working there as a Page to reach University Heights, it seemed fitting. Here was their response:

NYCOnTheCheapResponse

Welp, I’d gotten many query rejection letters before; I could handle this. I could see they were trying to scold me for my Vash-The-Stampede-like approach. Was my salutation “Hey guys”? Yes. Did I ask for a shout-out from “you guys”? Yes. Did I understand their offense? Nope, not at all. I guess I wasn’t “professional” enough. However, as a long-time visitor of their site and Twitter follower, I hadn’t found their site to be particularly professional at all. The layout wasn’t quality, site updates were only occasional, and they only had about 2,000 Twitter followers, so I hadn’t pegged their business as an uber-polished establishment that necessitated a suit and tie to email them. After that response I realized if that was what they were trying to be, then forget it, I didn’t need them. My whole premise for sticking with them had been their small-business-friendly feel. I love supporting small, non-corporate entities and other indie startups trying to make it in the world. So I stopped following them and no longer visit their site. Remember, I prefer Chucks. And I’m petty.

If someone enjoyed my work, and wants to come up and compliment me like “Yo, dude, bro, guy, your writing is sick, I really dug it,” I would appreciate that to the fullest. My go-to author profile picture is me sipping from a Pokeball mug. My descriptions don’t follow the standard “So-and-so Author was born in New England where she resides with her 3 kids, loving husband and dog. She has written numerous critically acclaimed pieces that have won countless awards from the Society of Great Writers That We Respect for their Professionalism yadda yadda.” Truthtrebles.com is my “author website,” I guess. I don’t try to professionalize my profile, because I’m a person first, indie author second. I’d rather read someone’s words rather than a list of their 30 awards or New York Times Bestseller rankings. I’d rather gain notoriety for realness, and go off guns-blazing like Gene Starwind. Professionalism doesn’t inspire human connection as much as realness.  It will hinder me, but that’s fine. Because outlaws are so much cooler. Especially when they wear peacoats with Chucks. And that’s kind of what self-publishing is all about.

See You Space Cowboy…

~Tael

When Readers “GET” You

Not too long ago, I received an amazing Goodreads review from E. Leo Foster. What struck me about this one is that he really seemed to “get” it. Here’s someone who knows absolutely nothing about me, my upbringing, or the elements (harharhar) that sparked Chaos (un)Controlled, who was able to pick up on the intricacies I littered throughout the book. He understood the layers, and saw that it was much more than just a surface story about a girl with a gaming premise, making me proud that my writing can connect with varied demographics. Check it below!

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1929023533?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Chaos (un) Controlled is an exciting story that fluently mixes so many themes, such as gaming and faith, together into a brilliant novel. The story focuses on a gaming enthusiast teenage girl, Rixa, who discovers ‘a game like’ new world. However, that is only one layer of the story. This novel coaxes the reader into thinking about over-arching ideas of dualism within ourselves and society, about the consequences of our decisions and actions, and the limits -or rather ‘un-limits’ of our power. What separates this story from so many others that merge major themes into a single narrative is the author brought the protagonist and her worlds to life. In essence, the writing made me feel, not just think about what Rixa is dealing with as she navigates and overcomes some of life’s major obstacles. While I felt the character’s emotions through each page turn, the author simultaneously puts Rixa on the same learning curve as the reader. In the story, Rixa learns that to master any skill, she must go beyond just thinking and learning the fundamentals. She, just like us all, must passionately connect to the desire skill by feeling and becoming one with its potential power. I highly recommend this book as its breaks every genre label you try to slap on it. Original!

Fiverr Spotlight: Louise Wise

Here’s another shining star on Fiverr. Louise reminded me of one of those tell-it-like-it-is aunties. The self-proclaimed Indie Author Champion was super communicative and not afraid to give her opinion. She took it upon herself to help make my blurb a little smoother, even though that wasn’t part of the gig description (she has another gig for that). We had a great back-and-forth badminton messaging, swapping revised lines with what we each thought was a better way to convey them AND the mood of Chaos (un)Controlled, until we were completely on the same page in agreement. Five dollars got me her experienced blurb assistance, Twitter and Facebook posts, as well as a post on her blog here. A bonus attached to her tweets is that she’s part of Triberr, which means others in the tribe also tweet it as well! Definitely a high-value gig that makes you feel cared for.

https://www.fiverr.com/louise_wise/promote-your-book-on-my-blog-and-tweet?funnel=96b03bea-7f22-46c3-b6aa-c972f91a72fd

~Tael

Promo Pitfalls

Leave it to me to be your guinea pig for those affordable promos! Here’s some I’ve tried and will avoid using again in the future.

-eBooks Habit:

Took me awhile to even qualify to promote with them, as they require 5+ reviews on Amazon. The unforgivable mistake they made was not getting the book title correct in their tweets. But I gave it to you in the order. But you put the book on your site correctly. And you have the Amazon link to buy it. And it’s in the confirmation email you sent me. And I emailed them back letting them know they got it wrong. And I haven’t heard back so they likely don’t care. So I wasted my money on a blown promo. Not even going to make a big deal about it to them and demand a refund or corrected tweets. SCRATCHED.

-eBook Skill:

I actually used the free service option with no results. The problem is that they now email me exhibiting spammer behavior. I work in email marketing; I know the signs. I get emails from multiple From Names or From Emails, all with their same structure and branding. They send me offers for THE SECRET LIMITED EDITION AUTHOR REPORT THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE AND TAKE YOU TO THE TOP OF THE AMAZON RANKING THAT WILL ONLY BE AVAILABLE TO THE FIRST 100 PEOPLE WHO CLICK NOW AND BUY, HURRY! They pepper my inbox with discounts and sales and new options, essentially begging me to use their upgraded promotion packages. Perhaps it’s just standard marketing technique, but I hate a hard sell. I have come to distrust promotion sites that constantly advertise for you to promote with them. They seem to have the least ROI.

-Books & The Bear:

This one doesn’t pop up on the lists of book promo sites you’ll find online like the others. I found them through a Google search, and while their page looks impressive, once again, terrible ROI despite their high claims. When perusing their social media, I noticed that only half their posts are author’s book promotions. The other half is literally them promoting…THEMSELVES. I can’t imagine too many actual readers would even want to follow them because of the constant barrage of their own advertisements, “AUTHORS, PROMOTE YOUR BOOK TO OVER 200,000 READERS,” or “INCREASE YOUR BOOK SALES NOW AND PUBLICIZE WITH US,” literally every HOUR. Definitely more business first, author promotion second.

Also find below one of the “Fiverr Gigs That Don’t Do A Damn Thing” that I encountered:

-psammie – Their “I Will professionally Promote Your Book on Social Media” gig lives up to none of its claims. They actually had the nerve to message me this: psammie

So you’re saying that, although I paid for a service, without a 5 star-rating, you won’t be very motivated to continue through it’s completion? I left them nothing.

Guinea-pig-ninja, OUT.

~Tael