Netflix – you did it kind of right?

Did you ever read or watched something and kept thinking you were enchanted by the side characters, but the main one sucks big time? I had this experience recently with Netflix Shadow and Bone.

I admit I didn’t read the books, but I enjoyed the first series and decided to give it a go for the second. Still, I must admit I’m a little bit disappointed.

The side characters are delicious, full of wit, sass and humour, and I’m glad the action diverged from the main storyline because the main characters I found insufferable.

Of course, not the Darkling. Not only Ben plays him well, but this character has the motivation, the background and the charisma that makes him a very likeable villain, and frankly, I hope he will get the girl and do whatever he wants to do with the world.

Alina and Mal – should it be a romance? I’m asking because there is no chemistry between the characters. Nothing, it feels like two people forced to kiss in public ( it is kind of true ;p), but there is nothing on the screen that would make it at least a tidbit swoon-worthy.

As for the characters themselves. I am biased. I don’t like YA fiction. The immaturity of its characters rarely gives them a good ARC. This time it is no different. Alina is self-righteous, know it all with a world saviour complex and Mal – he is just a wet rag. Completely forgettable as much as she is irritating. Compared to Capitan Sturmhond, who is such a cookie, I wouldn’t spare Mal a second thought.

Will I be watching the rest of the series – well, yes, for Darkling, smexy Captain, the Crows and the heartrender, because they are the best one can find in fantasy.

Newsletter 17/03/23

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To be indie – not as I imagined

When I thought of becoming a writer, I imagined spending hours writing a book and many more editing and polishing it until it matched my standards. What I didn’t foresee was how many collateral things I would have to learn.

If you become a self-published power machine, you must do it all yourself until you earn enough money to hire PA or outsource your work. There are certain things you can’t scrooge. An excellent cover will sell your book, and sound editing gives you a review focusing on the story rather than grammar and language mistakes.

Illustrations – well, you can use an AI, but I don’t feel comfortable earning money by using even fragments of someone else work, even if it is compiled in something utterly different from my imagination. So I commission them from the artist.

Then there is everything else. Marketing is a bane of every indie author because when you have a head full of stories, you rarely have a head to do numbers, graphs, and trends. There come social media that will sell your book like no other IF you hit the right spot or get noticed by the right influencer.

Duelling with printing companies, releasing newsletters, networking with other authors, and doing many things you need to do to succeed but don’t have time or skills to do. You name it, and whatever it is, it is included in the indie package deal.

My yesterday’s achievement – learning HTML coding because I needed to update the EPUB files. It took me a whole day, but my eBooks are now updated with new info and look even better than on the release day.

And when I was pouring the eye drops in my red from staring at the screen eyes, I thought that there may be many excellent indie authors out there who simply don’t have the time, energy, or skills to do all those collateral things, and they little gem of the book is laying forgotten in the corner gathering dust just because of it.

Happy international woman’s day!

What it mean’s being a strong woman. You may disagree with me, but for me, it doesn’t mean being a Marvel character who can save the world with a snap of the finger or a raging feminist that feels the need to prove to everyone if a man can do it, she can do better and wearing heels.

For me, a strong woman is a person who can enjoy every shade of life, who won’t hesitate to ask for help when she needs it and who won’t allow life to break her no matter what difficulties are thrown at her. In Poland, we have a saying, ‘You can bend me but not break me’ that means a person can have a wobble under difficult circumstances, but their spirit is not broken and will spring back after a moment of doubt and self-pity. That is something I strive for myself and the characters I create to be.

I was raised by strong women; I saw them giving themselves a moment to cry in a dark corner before they sprang back and fixed some shit and fixed it well. This vision of female strength I’m trying to convey in my books, not balls of brass but the iron hand in the velvet glove with the perseverance of a wolverine.

The woman’s strength lies in knowing it is not a shame to have a weakness, that is not wrong to look for help when you need it, and that you can enjoy a good cuddle on your man’s (or any person you love) lap before you raise to fix the world for better. Because when a woman is truly determined, there is NOTHING in this world she can’t achieve.

The strong woman is a woman who walked through the fire and emerged proud of her scars, carrying the warmth of the fireplace in her heart.

That’s how I see us, my coven, now give your man a cuddle because as clueless as they are, I’m sure they are completely oblivious, that they should at least make you good coffee today.

Have a great day, Ladies all over the world, and on our special day, stop and think about those brave souls in Iran that now stand facing great adversity proving the female spirit can be bent but never broken.

Sunday Snippet – Spring Blight

Slowly rising, the witch created a shield in her mind. The mirror spell Skarbnik taught her in the Grey mountains had already saved her life once before, and with her mind protected, Ina felt more confident about facing the malicious spirit in her own domain.

‘Leave her,’

The witch commanded, pulling out her sword. Mamuna turned her head, and two glowing eyes bored into Ina’s mind, trying to reach the depths of her soul, but the mirror wall rebuffed the sinister will. The demon hissed at the failure of her attack and turned the rest of her body to face Ina.

The witch commanded, pulling out her sword. Mamuna turned her head, and two glowing eyes bored into Ina’s mind, trying to reach the depths of her soul, but the mirror wall rebuffed the sinister will. The demon hissed at the failure of her attack and turned the rest of her body to face Ina.

‘Leave her alone. I don’t want to hurt you in your home, but if you cause my friend any harm, you will die.’

Ina tried to remain calm and reason with the creature, but the unnatural stillness of Velka’s body didn’t make it easy. Mamuna’s throaty laugh echoed in the small chamber.

‘Hurt? Oh no, she and the one she carries are precious and mine, but I will suck the marrow from your bones with pleasure, little witch.’

The demon leapt toward Ina so fast her body seemed to blur, claws erupting from her arthritic hands. Eyes widening in fear, the witch fell back, crashing into the filthy hearth as razor-sharp claws tore through her thigh. Blood splattered on her face, bringing clarity, and Ina lashed out wildly with her sword, missing as the mamuna dodged, attacking from a different angle.

There was no Mar or Ren to save her, and despite her gnarled body, this demon was faster and stronger than any human. Ina parried one clawed hand with her sword, cutting a few fingers, but the other tore into her forearm, drawing blood. Pain seared her mind, but the demon was close, creating the perfect opportunity. Magic came at her command, stripping the flames from the hearth, creating a deadly wreath of Chaos that wrapped itself around the demon’s arm. Inhuman shrieking battered Ina’s senses as the Mamuna fell back, her arm disintegrating when the magic tore apart her flesh. Fear widened the demon’s eyes as she retreated, cradling the bloody remains of her limb.

‘I curse you. You will watch one you love die and be the reason for it. You will feel the pain and the burden of your magic, just as I feel it now.’

Uncertaintly of Joy

KENP read in February

Something worked, but I don’t know what, and it kills me.

I’m not a successful author meaning I can’t solely sustain myself and my family from my writing work.

Still selling the books and having a good trace of KENP read makes me more successful than about 95% of indie authors. The bare truth is I value more the book quality over my income, and all we earn I invest into the next book – illustration, editing, cover and so on. You can say I’m working two jobs now, one as a doctor, which is my source of income, second as an author, which is so far a labour of love despite providing us with some money. To give you an example. To publish a book that would have a quality of industrial standards, you have to invest approx. £1500, the audiobook cost for one book (350 pages) would be £3000. ( Now you know why we don’t have an audiobook just yet)

Still, I was happy with what we did, and the joy of having books read and reading the review was enough to keep me going. Something changed this month, and I don’t know what. Our books exploded on the market. I see KENP going in thousands every single day with normal books purchased as well, and I’m overcome with joy but also scared shitless.

I don’t know what happened. What have I done differently to have such huge reception, and how can I make it happen again? The money started to get better. I could afford to commission coloured illustrations for the next book instead of linear art, and I’m thinking about how to save for audiobook production. Things started to head in the right direction, and I sat there questioning myself in fear to lose it all.

I don’t know what happened and how, and I can only hope it is a premise for the steady upward trend that will allow me to write more books and give them the quality I want. So let’s keep our fingers crossed.

The perils of late night TV and soft furniture

In UK we have a program called Naked Attraction. It is a trashy cattle-market type of programme, where people present themselves naked for the potential date and are chosen based on their physique.

It is entertaining, but because it has a lot of penises and vaginas, it is a late night program. We occasionally watch it mainly to see if the contestant has the nerve to reject not so perfect bodies or if they will wait till the end to not be seen as shallow, but except for the slight brain-bleaching entertainment value, there is nothing much to it.

Yesterday, together with Mark’s teenage daughter, we watched The Last of Us; she was sitting on the plush swivel chair while we were on the sofa and she somehow disappeared between the cushions. I thought she went to her bedroom after the program finished, and as the Naked Attraction started almost right after and none of us cared enough to change the channel, we let it run in the background, sharing very adult jokes about contestants’ bodies.

The little brat sat quietly, barely breathing, and in the dark room she was simply invisible till I said it out loud, pointing at the handsome man’s junk.

‘Look Mark , this one looks just like yours.’

The snorting laugh made us painfully aware that I just give a teenager visual description of her maker and if that was not creepy enough, she insisted on sitting with us and watch till the end.

As we are trying to teach her about body positivity, there was no way we could kick her out of the living room without sounding like she caught us watching something dirty. So the three of us sat there watching swinging dicks.

This family is a lost cause, I tell you.

Spring Blight – Cover reveal

“Chaos and the wicked soul know no rest.” (Old folk proverb)

Ina has no time to enjoy domestic life with Mar. As soon as life settles down after the Winter War, King Rewan calls his Royal Witch to give her a new task.

Southern rebellion, crops dying, and an endless stream of assassins attacking the king, leaving a trail that backs to a neighbouring kingdom. To make matters worse, an ancient cult has emerged from the shadows offering sacrifices to Winter’s Death.

One fateful letter and Ina is back on the road with an unlikely companion. But what can one Chaos mage do against so many enemies and the power of the Old Gods?

Psychoanalysis of the book choice.

I share a kindle account with Mark, my co-writer and partner. We have similar tastes in general with only a few deviations. He is more into dystopian sci-fi/fantasy, whilst I’m more into fantasy and historical romances, but overall we read the same books and often discuss them.

He asked me yesterday why there are so many “abducted by aliens” smut books in our library and I answered that I enjoy their brain bleaching content. The plot is very much the same; the girl gets abducted and tries to make the best of the situation. There are various shades of rainbow coloured aliens with chiselled bodies, massive cocks, fur, scales and tails/horns that can “impale” their personalities often gruff or domineering but still generally very nice despite their scary appearance and they fall in love with each other. Sometimes it is one alien, sometimes a few, but there is a happy ending and they cherish their fated mate. The plot framework is the same every single time with a very predictable ending. So as you guessed, I’m not reading it for the plot or character ARC. 😎🍆

Still, I enjoy it and they are the perfect books for my current mood. Mark’s question made me wonder what influenced my choice, and the answer was pretty simple – with Mark being pretty much immobile after breaking his ribs, the pressures of being a doctor in the Emergency Room, the writing career and the recent trouble with my teenage step-daughter, it was good to immerse myself in a world where nothing surprises you and big burly men take care of all a girl’s problems.

Most likely, in any other circumstances, I would just flip the pages and not bother to leave a review (I’m not wasting my time leaving less than 3 stars – I leave a good review or no review at all, that is my personal preference).

Still, in my current mood, those books give me what I need; an escape from the daily struggles and I slapped them all with 5 stars. I don’t think the book has to be a masterpiece, but if it gives the reader what they need, then it is perfect and as such, the book deserves 5 stars.

I’m curious about your book choices and the story behind them. Oh and if you need any recommendations for good alien smut, then I’m your girl.

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