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Christmas Headcanons 2015

TBP Valentine's Day color crop

In the Christmas spirit yet? If not, maybe this will help. Here’s another edition of headcanons for Team Amador, Christmas-style! In case you’re new to the concept, headcanons are basically little bits of story that happen “off-screen” in the Black Parade universe. In this case, these headcanons take place after the events of The Holy Dark.


 

Who starts putting up decorations in December? Michael. Especially after the first year Jordan and Michael are homeowners and he’s excited about getting to do normal domestic things that the average family would do. He later ropes Allison into it to help since Jordan isn’t all that interested.

Who buys the advent calendars? Michael.

Who places mistletoe all around the house? Michael. He loves stealing smooches. Jordan tries to take them down, but he always has a secret stash to replace the ones she finds. She thinks it’s annoying, but adorable, like always.

Who wraps the presents for other people? Jordan. Michael tears wrapping paper every time he tries to wrap something, so he sticks to bags and fills them with tissue paper instead. He also will enlist the help of Gabriel, who can flawlessly wrap anything.

Who puts the final angel/star on the top of the Christmas tree? For their years alone, Michael picks Jordan up and lets her put it on their. Then it’s always Allison, even though she insists she can do it herself without him helping her.

Who’s the one that hates eggnog? Jordan. She has consistency issues.

Who’s the one that bakes Christmas cookies for guests? Jordan. She’s a fantastic cook and baker, and while she isn’t always in the Christmas spirit, she loves baking.

Who sends out the Christmas cards? Jordan and Gabriel team up to find the right ones. They treat it like a yearly excursion for just the two of them, picking personalized cards and who they’re for.

Who knows all the words to the Twelve Days of Christmas? Michael. Jordan doesn’t like to sing. The only time he can get her to sing is when they take a shower together.

Who is the better snowman builder? Jordan. Michael’s strength tends to make him smush the snow too much, so she has to show him how to make it. Allison is also really good at it and she can make the more detailed sculptures in the show too.

Who starts snowball fights? Jordan. Every time. She waits until he least expects it and then pounces.

Who’s the one to wake the other on Christmas morning by playing Christmas songs really loud? Michael, of course. He and Allison gang up on Jordan, who hides under the covers and threatens to murder them both if they don’t go away.


Here’s hoping you guys all have a happy holiday season!

 

The Black Parade Returns to Permafree!

TheBlackParade_Revised_2 copy

That’s right, my friends! After a long, profitable summer and autumn with the authors of Secret Worlds, my first novel is back at its free status again. I apologize if anyone has been confused by it staying at .99cents for so long, but it turns out our set was doing really well so we extended its duration through to the end of the year.

Please spread the word and share the link with friends, family, and new readers whenever you can. It would be a huge help. Thanks and I’ll have more news for you soon!

Kyoko M

The Predator: A Short Story from She Who Fights Monsters

Happy Halloween, my friends! In celebration of our spooky holiday, I’ve got an all-new, never-before-seen short story for you told from the perspective of everyone’s favorite archdemon, Belial. It takes place between Chapters 10 and 11 of She Who Fights Monsters (The Black Parade Book 2.)

WARNING: This is a horror story. Violence, adult language, minor gore, and sexual references abound. Plus, minor spoilers for She Who Fights Monsters. You have been warned.

Enjoy!


 

Commission by Sarah Elkins

Commission by Sarah Elkins

The list of people whom I have been unable to fuck, manipulate, or murder is very short.

In fact, there is only one person on that list.

One woman, rather.

God always did have a great sense of humor. No wonder I rebelled.

Continue Reading >>

Headcanon Exercise #3

Tangled Up MJ

Welcome back to another installment of headcanons from The Black Parade series! In case you’re late to the party, here are Parts One and Two. A headcanon is basically something that is thought to happen off-screen in a work of fiction. In this case, we’re taking another crack at married life with Jordan and Michael. Enjoy!

Gives nose/forehead kisses: Michael. He is extremely affectionate when the two of them are alone. Jordan will give him a forehead kiss every once in a while, but he’s more prone to do it.

Gets jealous the most: Michael. If they’re out on a date, he gets a little grumpy if guys look at Jordan, but he doesn’t do anything about it other than maybe scowl at them. Jordan scolds him if she catches him doing it, so he has to be very covert about it.

Picks the other one up from the bar when they’re too drunk to drive: Neither, since Jordan’s past issues with alcohol mean that neither of them drinks much.

Takes care of on sick days: They take turns, but Michael getting sick is an entirely different animal. He’s prone to get a Man Cold, where he’s basically a giant whiny baby and Jordan patiently makes him tea and force-feeds him cold medicine on the rare occasion that it happens.

Drags the other person into the water on beach day: Michael drags Jordan in every time. She can swim, but she doesn’t like getting her hair wet. Michael always makes up for it by helping her wash her hair later and she always forgives him.

Gives unprompted massages: Michael loves giving Jordan massages. It took quite a bit of convincing since she’s so self-conscious about her scars, but it turns out Michael is quite good at them. He still gives her foot massages on nights when she can’t get to sleep too.

Drives/rides shotgun: Michael drives. It’s a male ego thing.

Brings the other lunch at work: They alternate. Michael brings her lunch when she has long shifts at work, and Jordan brings him lunch when he leaves the house late and forgets to take it with him.

Has the better parental relationship: Michael, naturally, since Jordan and Lewis were estranged for so long. That being said, he and Lewis really dislike each other and pretty much exchange one or two words whenever they’re around each other.

Tries to start roleplaying in bed: Michael’s had quite a few ideas, but nothing too outrageous—the French maid and the Naughty Nurse being the first couple he asked about. The only one Jordan ever requested was Michael dressing up as Harry Dresden, which he was all too happy to oblige.

Embarrassingly drunk dancer: Michael. Again, he almost never lets himself get there out of respect for Jordan, but of the two he’d be more likely.

Still cries watching Titanic: Neither. They both hate the movie.

Firmly believes in couples costumes: Michael. He’s super enthusiastic about Halloween and actually teams up with Lauren to pick their costume for the parties they attend each year. Jordan goes along with it as long as it’s nothing too outlandish.

Breaks the expensive gift rule at Christmas: Michael. But Jordan always counteracts it with something really thoughtful and sweet.

Makes the other eat breakfast: Jordan. Michael is a procrastinator when it comes to work, so she always makes him stop and grab a bite before heading out the door.

Remembers anniversaries: Both of them are pretty good about it. Jordan keeps track of the minor ones and Michael keeps track of the big ones: six months, a year, etc.

Brings up having kids: Since they can’t conceive, neither of them really discusses it, especially not after they adopt Allison.

Matrimony: A Short Story from The Holy Dark

In celebration of the two month anniversary of The Holy Dark, and my two year anniversary as a published author, I’ve written a short story that takes place directly after Chapter 37 and before the epilogue. With that in mind, major spoilers for the ending to The Holy Dark. If you haven’t read it yet, I would advise you to return to this story once you’ve read it cover to cover.

To everyone who has loved the series and supported me so far, I offer you this story and my endless gratitude. Please enjoy!


 

Matrimony

"In sickness and in hell--I mean, health."

“In sickness and in hell–I mean, health.”

“I’m gonna die.”

My new husband, the archangel Michael, cocked an eyebrow up at me. I brandished the two-inch white satin stiletto that had been holding my right foot hostage.

“Seriously, not even Dr. Schols could make this abomination more comfortable.”

He chuckled and knelt, tuxedo and all, in front of me. “Sorry, babe. If it helps, you look incredible.”

He slipped the other shoe off. I resisted a small shudder as his long, strong fingers stroked my ankle and the barest edge of my calf. Judging by the sly look in those sea-green eyes, he’d done it on purpose.

I smirked, keeping my voice low, so as not to tip off the guests currently filing into the reception hall that we were both being a little naughty. “Save it for fight night, handsome.”

Michael winked. “Yes, ma’am.”

Continue Reading >>

Hindsight is 20/20: My Second Year in Self Publishing

Me and my novel

“What’s it like to be a self-published author?”

 

Dr. Cox headdesk

 

A little dramatic, but hey, it’s accurate. This is my second year as a self-published author, and as insane as it sounds, I’ve actually put in twice the work than I did my first year.

To keep with tradition, here’s a rough estimation of my stats from BookTrackr.com:

Copies Sold: 2232

Free Copies Sold: 13994

Reviews: 125

Money Earned Since 1st Publication Date: 2727.53

A marketed improvement from last year, no doubt. However, the same thing can be repeated as my first retrospective blog post from last year. Being a self-published author is a slog. It’s a long, arduous journey of walking across a burning desert dragging our books along behind you like Will Smith in Independence Day. And yes, you will occasionally yell at them, stop, and kick them a few times while insisting you could have been at a barbeque.

Very few authors have it made, and the ones who do will still tell you that this is an extremely difficult career path to navigate. However, having tried and failed at several thousand things, I can happily provide a few lessons that I’ve learned over the past year.

-No matter what happens, some authors will always insist that you have to “choose a side” between self-publishing and traditional publishing. You can’t escape it. People seem happiest when they can label something and identify an enemy, and so the best thing to do is straddle the fence. Neither side is “right” or “wrong.” They’re simply different entities. Your life will be infinitely easier if you don’t draw a line in the sand. If you feel strongly enough to do so, sure, go ahead, but don’t be a bully and don’t be unprofessional about it. You can burn bridges you didn’t even know were there if you do.

-Amazon is always going to do whatever it wants to do. We as authors don’t have control over it because we don’t own it, and we certainly shouldn’t feel entitled to certain kinds of treatment or making calls that aren’t ours to make. There are other platforms from which to sell books, and if Amazon makes you unhappy, pursue them, or switch to traditional publishing. You can waste a lifetime complaining on forums about how you dislike their policies and it will change nothing.

-If your work permits it, joining other authors in a boxed set can help get you into the hands of readers that you might not have had access to otherwise. As long as you are treated professionally and aren’t operating at a loss, give it a shot. I’ve been in two of them so far, and it’s done wonders for my discoverability. There is no perfect boxed set, though, and sometimes they promise you goals that are unrealistic or unattainable, but it’s still a rewarding experience and fantastic exposure. Plus, meeting other authors and collaborating with them is almost always a great idea.

-If you’re into fandom-related activities like comic/anime cons, try reaching out to the organizers. All they can do is say no, and that’s the worst case scenario. You might be able to stumble across an opportunity to promote your work and discover a new audience as well as meeting like-minded people for a few days of fun.

-The permafree model is still a good way to go if you are 100% new at publishing and have no following. It opens up doors and gets you the most basic level of readers, the freebie seekers. However, the next step that you’re looking for is people who are mildly interested in your work. This tier is very desirable because unlike the freebie seekers, they will shell out cash for your work, but you have to be very patient as some of them can lash out if they dislike your book and it can take a long time for you to gather reviews. If you reach this tier within your second year of publication, make sure that your work is as high quality as you can make it and make sure that you have multiple works. The permafree model really only works if you have a series, not a standalone or two-book series.

-If you find yourself starting to consistently spend money on editing, marketing, promotions, and other expenses, keep track of them for the sake of your taxes. Unfortunately, royalties are not taxed in the US with Amazon, so when Tax Day comes, you owe the government a fat check and if you’re a low income earner like me, it evaporates your refund. Seriously. I got $77 back from the IRS this April. It’s that awful.

-If you’re writing a series, particularly in science fiction or fantasy, write yourself little notes of characters, plot threads, or premises that could be good spin offs in the future. I wrote a four book series because I feel that this is the length of Jordan’s journey as a character, but the supporting cast does have the potential to be explored as well. Don’t get too focused on just one thing. Most successful authors have a couple of novellas, short stories or short story collections, or anthologies that help line their pockets after they’ve created their own fanbase. Always keep a backlog of ideas for future works in case you conclude one series. Keeping momentum is extremely important.

-The key to staying afloat is consistency. One book a year is the standard, and that’s for traditional publishing. For self-published authors, especially debut authors, it’s actually 1-3 books a year for maximum saturation and exposure. A lot of people hate the long waits between books (seriously, I am so impatient for the release of Peace Talks that I cannot stop writing Dresden Files fanfics) and if you have multiple works drop per year, you can accumulate more readers in a fraction of the time.

-Stay connected to your fans however you can. Social media is taxing, but I’ve had a lot of new readers reach out through Twitter and Facebook to say they enjoyed my work. Say thank you every single time. Doesn’t matter if it’s just a short little post. Do it. Thank every last reader you get and make sure you leave a good impression with them, because while social media marketing and online promotion are powerful, Word of Mouth is still the best way to get readers. It’s the hardest to accomplish, but by far the most successful way to increase your readers. Be gracious and accept fair criticism when it’s given.

-If you have the budget, try creative outlets like having commissions done of your characters or alternative book covers. Fans respond to pictures way faster than text posts, in my experience, and new images from the series are far more likely to get shared than anything else.

-If you start getting negative reviews, only skim them for relevant issues. If it’s just a rant about how much you suck, don’t even read it. Keep on scrolling and don’t get angry. We’ve had too many authors get in needless dust ups with reviewers this year. Don’t respond. Ever. Unless you’re Brock Baker, you are not allowed to mock your critics. You’re an author. Write well and write often and that’s all you can do, no matter how much it bothers you to get nasty reviews. (And yes, one and two star reviews are ALWAYS going to bother you, bestselling author or not.)

-If possible, submit guest blogs/articles to writing sites and other subjects you’re interested in. This year, I had a big success with my article about Natasha Romanoff and feminism on Black Girl Nerds, and while it didn’t immediately reflect in sales, it got me a lot of buzz and some new followers on Twitter from my key demographic of readers. Social media is NOT about selling books; it’s about connecting with other people. Eventually, some of them might give your work a try, and that’s the important thing. Be genuinely interested in something and be entertaining and intelligent, and often, they’ll come to you.

If anything, my second year in self-publishing has taught me that the best thing you can do is expand your mind and understand that there isn’t one path to growing your readership. There are hundreds, and while you may not instantly rocket to success on your first or second try, you can slowly start to push that boulder closer to the top of the hill. And, if you’re lucky, you have a couple good people helping you push, or you can give advice to the people on the hill next to you doing the same thing.

Here’s to another year and another climb up that hill. Thanks to everyone who has stuck by me and enjoyed my work. I look forward to bringing you more of it soon.

Kyoko

Headcanon Exercise #2

Welcome back to another edition of Headcanons! In case you missed it, a headcanon is basically an idea of events that one considers happened during a work of fiction that just happens to be “off-screen” so to speak. The first one I did was a nice bit of fun, and since it’s been a little over a month since The Holy Dark dropped, I thought I’d give you guys a little insight into Jordan and Michael’s married life. Please enjoy!


 

Who’s the cuddler? About a month or two ago, I posted this photo because I have this serious headcanon that Michael is the cuddler and Jordan is kind of like a cat—she only likes to be held at certain times, not always. I think they spoon when they sleep in bed, but sometimes she’ll scoot away and sleep on her stomach while he just has an arm around her. Jordan is very particular about her space.

Who makes the bed? They take turns.

Who wakes up first? Michael is a morning person. It drives Jordan crazy. She needs a whole cup of coffee to wake up in the morning whereas he’s always fresh and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Who has the weird taste in music? Jordan. She really likes oddball indie movie soundtracks and instrumentals. Michael likes more mainstream music.

Who is more protective? Michael, naturally. He doesn’t get jealous easily (unless it’s Belial, and that’s pretty understandable) but he does have moments where he worries about Jordan being off on her own, and he’ll rip off someone’s limbs if they present even the slightest threat to her.

Who sings in the shower? Michael likes to do Elvis impersonations in the shower. Jordan finds it utterly hilarious.

Who cries during movies? It’s tough to get Jordan to cry, but she will if something is particularly emotional or strikes a cord with her. She’s more likely to cry if something is family related, like the ending to Pixar’s Brave.

Who spends the most while out shopping? Michael manages the money, so he’d know what they can splurge on and what they can’t. Jordan is super-low maintenance, and Michael tries to sneakily spoil her when she’s not paying attention.

Who kisses more roughly? Jordan. Michael is very sweet and she’s more reckless about how they kiss.

Who is more dominant? *cackles* Like making the bed, they take turns. I personally think in their first few months of being together, they were both really eager to find out how the other person reacts in bed, so they’d make a game out of seeing who could get a bigger “reaction.”

Stay tuned for more! If you like these ideas, please feel free to share your OWN headcanons over on the Facebook page. Don’t forget to review the books if you’ve finished the series. It helps more than you’ll ever know.

The Holy Dark Turns A Month Old!

The_Holy_Dark_3_final_Front

Oh, look at my darling. She’s grown up so fast. *wipes eyes*

In celebration of the third novel in The Black Parade series being out a whole month, I thought we’d do something fun. Here are some trivia and facts about the book, from story ideas to headcanons to deleted scenes. Enjoy!

  • Myra Bennett’s physical appearance is styled after Angela Bassett
  • The original word count was over 180,000 words
  • It was the first novel that caused me to miss my “one book a year” deadline, due to the fact that I couldn’t type fast enough to finish it on New Years’ Eve
  • The other Seers whom Jordan talks to in the Skype chat were originally going to have major parts in the story, but it was ultimately rewritten because it took too much time away from the main cast (Jordan, Michael, Gabriel, Belial)
  • There were plans to expand Myra’s backstory a bit more, but it was also rewritten due to the page length already being out of control
  • The Holy Dark takes place in October 2012, over the course of a week before the time skip in the final chapter and epilogue
  • The wedding scene was added in the final draft of the story after discussing what would make the fans truly happy with my sister-in-law, who was about to get married right around the time I started the final draft of the novel
  • I have a bunch of headcanons about Jordan and Michael’s wedding that I might turn into short stories or bonus chapters in the future
  • Zora was originally going to have a cameo in this book via a memory Jordan had as a dream when she was doped up on Belial’s blood, but it wasn’t relevant enough to the story
  • Though she is never directly described in the novel, Zora is short, middle Eastern, and looks a lot like Parminder Nagra (Neela Rasgotra from ER)
  • There was going to be a joke that Belial allegedly knows 314 different sex positions, but it didn’t fit into any dialogue spots, so it was left out
  • One of the earliest ideas for the plot was Jordan hunting for Belial cross-country after he betrayed her and released the Leviathan, but it didn’t have enough action
  • When the epilogue takes place, Allison has been with Jordan and Michael for about a year and a half, since it took them a while to get the adoption set up thanks to Jordan’s stint with the law
  • Beelzebub’s cameo in Hell is intentionally left open-ended for future works
  • Mammon is the only archdemon who does not appear in any of the four books in the series, including this one
  • Andrew Bethsaida’s backstory was also intended to show up here, but was ultimately decided not to be relevant enough for inclusion
  • There was also going to be a scene where Jordan finally visits Terrell’s grave, but the epilogue needed to be more than just narration, so it skipped ahead to life with Jordan, Michael, and Allison
  • Allison is eventually going to become a part time demon hunter in college, and it may later become a short story, novella, or YA novel. Same for Juliana Freitas, Belial’s daughter, whom Jordan saved in She Who Fights Monsters, and she was briefly mentioned as coming to America in the epilogue
  • The various descriptions of the circles of Hell were composed from Dante’s Inferno and some of the scenery seen in the movie Constantine (2005), along with my own ideas mixed in
  • An early, early draft of The Holy Dark had Moloch interrogating Jordan and she ultimately amuses him so much that he doesn’t kill her, but it was decided against because she is already in Belial’s favor and it would be too much to have two of the five archdemons like her
  • Neither Lucifer nor God have appeared in any of the books, though they are mentioned directly interacting with characters off-screen. This is because there are so many depictions of both that I didn’t want to even try to make my own, and because I felt it would be pretentious to make it seem like Jordan is important to warrant attention from either party face-to-face. However, my personal headcanon is that God and Lucifer don’t “look” like one particular entity; instead, they shapeshift into whatever form with have an effect on the person they are speaking to. For instance, in Hell Lucifer took the form of Jordan when he spoke to Belial because he knew it would unnerve him and he wanted Belial to kill her.
  • Ace was inspired by Ace the Bathound from the Batman comics and takes his backstory from the iteration in Batman Beyond. The only difference is his personality and breed. (Shameless, I know.)
  • Though it’s implied through his actions, Belial never once says that he loves Jordan
  • I didn’t cry when I wrote Gabriel’s death scene, but I did get choked up when I wrote the scene after they return from Hell and Jordan tells him stories about her childhood. I still to this day cannot really explain why that gets to me more than his death.
  • As I’ve mentioned in an interview before, the famous forehead kiss between Gabriel and Jordan came from something my favorite cousin Mikey did once a few years ago and I remember feeling so unbelievably safe and happy from that one gesture
  • Gabriel is never described as such, but I occasionally hear his lines read in a British accent. It makes more sense when you consider that he looks a bit like Jude Law in my head.
  • Michael’s very out-of-character suggestion of a threesome came about because I realized how much teasing Belial had done and wanted to show that Michael doesn’t always have a stick up his ass and has a good sense of humor, even when annoyed
  • The demon mercenary Balrog is quite shamelessly modeled after Crowley from Supernatural
  • The reference to Supernatural that Lauren makes early in the book (comparing Jordan to Dean Winchester) is largely because I’m a dork, but also because not one single urban fantasy TV show, book, or movie that I have ever come across has ever mentioned Supernatural
  • There was a scene I really wanted to write with Lauren and Belial meeting face to face, and it was intended to make Jordan so angry that she attacked him out in the open, blowing her cover. It was reworked once the plot was decided, but I admit I still want to see how Lauren would react to Belial if she knew who he really was.
  • This is the only novel of the three where Catalina Amador, Jordan’s mother, does not directly appear
  • I’ve been trying for almost a month, but I cannot think of one single young redheaded actor who could play Avriel if The Holy Dark (or She Who Fights Monsters, since he was in that first) became a movie
  • For a while, the title of this book was going to be either Back to Black or Once Burned
  • It is currently around the same word count as The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (176k words)

Thanks to everyone who already bought a copy, to those who have helped support me on social media, and to anyone who just read all those nerdy trivia facts. I am eternally grateful. Here’s to another month of great sales!

Kyoko

The Holy Dark is Finally Here!

The Holy Dark Banner 851 x 315

That’s right! You can bring home the final installment to the Black Parade series right now for only $2.99!

Please share this post with others, and feel free to visit the other blogs listed here that are celebrating its release. Thanks for all your support and happy reading!

Kyoko

Pre-Order The Holy Dark!

The_Holy_Dark_3_final_Front

Ah, yes, that magical time is finally here. You can now pre-order The Holy Dark on Amazon for just $2.99. This price is only going on for a month. On May 9, 2015, it will increase to $3.99, so please go ahead and order yourself a copy by that date.

However, if your pockets are light, remember that you can enter the Goodreads giveaway by April 24, 2015 to win a free signed paperback copy or attend the Facebook party on April 24th and win a free eBook copy via contest questions.

Please spread the word. It’s the biggest thing you can possibly do to show your appreciation.

Kyoko M