Monday, August 27, 2012

I found out why I'm only doing moderately well as a writer

A year ago I was as depressed as I had ever been in my life. I was writing book after book and barely anyone was buying them. I was very proud of them. They were funny or they talked about an aspect of life that no one else was talking about. But ultimately not enough people were moved by them.

I then posted on my Facebook page my idea about trying out erotica. I was hesitant because I thought that it would make me a pornographer. I figured that I was smart and I would be wasting my intelligence writing crap. Fast forward a year and I'm making more per month than my starting salary at my last corporate job. After I realized that there was money to be made, making more than my last corporate job's starting salary was my goal.

That, however, couldn't be enough. I started to realize what other people were making, and I realized that I wasn't doing that well at all. I was working extremely hard and it really wasn't paying off as it could be. And the outlet that was really under performing was the largest retailer in the world.

Last week when I started to lose my good vibes about how great my life is, I decided that I needed to do something drastic. I would take my last 8 stories and I would enter them into Amazon's Select Lending program. What that allowed me to do is offer them up for free all at once. Offering your books for free actually gets your name out there and it also puts your books into the 'Also Bought' section on other books. If your book has a good title, cover and blurb, the also bought section will sell a ton of your books.

What I thought was that either my books will pick up, or I will finally have proof that my writing is poor. The free period is now over and I learned something that I never expected. I know why my books haven't been selling and it has nothing to do with my writing.

Of the 8 books I released for free, 4 books are a combination of various sub-genres that I've been writing in since I began. The other 4 books fall into the sub-genre that the average American woman might enjoy. Readers picked up 3 times as many of the average American woman stories than the other books. They fell into 2 very grouped clusters that were separated by 40 places on the top 100 free books chart.

I then thought about the books of the latest author to reach $12K a month. I have done about 40 stories, 20 translations and 20 audiobooks. She has done 20 ebooks. That's it. But all of her books fall within the average American woman story parameters. I then thought about all of the other successful authors. They are all successful because of books that they wrote for the average American woman. I know why I haven't been successful! I think I knew this before, but I didn't KNOW it.

I learned a few other things. I got 2 reviews for my books this weekend. 1 person gave it 4 stars saying that there was a lot about it that she liked and then listed them. The other one thought that the story would have worked better if it were longer or a quickie. That person gave me 2 stars. What I took from these is that my quality of writing is just as good as those who are doing well.

The guy who gave the bad review also commented saying that the titles are "great". Believe it or not, that's half of the challenge with selling stories. I know the covers are good, so the blurb is the only thing still up for debate. But 2 out of 3 is pretty good. I don't think that I have to worry about that aspect of their presentation.

So, what I have learned from this experiment is that my writing quality is good, my titles are great and that the reason I haven't been selling more is because I was writing in the wrong sub-genre. I'm actually not sure if my experiment will result in increased sales of my books. That was the purpose of the experiment. But Amazon has dramatically changed their Select program since the person who originally used this technique used it to leapfrogged me in sales. It could fall flat for me.

But the most important thing for me is that I now have a direction. I know that if I can write 16 to 26 more stories in this new sub-genre, I will be moving a ton of books by the time I'm done. If for the rest of the year I could release 4 books a month, then I will hit that target by Christmas. That would mean one hell of a Christmas season for me. I could potentially reach my long term goal of $10K per month. I know it's a big number, but now I finally see it as possible.

On a separate note, I'm going surfing on Friday. I remember when I was kid, there were kids in my school that would go surfing. I went windsurfing, but it wasn't the same. I think windsurfing is cooler and more sporty, but I always thought of surfing as this otherworldly thing. Now, on Friday, I get to see what it's all about and I'm doing it with someone that I will have a great time with. That's pretty awesome.

After that, I am going kayaking. That is something else that a kid from my high school used to do. This time though, as soon as I found out that the kid was doing it, I wanted to try it. It only took me 18 years to get around to it. I'm very excited about that as well.

I have to admit, life is pretty great right now. It is exactly what I want. I remember a few months ago saying aloud what I wanted to make my life complete. I wanted 2 specific types of people to enter my life to fill in a few gaps that I felt I had in my life. Crazy enough, I got exactly that. And the way that it all came about was with such coincidence that it once again reaffirms for me that there is more to life than what we see. I again have no doubt about it.

Oh, speaking of there being more to life, I had an idea recently about how I could start working on my YA novel without committing to it. This is kind of weird, but I thinking about writing SciFi erotica. That's not the weird part, because many people write it. The weird part is that I'm think about using the stories to help me hammer out the worlds that I will use in the YA novels. They would be erotic prologues to books for 14 year old girls. See, I told you it was weird.

They would never be marketed together though. No one would probably ever know that they exist in the same universe. And these stories would be how the main character in the YA novels was conceived. I would use the same name for the planets and characters that would only be brief references in the YA books, and it would be from the same story telling universe. The experiment would also allow me test out the worlds and see if readers respond to them.

Well, that's it for me. It's amazing how far my life has come in a year. A year ago, I would have wished that I would be right where I am now, but I didn't suspect that I actually would be. Now the question is; Where will I be in another years time? Will I be making $10K a month or making even less than now? I might not even be here. Who knows. I guess that we'll find out in a year.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Latest Focus: Love and Money

I have been having motivational issues about writing my kids book, so this morning I decided to shut off my phone and just write undistracted until I was done. I wrote about 1000 words and then stopped. It didn't work. But thinking about it tonight I realized something, I don't have motivational issues. I don't think I can actually remember a time within the last few years when I've had motivational issues. Every time I thought I had motivational issues toward writing a book, it always turned out to be one thing; the story hadn't finished percolating in my brain yet. I didn't want to start writing because my subconscious knew that something very important wasn't in place yet.

I think that's what's going on now. Although I thought that I had all of the information to start writing, clearly I don't. This is how I feel when I'm not quite ready to start writing. And because this is the case I will stop. I don't think that I can think about any sort of time table anymore. Sadly, writing is more of an art than I like to admit that it is. And sadly, you can't rush art. If I never get to a particular book or story, then that's the way life goes. 

I had a very interesting conversation about writing the other night. This guy told me that he had an idea for a book and tried to write it. He said that he couldn't. It wasn't that he didn't have the desire. It was that he couldn't figure out how to fill in all of the moments between major plot points. He just couldn't give his characters the filler moments where readers get to understand who the characters are.

After explaining this to me and then I sought a better understanding, he said to me, "Let me be the first one to tell you that what you have is a talent. Not everyone can do what you do. Writing is a talent."

That really came as a shock to me because part of the reason I have such a disrespect for writing and writers is because I feel that everyone can do it. There has never been a time when I couldn't do it and I assume that the rest of the world is exactly the same way. The difference I see between me and those that don't do it, is their level of motivation.

But maybe there's more to it than that. Maybe there's talent involved with writing. Maybe what I do is special. I read these reviews where readers refer to me as talented and I just don't understand what they're talking about. Maybe they aren't just writing things because they want to be liked. Maybe they are referring to something real. 

In any case, tomorrow I am going to put the '10 Things' kids book aside until my mind is ready to write it. Clearly I'm not ready to tackle that book for some reason and I will trust my subconscious on this one. Instead I'm going to work on book 2 of one of my erotica stories. The last short story I wrote has turned out to be my best selling book in a while if not ever. That fact demands a book 2. I will write 4 books total and hopefully it will continue to sell well.

On a separate note, my roommate has given me a time tomorrow that he will be moving his stuff. I think this is real. I will get my office back. It's been about 8 years but I'm once again will be alone and free. I'll see how I react.

Again on a separate note, I'm stuck in a dilemma. I think that I might have to tinker with my neurochemicals again. The vitamin D really fixed the whole dopamine insensitivity issue that I had. Now I barely feel the need to jump out of planes or speed my motorcycle down the center of traffic. (FYI, the plane flying and scuba diving was more driven from the fact that they were super cool things to do.) The meditation that I've been doing has definitely raised the level of oxytocin in my body hence making me more satisfied with life. 

However there still seems to be something that's missing. I haven't felt like I was in love with someone in a long time. I haven't even felt like I was in lust with a particular person in years. Could it just be that I have gotten jaded in my later years? Or could I be what some have suggested in jest, that I'm dead inside indicated by the fact that the sight of a baby doesn't create an emotional response in me at all.

I have always been tweaking my levels of testosterone. Maybe I should increase my testosterone further and also increase my circulating amount of dopamine. I've seemed to have gotten everything to a point where I feel pretty great lately, but I think I can feel even better. 

As I think about it, this could be linked to my gnawing feeling that I really need to get a great massage. Like the way we crave a particular food when we're deficient in it, my craving to get a massage could me my subconscious telling me that a particular neurochemical has fallen out of balance. I wonder if the body actually does that with neurochemicals? If it does, then getting a massage is not going to solve my problem, whatever it is. What I will need is a constant stream of whatever neurochemical I'm craving. Hmm... I wonder which one it could be? 

I guess that getting that massage and then analyzing and classifying the dominant sensation afterwards is the only way to really find out. And since my roommate does seem to be moving, I guess I will soon get to find out. Yay for sensual healing.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sensual Healing as a Cure for what Ails Me

After long last, my roommate told me that he is moving out. There is a large part of me that doesn't believe him. The last thing he said to me in person was that he was going to live here and not pay me rent. After that he texted me a question about getting his deposit back if he could find a place at the end of the month. A couple days later he texted me saying that "It looks like it will happen" and asked again about the deposit. First I thought that it meant that he was moving, but after thinking about it, I realized how vague he was. He never really gave me notice. I don't think the psychological war has ended yet.

Having to prepare for both scenarios, I have to give thought to living in my place by myself. On a positive note, I will definitely be having much more sex. On a negative note, I will have to cover all of the expenses by myself. Can I afford it? Yes. But that means that I won't have as much expendable income as I used to.

Will I still be able to make my Mexico surfing trip this year? I don't know. I know that I could if I devote myself to writing erotica for the rest of the year. If I really devoted myself to it, I could double my income by Jan 1st 2013. But what that means is that I would have to not have a life again. And I would have to not write my non-erotica books.

I know I had this internal debate just a few days ago, but here I am again. This time the motivation is losing a person who is sharing my rent. I knew that I would be back here when it finally happened and like I suspected, I don't know what I will do.

I guess another motivation for me to devote myself to erotica for the rest of the year is that I, once again, would like to retreat from life. Sure I've been having a great time engaging in life, but losing myself in one of my obsessive behaviors has always been my answer for everything whenever something unpleasant has happened to me. Unfortunately something unpleasant has happened to me, and adding to it the fact that I will be shouldering all of my expenses, gives me a great excuse to retreat.

Thinking about it, maybe instead of retreating into my work, what I instead need is some sort of sensual experience. I either need to spend some time in a very good Jacuzzi, get a really great massage or have some  awesome sex. I'm starting to again have that feeling where my skin feels like it's on fire and I need something to counteract it. It happens whenever I experience an isolating disappointment. Sadly, my meditation is no longer working like it used to. On top of that (or maybe it's because of it) I'm feeling very distracted as well.

Maybe I'll set that as my goal for this week. I have been needing a massage for a while now. So if my roommate leaves, I'm going to celebrate by getting me a little sensual healing. You know what? That is exactly what I'm going to do. Hmm... this week has just gotten a little brighter and more exciting.

Friday, July 20, 2012

I finally see myself for who I am and I'm OK with it

When you are confronted with something that you fear, how do you react? I have managed to nobly face fear in the last few years. I've never feared much, but certainly there were definitely times when insecurity gripped me.

I have thought a lot about my current self doubt. It really is quite unusual for me. If you know me at all, you would know that I am generally over confident. I don't doubt myself and I tend to charge into what others turn away from. That isn't by chance. It is by design. I have always been taught fear is the opposite of spiritual enlightenment. So whenever I could, I looked fear in the eyes and walked toward it. That certainly isn't the case in all areas, but recently it has been true even in the areas that I too used to walk away from.

 Keeping this in mind, today I thought that how unusual my self doubt has been. So what I did was what I often do when I can gain enough perspective on a topic. I asked myself, if someone else came to me explaining exactly what I'm going through, what would I say to them. What came out surprised me.

What I would say to myself if I were to elicit my own advice is, "Cristian, what you are experiencing is nothing more than fear. Think about it, has there been any time in your life when you made the choice of money over contributing to society?" And if I asked myself that, the answer would be no. Even when I was at my low points I still chose to remain focused on my goal. Even when I was offered jobs that others only dreamed about, I passed them up in order to stay on my path. Even when the money was really good, I walked away so that the vision that I had at 17 could be realized. "So what has changed now?" I think I would ask myself.

I think what has changed is that for the first time I am incredibly close to having what I've always wanted. This is the life I imagined back then and when it was easy to see the difference between what I was being offered and where I wanted to be, it was easy to walk away. But now that what I risk losing is everything I've always wanted, it's not so easy to walk away.

But ultimately I have to ask myself, "What is it that I believe in? Do I believe in this shit or not?" This is the second time I have had to ask myself this in 2 weeks. And hey, there is no way of telling what exists beyond this world, but there is nobility in devoting your life to a principle, even if the basis of that principle turns out not to be true. 

I have had a lot of amazing things happen to me which confirms my beliefs. They seem to be still happening to me. My most recent is recent enough that I shouldn't have to question myself now. So now, after thinking about it, I say that I choose to follow my beliefs. I have never chosen money and security over making the attempt to make the world a better and easier place for others and I'm not going to start now. 

I now accept that by stepping away from erotica, I will lose money. I accept that I could, some how, lose my momentum and I could lose the easy life that I have finally found. But on my death bed, I don't want my life to be about anything else except how much better I am leaving this world than I found it. I was blessed with a lot of things, and I have always said that the greatest sin in life is to not live up to your potential. 

I have no control over how people will respond to the things I do. Obviously I have done things in the past where I overcame my fears about discussing my sex life and embarrassing moments and I had a greater affect on others than I could ever imagine. And there are times when I have done the same and failed. But one thing is true, if I had decided in either case to remain safe and comfortable, the things that I am now the most proud of, would never have happened. 

So taking all of that into account, just now I finished the final project that I said that I would before I started working on the kids books. I am done with erotica for a while. It is now my time to try to contribute to society in a meaningful and long lasting way. I could horribly fail once again. I could succeed. But ultimately I want my life to be about the pursuit of something more important than money and pleasure. Life is pretty short. Death is infinitely long. I could stand to suffer a little longer if necessary. I don't need more stuff or trips. What I need is to live up to my greatest potential. And for me, living up to my greatest potential is me using my intelligence and life experience in a way that makes life better for others. Hopefully that is what I will achieve with my next few books. I will accept failure if that is my fate. I'm not scared of it any more. Fear never did really look good on me, I've always thought that I looked better in courage. I think I'll slip courage on for a while and remember how that feels. 

And I'm not going to be working on my next projects for the praise from readers. I'm not going to even do it because of some need to gain a sense of purpose. I'm will be writing what I will because, this is who I am. I make attempts to make other people's lives better. This is who I have always been, and that is who I will continue to be until I die. The arrogant narcissistic is no more who I am than the humble sage. I am neither of them. All I am is a guy who does what he believes he was put here to do. I couldn't be anyone else if I tried. I get that now. And with that in mind, I'll get back to work now. Actually, I'll go do some scuba diving this weekend, then I'll get back to work. :-)

I have found myself again. I feel better now. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

20 Years Later and I'm Now Doubting the Purpose of My Life

I happen to have seen an old blog before writing this. It's title was "I might have made a mistake 20 years ago". I wrote it slightly over a year ago. I remember writing it. It was near my darkest time. I was off unemployment but barely making rent. I wasn't at the worst depressive place that I could be, but it was pretty damn bad.

The blog was talking about how 20 years ago I was a very spiritual kid that meditated twice a day and was very sure about my future. I had this psychic impression that I had to leave the spiritual path in order to gain life experience. I knew that I was supposed to be a spiritual teacher when I was older, and I was willing to give up anything to become that.

In the last 20 years some truly hellish things have happened to me. More than once I lost faith in my beliefs as well as god and any sort of purpose to life. I dipped in and out of depression and though I always maintained that fading memory of who I was, I changed.

What is ironic is that the vision that that 17 year old had for me is where I am now. It's airy and a little surprising. Since I wrote that last year, my life has changed so much. I make my living writing. What I write to make a living is very surprising but every erotic sentence I write, and every wanting protagonist that I create, with every turn of phrase makes me a better writer.

Since a year ago I have written about 35 short stories. I make what I made as the starting salary of my last corporate job, and I now have the time to write the book that 17 year old envisioned me writing. How did this happen. How did that 17 year old envision this? Or how did I hold onto one vision of my life for so long?

But here is the thing, I wonder if what I will write will matter. I could just continue to make money. I could write more and more and try to hit 6 figures by the end of the year. I could have more adventure trips and maybe buy a house. I could just play for whatever time I have left in life and I could just turn my back. After all, how real could any of the vision I had for myself be. I may get some good reviews and there may be a few people whose lives are better for having read my books, but are a few strangers' lives worth the heart ache that comes with mediocre sales for a book that you have poured everything you've had into? Is having a  profound effect on, what, 20 or 50 people's lives worth it? It certainly doesn't feel like it from where I sit.

I write erotica and I have people writing me telling me how much they like my stories and asking me when the next one is coming out. 'Samurai Zombie Hunter' was friggin' brilliant, yet 1 guy asked me if I was going to write a sequel. 1 person! If I pour all of my remaining time and passion into this friggin' young adult book and 1 person finds it worthy, then what is the friggin' point? What would be the friggin' point?! I'm starting to think that there isn't one.

Then again, there are little things that makes me doubt my doubts. I can't deny that things have happened in my life that reaffirms its purpose. How is it that I think that dead people talk to me and then the things that they say come true? How is it that coincidences always so clearly answer the questions that I have presented to "the universe?" How is it that the hurricane thing happened when I was 16 or the psychic thing happened on 9/11? These things did happen and they continue to. And if these things are real, if they continue to pepper my life, then there must be more to life than what we see. And if the 17 year old version of myself saw that greater vision, then how can ignore it.

The problem is that I've worked friggin' hard my entire life. When did I stop giving and simply enjoy? Who knows how much time I have left. Shouldn't I get to enjoy the fruit of my hard work at some point? And if I don't do it now, will I ever get the chance again. Do I want to put forth the monumental task of writing a series of 5 books when in the end only 1 kid could email me to say, "hey, I got something from your books"? If my life were a novel written by some depressed guy, maybe that one kid would enough, but my life isn't the work of a depress novelist. It's my creation.

You know what else makes me feel like I can step away and just enjoy my life? I know that I have fundamentally changed the lives of at least 1000 people. I only had about 200 people write me and tell me specifically, but for every person that writes, there has to be at the very least 5 who don't. I'm talking about from the series of youtube videos that I created. I've changed the direction of lots of people's lives. Haven't I done enough? Haven't I already done more than 90% of the people on this planet?

Yet, what if the reason that I should write this book isn't for some one else, but for myself? What if I need to write these stories for me? What if I'm trying to puff myself up in my own mind by thinking that I'm this great  wise person, when the only people that writing these book will ever help is me? And not in some profound spiritual way, but in some basic way like, my simply needing to tell stories. What if I need to write these stories more than the world needs to read them? Jesus, how sad would that be? Fuck! Maybe I'm just some sad little writer that just needs to be heard to justify my life. And if I really step back and think about this logically, that does seem like the more reasonable explanation. Wow, how sad. How heartbreakingly sad.

On a separate, or maybe related note, my happiness mediation isn't working as well as it used to. I think that I need a massage to recharge it. The mediation is based on remembering what my last hand and foot massage felt like. But it's sort of like what happens when someone keeps rubbing the same spot on your arm, that spot goes numb. My hands and feet have gone numb to the constant remembering of the massages. I think I need to refresh those memories with actually massages. The question is who can I get to give me a massage?

I think I need to attract someone into my life that likes the idea of giving me massages. I know there are people like this out there. Oh how I remember the Swedish dancer and the other one who inspired my character in 'Happiness Thru the Art of Penis Enlargement'. I wonder if the the universe would hook me up with someone like that again. I wonder how I can make that happen?

And on news about the roommate wars, the whole thing is about to take a really dark turn. I realize that at this point, I want to win more than I want him out. He did this, though. Instead of just being reasonable, he basically said that I couldn't get him out of my home even if I tried. He challenged me. I would never back down to a challenge like that. I would never back away from a challenge over who controls my life. So now I have to win and I have to pay for my apartment by myself.

Ya know, I liked having another live body in the apartment; not him, but everyone before him. And there is going to be a lot of pressure for my books to sell once he does move out. And here I am about to devote months of my life to writing some crap, non-selling books. I rarely doubt myself, but I am having doubts right now. I am having doubts.

Friday, June 29, 2012

This is want a near perfect day looks like in my world

Today was a good day. I think I need to acknowledge it and breath it in a little more. Today started out with me stepping up my psychological warfare against my roommate. He isn't a bad guy, but he is a horrible roommate for me. So for the past 3 weeks I've been trying to help him understand that he would be happier somewhere else. Today was a ramping up of the efforts. Today was me walking around the apartment naked.

When I came up with the idea I mostly thought about how much it would creep him out. I'm not sure how successful I was. He's a very liberal, but an uptight guy. I have to assume that he found it off-putting to see me sitting in the living room naked watching tennis the first thing in morning. How could he not.

But there was something else that happened that I didn't expect. It was freeing. I'm not a particularly uptight guy, but I'm well aware of the social norms and I adhere to them. I adhere to them even more than I have to. So just being butt-ass naked saying, 'look, this is what I'm doing', felt extremely comfortable. In fact, I liked it. It wasn't a sexual thing. It was just about feeling very comfortable with who I am. And if I got the bonus of making him squirm, then it was a perfect experience.

The big thing for me now is to figure out how to do it enough so that he can't get comfortable with it. In theory, I want my roommate to think every morning, "Oh god, am I going to be confronted with a naked black man again this morning." That is the goal.

Later, after he left and I got dressed, I finished audiobook #7 of 7. It feels like I have been working on these 7 books for a month. I haven't really, but it feels like it. I have spent a lot of time with earbuds in trying to create natural speech patterns out of what amounts to a series of phrases. And finishing that I feel a real sense of fulfillment. It is a sense that I don't often get because in what I do, there is no end, simply another story.

After that I hopped on the internet and found out that the healthcare bill was upheld. As a self employed person, I have been watching this very closely. Without it upheld, I will finally be able to get health insurance. And if it get enacted soon enough I may actually live longer than 2 years. That might be nice, but it would have the unfortunate side effect of me having to fill in a whole lot more time that I haven't been planing for. Hmm... so maybe that one isn't completely a good thing.

Another thing is that, all during the day I have been doing what I always do when there is a major tennis tournament on; I have been watching tennis. And because I was editing audio, I have watched every minute of the 10 hour broadcasts. The last match tonight was Nadal playing the 100 ranked player in the world. I don't particularly like Nadal, but I accept that he will be in the finals. He wasn't playing well in round 1, but he is Nadal, so no matter how he plays he will be in the finals.

So as I watched this match, his opponent was playing better than I have ever seen anyone one else play in years. But there is a reason why this guy is #100 and Nadal has 11 grand slam titles. I was very impressed with this new guy's play, but there was no way he could keep it up. I mean, the guy was playing near lights out. No one in the world could beat him the way he was playing.

So after he took the second set off of Nadal I kept thinking, "well, that was fun to watch, but here is where it ends." And I kept thinking that. Even after it got into the 5th set and the guy immediately broke Nadal I thought, "fun, but here is where it ends." The man was even serving for the match and I kept thinking the same thing.

The man beat Nadal in the second round of Wimbledon. I was shocked! It was one of the most impressive performances I have ever witnessed. I have never seen someone destroy such a great player before. It was a great match. And the added bonus of it is that Roger Federer will at least be #2 in the world once Wimbledon is complete. Go Federer!

And then finally today, I was watching Charlie Rose where he was talking with the director and stars of Spiderman. The director mentioned that at the heart of the story, it is about a boy who, because his parents have abandoned him, has a hole inside of him that he is always trying to fill.

As he talked about it, I realized that my YA story was screaming out for another side to it. My lead will be a victim of sexual abuse. She will never have felt loved or cared for. That is such a psychological rich story device. People who have massive holes to fill have motivation to make decisions about who they trust and will follow. With my lead having such a huge hole, I know exactly where the heart wrenching drama will come from in each of the stories.

Because she has this hole she will be easily swayed and when she is betrayed time and again, it will not only be painful for the audience to see, but she will seek vengence for it like a mad woman, creating even more situations that she must repent for. This might be hard to understand without knowing what the stories are, but let's just say that the story just got a level of emotional depth to go along with its intricately woven plot and insightful ponderances. I think that I have finally hit that point when all of the pillars of the story is there and I can start working on the details. With only a few things still in front of it, it's not long now. T

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The 14-Year-Old Female Protagonist of My Next Novel will be Sexual Abused... and Other Observations

I have mentioned a few times before that I belong to a forum of writers. When I switched to erotica there was a writer in particular that I watched. She wrote in the same sub-genre as I did and she had 3 stories released. She is a very slow writer and It took me less than a month to overtake her in terms of my number of releases and revenue. I felt a little uncomfortable about it because she published months before me and I was doing better than her.

About 2 months after our forum started she disappeared for a few weeks. When she came back she admitted that she had become depressed over her lack of success and I couldn't help but think that it had to do with me. There were only 3 of us writing in that sub-genre and I was the one most succeeding.

Well, she got back to writing and switched sub-genres. After that she did a little better but still is not doing that well. And she was still a slow writer so I started thinking of her as one of the writers that wouldn't go anywhere. It takes devotion to earn big numbers in erotica and 1 release every 3 weeks won't cut it.

Six weeks ago she released a story. It didn't seem very special but it made it to the Hot New Release list for erotica. I always wonder how that happens because I have yet to make it to that list and I have a mailing list of 300 people. I know that she doesn't have a mailing list or a strong fan base yet there she was.

I continue to watch her book and it keeps climbing the list until it is # 2 behind a recent release of 50 Shades of Grey. After that it enters the Erotica top 100 list. Eventually it made it to # 1 in Erotica and started climbing the Romance list.

Today it did something special. It entered the overall top 100 books list on Amazon. That's quite a feat. I would love to say that I'm proud of her but I'm not really. I know I should be happy for her because she's someone from my group but I don't really feel it. Everyone on the group is thrilled for her. They are very supportive over there, but I guess I assume success. People succeed over there and she is just the latest one. We had someone get to #25 on Amazon. This is what happens. After the previous person made it to #25 she dropped off all of the list. People go up and they go down. This current person sold 15,000 books in the last 2 months, but I keep thinking, what will her book count be at the end of the year?

I'm wondering if my lack of enthusiasm has anything to do with the increased amount of oxytocin in my body. It's almost like a numbing feeling going on. But it's not like the numbing that comes with depression. I kind of feel like how androids in movies look like they feel. I feel unaffected. In fact, today someone I know completely made up something about me that has no basis in reality and posted it on facebook. And where as usually I would do something extreme like attack back or plot revenge, today I pretty much just dismissed it. There's no doubt about it, I feel different.

I was also watching a special on Pixar today. It was extremely interesting. The director of Toy Story is one hell of a story teller. He has a knack for humor and pulling the heart strings which is unparalleled. I think that I will add an element of heart to my YA story. I have never gone for emotionalism before. The first 4 times that I read the ending of my book 'The First Day After Life' I cried. I didn't write it to evoke tears and I'm not sure if it did it for anyone else. But I am going to make pulling heartstrings a goal in the YA story.

I was also giving thinking about something else pertaining to the YA book. At one point I was debating the idea of having the female 14 year old main character be the victim of sexual abuse. My thought was that I would have her escape to a different world to escape the abuse only to realize that she has left her little sister there to suffer the same fate. I wanted to use that to give the character something real to want to get back for. And I wanted her to have a reason for getting back that was so strong that no matter how glorious her new lives are and how much she loves the boys that she meets, she will still have a no-explanation reason for wanting to get back home. That is what I call true conflict and true obstacle for love.

Everyone minus 1 or 2 people said that I shouldn't do it. I have thought about it for about 6 months now. I'm doing it. If people don't want to read it, that's fine. I'm not writing Harry Potter. In almost all of my stories I deal with sex. And just because someone is sexually abused doesn't mean that they can't go on to laugh and love and live. And what's more, it will make what happens in the end of the last book, very substantial.

This is the book that I'm writing and I'm writing about life. What I have learned in the 20 years since I started my journey of discovery is that in life, horrible things happen to people, but that doesn't define them. This overweight, unattractive, sexually abused girl that no one loves accept the one person that she abandons, is not only going to survive her horrible beginning, but she is going to go on to be the most important human to ever live. That is the journey that I'm going to tell. And having thought about it for so long now, I am very confident that this is the story that I was meant to write.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Think I Know How Yoda Felt

I watched the movie Prometheus today. It was good. But during it I came up with a key feature for the Young Adult book that I will be writing. I figured out what the twist to the story in Book 1 will be. This won't be twist like a mystery would have. This twist is what will make the story unique. I would say that I've never read a book like it, but who would I be kidding, I don't read so of course I haven't. Oh, but I will also say that I've never seen it in a movie or a TV show and that should account for something.

Today I was also editing one of my erotic audio books. It was a unique experience. I really liked the way that the words flowed together. It was almost melodic. It reminds me that a building number of my reviews involved the reviewer referring to me as a talented writer. Since I don't read, I'm not sure what that means. What would qualify someone as being talented. Is it the way the author combines the words to make it seem like poetry? Is it that the story is so sophisticated that it exceeds what others are doing? I don't get it? What is it about my work that makes others refer to me as talented?

In either case, I wish I were talented. It would be nice. If I were talented, I would do justice to this YA book. It is a unique concept and I will say big things in it. If I could combine the words in a melodic way while the story is bread and butter "stable girl becomes a knight under the tutelage of a master"... you know the Star Wars/Generic Fantasy structure, I would have something. Alas, I can only do what I can do and no more. If my other books are any indication, no one will read this new one no matter how good it is, but I'm trying to write something that will transcend time. And it would be very helpful when I did it if I were actually talented. I guess we can't have it all though.

I have also decided that although I first decided to write this because I thought that I could write a Harry Potter, it wouldn't be like that. Nor will it be like Hunger Games. If I had to compare it to something, I would say the TV show Quantum Leap. The basic structure of the story will be just like that. But story wise it will be closer to Star Wars maybe. It will be a love story though. Not your conventional type but a love story none the less. And what it will be most of all is a story that through adventure and romance, will explain who we are as human beings. Not in the obvious way, but in the the way that I have discovered over the past two decades. One that involves the intersection of biology and spirituality and how the two interact.

On another topic, when I was walking out of the theater today, for the first time I thought about how lucky I was. That isn't a thought that I have had in years if at all. But it started the other night when I was talking to a movie script writer. He was telling me about how a production company hired him to write something and I just cringed thinking about how he was completely subject to that production company's whims. How awful. And then today walking out of the theater after I finished editing my audiobook, I thought about how I am absolutely free to write anything. I'll repeat that. My life is such that I can write whatever I want, whenever I want to write it. Can you imagine that? And I can make my living while doing it. How crazy is that?

Which I guess brings me to another topic. The meditation I'm doing is effecting me pretty strongly. I am again starting to feel the peace I had a long time ago. It is hard to believe it is happening so quickly, but it is. But there is a side effect that's happening which could have happened when I was 17, but I didn't have the life experience to realize it at the time. I'm starting to feel disconnected from the people around me. I'm going through moments when I lose my will to engage with people. I used to enjoy engaging with people. Now I'm starting to feel content just being and not talking.

When I was a kid, I remember feeling like a complete person, a whole. I wonder if this was what it felt like back then. I have to guess that it was. How could it not be. So, I guess I am slowly regaining my inner peace. It's odd. But I guess that if I were on a spiritual path, a destiny, this is the way that it would work. I knew at 17 that even though I abandoned the path, I would eventually return to it once I've learned what I needed to learn so that I can teach it. But is it actually coming true? Has my life really been so well designed? I find it hard to believe. I did not have a small vision for my destiny when I was 17. I would hate to have to fulfill the rest of what I saw for myself back then. Then again, back then I was incredibly in touch with something I can barely understand now. If I saw it as having a purpose, then I'm sure that there was a good reason for it. I don't think I'll have to worry about that though. But of course, I didn't think that I would end up where I am either. Interesting.

Friday, June 1, 2012

I've Invented a Guaranteed Path to Happiness... Seriously!

After my last post I gave more thought to the meditation idea. I decided to go for it. And lying in my bed the next morning I was trying to figure out what style of meditation I would use. When I was a kid I did Chakra mediation. That is when you picture balls of color on various parts of your body. Thinking back on it now it seems kind of odd. But there is no denying that it worked.There is also things like mantra mediation and thoughtless mediation.

I didn't actually want to do any of those. Instead I remembered something else from my post. I did a google search to make sure that oxytocin was associated with meditation as I had said and it was. Studies have shown that the feel good neurochemical oxytocin can be released during meditation and it could be because during meditation we think of times when oxytocin has been released in the past. According to studies, imagery alone has been shown to release oxytocin.

This fact intrigued me. So what I decided to do was try something that I've never heard of before. Instead of meditating on god or some religious or spiritual thought, I would use science. I would meditate on times when I had received massages. I have always loved massages and massages have been shown to release oxytocin. So what I did was lay in my bed on top of the covers and with my arms and legs apart and I remembered the feeling of someone massaging my hands. After about 10 or 15 minutes of this, I felt almost as good as I did when I was being massaged. It worked! It worked incredibly well. It worked so well that I felt it needed a name. I decided to call it Happiness Meditation.

Since then I have meditated every day. And why not? It takes no time to do it and afterwards I fell like I'm wrapped in a warm blanket on a chilly day. I even feel a little drunk afterwards. How has no one come up with this type of mediation before? And if they have, why aren't the spreading the word about it. It's friggin' awesome and I feel a ton better. Why are people still chanting mantra trying to clear their mind looking for Nirvana? It's so hard with so little reward for most of us.

Since then I have not felt stressed about my sales numbers even though I've been checking them. And I just feel better about everything. This has got to be because of the Happiness Meditation and the best part is that it's based in science. I love that!

Ok, like I said I have been checking my sales numbers. I didn't really want to, but someone who makes a ton more money than I do selling books, told me that my number should be higher and they gave me some tips. After I followed them I had to see if they were working. And it is way too tempting not to check all of the numbers once you've started checking a few.

I would like to go on and complain about something else, but the truth is that I don't feel like it. Nothing quite seems as bad as it once did. Is it the constant stream of oxytocin that I'm getting? Maybe. But let me tell you. If you want to feel happier, try this. Science has proven that this technique works, so it certainly couldn't hurt.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Struggling with my Retirement

I have to say, it is a lot harder to let go of work than I thought. I was supposed to look at my sales numbers only twice a month. I have not followed that. I was good for a while but then I broke down on the 25th and then I kind of broke that again yesterday and to a degree today. I was reading a thread on my forum and they were talking about how most self published authors only make $500 a year. Can you believe that? I make that in a couple of days. It was good perspective.

What came with reading that thread though, was me examining why my numbers aren't higher. I did discover something about my sales. Barnes and Noble and Amazon German are both consistently up, but I'm a big fail when it comes to selling books on I made $1200 in Jan, but only $700 in April. This can all be explained by filtering my titles. It's unfortunate, but that's life.

But that got me to thinking how I can increase sales of poor selling titles. I then made those changes and in the day or two since it has had an effect. So after I realized it had an effect,  I had to keep checking to see how much of an effect it had. But looking again and again has had the same effect that it always has; me asking myself why isn't it more. We human beings become unhappy because we keep asking for things to be other than what they are. It is a trait which is hard to escape.

I'm starting to think of my attitude toward selling books like an addiction. Like I'm a work-a-holic or something (haha!). But I can either be retired or not retired. Alcoholics can't drink just half a bottle without finishing it. I can't retire half-assed.

Here's the thing, if I fully act like I'm retired, I am going to leave money on the table. How am I supposed to walk away from money on the table? I don't know, but I can either be happy or I can collect all of the money for off the table.

When I got to college, I was elated to be out of the Bahamas. I almost hated that place. My childhood was often hellish. It was just horrible. College was this incredible place where I was no longer alone. It's tough growing up unique. It's not like I wasn't liked, because I was. People found me interesting and I'm pretty sure they liked me for it. But looking around and feeling fundamentally different from everyone around you, including your friends, is hard. I couldn't breath there, and when I got to college, all of a sudden I could breath... and talk. And boy did I talk.

I talked so much that by the time I was a sophomore I felt the need to go on a vow of silence for a week. It's wasn't like anyone ever asked me to stop talking. I just got sick of hearing my own voice, and for that week the silence was wonderful.

And when I was 16, I decided to step away from my life for a monk-like life. There was no masturbation or impure thoughts. I meditated twice a day and vowed a spiritual life. In other words I have a history of giving up things. And all of those things that I gave up helped me to cleanse my mind. They felt good. And I have to remember that now.

How much money and celebrity do I need? How much can I strip away from my life without feeling wanting?

Unfortunately, if I ask myself, what's important to me, I know what the answer is. Nothing. Nothing is important to me. That's kind of sad. I used to say that my friends were important to me, but today I think I realized that their not. Once again today I was faced with a situation where I could either advice a friend in a way that would bring us closer together, or I could advice them in a way that would make them happier but pull us apart. I advised them in a way that would make them happier but pull us apart. It broke my heart a little to do it, but I did. Now I think that if their friendship was valuable to me, I would have pulled them closer. But I guess nothing truly matters to me. Nothing does.

That might have been why I have chased after money and celebrity for so long. I guess the truth is that after I abandoned my spiritual beliefs everything lost it's meaning for me. The only thing that's important in life is what you give importance. And now that being a valuable member of society isn't important to me, nothing has importance. And the sad thing is that I don't think a change of location would change that.

I have to truly retire. I have to stop checking my numbers or figure out a way to devalue them for me. I look around at my apartment and I'm happy with it. I don't have a lot of stuff, but I don't need anything more. I have a couple of friends whose houses are just stuffed with stuff. Why? Why would someone need so many trinkets. I just don't get it.

I'm wondering if I should start meditating again. There have been many times in my life when I have said that I have to start meditating again and I do it for a week or two but then I stop. In those situations, the truth has to be that meditation wasn't something that I truly wanted. The things that I truly want, I do and I don't stop doing. That is how all of us are.

Research has shown that meditation can cause an elevation in, I think, oxytocin. And when I was meditating a lot I could feel it. It felt so incredibly good. God damn did it feel good. I remember thinking at the time that I was whole. I didn't need anyone else to make me complete. God I wish I could feel like that again.

I don't know how I could be so good looking and so well liked yet unable to find someone to pair up with, but that's the fact of it. I haven't been on more than one date with someone in 11 years and it's not about to start now. I should really ride out the time I have left in a state of wholeness. How great would that be?

And the truth is that no one else can make you whole. Only you can make yourself feel whole. And that state of wholeness is only a combinations of neurochemicals in either case, so what's the point of the trouble of relationships. I'm not going to be in a relationship in either case, so why fight that fact anymore. "Let go and let god" as they say. Let what will be, be. I'm not going to stop the sun from rising in the east, so why should I try.

I think that the only way that I will truly be able to retire will be for me to start meditating. Nothing has value to me, so what would I be doing otherwise that's more valuable than mediation? Nothing of course. When I was a meditating kid, I did it because there was nothing more important to me than that. Now I don't have a job I need to worry about. I don't have a relationship that I have to be concerned about. I don't have money problems or anything. What do I have that's of importance to me? Nothing. So why not ride out the rest of my life on an oxtocin high? There are a lot of worse ways to go... like every other way. Hmm...

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Effects of my Retirement

It has been a little over a week since I have decided that I needed to retire. I don't know if I would have considered what I'm doing retirement prior to this, but there is a forum thread on the social site I hang out on and they talk about retirement there. The first time I read it, I didn't think what they described was retirement, but now I get it. Retirement is leaving the stuff that you don't want to do and instead filling your life with the stuff that you really want to do. Retirement isn't sitting in your house doing nothing.

I am a hard worker. My father was a hard worker. My mother wasn't afraid of hard work. I have long believed that the answer to all of my problems would simply be to work harder. But recently I learned that it's crap. There is a limit to how much working harder will do. But one thing that attitude did do for me was that it perfectly filled my time. I both wanted and needed something to completely occupy my time, and that did it. There are certain things in life that I don't want to have to think about. Endless work gave me that gift.

Now that I'm retired I get concerned. Hiding is comfortable and safe. Giving yourself time to feel things might result in feeling something you don't want to. Having time is risky business, but so far it's been fine. In fact, the happiness that I retired in search of, felt closer than it's ever been. I really have let go of that endless drive. It's feeling nice.

I did start to notice something though. Internal motivation is hard to maintain without reward. As human beings we have evolved to be reward for everything that is worth doing. Our bodies release great chemicals that tells us to keep doing what we're doing. I continue to write and record audiobooks because I want to, but without the reward of seeing that they're selling, I feel a little hollow. It's like singing into the wind; you can only hear yourself and can never be sure you are the only one.

I guess I'm writing today because today was my designated day for checking my sales. What I found was that I have sold the most I have ever by this time in the month. I feel pretty safe that I will make my quota. One might think that would make me feel good, and it did for a little while. But within hours, my thoughts that I'm not good enough returned. "Why isn't it more?" I asked myself. I could barely stop the thoughts. They simply flowed.

I was glad that I did check my sales though. It turns out that I now sell more in German than I do in English on, and I do it with fewer books. That tells me that I have to get more books out in German. I also found out that a book that I had translated on a whim, is now my best selling book overall. I have three more books in that series, so they will be my next translations.

Knowing my sales also motivated me to attempt something which I first attempted 2 months ago. I thought that the powers-that-be deleted a very important account that I have. It turns out that my plea was listened to and my account was reinstated. Because I was knocked back by its initial deletion, I didn't even bother to check back. But they had listened and today I made a very strong move toward increasing my sales. This wouldn't have happened if I didn't check my sales numbers. Checking my sales is an evil for me, but a necessary one.

Now, I just have to get my mind back into that better place. I need to remember that I'm not required to increase my numbers. Hell, I might need to institute some sort of punishment if my sales go up, to deincentivize myself from making money my goal instead of happiness. It's a tricky thing. I think that my new flower garden has helped me to remember to choose happiness. Seeing flowers makes me happier. But the main thing that I have to look out for is my desire to hide from life popping out in some other way. The problem is that in the past, I have never realized my new addiction until I was knee deep in it. Oh well, I probably won't see the next one coming either. But I have to still venture forward with my plan, and I need to make some time to enjoy the first surfing lesson that I paid for.

Other than that, I feel like a should write 2 stories this week. I have been paying for a promotion all month long and I should really have 2 more stories out before the promotion is complete on the 29th. But on top of that, I have a production assignment. It promises to be a busy next two weeks.

I hope that I will continue to remember that I am actually retired. And I hope that I can find the internal motivation to continue on, even though I don't know how others are responding to it. I think it might have been easier back when publishers would only give you sales figures every six months. I'm sure that authors constantly thought about how well their book was doing, but I bet that it did free the author's mind to focus on other things since you knew that would never know them until the designated date. I guess knowing vs not knowing is a situation that gives as much as it takes.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Most Recent Psychic Event

If you read my last post, you would be familiar with my penchant for considering myself psychic. In my last post, I mentioned my way of getting answers from the universe. I also mentioned that I asked the universe whether or not I would find love and I was distressed that the universe wasn't coughing up a coincidence as an answer. Well, I just experienced a coincidence and possible answer. Here's what happened, though I haven't analysed it yet.

I called my mother on mother's day like a good son. We haven't spoken in a while so we spend 2 hours catching up. I told her about the 3 things that I would like to do this summer; scuba lessons, hang-gliding and a trip to Mexico. Mum then asked me when was I going to Mexico. I told her I didn't know and she asked me who I was going with. I told her that it would be a surfing trip and she replied disappointingly.

She then told me that she wants to go to Mexico to see the pyramids that they most recently found. She then wavered about where the pyramids were. I told her that I couldn't go because of the cost. She replied by saying that Travel Zoo has had great deals ever-so-often. With that in mind I go to check Groupon and LivingSocial. There weren't any deals there.

I hang up from her and go about life. The next day I decide to check my Groupon/LivingSocial email address (since I rarely do). What do you think that I find? It is a LivingSocial deal to Machu Picchu. I remember that there are pyramids there so I check it out. Machu Picchu is in Peru but I send it to my mother anyway asking her if this was where she meant. She wrote me this morning saying "Yes!!!". I then go to my email address and do a search to see if trips to Peru come up often. In the 2 years that I've been a member of the 2 groups, this is only the 2nd time a trip to Peru has come up and the only other time wasn't a trip to the pyramids. This qualifies as a big coincidence.

So, as I said before, with the psychic technique that I use, the next big coincidence usually has the answer to the question that you've asked. That means that somewhere in this incident is my answer. These things usually require some interpretation, but not that much. 

My first guess is that the answer to my question is that 'what my mother wants will be available.' My mother has been very clear about what she wants. She thinks that I use our shared history as an excuse to avoid relationships and marriage, and she wants grand kids from me. Even when I informed her that she wouldn't get that, she hasn't conceded her desire like I have gotten her to do on other topics.

Ya know, I have to say that my interpretations to past coincidental events have been super cool and enough to delight friends at parties. This one, in comparison, would be pretty lame. But I do know that the answer always involves the person that the coincidence is being shared with. In the other most cool coincidences, the questions were about the person that I experienced the coincidences with. 

Hmm... I guess that in a way, like the cool psychic experiences, my question is also about my mother (the person I shared the coincidence with), because my mother is the only one that has vocalized that she wants me to be in the type of relationship that I asked the universe about (I think that only one other person in the past 15 years has said anything anywhere close to that to me.). So the question that I asked could have just as easily have been, will my mother get what she wants for me. If I had asked the question, "will I experience what my mother wants from me" the answer would totally have been, "my mother will get what she wants." 

The problem is however, that although it could have been the same question, it wasn't the way I actually phrased it. And if there is one thing that I have learned time and time again from my psychic experiences, it's that the psychic world is very literal... painfully literal... excruciatingly literal. You have to take the answer you get without adding on assumptions, because it is those assumptions that will break your heart when they don't come true. And every single time, after getting my heart broken for an assumption that didn't come true, I have thought back to the psychic event and the literal translation of the event is always exactly what occurred. So now the question is, is my current interpretation closest to the literal understanding of what has happened?

Hmm... I need to think about this a little more.

It just hit me. I was correct. That was the answer to my question. Ha! And for all of those that that think that it is some how good to be psychic, let me share with you what the universe has told me. Keep in mind that when asking the universe something, you have to be extremely specific. In turn, the universe will be very literal in its reply.

So the very specific question that I asked was: Will I be in a loving relationship, that involves sex and makes me happy.

The universe replied: What my mother wants will be available to me.

Here is what my mother has stated that she wants for me: She wants me to get married, even if she lives in the Bahamas while I live in LA. And she wants me to have kids.

Love doesn't seem to come into play there. Nor does sex or happiness. So when I asked if I will have a happy relationship, the universe said that what I will be able to have is a marriage. Ha! That is the answer. That even sounds like their types of answers. They never answer yes or no. They present information. So the answer is, and here is where the assumption part comes in, I will NOT be in a loving relationship that involves sex and makes me happy. I know that isn't exactly what the universe said, but something tells me if the answer was "yes, I will have those things" they would have created a different coincidence.

Question asked. Question answered. Now I have to start the fight againt the self-fulfilling prophecy. Yay me. Yay psychic abilities. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

My Perception of Self

Perhaps this is not a good day to blog considering that I'm sick. Whenever I'm sick my mood drops tremendously. And I can say without a doubt that I'm not happy right now. I'm feeling defeated and like giving up. Last week I was feeling like this and in turn I took 4 strong steps to recover. Really when I'm feeling like this it is usually based on sales numbers.

Currently my overall sales are up. My German sales, Amazon English sales and Barnes & Noble sales are all up. But my audio book sales are down. And that fact alone is just killing me. I was counting on audio books as my future and I had a 50% drop in sales between March and April. Considering how much time I've invested into audiobooks, it just depresses the hell out of me.

Adding to that, last weekend I went to see Avengers. I was putting butter on my popcorn when a woman walked up next to me and stood waiting for the butter pump. I look over at her and she doesn't look directly at me but she starts to blush. I turned back around wondering what she was blushing at since there was no one else there. I then walked off, but by the time I get into the theater I realize that she was one of the most beautiful women that I've seen in a long time. (I'm slow on the uptake sometimes.) I then keep an eye out for her to walk into my theater but she doesn't. That missed opportunity does not do my mood any good.

You know, I look at my life objectively and it's not too bad. I write for a living; I'm taking some time off to work on a movie; I'm pitching a huge game changer to one of the largest publishers in the world; and someone volunteered that I was good looking. (Usually I try my best not to hear compliments, but it was said so disarmingly that I couldn't help but hear it.) So one would think that I'm just fine.

So what this makes me think is that I'm low on Vitamin D though I'm not. My body has probably adapted to it so I'm no longer getting that dopamine boost that I get from it. And I haven't been taken my other feel good supplements long enough to feel an effect. But damn I'm not in a good mood. I have this overwhelming desire to lay in bed and just stay there. If anyone knows me, they would know that would never happen. But the desire is there and I can't shake it. And no new venture or project has managed to shake this feeling out of me.

Ok, you want to hear something that is going to sound a little crazy? So I'm psychic, right. Just accept that as fact. I'm not going to lay out the mounds of evidence that started from age 14. And one of the psychic techniques I use involves me asking "the universe" questions. Using this method I have about a 75% or 80% accuracy rate. I don't use it very often, but I have found it incredibly accurate.

So a few weeks ago I wasn't feel particularly happy and I decided to employ this technique. I have never really been in love. I'm pretty old for never having really been in love and I'm constantly aware of this. So I decide to ask the universe whether or not I will ever be in love during this life time.

To me the answer was easy and obvious. Of course I will. So I sat back waiting for the answer. The way I get the answer is that something extremely coincidental happens. I then have to dissect that coincidence and within it is an answer. The incidences aren't kind of coincidental. They are really coincidental. And I always get an answer. I went through a short phase where I got 2 incorrect answers in a row, but I always get answers. The only time when I didn't get an answer was right after I become unemployed after the recession hit. I had asked the universe where would be the next company that I would be fully employed at. I got no response at all.

That lack of response led me to shun everything psychic. What I interrupted that lack of answer to mean was that I would never again be employed by a company. As a person who had no clue where my next paycheck was coming from, I did not like that answer. I hated the universe for giving me that answer and I rejected it. But of course, if you have been reading about my writing journey, you would know that as it stands, I no longer have to find employment by another company. I am gainfully self-employed. I couldn't imagine that answer (or lack of one) as being a good thing at the time, but it was.

So a few weeks ago I ask the universe if I would ever find love. Can you guess what the response was? It was silence, just like when I asked the question about employment. And yes, I considered that the technique has stopped working for me, but I have had two really impressive incidences of coincidence between those two unanswered questions. I guess it's possible that it takes time for the universe to arrange for these coincidences, but it has been longer than I remember it ever taking before.

Typing this I'm reminded of a TED lecture I saw about perception. The gist of the lecture was that our perception of things matters more than reality. Well, my perception of my life is not good and involves the terms loveless and failure. Is that reality? Who knows.

On a side note, it looks like I will no longer get my office back because my roommate doesn't now seem to be moving out anymore. The upside is that I no longer have to rapidly increase my income. So perhaps to give life some meaning I should write a book that has the possibility of surviving me. The YA book seems so daunting to me right now, so maybe I should finally work on '10 Things that Every Kid should Know By 18... And How to Teach Them.' It shouldn't take me longer than 3 weeks and maybe it will make me feel better about myself.

Why I currently need to feel better about myself I do not know. But in spite of my promise to be better to myself, I again seem to find myself mumbling the word "loser" to myself. Do I consciously think that I'm a loser? Not even close to it. But clearly my subconscious is not liking something about what's going on, and I have to figure out some way to address it.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Heavy Weight of Failure

I had to gear myself up to write this. I have to say, I'm not in the greatest of moods. All month long I've been trying to block out my sales numbers. Last month was a good month and, of course, I thought this month would go up as usual. I especially thought so because this was the first month publishing my podcast. It turns out that my sales are down this month.

My ebook sales being down this month is hard enough, but what really makes me want to crawl into bed and hide under the sheets is the fact that my audio book sales are way down. In fact, yesterday was my first day when I didn't even receive one sale on my audio books. That's heart-breaking for me... especially since I started the podcast specifically to increase my audio book sales.

And it isn't like people aren't enjoying the podcast. So far I have gotten 4 five star reviews, and iTunes lists all of them as being the highest level on the popularity listing. That surprises me because I know how many listens I'm getting. I have gotten hundreds of listens and not thousands. Obviously its a relative scale, but still, it's a little heart-breaking that even with these hundreds of listeners I'm having a down sales month. I know that Easter and Tax day had a lot to do with it, but not everyone is down this month. With this increase in marketing, I feel like I should be one of them.

So this plus a few more things going on in my life is bringing me down right now. I decided not to kill myself on my production schedule this week and now I'm a full day behind schedule. Also, in spite of my latest release selling well, my other newest titles aren't selling well... except for the title that made me take a break to "find my soul". That is turning out to be my best selling book.  The English version is selling like crap, but the German version is outselling all of my other books. Amazing.

Anyway, today is the type of day that I wish I were one of my characters and I could just crawl into someone's arms and lie there for a few minutes. On top of that, a friend offered me a job doing a light re-edit on his movie. I want to do it and probably will, but I will fall even further behind on my production schedule. I should be glad that I can take a break for a fun job, but in the mood I'm in, it just weighs me down even more.

Really, this mood I'm in is because my sales are down. And it is such a clique in my writing circles, but I can't help but think that my wonderful ride is over. I used to release new books and they sold copy after copy. When that stopped I managed to get the same result when I released the audio book. Now that that seems to have gone, all I have are the German books and the book I released yesterday hasn't even gotten a sale yet... I was expecting this latest German release to be a good seller.  I'm feeling very defeated.

Tomorrow morning I have a podcast interview with a person who is probably the most successful erotica writer on iTunes. He was one of the people that inspired me to give this genre a try. But even though the questions are already written, I am feeling another failure coming on. I'm not sure how I can fail with the interview, but I feel like I'm emanating failure right now. And all of this failure is happening while I was supposed to be increasing my income so that I can afford my place without a roommate. I'm feeling very weighed down.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mortality is a Bitch but Undeniable

Mortality is a bitch but it's undeniable. I just watched the movie Cabin In The Woods. I recommend it. But it has put me in an interesting mood.

Today was a hard day at rugby. Now that I'm off of my latest age defy supplements, I definitely felt it. And as I sit here I have to admit to myself that I'm aging. Yes, the only guy on the field today that could have possibly been faster than I was is 23 years old. Sure the only other possible guy that I play with that could possibly be faster is about 26. But still, there's no denying it, I'm aging. Seriously, I would be surprised if I have 3 years left... and that's me being optimistic.

So with this reality staring me in the face everyday, I have to really start thinking about my legacy. I have the life-sized bronze statue of me. Certainly that will exist longer than all of us. I could also cross my fingers that my book Everybody Masturbates becomes a classic. But past that, what do I have? Unfortunately nothing.

From the age of 11 I thought that I was put on earth with a glorious purpose. I can remember sitting in my 6th grade class having a clear feeling that I had a well defined destiny. Then I remember sitting in my 8th grade class thinking that I had a well defined destiny. Then my 10th, 11th and 12th grade class. Then all during college and for the first 8 years afterwards. After that things got hazy, but I used to think that I was here for a reason.

Now as I sit here, I'm looking at about 2 solid years at most before my mind goes to hell. I have already lost a step. My mind could do some impressive things when I was a kid. Now that stuff is all gone. The only thing special about it now is the way it makes connections between ideas. All of its great processing power is gone. Even now, mentally I am a shadow of my former self. Physically, I'm clearly not as good looking as I used to be.

You know, people mock me about saying things like this, but they just don't get it. I can remember being trapped in the Bahamas after I graduated from college and I went through a couple of weeks stretch when literally, every single day that I left my house some stranger would comment on how good looking I was. Do you know what that's like? Do you know how that fucks up a person's mind?

I did not encourage that. I didn't want it. I almost tried to avoid it, but there it was unsolicited. It was ridiculous. I remember once I left my house just to get my hair cut and the older male barber mentioned my looks. I didn't see it. Looking back at the pictures at the time and still don't see it. And because I couldn't see it, I never wanted it. But after getting it for decades and then not getting it, it does something to you. It's like being forced to take a drug for years and then having to spend the remainder of your life in withdrawal. Simply put it screws with your head.

So now, here I am. I have lost what made my brain special; I have lost what made my looks special; I'm probably a year away from losing what made me special with sports. And that 11 year old is looking at me and his heart is breaking. "You were given so much. How could you have not fulfilled your destiny? How could you have wasted it all?" He keeps repeating to me.

You know, every time I do something that no one else in the world has done, it is because of that 11 year old. He is my motivator. He is the reason that I do so many 15 hour days. I don't want to disappoint him. He was such a sweet kid. He was just the nicest kid. In comparison to him, I am currently one evil son of a bitch. I would be absolutely ashamed to be introduced to that kid with him knowing that I am who he will become. That would break both of our hearts.

So since I have ruined that poor kid's life. Since I have taken all of the potential and goodness that that kid had and just fucked it all to hell, the least I could do is make one more concerted effort to fulfill that kid's destiny. I have 2 solid years left to do it. I need to get to it.

So, the last big thing that I will try to do before my time runs out is write that book that I have discussed before. It was the book I decided to write after watching the last Harry Potter movie. I have written 29 short stories in the last 6 months and I really feel that I have the style down. And currently my best selling erotica story is a story in 4 parts. Each story is self contained and sold separately but together they tell one over arching story.

This is how I will write the YA book. I am going to break the books down into four 12,000 to 20,000 word short stories. And I will break down the series into 5 books. That means that over the next 2 years I have to write 20 short stories. Considering that I have written 30 shorter short stories in 6 months, that seems very doable.

I plan on releasing the first one for free and then probably charge 2.99 for all of the rest. I expect to sell zero of most of them. I can also believe that I will sell none at all. It wouldn't be the first time. But I'm not looking at it as a money making venture. It is my attempt to explain the workings of the universe in a very easy to understand way. My book 'The First Day After Life' was something similar, but it is not easy to understand. If anyone ever had doubt that I was a genius, then they should read that book.

But my legacy will be being able to explain the purpose of life wrapped around an adventure and in a way that even a 10 year old girl can understand it. If I can do that, then I will have fulfilled my destiny. I will be able to let go and allow the universe to do with me what it will. Thanks to the ebook format the books will continue to exist long after I'm gone and, who knows, maybe some one at some point in time will discover it and appreciate it. Maybe not. But what I know for sure is that I would have done everything that I could do.

That's my plan. I have never stopped thinking about the book and my mind has been working on it while I practiced my skills writing about sex. So some time soon I will sit down and map out all 20 stories and soon after that, the writing will begin. In truth I can feel a weight lifting off of my chest knowing that I am about to begin the last thing that I will ever NEED to do. It's actually quite a relief. It isn't particularly easy being me. I look forward to ridding myself of one of my biggest burdens.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I just wrote something that I've never written before

I just did something that I hadn't done in a while. I wrote a short story in one sitting. It was a 7,700 word story so it is actually one of my longer ones. It took me about 9 hours of fingers on the keyboard writing, and I did have to figure out a way around my mental fatigue half way through, but I did it. It seems that I'm not as much over the dizziness that I've been experiencing as I thought. And it's always been the case that if I am even a little sick I can't write. But motivated with the info that I need to publish 6 more stories to afford by place by myself, I kept on charging.

What made today even more monumental was that this was the first story that I've written since writing a really crappy story (which is doing really well in Germany) and knowing I had lost my soul. The soul searching was good for me. The result was a kind of story that I have never written before. Instead of story being about the aggressiveness of the sex, it was about the gentle exploration of the main character's sexuality. It was something I actually heard from the most successful writer that I have ever personally talk to.

Could it be the best thing I've ever written. Could be. The problem is though, when ever I say that, it ends up being one of my worst sellers. This story does have a concept and title which I'm sure will do well though. My first couple of titles were great successes. My next few, perhaps, represented me being too clever for my own good. They didn't do well.

This latest title though, is meat and potatoes. The concept is strong, and the writing is delicate. This is as mainstream as I have ever written. Will it sell big, I think so. And I'm willing to put my money behind it. I am going to pull out all of the things I've learned about making a book a top 100 book. We'll have to see how it works.

I still have to edit it and record (and edit) the audiobook. But I consider this as, 1 down and 5 more to go until financial freedom... and my office back. Yay!

Friday, April 13, 2012

This is my most romantic moment

I just finished watching Midnight in Paris and it was an enjoyable movie. It was about a man understanding that the present is a valuable place to be. The main character talks a lot about walking in the rain in Paris, and certainly it looks very beautiful. But watching it I realized that I know something that was even more beautiful.

I am from the Bahamas and although I don't live there I returned there a few years ago. I met this woman at a retreat and her long tanned limbs and mane of loosely curly hair allowed for a chemistry between us that I couldn't define. On her last day I invited her on a tour of the city. So spontaneously I rented a scooter and drove her around the most beautiful part of the island. While she gripped me tightly around my chest I pointed out the caves and all of the incredible homes. And as the rain started coming down we had to get back as soon as we could.

Dropping the scooters off, I ushered her out of the rain but she didn't leave. In her real life she described herself as being a timid flower, but here, in the rain in the Bahamas, she was someone else. And as the rain drenched us both, I looked at her watching the bulging curves of her face as she smiled back.

After a while we tucked away into an ocean side bar and talked as our legs touched underneath the bamboo bar top and there was nothing off limits in our conversation. The day turned to night and around mid-night we went looking for a dark cavernous restaurant where we tucked in and ate and drank until it was 2 in the morning.

Knowing that we had to leave we both walked the streets of the island. It was emptier and more quiet than I had ever seen it. And crossing the long well traveled bridge and through the lights of the flashy hotels' pool sides, we entered the moon lit darkness of the world's most seductive beach. We were silent as we both walked and our parting was filled with unspoken thoughts. In an email I would later learn what those unspoken thoughts were. She wanted desperately to make love with me that night. She described the lust that she felt for me as almost overwhelming and safely back in her real life she wanted me to know.

That was a moment that could rival any image or story that someone else could draw and it was my reality. That was my midnight in Paris except mine was real and thanks to the movie I can now see the moment for what it was. That was my life's most romantic moment. That was my gift that the great thinker that created us all presented to me with a wish that my life be more grand than the rest. That is my real life and as sad as I am that I didn't recognize it while it was happening, I am grateful that here, 5 years later, I have come to see this moment for what it was. I was certainly blessed, and I thank the darkness of this night that I have finally see it and my life for what it is; a beautiful story.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Here's what I need to find to regain my soul

Today begins week 2 of 'no writing' and I'm torn. On one hand I think the break is great. On the other hand I'm concerned about my financial future. In my experience, the writing train has to continue for my earnings to go up. Another author said it best when she said, "Publishing is like getting a raise every month." Write a little and it's just a few hundred more. Write a lot and you can double your earnings. But if you get lucky and hit the jackpot, it could mean an extra 10K a month. That makes it hard to ignore.

But this break was taken because my writing had gotten soulless. I still believe that. And it is amazing that although I worked 45 hours last week, I still found time to take a step back and look at myself. This break has been good. I can feel my soul slowly coming back. Certainly there are no quick fixes. Certainly I can't wait until I am a complete human being again before I restart writing. But if I can find my direction before I restart, maybe both my life and writing will become better.

I think what I'm actually going after in my search for my soul is an openness. As my blog posts will attest, I am in certain ways a very open person. But in other ways, I am like a locked box. I need to unlock that box. Today I figured out what I have to do to open that box. It would be an act that I have never taken before. I have been taught that making yourself vulnerable can only bring you pain. But some how I need to make myself vulnerable to others. And my characters need to do the same. That is what most people find hot. If I would like to write very successful erotica books, that is what my characters must do.

Another thing that I've been grappling with is what I should write next. I write in 3 different subgenres. One subgenre and series sells best on iTunes; another subgenre and series sells best in audio book; another subgenre and series sells best in German and another series sells best on Amazon. This makes it very hard to decide where I should focus my energy. A few months ago I decided to focus on what sells best for everyone else on Amazon because Amazon is everyone's biggest money maker, but those books have been my worst sellers on Amazon (and my best on iTunes).

So the question is, what do I write now that I'm pushing to gain a mainstream audience. Do I continue to chase the large audience now that I have the podcast, or do I write what my fan base likes? I continue to be torn.

I think that I will spend the rest of this week preparing 2 more episodes of my podcast. After that I will continue to do some thinking. I could record a couple of audio books, but something tells me that I should invest the time in continuing to work on myself.

Also, I didn't buy the scuba certification lessons as I said I would. I didn't because I was told by my current roommate that he would be moving out. He was a nice guy, but he has turned me off from ever having a roommate again. And now that I can afford to live alone I think that I will try it. Since I can only barely afford it right now, I'm thinking that I should wait until my sales increase a little before I pay for my lessons.

You know, I wish I could do something more dramatic like go for a little trip where I can leave my daily life behind. But I have so many self-imposed obligations that it will have to continue to be a dream. Oh well.

Coming back to vulnerability, I have to say that this whole vulnerability thing stumps me. I feel like I could do it, but it is like that first kiss, when do you do it? Finding the right moment to make your self vulnerable is such a hard thing to know. And searching for the appropriate time my entire life, I have never found it.

I know not to envy anyone else's vulnerability because most people have no control over it and become victim to it. But still, I envy it a little. It is the same way I envy the screwed up characters that I write about... actually vulnerability is probably the exact reason I some times envy my characters.

Hmmm... I have to think about that. I didn't realize that any of my characters had vulnerability until now. Oh wait, you know what? My characters are vulnerable because they are forced into exposing themselves. What I need to create are characters that are vulnerable in their curiousity. That's what people find hot. Hmmm...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Brain is Starting to Fry!

First off, I would not make a good spy. In the last day I have twice published my pen name under my stage name. But that's Okay. I'm thinking about breaking down the wall that exists between the worlds anyway. The great thing about being self employed as a writer is that I don't have a boss that could fire me if the don't like something about me. The only people that I have to answer to are my readers. And it is my erotica readers that employ me so I have nothing to fear if I integrate my two worlds.

I think it will happen naturally though when the podcast airs. It's kind of hard to avoid it from happening the more my voice gets out there. And honestly, I would be comfortable with that. I will never print both names together, but I don't really care that much anymore if people know what I write.

On another topic, today was one of those draining days when by 2pm I was already asking myself, how other people do what I'm doing. It is always funny when I realize the answer. I asked myself how is it that other people are able to publish books while voicing their own audio books, while creating a personality test with a programmer in India while creating a podcast, and translating their books into foreign languages and creating audio books in those languages; and then I realize that there is no one else in the entire world doing that. What I am doing exceeds anything that any of the extremely successful romance authors are doing that it is ridiculous. Yet some how I keep thinking that I'm not doing enough.

I am literally doing 3 different things that no one else in the world is doing. Literally! Yet here I am saying that I'm not doing enough. What the hell man!

Come to think of it, I think I was supposed to be taking this week off, wasn't I? I knew that I couldn't because of the podcast, but I didn't suspect that I would actually be working. I'm not sure what I thought I would be doing, but I thought that because I wasn't writing, I would have all of this extra time to think about my life and grow as a person. Yeah right, my brain was fried after only 10 hours of work. That's how much I worked today; after only 10 hours, I was fried.

Today, me, the writer/voice over guy/sound producer/business owner, had to figure out a problem going on with the server 'A records' that my software programmer created to upload the mysql database onto my server. Damn mysql! By 9:30pm when I stopped working, my brain felt like it was melting. At one point I was on the phone with trouble shooting two different web hosting problems and once that was done I had to deal with 2 other problems having to do with 2 separate businesses that I own. And all of this was while I was Skyping with my programmer in India answering his questions. MY BRAIN WAS MELTING!

I guess what I should remember is that this too shall end. I will not continue to be this busy. Once this program is done I won't have to go through this again, and I will sell sooo many more books. But let me tell you, if I don't end up selling a ton more books, I will be so depressed. If this doesn't double my sales, in a shorter time period than usual, I will know that I really don't know what the hell I'm doing.

I can't imagine that it won't happen though. All of my author friends think that what I'm doing is an amazing idea and all of them keep saying how great it will turn out for me. All of them without exception. That's got to mean something, right?

I think what I'll do to help me better relax is pay for my scuba certification. How awesome will it be for me to go over to Catalina Island and go scuba diving? Doesn't that just sound like one of the coolest things ever? Aren't there seals and seaweed beds over there. And I'm from the Bahamas so maybe it's time that I got back into the ocean. Man, I can feel myself relax just thinking about it. Ok, it's a plan. This weekend I'm paying for my scuba certification lessons. Awesome!

Oh yeah, and I write books. Here they are.