“Meet My Character” Blog Hop

Grindhouse1The “Meet My Character” Blog Hop is a tour through the blogs of various independent speculative fiction authors as they talk about a character from their latest work. Each week a new author discusses what makes their character tick, and this week I’m up.

But first, big thanks to Marina Finlayson for hosting the previous stop on the Blog Hop. Marina is a reformed wedding organist who now writes fantasy. She is married and shares her Sydney home with three kids, a large collection of dragon statues, and one very stupid dog with a death wish.

Twiceborn, the first book in The Proving trilogy, is her first novel.

Now it’s time to meet my character.

What is the name of your character?

Mimi St. Laurent. She’s the protagonist of the short story, “Deviltown,” from my latest release, Grindhouse.

When and where is the story set?

This is a great question – I don’t even know! When I wrote this story, I had it in my mind that it was going to be very dark, very noir – I don’t think I really pinned down exactly where it would be set though. Maybe New York in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s? But then I hesitate to even say that because there may be some modern references in the piece that wouldn’t lend themselves to that time period so whatever. I think the mood of the story is more important than where it’s set.

What should we know about him or her?

Mimi is probably one of my favorite characters I’ve ever written. She’s a pre-op trans hooker with dreams of becoming the woman she always wanted to be, and dreams of escaping the streets. She’s incredibly savvy, sassy, and she takes no shit. She’s probably the character most like me personality-wise.

She’s also a recycled character. I was writing a story for a literary magazine about a young boy who grows up around drag queens and Mimi was from that piece. She was the boy’s drag mother and I liked her so much that when that story didn’t quite pan out the way I wanted it to, I took her from that world and put her in this one. It’s kind of a shame because bad shit happens to her in this story.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his or her life?

All three stories in Grindhouse are revenge tales. They deal with women who have been victimized mentally, spiritually, and oftentimes sexually, seeking vengeance against those who hurt them. Mimi is brutalized by one of her johns and it really fucks up her head. She can’t think of anything else besides retribution. Her attacker committed a hate crime against her, tried to kill her even, and when she realizes the police don’t give a shit about bringing this man to justice (because of her lifestyle and gender issues), she decides she has to take measures into her own hands.

What is the personal goal of the character?

Mimi’s personal goal at the beginning of the story is to get out of the life and to have surgery to become a woman. She’s been trapped in the wrong body her entire life and she’s thisclose to having enough money to make her dream come true.

Her goal towards the middle and end of the story is to kill the bastard who raped and beat her, leaving her for dead in an alley.

What is the title of the book, and where can we find out more?

Like I said above, “Deviltown” is a short story in my micro collection of shorts called Grindhouse. You can find this book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, and other e-retailers.

When was the book published?

December 31, 2014. It’s my first non-spec fic publication (though the final story in Grindhouse, “The Beautiful People,” may or may not have a spec fic element to it).

Next week’s “Meet My Character” Blog Hop participant is Jennifer R. Povey.

As a fiction writer, Jennifer R. Povey has short fiction credits from a number of magazines including the Australian popular science magazine Cosmos (for their website) and long-running ezines Big Pulp and Bards & Sages Quarterly.

As a freelancer, she offers quality, human-readable web content and copy to individuals and businesses at reasonable rates. She also writes articles and guest blog posts on a variety of subjects, but specializes in material related to fiction writing, equestrian activities and travel. She also provides proofreading and basic copy editing services.

She also enjoys horseback riding, travel, role-playing games and hanging out with her highly supportive and wonderful husband, Greg.

A Call To Arms…Er, Something

I have been incredibly lax about posting here lately, but October was a busy month for me and I anticipate November will be the same. For starters, last month Dark Tales: eVolume One was made free on Smashwords midway through the month and I saw an increased number of downloads for that ebook. It made me step back and take a look at my product more closely. I was getting decent downloads with an okay cover and vague blurbs – but what kind of numbers would I get if I switched out the cover for something professionally designed and posted better descriptions?

Well, I did both toward the end of the month and saw my downloads increase. Then, I took the stories I’d written last month and put them together in a second volume. I wanted to release that ebook collection on October 28 in time for Halloween, but found myself hitting all kinds of roadblocks on the way. Dark Tales: eVolume Two was released two days late instead and I was floored by the response. After two hours of it being live, the collection had tripled my usual daily download rate. And after linking volumes one and two together as a series on Smashwords, both eVolumes quickly surpassed Indie Spirit Press’s other title, Preppy Little Liars, in downloads. Yes, my ebooks are free so that might have something to do with it. And yes, the holiday was probably another big booster. But people were downloading Dark Tales: eVolume One long before Halloween so I don’t think that’s the only reason it’s doing well.

More importantly, my ebooks are now selling on Amazon when they weren’t before. My numbers aren’t huge at either retailer, but I’m seeing a steady increase in sales and downloads so that is a very nice feeling.

But you know what would be better? More downloads. More reviews. More word of mouth. And that’s where you lovely blog readers come in. I’ve been so grateful for the support you’ve all shown me every time I post an excerpt here or a free fiction story – it means a lot to get the comments and blog follows. Unfortunately, many readers won’t know this blog exists or that I exclusively post here so the feedback on this blog doesn’t reach them.

A lot of readers, when looking to purchase books for their ereaders and smartphones, still look for good, quality reviews to help determine if a book is worth their time or not. If I want to reach a wide range of readers (and I do), I need more downloads. I need more reviews. So my plea to those of you reading this post is this: if you’ve read any of the excerpts I’ve posted here for either volume of Dark Tales and enjoyed them, please head on over to Smashwords or Amazon and leave a review. If you haven’t read all of the pieces in either volume, you can still review, just be sure to note that you’re only commenting on the story you did read in your review. And if you’ve read my stuff and aren’t wild about it, still leave a review. I won’t know what needs improvement if none of my readers gives me quality feedback. I write for you guys – I want to know whether or not the stories are resonating with you.

Another thing I’m going to ask is for more downloads. Both volumes of Dark Tales are on Smashwords for free at the moment. I was going to price both at .99 to match Amazon starting November 1, but then decided against it. For one thing, most of you didn’t even know the first volume was free in the first place and I was too busy the day of the second volume’s release to announce it’s free status for the day. So I think I’ll leave both free throughout the month of November to give readers old and new a chance to sample me without investing a dime.

But book covers aren’t cheap (okay, mine kind of are, but that’s for a later post) and the more I write and release, the more those costs add up. Dark Tales: eVolume’s One and Two are on sale for .99 at Amazon as stated above. I think for a collection of short stories, that’s a very reasonable price. What I’m asking of you, dear reader, is if you’ve read my stuff and liked it, please consider downloading the paid copies from Amazon. I know not everyone has a Kindle, but the sales would go a long way in ensuring I can continue to purchase quality covers for the Dark Tales series and any other fiction I decide to publish through Indie Spirit Press.

I also ask that if you know people who love horror or thrillers or general crime fiction, please pass the links to my work along and encourage these readers to download and review. Tweet about the books, post links on your blogs, talk about them in your newsletters – whatever works best for you. And I’d be happy to return the favor for any writer who blurbs me or sends readers my way. Indie Spirit Press is all about writers helping writers whether they are indie published, traditionally published, or somewhere in between (gotta love those hybrids!). Think of all the good karma points you’ll receive if you help get my work out there 🙂

Last but not least, if you enjoy the stories posted here by either myself or Amber Turner and you feel the information about self-publishing here is of value, please consider using the donate button over on the sidebar of this blog. You can give as much, or as little, as you’d like. Every little bit helps when it comes time to hire good cover designers and the like. We strive to release good, professional quality content, but that takes a lot of money we don’t yet have. So anything given would be deeply appreciated – and we will look into giving some nice donor gifts to those who offer their support.

Thank you again to everyone who follows this blog and to everyone who reads (and comments on and/or favorites) the stories.