Depression’s Like A Big Fur Coat

“Depression’s like a big fur coat–it’s made of dead things but it keeps me warm.”
 
This is a quote from Icon For Hire’s song “Iodine,” which has become one of my favorite songs over the last couple years. Most people here know my story, although some only know bits and pieces. There’s people I can encounter on a daily basis that don’t know me, or don’t know the struggles I’ve gone through, or don’t know the reality of what goes on inside my head.
 
Back in 2012-2013, I had one of the hardest years of my life. I came to the realization, after many hospitalizations, that I had depression. Some people still refuse to believe that depression is a real thing, but unfortunately it is. It’s not just sadness. It’s not just crying every once in a while. Sometimes it’s as simple as feeling completely numb. Sometimes it’s as simple as being tired all the time, no matter how much sleep you get. Sometimes it can be difficult to get out of bed in the morning and do things that you have to do because you’re supposed to be a responsible young adult.
 
Writing is something that’s always been important to be, but over the last few years, I’ve used it as a way to channel my feelings. It’s been one of my easiest coping mechanisms and it’s been incredible hearing from readers who tell me that my books have made them realize something about themselves, of that a book of mine has changed their life in some way. When I look back at everything I’ve gone through and then examine where I am now, I see all the obstacles I’ve overcome. On the one hand, it’s refreshing to know that I’m no longer in that place I once was. On the other hand, every phase of life comes with a new set of struggles, and we must learn how to deal with what life throws at us.
 
Although I’ve overcome many things, the one thing I wish I could say I’ve fully overcome I have not. My depression. Some people may be wondering how that’s possible. How I can seem like this happy person all the time, whether it be at work or somewhere else, and still be depressed. Some wonder how it’s possible to have confidence in myself, yet still have depression.
 
I wish there was an easy answer, but unless you’ve been in my shoes, it’s not. I made a post a while back about being an empath, and about how everything around me affects my emotions. I’m a highly sensitive human being, and it’s both a good and a bad thing. The problem is that we live in a world full of negativity. There’s not a lot of light that shines through. Several people have told me that they believe most people are inherently good, and maybe that’s true. Over the last two years, I’ve come to realize that even though deep down they’re good, they do not come across that way, especially to me. I’ve been treated poorly by people when I don’t deserve it. I’ve been abandoned by people who swore they’d never leave. I’ve fallen in love yet again, only to have my heart ripped out of my chest. I’ve been played by people who seemingly have nothing better to do than to mess with my emotions.
 
So why am I telling you all this? Well, as a person who struggles with depression, although a lot of it is internal, external forces have a tendency of making things worse. I always have these two conflicting sides in my head–do I become numb like everyone else and turn into an asshole with no regard for others’ feelings to protect my own, or do I continue to love, to feel, and to be in touch with myself so I don’t fall into the darkness this world creates in people?
 
When I wrote my novel The Long Road Home, it was one of the most personal books I’ve ever written, and it has reached so many people. It’s my favorite book that I wrote, because I wrote depression as it is. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense. Sometimes it can be confusing. Often times it leaves the people surrounding the ill to wonder what the hell is actually going on inside their head.
 
Part of me feels like a hypocrite. Sometimes I wake up in the morning wondering what right I have to tell people that it gets better when I still have monsters in my mind. I wonder what gave me the right to write the things I do when I’ve not fully recovered myself, and potentially never will.
 
But that’s the thing about mental illness–it finds a way to tell you these lies. It finds a way to convince you that you’ll never be good enough and that it’s best to just keep quiet. Because if we keep quiet, no one will get better. If we ignore what’s there, no one will get better, and instead will only get worse.
 
September 2016 is National Suicide Prevention Month. On September 10th (which also happens to be my birthday) it is National Suicide Prevention Day, and my plan is to participate in the Suicide Prevention Walk in Reno.
 
We all have our battles, and this is mine. Every day I’m struggling, but I’m also overcoming the struggle every day I don’t self-harm or make an attempt on my life. Even though thoughts can be there, as long as I’m not acting, I’m winning. I’ve already won the battle.
 
Now it’s time to win the war.
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Writing the Fear Games Series Finale

Writing the three-part series finale of Fear Games, titled “Tear the World Down.” It’s funny, but also sad at the same time. When I started writing Fear Games a few months ago, my only intention was to have it be a Wattpad miniseries with 12 episodes and a conclusive ending.
 
About a week after I finished writing season 1, an idea came to me about what a season 2 could potentially look like, which of course, led to a season 3. As of right now I have no more story to tell for Fear Games, but that doesn’t mean I may not have a reason to visit it again in the future. But as of right now, the story that is currently Fear Games, will be over after season 3.
 
I picked the title “Tear the World Down” for a few reasons. We Are the Fallen has a song with the same exact title, and I felt that it was very fitting.
 
Part of the song says,
 
“My loveless life
I’m lost in you tonight
Waiting for you to turn around
Only to tear the whole world down.”
 
Everything about this finale will not only come full circle, but will have more deaths than any episode before. Blood will be shed, and at this point in the series, the main goal of the characters is to simply survive.
 
I’ve saved all the best twists for the final season, which I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I have writing it.
You can read the entire series from the beginning here.

Why I Have Quit Publishing-And What I Plan To Do Next

When I self-published my first book in September 2014, I knew that the journey ahead of me would be rough. I knew I wasn’t going to make a ton of money. In fact, I knew I’d likely make near nothing.
 
Here I am in May 2016, and while I’ve come along way, it’s nowhere I would like to be. I’ve gotten some new fans (who have become more like friends instead), and I got the amazing opportunity to be with Booktrope for a year and get other writer friends that way.
 
Despite those things, there are several things I’ve learned that I didn’t know prior to publishing.
 
1. Readers aren’t willing to buy books. That’s not to say ALL readers won’t buy books, but in the instance of me, no one buys my books. I’ve seen many other small authors have this difficulty as well. Most of my sales have come from family and a few friends (including the fans-turned-friends). Most of my sales came from free ebook sales that I did on Amazon (the most recent one gave me close to 700 sales). This was not an issue when I was with Booktrope because I was paying no upfront costs. But now, if I were to be an indie author, this makes it more difficult because I’d be putting more money out than I’d be making (money which I do not have at the moment).
 
2. Most readers don’t write reviews. Despite the amount of times I’ve asked readers to write reviews, they don’t. This creates a problem, because whether readers want to admit it or not, reviews sell books. If you liked the book and want to see it succeed, the best way to do so is to write a review. Even a simple “I loved this book!” would be helpful. I heard someone that 1 in every 25 readers will write a review or something like that. That is not the case for me, and as I know, for many other authors. Out of those 700 free books from the sale I did on Amazon, I’d be shocked to see even one review pop up. That’s not my negativity speaking either. In the past I ALSO did free ebook sales (several times) and have sold a couple hundred books. Didn’t get a single review.
 
3. Marketing is difficult. It’s a lot more difficult than you’d imagine, actually. When you’re trying to promote yourself and your work, you must first start with friends and family. It’s the easiest way to get people’s attention. “Hey, I wrote book!” The problem I’ve encountered, as I’m sure many others have, is that my friends and family (not all, but most) don’t help promote. Which means that I am only reaching the people closest to me, who by the way also aren’t buying my books.
 
There are other ways, of course, such as starting a blog, but my traffic has never gotten me a book sale or even fan. Takeovers on Facebook used to do really well, but over the last six months I’ve noticed takeovers tend to not do so well anymore. It could be due to the fact that so many authors do them now, but it has never gotten me sales, minus a few special times. It rarely gets me new fans. Not like it used to. And finally, there’s always the option of posting in writer’s groups. The issue with that is that writer’s groups tend to be made up of AUTHORS trying to promote their stuff, not READERS looking to read stuff. This creates a problem because everyone just wants to promote their own stuff and not help each other out.
 
As many of you know, I am graduating from high school in June. When I joined the writing industry, I expected it to be fun, and for a while it was. Over time, as it became more of a business, it wasn’t fun anymore. I was trying to figure out how billing works, trying to get others to read my work, and was trying my very best to make at least ONE sale day. It became mentally exhausting.
 
I found Booktrope last year, and for a while, everything was great. I was getting more readers, selling some books, got new covers, a great round of edits from my fantastic editor and proofreaders. Over time, though, something was missing. For while I didn’t realize what it was.
 
What was missing was the fun. The ENJOYMENT of writing. Friends stopped buying my work. Family stopped buying my work. I don’t know why, exactly, and in no way do I blame them. It’s just a recent analysis on my part.
 
Then Booktrope decided to close, creating a huge rift between authors and everyone we’ve worked with. I suddenly owed money to people (money I didn’t have) and the question as to what I can do with my books after My 31st has been overwhelming.
 
The fun is gone. Between starting college in the fall and a shit ton of personal stuff going on in regards to where I’ll be sleeping or where I’ll be going have created more stress than I ever expected. That’s why, from this moment on, I am not going to be publishing any longer. I don’t know how long this will be. Could be a year, could be a few. It’s sad for me to say, because I enjoyed seeing my books in print more than anyone else in the world. I’ve learned hard lessons, done difficult things, and have done more than a lot of people have by my age.
 
But don’t think this is the end of my writing, because it certainly is not. From this moment on, anything I write will be written for free on Wattpad. I’ll build a team of beta readers who will help make the books as best as I possibly can get them (Granted, a downside is that there will be no professional editing due to lack of money–hence why I’m not indie publishing). I want to build my fan base. I want to interact with you all, and even the newcomers I may meet a few months from now.
 
Right now, this is a trial. I’d like to see where this goes. I’d like to see if maybe I can bring the fun back to writing for myself. I really hope that you’ll all stick with me through this journey. As I start college in the fall, I don’t know what will come. Please be patient and just know that I’m not giving up–I’m simply trying something new.
 
I don’t know what this means for my other books, as I’ve yet to figure out the details as to what to do with those, but I am TRYING to get those up on Wattpad as well.
 
You’ve all been fantastic. Let’s hope we can keep it that way. I love you all so much. Thanks for everything. ❤

Booktrope Closes: An Uncertain Future

Last April, I got accepted by Booktrope Publishing. As one could imagine, I was relieved. Self-publishing had become an extra weight on my that I could no longer bear. At 17, I made a very quick and irrational decision, signing on, having no idea what to expect.

On April 29,2016, every author and team member for Booktrope received and email, letting them know that Booktrope is closing its doors.

Tropers.

We are deeply saddened to share the news that Booktrope will be ceasing business effective May 31, 2016. This decision was not reached lightly and we will share as much as we can with the community over the next few weeks.

When I read the email, I was shocked, but not really. Devastated. Hurt. Angry. But most of all, I was left with a heavy uncertainly hanging on my shoulders, as are so many who are being hurt by the loss of the company. As of May 31st, 2016, all four of my books will be removed from Amazon, no longer accessible to readers.

Due to this, May 3-7, I believe, I am offering all of my books for free. I wish I had an answer as to what’s coming next. I wish I could say that the books will go right back up because I’ll self-publish them, but it’s not that simple.

Booktrope offered me a way. A way to be a student, to meet some amazing people, and to live my dream that I’ve had since elementary school. I’ve grown so much because of them and everyone I’ve met. My teams put so much time and effort into my books that I can never repay them fully enough for.

After graduation from high school in June, I will be starting college in the fall. I’m starting to see that maybe this is a sign that it’s not my time. I wish I had better news, but at the moment, I do not.

I’m not giving up on my dream forever. I could never do that. But right now I’m at a loss for words and ideas, and it’ll take some time and thought to fully come up with a game plan.

I just want all of my friends, family, and most of all, my fans, to know that this is not the end of the line for me. A hiatus, maybe, but certainly not the end. While I do not know about everything else, that is the one thing I am certain of.

I hope to see you guys again soon.

With love,

Alec John Belle

Shadow People Wrap-Up Q&A

*SPOILER ALERT FOR SHADOW PEOPLE. DO NOT CONTINUE IF YOU HAVE NOT READ IT.*

With Shadow People’s release December 14th, I know people who read it probably have a million questions running through their minds. I’ve seen a few other popular authors do this, and so I decided to do one myself. Below are questions readers may have, and the answers I can provide you with at the current moment. Since this wrap-up post is on Shadow People, be warned that there are SPOILERS. I am telling you this again as a warning, so whatever you read beyond this point is not my fault if it spoils anything. I hope you enjoy. 🙂

1. “If Hayden’s Dad is really a Fallen Angel, wouldn’t he know whether God approves of homosexuality or not?”

I know this is a bit of a touchy subject, but in the realm of The Forbidden Darkness Chronicles, there are Angels and then there are Guardians. Angels live in Paradise, but Guardians protect Paradise and have a more personal relationship with God. One might assume that an Angel would know every detail, but similar to humans, they do not. Guardians are who have all the answers of the Universe (and yes, I do mean all) because of their relationship with God. It’s a storyline that’ll play out over the next few books and you’ll learn more about it as the story goes on.

2. “Will we see more of The Council in the future?”

The basic answer to this question is yes, as they rule over the Monster Hunters. I can say you’ll learn part of the reason why everything has been kept a secret in the third book, Fiery Passion. 

3. “Are we ever going to see Kristen’s brother and father?”

Yes, Lucas and Mr. Mason are in Fiery Passion after Lena’s death.

4. “Speaking of Lena’s death, it seemed as though she knew more than she let on prior to being murdered. Will we ever learn what it is that she knew? If so, when?”

This is a bit of an iffy question. The reason I say that is that Lena may not have known as much as you think, or she may have. I left it vague for a reason. We know that she was involved in Heather’s kidnapping, so she obviously knows something in regards to that. Lena is a pawn in a game that she wasn’t really aware was going on. She knows something, it’s just a matter of how much she knows. You’ll find out more in Fiery Passion.

5. “Lena made a discovery about the demon Ziminiar at the end of the book. When will we find out what it is?”

Lena knows who Ziminiar is. She knows this person outside of being a demon, and whether you’ve met this person or not is still a mystery at the moment. This is also a mystery you will uncover in Fiery Passion.

6. “Fiery Passion is supposed to be the end of arc 1. What exactly does that mean?”

As you’ve seen from my previous answers, Fiery Passion answers a lot of the questions that you have. Even more than Shadow People did. The reason why is that there’s an overall storyline that’s been happening in the first three books that will be resolved by the end of the third book. Obviously the series will continue beyond that point, and there may be a couple questions remaining to go into arc 2, but for the most part, the questions that have been formed since Forbidden Darkness will be answered. It’s an exciting time for me because you will finally get to know something I know that I’ve been waiting to share for over a year.

7. “At the end, Kadin and Heather shared a moment. Is this foreshadowing a future love triangles?”

I can’t tell you what exactly that means yet, but I can say that there will be no love triangle. The answer as to who Heather is meant to be with is right in front of you. It’s just a matter of whether you can figure it out.

8. “Kadin matured a lot in Shadow People. Will we see more of him throughout the series?”

Kadin is a character that’s not going anywhere any time soon. In fact, he has a point-of-view in Fiery Passion.

9. “Why must you torture us with cliffhangers?”

I actually really like cliffhangers. I love them in series that I read, and I’m also in love with Pretty Little Liars, which is the Queen of Cliffhangers. So I have a bit of a love for them, which is why I use them. It’s not meant to be a torture mechanism LMAO. It’s just something I enjoy doing for writing purposes.

10. “When can we expect book 3?”

While there is no definite date, it is scheduled for sometime this summer.

Before I Break Sequel Cancelled

In light of some recent discussions, I made the decision that the sequel to Before I Break, which was titled Once I Fall, will no longer be written.

Originally, Before I Break was going to be a standalone novel, but late last year I announced it would not only have one sequel, but two. I was putting off the sequel for a very long time due to the subject matter, which was going to focus more on the T in LGBT. Because of the transgender attention in the media and literature, I was excited, albeit nervous, to write the sequel.

Unfortunately, after some consideration, I do not feel as though I am the right one to write this story. I have cancelled the project for Once I Fall because of many reasons, a lot of them personal. With lots of debates such as locker rooms, pronouns, sex changes, and more, I realized the transgender route is not right for me, and I want to leave room for other authors to write theirs.

With that being said, you may be wondering if Until It’s Done, the third book, will still be written. At this moment, I am unsure, as some key events were going to make Until It’s Done what it was. The cancellation of this book really is not something I want to do, but I think by default, it may just end up happening and I do not want to lead fans on thinking it may happen.

So for now, both sequels are cancelled and will not be pursued. This does not mean I’m done writing contemporary young adult, as I have many more plans for the future. I hope that you all stick with me on my journey into 2016, where I’ll be releasing my next contemporary, The Long Road Home.

What’s Next in 2016?

2016 is going to be a big year for me. Aside from writing books, I will also be graduating high school and starting college. I’m looking forward to the next step in my life, and I’m also really looking forward to the books coming out.

Most of my writing will probably be done in the first half of the year, and after some planning, I have three books I plan on releasing next year, one of which I’m already almost done writing.

  • The Long Road Home (Contemporary YA): Brooke never meant to survive. She hoped that the suicide attempt would end all of her suffering. After years of rejection, pain, and heartbreak, she feels as though she’s not good enough for anyone. Now she’s stuck in a hospital, being forced to take antidepressants and is getting therapy for her issues.And she hated it until she met him.Now Brooke must remember the past in order to better her future, while trying to keep her feelings for the new patient in check. In this heartbreaking novel, a young girl will laugh, cry, and fight to find her way home to the one place she’s never really let anyone in–her own heart.

Expected Publication Date: March 2016

  • Fiery Passion (The Forbidden Darkness Chronicles, #3): This book has a synopsis, but I don’t plan on releasing it until some time next year, after Shadow People (December 14, 2015) is out. What I can say is that this book will be much darker than the first two books and will focus on some on Heather’s personal relationships.

Expected Publication Date: Summer 2016

  • Untitled (The Forbidden Darkness Chronicles, #4): This book is actually not untitled, but since the title is somewhat spoilery, I will not be revealing the title until after Fiery Passion comes out. This will be the end of story arc 1 in The Forbidden Darkness Chronicles.

Expected Publication Date: Winter 2016

As you can see, 2016 is going to be a good year for books, as well as a good year for my personal life. I have no guarantees that this will stay exactly the same, as things come up and can interfere with my writing life, such as this year. I am not making any promises, just goals, and I think that goals are a very good thing.

I look forward to heading into the new year with you and I hope you all come along with me for the ride. 🙂

The Long Road Home: Person vs Self

For those of you who don’t know, I am currently writing a novel called The Long Road Home (Spring 2016), about a young girl sent to a mental institution after trying to attempt suicide. The realization hit me the other day that this is the first Person vs Self book I’ve written since Before I Break, and that book wasn’t even entirely Person vs Self.

So what is a Person vs Self novel? Well, it’s exactly as it sounds. If you don’t remember, there are different conflict types of conflict in literature. Some examples are Person vs Society, Person vs Nature, Person vs Man. All of these are different types of stories that help figure out what the conflict is in the story. The big situation that needs to be resolved (or, most of the time, should be) by the end of the book or story.

Person vs Self deals with a character whose main conflict is dealing with some internal conflict. I’ve seen a trend that often young adult novels that deal with mental illness are of Person vs Self conflict, something that’s never really occurred to me before.

I may be a bit biased, but it seems as though Person vs Self novels are often character-driven novels. This is not to say that a P vs S novel can’t be plot-driven, but it just seems as though with Person vs Self, your characters are running the story, especially your protagonist, as opposed to the plot. Character-driven stories mostly deal with your main character moving the story forward in some way by their actions.

Now, my paranormal young adult series, The Forbidden Darkness Chronicles is not only plot-driven, but falls under either Person vs Person (or Persons) or even Person vs World (if that’s even a thing, because I doubt it is).

I am no literary expert, and I’m learning just as much as you. But you may be wondering why you just read all of this and what the point of this blog post actually is. In fact, I’m not even entirely sure where I was going with this post, other than to say that Person vs Self plots tend to be more character-central.

One thing that’s hard for me is writing a story where the main character is her own conflict. Questions constantly run through my head, such as Will people like her? Will people feel extremely depressed after reading this? Am I possibly making a mistake?

But I always have to remind myself that those things are not true. Yes, the book is sad, similar to the way that Before I Break ripped many peoples’ hearts out. One thing I know for sure is that this book, The Long Road Home, is going to change lives. It’s going to show people that they’re not alone, and that they’re not the only ones dealing with internal conflict. We all do at some point, although some are worse off than others.

Brooke is a character that is changing my life, and I hope she changes yours. When the book is finally out for the world to read, I hope that you have a better understanding of her struggles if you have not gone through them yourself. I hope that you read her story and that it changes your heart as much as she’s constantly changing mine.

New Super Secret Writing Project

Okay, so obviously BEFORE I BREAK (my contemporary YA) and FORBIDDEN DARKNESS (the first in an 8 book paranormal YA series) are my top priority right now.  Let’s be real.

Unfortunately, because of the fact that both of the books are being republished and will be in editing for TWO MONTHS, it’s kinda hard to write sequels when I don’t even know entirely how much will be changed in the edits. This means that I’ll have a couple months where I won’t be writing anything.  And, well, I’m a writer.

You see the dilemma?

So today I am beginning a new project, and no, this is not an April Fool’s joke. Because I have no idea whether I’ll go through with publishing this or not, I’m keeping it to myself for now.  Who knows, maybe it’ll suck.

What I can say is that it’s another contemporary YA novel, similar to BEFORE I BREAK, but darker.  I’m really excited to get into it.

It’s also a standalone, so if I do decide to do something with this, it’ll be one simple little book.

Time to get plotting.

What to Expect When Reading The Next Three Forbidden Darkness Chronicles Books

A lot of you have finished reading Forbidden Darkness and have felt a little betrayed.  I haven’t gotten many complaints, but I do know the book ended on a huge cliffhanger and left lots of things unanswered.  And I really do mean a lot.

The funny part is, that was entirely unintentional.  When I planned the first four books, I knew the first book was going to raise a lot of questions, and because it’s a series, I couldn’t possibly answer everything in one book.  It would have dragged the book out if I did that, which is why the book was as short as it was (which is less than 44,000 words).

Here’s what I can tell you.  Each book, especially the first four, have a designated goal.  Take a look at this.

1.  Forbidden Darkness

This book, I like to call, The Book of Questions.  As I said above, this book raised a lot of questions as to where the series is headed and took a twist at the end.  Even with that, there were a lot of things unresolved.  That was the goal of the first book.

2.  Shadow’s Wings

I like to call this The Book of Answers.  In this book, you’ll get answers very early on, and I mean within the first few chapters.  Some of the things you’ll find out are:

  • What is Kadin?
  • What is Hayden?
  • What was the Shadow that visited Hayden?
  • Where is Kristen’s father?
  • Why was Heather kidnapped as a kid, and what does her birth mom have to do with the story?

All of those things will, in fact, get answered in the second book.  Right away you start getting the truth, and so far it’s playing out in a very real and authentic way.

3.  Fiery Passion

This book is what I liked to call The Book of Romance.  Just in the title alone, you can suspect that this book focuses more on the romantic elements of the series than the first two books did, and this book also has a major twist ending you probably won’t be coming.

4.  Frostbite’s Fury

This is The Book of Climax.  Right from the beginning, this will be the turning point of the series that changes the course of the books, which is why the series will continue for four more books after this point.

That’s all I can say for now, but I can promise you, answers are coming and you won’t regret reading once you do.  Right now I’m working on the first draft of book two, and will definitely have it out some time this year.  Thanks for being such awesome readers, and I hope you stick around for the long run.