Friday, August 30, 2019

Character Spotlight: Fer

Hey, everyone! So, I've decided to a series of blog posts spotlighting the characters in my books. I'll talk about things you know about them, things you don't know about them, and share some illustrations.

I've been with the crew of Fort Thomas for a long time... some of them since I was 14 or 15-years-old  (that's 1995/96, people) and I know them as well as I know my best friends. So, to kick this series off, let's talk about the solid fan favorite, Fer.

Fer as drawn in 2010
Fer is your standard military synthetic. He was born on an assembly line with about 100 other synths who look kinda like him, but not quite. Mirth is one of those other synthetics... they are described as looking like siblings or close cousins if they were human. He's the best marksman at Fort Thomas and knows it. He's snarky, grumpy a lot of time, and likes to drink and smoke.

After the Jane Virus infected him and made him sentient he was assigned to Section's Rho Squad.

Sooo, Rho. Yeah. The Rhos were basically the proto Omegas back in the day. They were the special ops of Section who would go into extremely dangerous situations and put down corruptions or rescue Janes in distress.

It was his first year as a Rho when he got his name. Despite his superior, Sgt Victor 'Hem' Hemingway, insisting he go by Iron Man, Fer opted for the far more subtle and elegant term his Captain used: Homme de Fer, or just Fer for short--Fer is French for iron. Homme de Fer is basically Iron Man. Captain Fabron was a French immigrant with a thick accent who would often slip into his native language... especially if he got riled up. It was his time with Rho where he developed his smoking and drinking habit, thanks to Hem. Even though neither alcohol nor nicotine do anything for him, he continues to do both to this day... mostly to just remember Hem, his first real friend.

The Rhos all met a very unfortunate end during a mission in the Western US. They were out on a search and rescue mission when the Western military ambushed them. Every one of them perished, save for Fer.
Fer after the attack on Rho
Fer had a really hard time coping after the loss of, what he considered, his family. And, let's face it, no one really knows how to help a machine cope with grief. Janes are very similar to humans, but they're not the same. They can't forget things. Their memories don't fade. When Fer remembers the attack that took his squad, he remembers it in such clarity that it's like reliving it all over again. Rho's destruction is what fueled his intentional distancing from humans. To him, they are too fragile and too easy to lose. It's why he won't support humans on the Omegas and why he was so angry when Alpha and Nix went against his advice and accepted Hector Mendoza to the squad... only to lose him. 
 It was during this time, after Rho, when he happened to meet Melissa Park, who we know as Paige's Taekwondo instructor. She helped him learn to cope with his loss through martial arts, meditation, and by giving him a much needed shoulder to lean on. He loves her and she loves him, but their relationship is complicated at best. The biggest issue being that Fer is literally government property and will be until the day he's scrapped. This means he's never really off duty. He can have his free time and a life, but when Section calls, he listens. He can't pick and choose where they send him or when.

The second biggest issue is that he's obviously not human. Human/Jane relationships are still a relatively new thing in this world. I mean, holy shit, people still freak out over inter-racial relationships or homosexual relationships. Can you fucking imagine people reacting to an inter-species relationship? Yeah. It can get ugly sometimes. They sometimes have to endure ugly glares or words when they are in public together--yeah, even in the progressive East. Thankfully, no one has tried anything physical on either of them... because Fer and Melissa would probably kick the ever loving shit out of them. 

As I said, Fer's not entirely big on humans... except for Melissa. So when Paige happened to cross his path he was less than pleased. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, their paths kept crossing and because of this, Paige went from a major annoyance, to more or less tolerable, to (in book 2 and 3) one of his best friends.  

Fer has a very acute sense of right and wrong and he knows Janes are treated like shit, no matter how much better they have it in the East than the West. He knows the world is one giant shade of gray. He knows it and he hates it, because he's not sure how what to do about it. After all, he's a scrapper. His job is to put down his own kind when they get violent. He's very thoughtful but his constant thinking and mulling over his lot in life makes him come off as brooding and unapproachable. 

In all seriousness, he's got a huge heart-- despite not physically having a heart-- and he will always be there even when things are at their worst. 
Fer dragging Anji from her burning house.

If you're just now stumbling across Fer for the first time and want to learn more about him, please check out my novel, Paige's Story over on Amazon available in paperback, ebook, audiobook, and on Kindle Unlimited.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Let's Talk About the 'S' word

Hey everybody! Long time no see! I know, I'm terrible at keeping this blog up to date. I'll try and be better. (Let's be honest. No, I won't. Enjoy this post while you can, suckas!) Today we're going to talk about the 'S' word. Not sex. No, not swords either. Sales. We're talking about sales and marketing.

But first, a bit a news.

--The audiobook of Paige's Story has been up for a little over a month now. It's doing great. I mean, I think it is. The ratings are good and it's selling so I'll call it a win.

--My husband, Benjamin W. Bass has just released his debut novel, Alone in the Light. People.People. Listen to me. It's a fucking great book. It's not zany, or action packed, or funny like mine. It's also severely lacking in robots. But if you want a one-of-a-kind love story that's an emotional roller coaster, boy-o he's got your back. The book deals with the post deployment life of two veterans who are struggling to return to normal and finding that there's no normal to be had. It deals with mental health, PTSD, love, grieving, and hope. Seriously. Check it out.

--There are some updates to my online store coming soon. There will be stickers and bookmarks for sale. I'm also considering adding coffee mugs... but I haven't decided yet.

--Fort Thomas Book 2 is still in the works. It has some complex story lines that I'm having trouble ironing out, but it'll get there.

So, enough with the newsie bits. Let's talk. Let's talk about sales or lack thereof.

Writing a book is one thing. Selling a book is a whole different animal. Everyone, including myself, has this glorious vision of publishing their book and then just sitting back and watching the sales roll in. Unfortunately, I'm not Stephen King. Neither are you... unless you really are, in which case, HI MR. KING I LOVE PET SEMATARY!

No, no, we don't have the level of street cred to just publish and wait... not yet. So. what do you do? Well, you school yourself in the necessary evil that is marketing. I moseyed on over and downloaded a copy of William F. Aicher's Indie Author's Guide to Self Publishing and educated myself on what to do next. My husband and I also had a nice conversation with Nick Smith via Facebook or Twitter... maybe both... Anyway, he stressed that now that I'm published, I really need to establish a brand and market things for it. Since he's ridiculously successful, I figured he knows what he's talking about. Ben and I began working on the Fort Thomas brand. We made up T-shirts, stickers, bookmarks, and all that. We also put our art school degrees to work, made ads, and bought ad space. Yeah, it costs money, but not much. A boosted post on Facebook can be as cheap as $10. We also contacted our library, our town Facebook pages, and newspapers and we basically said, "Hey, we live here and we just did this thing. You should maybe interview us."

Well, maybe not with that level of smarminess, but you get the idea. We put ourselves in the spotlight to get local exposure offline as well.

So far, all this work has been paying off. When my first round of audiobook royalties get in, I'm using some to buy a dishwasher... because I'm a sad, sad, adult and I want a new dishwasher. One that's not 20 years old and... gross.

Look, being a self published author means you wake up and think of new ways to tell the world about your book. You have to do it every day because no one else is going to do it for you. You pester readers for reviews, you give away bookmarks and stickers, you have raffles for free books, and you blast every corner of the internet with this info until the algorithms force you to take a break. Then you fucking do it again.
This is your life now. I mean, not really, but is sure seems like it and that's good. I like this life.

What I'm saying is, you absolutely can't just publish and expect to sell. The market is way too oversaturated. Yay! You published a book! So did 400 other people today. If you don't market it, your baby will get lost in the crowd never to be seen by anyone. Big fat zeros in your sales report is discouraging. It's why so many talented authors give up, and that's a damn shame.

I'm not trying to discourage anyone. I just know way too many authors who quit too soon. I'm not going to be one and I don't want you to be one either.