Choosing ourselves

We can pour ourselves in, give it everything we’ve got for days, months, years (!!) even, and still come up empty, or worse yet, get spit out, get rejected.

It happens. It happens all the time. We know the risk is there in everything that we do, be it a project or a relationship, but still, it hurts.

Rejection is a bitch. It’s a beast. It’s brutal.

Rejection can shut us down. It can make us stop trying (stop writing, stop creating, stop loving). It can make us turn inward and question and doubt everything about ourselves. It can leave us spinning our wheels, making it impossible for us to go anywhere but down – but, aren’t we there already?

As much as it hurts, as much as it stings, rejection does serve a purpose, because when viewed in the right light, rejection is a redirection. It’s a sign-post that reads “dead end” with a myriad of arrows around it pointing us towards an infinite number of other paths available on this journey.

No matter what direction we choose, so long as we accept and choose ourself, we can’t go wrong.

Innovative Ink

I’ve spent the last two years as an indie writer spinning my wheels, taking my writing, my books absolutely nowhere, but down. In the process, I’ve managed to dig an impressively deep hole for my self-confidence to curl up in and die.

It’s not at all what I hoped for, what I had worked for.

It looks and feels nothing like my dream.

This feeling of defeat despite having written the books, despite having published the books, despite having marketed the books, despite having created the author platform and joined and engaged in the various social media writing communities, and despite having supported and cheered on dozens of other writers and their work – despite all of that I still feel like a failure because my work hasn’t found its audience and I haven’t found my tribe and my books sit forgotten and overlooked on digital shelves gathering dust that will more likely be deleted than simply blown away.

Yet, though the indie dream didn’t come true for me, I do see it coming true for others. I watch them in awe from the sidelines of social media as they gather hundreds, thousands sometimes, of loyal, engaged followers who seem to pounce on their every word and meme as if it were vital sustenance to their very existence. I enviously watch them post their ever-increasing sales and unsolicited (and glowing) reviews and dozens of media appearances, and as I applaud their success, I can’t help but wonder, where did I go wrong?

With our sights set on the same target, how did they make a kill-shot and why was I shooting blanks?

Was it that newsletter that I couldn’t be bothered to write? Was it that mailing list that I didn’t want to start?

Somehow I doubt it, but still I’m curious and so, from that curiousity, Innovative Ink was born

Over the summer, I will be transforming this blog into a resource and support for indie writers, featuring websites and blogs, and apps with helpful advice and tips, and I will also continue to interview indie authors, with a focus on their best advice for achieving success (and hopefully I’ll unearth the magical key to indie success : is it really the mailing list??)

I’m also chasing another dream with this new endeavor. I’m going back to school this summer to get my certification as a copyeditor. I’m going to freelance as a book editor for indies. As a psychology student who loved to write way back in the day, I was offered an invitation into the Honours English degree program but stupidly declined, thinking there’d be more career opportunities for me in psychology. Having worked professionally as a photographer for the last decade (so much for that psych degree!), it’s been one of my bigger regrets in life because my love for reading and writing has never waned and I want very much to give it a more prominent role in my life.

The dream doesn’t look how I imagined it would, so I’m going back to the drawing board (the journal/ my head) and creating something new.

(I’m innovative like that).

The Innovators: an interview with author, M.G. Unger

After a 5 month hiatus, The Innovators, an indie artist interview series, is back with the indie author of Divided and Enhanced 2124…….

Introduce yourself

My name is M.G. Unger. I was born, raised, and still currently live in Florida. After school, I moved away from most of my family to be with friends. After a long chain of dumb choices, I finally made a good one, I met my wife. Through our love, my destiny was fulfilled.

What I am is a father first. Above all the multitude of cogs, gears, and unpredictable events, being a dad is what I am most proud of. There is no award or accomplishment that will ever surpass this feat. It took me and my wife a long while and we had to overcome health issues to become parents to three wonderful children. As life often does, there was/is some sideways issues and I turned to writing to cope.

When and why did you start writing?

I always wrote poems or short stories throughout my life for fun. Never in my dreams I thought I would write a book, but here I am about to release my second book out into the wild. Because of complications with one of our daughters I became helpless mentally and was even suicidal. Talking through the issues with my wife, I mentioned in passing about a story I was thinking about. My wife instantly encouraged me just to write it down. Everyday since 2017, I have been writing. Our daughter is not cured, but she is doing way better, but regardless, I cannot stop writing. It is my therapy.

Who or what inspires your writing / creativity?

I grew up in the golden age of cartoons. He-Man, GI-Joe, and later in life Batman: The Animated Series. Along with toons, I enjoyed reading science fiction and playing video games. Regardless of the media format, the thing that drew me into any of it was the stories. I especially am always drawn to tales that are unique, the unusual, or a trope that bends the formula.

Tell me about Divided and Enhanced

Divide and Enhanced is my premier novel series. It is set in the future and is an adventure about multiple factions with different strengths, powers, and goals trying to save or destroy one another. The series is told through multiple protagonists and oftentimes the same events overlap but are seen through different character’s eyes. High tech, artificial intelligence, and robots? Check, check check. It is obviously born from my favorite genre, science fiction. The idea came from a personal need to create a character based on our daughter who begins weak but builds strength from that weakness. It was/is very fun writing this series. All the characters I have created so far argue in my headspace all the time and I absolutely love it.

What are your upcoming projects?

Ah yes, I do have other projects in various levels of progression. In order to never get stuck, I have multiple stories or books to jump back and forth on. The furthest along is on chapter five of the first draft. This one will probably be the next book I release after Divided and Enhanced: The Fall. It is going to be a fun ride, but in a different way then the DE series. Mix a reality game show with time traveling and the multiverse and you’ll get a general idea of what that book is about. I have a few other ideas I have began writing in addition to that one.

One of these I want to hold off on until I have a few more books on the shelf. It is a fascinating concept that I don’t want to share just yet. The reason being is because I’m not ready. I want to be sure my skills are honed enough to give the project the flourish and craftsmanship it deserves. It is going to be a large project and like all of my other tales, I think I’m more excited to write them than I think my biggest fan is to read them. Oh, and FYI, my biggest fan is my wife and no one will ever take her from that slot. I wouldn’t be half of who I am without her never-ending relentless support and love.

What challenges do you face as an indie author? What advantages do you have as an indie?

Being an independent author has no challenges at all. I mean not anymore than anything else in life. I wish for once, my talents would be put up against something in life that is just plainly simple. Nothing is, so I enjoy what I do. Yes, sarcasm aside, writing books as an independent author is extremely tough. Just because it is tough doesn’t mean it is rewarding. First and above all, I control the time table. Being able to control time is phenomenal! Though that has it’s dangers as well and without enough drive I can easily get stuck in a whirlwind of edits and revisions that will spiral on forever if I let it. Marketing is by far the hardest thing to me. I’ve been studying and researching, knowledge is power and boy do I need some power in that department. Haha!

What is your greatest writing achievement so far? What are you still working towards?

I did it! I wrote a book! Many people, in fact, inaccurate estimations state that nearly 98 point Q percent of the entire population says that they are going to write a book, but only a slim number much less than that actually do. The point being, I feel really special that I can look at my shelf every day and see amongst my books, one with my name on it. It really is quite an honor to write a book. To be able to string along letters to form worlds is beyond scientific understanding, it is magical. The feeling of accomplishment after creating art in this medium is vast and an unexplainably amazing feeling. I need improvement in all aspects of being a writer. I’m not the best and I never will be the best. All I want to achieve is to be better than what my past self imagined.

Where can readers find you?

Website: https://mgunger6.wixsite.com/website

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/m.g.unger/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mgunger

book review: Marielle’s Witch by David Alexanian

Genre: fantasy / urban fantasy / paranormal fantasy / action

Newlink Publishing

To be released: July 1, 2021

After being captivated by Laplace’s Demon, the first book in The Sword Demon series by David Alexanian – in which unassuming university prof, Laplace, unwittingly awakens an ancient evil and is then possessed by the ruthless, sword-wielding demon who goes on to terrorize the streets of Paris – I was eager to dive into my ARC copy of the second book in the series, Marielle’s Witch.

Seamlessly picking up where Laplace’s Demon left off, Marielle’s Witch introduces us to the source of the evil that awoke in the first book. “The demons were the least of your concern,” the evil that is Sakura, proclaims. “The witch is here. She controls them all.” And that she does. Sakura, the Snow Witch, with her platinum blond hair and icy blue eyes, is one vengeful demon with a giant chip on her shoulder and an insatiable appetite for killing with her merciless sword of unrelenting death. Laplace, now freed from his own demon-encounter / possession, must help to fight the newest evil on the block, using his new-found abilities to see and communicate with the spirit world and once again save the streets of Paris from death and destruction,

I was just as captivated by this story as I was with the the first book in the series. The writing is superb. Quick and action-packed, intelligent and humorous at times – and I can’t tell you how much I love and appreciate that the main characters, the heroes, of these book are unassuming, middle-aged intellectuals who handle the demon crisis with poise and grace, and yet remain vulnerable and all-too human and therefore, oh so likeable! Sakura, the Snow Witch, is a bad-ass villain with a lot to prove – and lot of people to kill.

The story ends with a delicious segue into book three and if it is true that the evil of the demon and the witch will never die, then I am all for it! I am a huge fan of this series. I say, keep that evil coming!

Marielle’s Witch will be released July 1st. You can pre-order it here and in the meantime, get your hands on Laplace’s Demon.

I give Marielle’s Witch 5 out of 5 stars, obviously!

Book review: Laplace’s Demon by David Alexanian

Laplace’s Demon by David Alexanian

5 of 5 stars

Genre: Urban fantasy / fantasy/ paranormal

Newlink Publishing (March 2020)

Synopsis:

Laplace’s innocent blood has awakened a centuries-old curse–a Japanese demon sworn to wreak havoc on this world.
The seductive powers granted by the demon’s sword help Laplace cut a swath through the Paris underworld. But with the rising body count, the demon’s strength grows. Its desire for blood will never be quenched. And once Laplace loses himself completely, it may never be stopped.

If I hadn’t requested to be an ARC reader for the second part of this series (The Sword Demon), I more than likely would not have picked up this book, in all honesty. Neither the cover nor the title grabbed my interest much and fantasy is not my typical read – BUT, two pages in, I was hooked. BIG TIME. I read it all in two days! I truly could not put it down.

I cannot say enough good things about this book. It’s a riveting page-turner full of fascinating characters (a demonically possessed intellectual, a ghost of a murdered girl, monks who can see the dead!). The story seamlessly flip-flops between modern-day Paris and 16th-century Japan with an absolutely intriguing plotline about how the demon came to be and how he will go out, after exerting some vigilante revenge via his unlucky host, Laplace. Besides a fantastic, unique, and original plot, the writing is fabulous.

I am so glad to have come across this book and its very talented writer who I have been following for a few years on Instagram now – and who certainly doesn’t post about his writing talents nearly enough! Laplace’s Demon is so worth a read even if fantasy is not your regular sort of genre – you will NOT regret it.

I did also receive an ARC copy of book 2 of The Sword Demon series, Marielle’s Witch, slated for a July 2021 release and I am eagerly diving into it now….

Book Review: Dalton Highway by Freddie Ahlin

Dalton Highway by Freddie Ahlin

Genre: Horror / Psychological thriller

Indie release (Sept. 2020)

5 of 5 stars

A nail-biter of suspense and psychological horror, Dalton Highway is a thrill-ride of a read.

Synopsis: With his back up against a financial wall and not wanting to disappoint his wife, trucker Tom Richards takes on the potentially dangerous job driving the 666 km long Dalton Highway through the isolated and often hazardous Alaskan wilderness with his loyal dog, Presley, as his companion. A sudden storm sends the truck crashing off the road, setting Presley loose in the forest with Tom giving chase, but there is something ominous amongst the trees that seems to be chasing them both….

This debut novel by indie author, Freddie Ahlin, is a strong opening piece. Despite a slow start, taking its time to build up Tom’s dilemma and apprehension at taking on the job, once the suspense and action arrived, it was full speed ahead with the story. At times, I was completely absorbed in Tom’s harrowing journey both physically through the unforgiving terrain of Alaska and psychologically as he battles with some mysterious demons of his past, disembodied voices that relentlessly taunt him as he struggles to find his dog and survive the often unforgiving elements. But, like all good psychological thrillers, the reader often struggles with wondering just how much of the terror is in Tom’s head. Who or what are these ghosts that haunt him? Is the forest actually haunted? What if it’s not?? The psychological thrills of this book were stellar and the ending was truly satisfying. Looking forward to reading more by this author!

Book Review: Come Forth in Thaw by Jayson Robert Ducharme

Come Forth in Thaw by Jayson Robert Ducharme

Genre: Dark fantasy / horror

Self-published novella, to be released February 2021

5 of 5 stars

I was captivated by this powerful story that I read in a single sitting. At just over 100 pages, this little book delivers a solid punch of emotion and horror…

Synopsis: Desperate mom, Ellie, goes in search of her depressed teen son in New England’s Adrienne Forest State Park (a fictionalized version of Japan’s infamous Aokigahara “suicide forest”). There she discovers the strange and creepy Tinker man who collects trophies of the dead. Promising to help her find her son, he sets her out on a quest through the horrors of the forest that holds the pain and suffering of those who died in it and also acts as a beacon to those who hold similar pain in their heart. Hoping that her son hasn’t become a statistic, Ellie ends up having to face her own truths as to why and and how she ended up amongst the trees of that dark forest.

I was absorbed by Ellie’s journey and felt both her desperation and fear as she searched through the strange and, at times, quite frightening forest. There was a jarring twist to the story about 3/4’s in that I absolutely didn’t see coming and not wanting to spoil the book for future readers, I have to say that I forgave the writer for that (!) as the story transitioned smoothly and expertly into its second act, where we discover Ellie’s tragic reason for being in the forest.

I particularly enjoyed the character the Donneur Vie, the Soul of the Mountain, that communicates and consoles the dead who wander the forest and really appreciated the purposeful lack of romanticizing mental illness and suicide. The message/ meaning of the story truly shone through for me at the end and for that reason, I hope that it is read by a wide and receptive audience.

Kudos to author Ducharme for this excellent book. I look forward to checking out more of his work!

My books are FREE this weekend!

“I don’t move the stars for just anyone.”

To start the new year on the right foot (eg: with a good book!), all four of my books are FREE this weekend on Amazon (see links in titles and because of a glitch, Elegant Execution will be free on Jan. 2 & 3rd). Go and grab a copy of each Friday, January 1st thru to Sunday, January 3rd and I hope you enjoy!!! Happy 2021!!!!!

Hope Quest book 1: Blackbird: Fourteen year old Hope Quest knows that the abusive life she leads with her alcoholic grandmother is not the only one she’s ever had. With a face full of scars, a heart damaged from a lightning strike as a toddler, and only able to speak in a whisper, Hope is desperate to find her “voice”, to discover the truth of her life.

Encouraged by her cousin, Onyx, to break free from her grandmother’s control, Hope’s life begins to unravel when an attack at a party awakens another secret ability – the power to pull stars from the sky – and opens a terrifying black hole over her lightning scar.

Escaping with Onyx and their motley group of punk friends to attend a three day music festival, StarFEST, Hope discovers her long-lost brother is Blackbird, an enigmatic rock star, who leads her down a dark and dangerous path to self-discovery.

Hope Quest book 2: The Lightning: Picks up exactly where book 1 left off after Hope’s tumulutous experience at StarFEST ,where she encountered Blackbird and discovered both her star-moving abilities and her dark history with him, she must now navigate life with the knowledge of her strange origins while her unique abilities continue to grow and strengthen. The arrival of a new photography teacher at school presents new challenges when Hope learns there is more to her family than Lennon let on. With her 15th birthday looming, Hope discovers that the family cult is seeking her return. Will Lennon come “out of the dark” to help save her from the family he took her from as a toddler or will Hope be able to find the strength to save herself?

Elegant Execution is my first poetry and dance photography collection and is a very personal piece of work created as a way to heal from childhood trauma and abandonment.

The Stars Went Out was my follow up collection of poetry and my dance photography. It is a blend of literary and visual art, creating a unique and memorable dreamscape.

Let me pencil in this new year…..

I’m not going to hop aboard the “let’s get excited for the new year” train. In fact, I feel better just penciling the next year into my life at this point. We all know that January 1st thru who knows when will still look and feel very much like 2020 – and I’m actually an optimist! I do hope, though, that at some point in 2021 we can all let out our collective breath because I sure feel like I’ve been holding mine all year.

Like most people, I just scraped through the year. No big accomplishments (I had three book projects planned and none came to fruition). I had to close down my photography studio twice and suffered financially. I endured the parental horrors of online schooling twice this year with all three of my kids and will be going into the new year doing more of the same.

Still, I am hopeful that things will turn around at some point in the new year for me, for you, for everyone – and sooner than later.

My few 2021 plans include: blogging more, reading more, reviewing more, writing more, doing more yoga, spending more time with my kids and family, and just continuing to put my energies towards those things in my life that fulfill me – those things that are ‘ink-worthy’ in my books.

For now, I am grateful to have this platform, to have some readers, some followers and I hope to connect with all of you at some point in the new year!