Thursday, July 18, 2019

Trigger Warnings. Let's talk about it.

Let’s talk about it.

After the release of Fisher Men X my <3, something was brought to my attention.
I have a trigger warning in the book. This is a subject that has a lot of authors divided.
Some readers are put off by it because they want to feel all the feels and a warning is
like a spoiler.

Some readers feel personally harmed if a trigger warning isn’t present.

Some feel that a trigger warning hurts sales from those that would be triggered as well
as those who are not. 

And then there are the readers who think it's overused and not needed most of the time.

I write about everyday people who are regaining their power after a traumatic event in
their lives. Most of my books touch briefly on something dark. I’ve never put a trigger
warning on my books because the event has always been a glossed over thing that
happened in the past. This book was different. The scene unfolded on the page in the
victim's point of view. It was very real and very scary. I knew this could be upsetting,
but the moment is so profound to her development as a character that I felt it unjust
to gloss over it. 

The fact that my heroine overcame a near-rape in front of a crowd of people who were
live-streaming it, is an inspiration. Any woman who would have been triggered needs
to know a happy ending is still attainable. I show a girl so broken she’s splintered and
how it affects the relationships around her. I gave her four men who helped her put
all the pieces back together and she formed healthy relationships. Adding a trigger
warning would isolate someone who needs this ending from ever reading it.

So, what if I could get my reader to skip just the triggering event. What if my reader
could just know it happened without being there with the heroine. In the same breath
what if I could give the reader who wants all the feels (good, bad, and scary) all of it.
I introduced a new kind of trigger warning.

First, I told the reader before the first chapter that at some point this is going to happen.
If you don’t want to read it, look for this
*** “Trigger Warning” ***
scroll to ***end***
continue reading. They get all of the story minus a few upsetting paragraphs.
It was mentioned a few times in reviews that it was appreciated. 

Then I got a personal message. An avid reader who reads two hundred books
a year on slow years reached out to me. A survivor who understood my character more
than she would like to admit.

A woman who felt all the same anxiety, and wished she had Fisher Men to save her.
A woman who has been triggered in the past, but gave my book a chance despite the
warning. She headed the warning, skipped the intense moment, and found that the
characters strength and ability to overcome was inspiring. She then asked for one
thing from me. 

She asked me to start the conversation.
She would feel better about inspiring books like mine if she was given the option
I gave her. So, let’s talk about it. She felt it needs to be discussed, and I’m inclined
to give her what she needs. While you are absolutely welcome to buy my book
(pretty please), you don’t need to in order to see the trigger warning. If you choose
"a look inside" option on Amazon, you can flip to it and read the wording for yourself.
I look forward to a dialogue on how you feel about trigger warnings in romance books.

Rebel Nicks O’Dey

Thursday, May 23, 2019

RockStar Going Down and other titles.

It's the eve before my release and time for everything to go wrong. Honestly, that used to be my story. These days I save my stress to sweat the larger things.

So let's talk titles. Most authors agonize over blurbs but not me. It's the title that kills me. It's the first thing that grabs your attention and draws you in. The nearly naked man on the cover helps.
I like my titles to have more than one meaning, too. The entire Circle of Sanity series revolves around the word Sanity. It doesn't mean what you might initially think it means. It's capitalized on purpose and you have to read book one or four to understand why.

So here is my pre-release nugget the "S" in Rockstar is capitalized with intent, too. There is more than one star in the book. So, when I paired my Rockstar with a Star I got RockStar. Don't get me started on all the ways the pair are going down.

My next series the Fisher Men took forever. My original plan was along the lines of Hooks, Lines, Sunk. To keep that order would make a terrible mismatch with the story inside not to mention it has four books in the series. I did a google search on fishing terms, but nothing screamed "sexy."

I finally decided to use pictures in place of words. Each book cover can be read more than one way and each way would make sense. Sadly, I can't use pictures on ISBN and ASIN numbered titles so I had to pick one but I can't wait for my readers to see all of the other meanings.

Until next time,
Rebel Nicks O'Dey

Friday, May 3, 2019

Shh! I'm writing.

Please don't be quiet. I need the television on, the music playing, or maybe I just need to be on a crowded bus or train. I've had several careers most of them involved crazy feats in "multi-tasking."
I started as an I.T. professional who had to simultaneously monitor sixteen monitors in addition to my own work. Next, I clerked for a judge where I entered the minutes of one case while listening to the next. A few stops later I became a 911 operator. I listened to the fire band, the police band, and a hysterical caller answering everyone's questions simultaneously. Now, I can't concentrate without noise.
I am aware of how in the minority I am on this matter, but bring on the chaos and watch me smile. Amidst the chaos, a few books are emerging. I release Rockstar Going Down at the end of this month. At the end of June, I will be releasing the first Fisher Men book (cups my cheeks and screams Home Alone style). I have settled on names and covers and I can't wait to share them with you.
Book I. is X My Heart,
Book II. Xing Lines,
Book III. On the X. and
Book IV. is The X Factor.
My next series is the Sextually Ever After Series. I broke my wrist last summer and wrote two books on the Microsoft Word App on my phone as it was easier to type one-handed. The problem was the auto-correct on my phone kept correcting what it thinks I mean. I created titles and basic story ideas for some of my favorite fails. Each book will have a meet-cute that happens after a technology mishap. The titles are:
Rock Hard Clock,
Kiss my Click, and
Ducking Brilliant.
I admit, my previous career choices have made me the type of person who thrives under pressure. So, not only have I taken on way more than I can chew, but I also started writing a Young Adult Fantasy series. I know what you're thinking, but Rebel you don't write YA Fantasy? You would be correct, but this story has been simmering in my head for years and my younger kids asked me to write something that they can read, so I jumped into my world building. It's an Outlander meets Host with a whole other twist to it. I won't get into the details but I'll need a new pen name for that one. I'm open to suggestions.
This concludes your exclusive peek at the Rebel Insider.
Stay tuned for our next episode.
Rebel Nicks O'Dey

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Dinosaur Dress

I pitched the Fisher Men series to an editor. Yep, I did that thing I said I would never do. I had a very good reason. It was the dinosaur dress. The dinosaur dress made me do it.

Perhaps I should start from the beginning. You see, I love being an independent author. I love that nobody gets a say in what I write or how quickly I finish it. If I go to print with a typo, It’s my typo and I own it with my human-ness. My career began with a simple notion. Life is too short to do anything less than what I love. I know, spoken like a true cancer survivor. I design my covers, and I am unapologetic about their imperfections, because it’s mine. If only one person bought my book, that is fabulous.

My goals are small, because writing is this thing I do for my soul. I shake off the stress of my life as a first responder by giving the patients of my really tough cases a rich back story, and the happily ever after I wish for them. I used to delete my novels after I wrote them because I got what I needed from them. One day with little to no guidance I hit publish on a really terrible version of my first book. Seriously, I learned all the ways not to do it. In the end, I wrote and published four books and a novella in one year. The fourth being my favorited best. My soul has a lot to say so I was already “plantsing” my next series.

I met her in my Romance Writers of America meeting. She did a presentation on pitches. I supported my sister writers, but I had no intention of ever pitching my soul to an editor. As she discussed what she was looking for I thought, oh that’s what I write. She described the heros she likes to see and I was like I know, right? I love a well-rounded beta male over an asshole alpha. She talked about her nerd fetishes which were also mine, and I thought if only I could be eight years old. If I was eight, I could grab her arm and claim her as my best friend. It’s creepy when adults try this. So I’ve been told.

The next time I saw her was at Chicago North Spring Fling. I was an attendant and a volunteer so I bumped into my secret best friend a time or two. I realize this girl crush is weird, but hey, so am I. The fact that we have never spoken doesn’t mean I couldn’t meet her for dinner sometime. The fact that I’m an introvert does. No, no. Dinner dates with my girl crush, they happen only in my head.
I sat a banquet table scrolling my phone because hello, introvert with strangers. The world of cocky-gate is unfolding at my fingertips. At this time the indie community is being beaten with new Amazon algorithms (I had a book banned for questionable content for about a week), the spotlight on page turn scammers, book stuffing, word patenting, and subpar content was slowly becoming the face of the Indie Author. My heart hurt. A voice stepped out of the darkness on our behalf. A lovely author decided to streamline the voices and represent our interests to Amazon.

I can’t disagree with the concept. The lovely author is like a pit-bull once she sinks her teeth into the kong, she isn’t going to let it go. Every organization needs a person like her. It’s the only way shit gets done. There is a reason that person is never the face of the organization though. Harsh and brash mannerisms aren’t always well received. I don’t know her personally and maybe she has a professional face I’m not aware of, but either way, I didn’t choose her. If someone is going to represent me, my work, my soul, to not only my publisher, but my readers, and the world, shouldn’t I get a say in who that person is?

Enter my girl crush in the most adorable blue dress printed with colorful dinosaurs. For the love of Joe, could this woman be any more perfect. A dinosaur dress! As she took the stage for a panel Q&A she beamed a beautiful smile that crinkled her eyes under her gorgeously large glasses. She dropped her head and giggled like the quirky characters I write. I stared at the lost member of my tribe. She is my people. That’s when it clicked, that is a woman who gets me. That beautiful smile adorns the face of someone who could adequately represent me. If my representation is inevitable, then the Independent Author in me, is making a choice. I slapped my hand on the table much to the alarm of the other authors and announced “I’m pitching my next series.” I turned my heart shaped eyes on the woman in the dinosaur dress and thought quietly, to her. To ONLY her.

I might have mildly stalked her twitter looking for a place she is doing in-person pitch appointments, because I need to do this face to face. Then the email arrives from Midwest Fiction Writers she’s taking pitches. Never mind her office is forty-five minutes from my home, I’m driving seven hours with my husband and kids to Minnesota, because who wouldn’t?
I attended her presentation on how to pitch but I didn’t pay attention. I wasn’t pitching then. I went with no notes or real plan for words. I wasn’t even sure if I’d go through with it. I mean, I thought I would. I’m a determined person but I could still bolt. I walked in with my head held high. Then I saw her.

She stood at the front of the room in her DINOSAUR DRESS. Her hands were clutching the sides of it and she swayed back and forth like a little girl in line for ice cream. I drove straight through all night. I smelled like the bad decisions one makes on road trips. It smells like Funyons and feet in case you didn’t know. Every sleepless moment was worth it. She was wearing the dinosaurs like a beacon to my soul. Later that evening when my smell multiplied with nervous sweat, I swallowed the lump on my throat and rambled incoherently to my girl crush about all the words my soul needed to speak.

She handed me her card and said, “I think you’ve got something here.” AHHHHH!
See the thing is, even if she reads it and decides it’s not for her, that’s okay. If she loves it but can’t market it, that’s okay, too. She will still be my "in my mind" best friend and we will have imaginary dinner and superhero movie dates in my head. Because at that moment she gave me everything I needed.
Stay tuned my Rebellious Readers, winter is coming.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

In the wake of cockygate

The unintended consequence

     By now we have all heard about #Cockygate. Even those outside the romance world are chiming in. Faleena Hopkins attempted to trade mark her series name “Cocky” and miraculously succeeded.
     The ramifications for allowing the trademark of a single common use word are unending. It has been an all-out war of pro-bono lawyers, collectives, memes and hashtags. It’s important and everybody needs to pay attention. I admit it’s easy to get lost in reading the fallout of outraged authors, readers, and lawyers. Who needs soap operas?
     Here is where it is taking on a life outside the courtroom. Ms. Hopkins is a self-published author. She is not the face, personality, or professional example of what the Indie community represents, but she is self-published.
     For brand-new authors like me… well, we are entering the arena with a black eye and bruised ribs. For many, entering the arena in the current climate is too daunting.
     The best way to separate yourself is talent. That’s a fabulous notion but I can tell you it’s bullshit. Nobody will ever read your books, nobody will know your name, and nobody will see your talent unless you put yourself out there.
     The way that social media platforms work is by increasing the visibility of the most interacted posts or concepts. In short if everybody else likes this, so will you, therefore we will increase this relevant to you, visibility. Before you know it, that thing you’ve seen everybody is posting is trending worldwide.
     When a conflict like #cockygate gets a lot of attention it floods our feeds, and when it is negatively associated with an Indie Author, so does the impression it leaves. I appreciate the collectives formed to separate this negative situation from the community as a whole. I appreciate the posts encouraging would be Indies to not be swayed by this negativity. I also appreciate how come together those that remain standing have been. Sadly, that necessary support, necessary education, and necessary call to action had an unintended consequence.
     It is impossible for a new author on a low budget to get traction in this climate.
     In my immediate world it started with my BFF Robin Leaf. She released an amazing book. A romance novel unlike any other I’ve read and I’ve read thousands! A roller-coaster plot with so many twists you aren’t sure who to root for and just when you think you know… you’re wrong. It has the happily ever after you thought was off the table and is satisfying on so many levels.
     Sounds amazing, right? With a review like that you want to “one-click” it right freaking now! Sadly, Robin had the misfortune of releasing the day #cockygate broke the internet. All of her release news was buried at the bottom of your feed. It’s hard to get traction on a good day.
     Enter CockTales. This is an important book. I highly recommend buying it, because it will fund the initiative to protect the English language from being trademarked. You better believe I backed my book release up a week to not be overshadowed by this (as it should be) powerhouse. If you released the same day, I’m so sorry.
     Today, I’m feeling the burn. I released book number four. It’s a huge deal for me, because it concludes my first series. I’m so stoked. I love this book! It’s the story of two players who meet in therapy. They are quirky, sexy, crazy, and oh yes, she’s pregnant. You don’t want to love either character, but slowly you can’t help it. My ARC readers were blown away by how funny it was and I truly enjoyed writing it.

     In other more prevalent news, #cockygate has gone judicial and a court hearing is scheduled tomorrow.

     Better luck next series?

Keep fighting the good fight.
I’ll have my time when this is fixed.
Rebel Nicks O’Dey

Friday, March 23, 2018

Interview with an author.

I had a local college student contact me for an assignment. She had to interview an author. I thought I'd share the Q&A with all of you.

When did you start writing?
Well, I think I’ve always been a writer. I was a National Young Author contest winner in grade school. I wrote stories in junior high and high school to pass around to my friends who enjoyed reading them. I used it as a stress relief as an adult. I kept a blog for a number of years. I published my debut novel in September of 2017.

Why self-publish rather than go with a traditional publisher?
I had a negative experience with a traditional publisher that revolved around contracts. I prefer to write on my own timeline, about the subjects I choose, and it remains a love that I share. Deadlines, expectations, and requirements can be stressful, as an Indie writer, I am my own boss.

Which book in your series do you like the most, and which do you like the least?
Oh, tough one. I like Sanity’s Side the most. That story is about two people who fall in love slowly without ever meeting. They are two truly messed up individuals with normal lives who just make love work. I appreciate two raw real people who still get to have a sunshine and rainbows ending.
My least favorite is my recently released Sanity’s Sake. It was a story that needed to be told in this series, but the two characters aggravated the snot out of me. They were riddled with misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and time and time again couldn’t get it right. Sadly, we as humans behave this way. I think everyone will find a little bit of themselves in one of the characters and not the part we want highlighted. It is additionally a virgin trope which is typically a turn off for me as a reader. I wanted to write a realistic virgin experience, not the fantasized version typically found in romance novels.

What was your inspiration for this series?
The series is about loving and living after trauma. I am retired from a career in EMS. I experienced people in their worst moments at the height of a traumatic event. My responsibility was to get them help. I was never allowed to experience the outcome. A career of day in and day out trauma, with no closure at all, is trying on the psyche. I dealt with the stress by retreating to my imagination. I gave my patients rich back stories and a happily ever after. This is how the Circle of Sanity was born. The traumatic events in the series are actual events that I gave closure to.

Do you write about your own experiences with love and sex?
 Love, yes. I am very much in love with my husband. I want every character to have their happy ending. As far as sex, sometimes that requires research. Matt and Chrissy from Sanity’s Side have genital piercings. I do not have genital or nipple piercings and neither does my husband. I spent a great deal of time in a local tattoo shop asking wildly inappropriate and personal questions. Luckily, everyone was uncomfortably forthcoming. Although I insisted I didn’t need to see, I found myself tilting my head in admiration. I left promising to never speak of this experience, but alas…

What are you working on now?
I am working on the fourth, and final book, in the series Sanity’s Edge. This is a sex and the single mom, steamy, romantic comedy. It is hysterically funny. It has moments that will make you cry, but not nearly as much as you will laugh. It will knock Sanity’s Side out of the water as my favorite. The couple meets in therapy. They are socially awkward, lack boundaries, and all respect for personal space. In short, they are loveably crazy and perfect for one another. I’m excited to share it with my readers.

What will you do when the series is complete?
Take a couple of weeks summer break. I will have released four books and a novella in eight months. The next series is The Fisher Men. It will catalog four brothers as they fall in love. They are Chrissy’s (Book 2 heroine) brothers. I am still playing with titles, so don’t pout if it changes. Book one The Fisher Men. Book two Hooked. Book three Towing the Line. Book four Sunk.

What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Write the book, save the book, and then figure things out. Most aspiring authors get so overwhelmed by the prospect of finding publishers, agents, editors, promoters, and designers they forget their first love. Write the book. Heck, write three books then jump into the world of what comes next. I also recommend local writing groups. I am a member of Romance Writers of America. If you aren’t sure where to start, there are several groups on Facebook.

What would you have done differently?
I would have taken my own advice. I would have written the entire series before releasing. I would have joined all the groups and gotten advice from the authors before me. I learned a lot by doing it wrong the first time. I might have had an easier time if I knew better.

If you could have the career of your choice and be guaranteed success, would you still choose to be a writer?
Heck no, I’d be a superhero. Anytime you can be a superhero… Be a freaking superhero! A writer is my second choice though *wink*

Friday, March 2, 2018

I may not be your cup of tea.

My books are too dark to be Romantic Comedies, too funny to be Dark Romance, too old to be new adult (although books 2 and 3 my characters start as children). I'm a little bit of everything and so there is going to be some unlikeable aspects. My point in this series is to have characters who can fall in love after a life-defining moment of darkness.

Why do I write about the lower facets of humanity? Before I published books, I worked a career in EMS. Your worst day, was my work day. I saw the vile and terrible things that humans did to one another day in and day out. I dealt with the aftermath of a fifteen year old girl who was gang raped at a party while onlookers pulled out their phones to video. One of those onlookers was her sister. I went home and hugged my own fifteen year old daughter, making sure my girls know they have a responsibility to protect one another. Before retiring to bed that night, I wrote about that broken girl. I described her stoic face, her dead eyes. The green blanket she was wrapped in while she shook violently. I wrote about her clothes being inside out, her underwear missing, and her attackers throwing her in a field from a moving van.

My story was about overcoming the darkness of that life-altering night. A superhero who despite having had the images of her unconscious body, being violated, circulate the interwebs, she would be okay. My own psyche needed her to be okay. In my version of her life she fell in love and lived happily ever after. In my imagination, she is my Chrissy. I named her after a women who also has a quiet strength she never recognizes. I named her after a woman who tells me, I am the person she pictures when asked who the strong person in her life is. A woman that doesn't see she is, too.

In my career My duty to my patients ended at the Emergency Room door. I was helpless in the prevention of their pain. I was helpless in their recovery. My imagination though, my imagination was powerful. In the book InSanity all of Jacob's patients were one day on the job for me. The adorable little girl that got into grandma's medicine, the engagement ring choker, and the smell one doesn't forget, are all actual people. That night ended with a paramedic stabbed by his patient. For the woman wandering around nearly naked, with bare feet and a baby doll, I filled in some blanks. I gave you a plausible reason for telling me your name was bad kitten. I gave you a story. Nobody saved you in real life, in my imagination you found someone to love you and take care of you, but you were too broken. I had to give your happily ever after to the neglected children we found in your home.

I realize not everyone is comfortable delving into that kind of darkness. I respect the squirm and no thanks of some readers. Please know, that some aspects of my stories stem from real life situations in which I was helpless. I changed the outcome. For the superheros that need to know life can be what you make it. Understand, that my writing about your nightmares, was therapeutic for me. I wrote my wishes for you. For my readers, these are the stories I needed to tell. Just like in real life the darkness in my stories is lifting. Sanity's Edge is still true to the intent of the series. Two people defying their circumstances to fall in love, it is done hilariously. The series will end with a laugh.

If I am not your cup of tea, I'm happy for you. I hope you never know anybody skating the lines of Sanity. I hope your love is uncomplicated. I hope you never have to survive. I hope you never have to hold someone so they don't fall apart. If you're not that lucky, I hope you find a way.


Trigger Warnings. Let's talk about it.

Let’s talk about it. After the release of Fisher Men X my <3, something was brought to my attention. I have a trigger warning in th...