Genre snobbery (aka literary elitism) and why it’s a crock of shit

Hi guys!

Genre snobs are (unfortunately) common. I don’t mean people who prefer a specific genre, btw. I mean the people who think every genre outside of their own preferred genre is garbage. They have a tendency to put other writers and readers down, saying that they read nothing but fluff, because let’s face it, their genre is the only meaningful one.

I’ve seen a lot of genre snobs in the past few weeks. Now, part of that is because of the stories people have come forward with since I posted about this on social media last month. So many people have encountered this problem, and it is absolutely shocking.

But I’ve also encountered them personally, being told that “Romance is written by and for idiots,” which is crap. I love romance (writing and reading), and while I’m not the smartest person in the world, I’m not an idiot. Not by any means.

I’ve also heard that googling good dialogue will turn up mostly crime writers and that only dystopian, crime, or satire (or other similar genres/subgenres) can be used for profound writing.

I just can’t wrap my head around it.

The idea that only certain types of stories can be used to convey deep, meaningful concepts is absolute horseshit.

Want examples?

In my thriller novella, Annabelle, I tackle the topic of sexual assault and the fact that we need to speak up and do something about it. All while telling a compelling story.

In The Gem of Meruna (high fantasy romance, two genres literary elitists abhor), I explore death/grief, inner strength, and the effects of one corrupt, violent person on an otherwise peaceful community.

In Soul Bearer (also high fantasy romance), themes of oppression and prejudice abound, as does the importance of integrity.

World for the Broken (post-apocalyptic romance) hits just about every possible tough subject, exploring resilience and the darkness within humanity.

In Salt and Silver (dark supernatural high fantasy romance, so many genres that are looked down on by genre snobs), I pit emotion against intellect and perception of self against how others perceive us. I also look at religion and the afterlife (and how little we know about either).

The story I’m writing now, another dark high fantasy romance, explores nature vs technology, progress vs tradition, and the need for balance in our lives.

In short, every genre can express or explore important themes.

And you know why?

Because all stories, at their base, are about the human condition. All stories contain conflict, regardless of genre, pitting two or more sides against each other. The premise of that conflict, the depth of the story is up to the author.

Not the genre.

You can write about corrupt government in fantasy. You build the world, so it can be as fucked up as you want.

You can write about the effects of religion on society in supernatural novels. (I did in Salt and Silver. Sure, I made the religions up, but they draw parallels to real religions.)

Basically, you can write deep, meaningful content in any genre. You can also write fluff in any genre (even satire, even dystopian, even crime). Therefore, no genre automatically makes you a better, more profound writer.

I think the real difference between genre elitists and other writers has to do with their motives for writing, not their ability to solve philosophical debates.

Now, many people write to send a message or make a point. They have an opinion and want to use fiction to convey it. Which is fine. That doesn’t make them an elitist.

But literary elitists…always do that.

Because they have something to prove.

They write to show other people how smart they are. Obviously, if they can write a novel with tons of symbolism and “world changing” themes, they must be better than everyone else.

As long as they make their point, they can lord it over everyone else and act superior, even if shoving their philosophy down everyone’s throat hindered the story and led to a convoluted mess of words. And if you don’t like their book or their genre of choice, that just means you’re “too dumb to understand.”

Of course, that’s not the truth.

It’s just a defense mechanism to avoid listening to any criticism, constructive or otherwise. It’s cutting people off before anyone gets a chance to point out where they fall short. It’s (possibly) hiding deep-seated insecurities.

So if a genre snob is putting you down and saying your story will be trash because you write in a trash genre…don’t worry about it. Most of the time, the people who are absolutely convinced that they’re smarter than everyone else…are actually…not.

Personally, I’d rather write a solid story, anyway. I never go into a story for the sake of making a point. If it develops to include some deeper observation of our world, great. If not, that’s fine. I’m in it for the story, not the clout.

Now, to tell you all what I’ve been up to over the past week.

I designed and ordered book swag for World for the Broken! I’ll be sharing the designs with all of you later this week. I also ordered proof copies of the book, did a lot of research for release week, and made some decisions regarding marketing.

And I made some headway on my newest WIP. I’ve added a lot to it in the past couple weeks, so I don’t think an updated word count will be a spoiler for where characters get…broken.

I’m now at 32,663 words.

I need to get back into editing Where Darkness Leads. But that is a task for another night.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

“My characters aren’t talking to me, today.” A Blog on Character Autonomy.

Hi, guys!

Today, it’s all about character autonomy. We’ve all heard about writers whose characters talk to them, or decide not to talk to them.

I must admit, I technically include myself in this group. My characters become fully fledged people in my mind. Their personalities develop in ways I don’t expect as the story progresses, which sometimes means I have to adjust things throughout the story to stay true to their personality. (Can’t have any continuity errors, after all.)

I don’t know how much that happens for dedicated plotters, but I’m a pantser. I figure the whole thing out as I go (flying by the seat of my pants), and it helps to see the characters as “real” rather than just words that I have complete control over.

It’s freeing, really.

It allows the story to develop naturally, moving it beyond my conscious control and the restraints I might otherwise put on it. My subconscious visits much darker places than my conscious mind typically does.

Plus, as I’ve said before, people mess up their own lives all the time. If you treat your characters like real people, they’ll create all sorts of problems for themselves.

Now, whether you’re on the side of, “They’re just words, words that YOU write,” or “My characters are like people to me,” character autonomy is not an excuse not to write.

Don’t get me wrong.

It is wonderful when things just click. There are days where the characters are just there, and their voices are clear and pristine. But there are also days where things just…don’t flow. At all. The well runs dry, sometimes. (aka…”My characters aren’t talking to me, today.”)

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write.

This is where the conscious mind comes in. This is when you need to think through the story you’ve drummed up, look at the personalities your characters have blossomed into, and figure out what they would do next.

Just because it isn’t flowing naturally at 1,000 words a second doesn’t mean you should go to the cafe and sit there with a latte scrolling through random cat pictures online, telling people, “My characters aren’t talking to me, today.”

That’s not how you finish a novel.

That’s how you end up with an unfinished manuscript, the details of which you forget by the time you ever go back to it.

If your characters aren’t “talking” to you, it’s time to write the scene that would logically come next, considering the world and the people and the plot.

Maybe it’ll wake them up.

Maybe it’ll be perfect.

If not, if inspiration strikes later, you can always adjust or scrap what you’ve written. But it’s better to write something than it is to just sit there procrastinating and blaming it on your characters.

At the very least, you’re getting practice writing. And lets face it, we all need to practice writing.

Now, for a progress report.

I resized my paperback cover and revealed it to all you lovely people. I have to say, thank you all. This cover got such a warm response from all of you, and I truly appreciate it.

I think I finished all the tweaks all the files will need before being uploaded to Ingram. It won’t be long before I can set it all up for preorder!

I also got some writing done, making it up to 24,405 words. It’s nowhere near the amount I wanted to write last week, but that’s okay.

Mainly because my husband and I finally got some goddamn storage. Our stupid house has one fucking closet. Four bedrooms, one closet. How the fuck that makes any sense is beyond me.

And then the bar on one side of the only closet broke.

:/


So we’ve had an absolute fucking mountain of clothes piled atop a few baskets in our bedroom for a while, now. But we finally found some cube shelves we like and some little cube baskets we like. And we got a new set of bars for the one fucking closet.

Then we spent like 7 hours just putting all the cubby shelves together and folding clothes.

It sucked ass.

But our bedroom is tolerable, now, even though there’s still some more shit to hang up.

So, life kinda got in the way of a huge chunk of writing time on my day off. But I still made progress.

For now, time to get a bit more writing in.

Keep reading. Keep writing. (Even if your characters aren’t talking to you.)

Later.

“Important” Books vs. Fun Books (Does it matter?)

Hi, guys!

Today, we’re talking about “important” books. Yes, the quotes are one hundred percent necessary, there.

There are so many people who go on and on about writing or reading the next great American novel. So many authors feel pressured to write books that others will deem “important,” and tons of readers feel pressured to read all the classics and all the high brow literature they can get their hands on.

But you know what…

Fuck that.

Read and write whatever you want. Books don’t have to be “important” to be valuable. They don’t have to be profound or life changing or satirical. They don’t have to make some insightful commentary on society to be worth reading.

There’s nothing wrong with a book that’s meant to be fun and entertaining.

So chill out.

Stop shaming each other for what you read or write.

Stop letting others shame you for what you read or write.

Just live.

We all love books.

Can’t that be enough?

If you want to spend hours analyzing every book you read to find every possible meaning, do it. You do you.

Maybe become an English teacher and get paid for that shit while you’re at it.

If you want to write books that are deep and meaningful, going into the writing process with the intention of writing something truly powerful…fuckin’ do it.

But.

Not everyone reads to find the hidden meaning.

Not everyone cares why the curtains were blue.

Sometimes, sitting down to read or write is just about going on an adventure instead of being anxious about bills.

And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Every time I read or write, I do it because I want a story. Not because I have wisdom to impart or need the sage advice of the elders.

Do I learn from books? Yeah. All the damn time. But that isn’t usually why I read or write them.

I want to see another world or a different version of this world.

I want to meet interesting new people without…actually…having to meet people.

I want to go on daring adventures and face mythical, magical beasts…from the comfort of my couch with little-to-no risk of being disemboweled.

Sometimes that’s all you need to feel a little better about life.

So. Do you. Read whatever the fuck you want. Analyze it to whatever degree you want. There is room for readers and writers of all kinds within the book world.

I promise.

*steps off soap box*

Now. Progress report!

All formatting on World for the Broken is done! I have to adjust the cover size for the paperback, because I changed my mind on the trim size at the last minute.

The pages will be slightly larger, which means more text will fit on each page, which means about 130 fewer pages. Good news: that means the paperback will cost less than it would have otherwise.

Same content. Same print quality. Less expensive.

So I’m excited about that.

Since I’m just about done with it, I’ll be revealing the cover this week, which I’m also excited about. I love how it turned out, and I can’t wait to show it to you all.

Now that I’m not actively editing something (mostly doing marketing images and metadata, as well as exploring blog tour options), I can get back to actively writing my new story instead of just squeezing in writing time around the World for the Broken edits.

As of right now, I’m just over 22,000 words. Which isn’t bad. But I’m hoping to get quite a bit done on it this week.

But now, it’s time for me to get some sleep.

Keep reading (whatever you want). Keep writing (whatever you want).

Later.

Beta Readers: Why you need them and what to expect

Hi, guys!

Last week was all about self-editing, and one of the steps I mentioned was beta readers.

For those who don’t know, beta readers read a manuscript after some editing has been done. Where people bring them into the process at differs. I send my work to beta readers roughly halfway through the editing process.

No, I don’t mean edit half the manuscript one time, then send it to them. That’s more like an alpha reader, someone who reads after a first draft. The only person who ever reads my first drafts, aside from me, is my husband.

I just mean after roughly half the rounds of edits have been done, I send it to my beta readers.

When you choose to send yours to beta readers is up to you.

After reading, they give the author feedback. You can ask them questions afterward to get more detail. If there are things that you know you struggle with, you can even ask them to go into it with those things in mind.

At its core, this phase is meant to get more eyes on your work. After going through your novel time and time again, your brain is going to fill in gaps. You know what’s supposed to be on the page, so of course it makes sense to you. But it might not be as clear as you think.

That’s where beta readers come in.

They tell you what works and what doesn’t, what needs explained more and what’s over explained. They can tell you where the book drags and which scenes kept them on the edge of their seat.

Pay attention to what they say.

If all your beta readers (yes, you need multiple) say that a specific scene was so slow they didn’t want to keep reading, you need to fix that scene.

If they all agree that a certain scene was riveting and had them gripping the book with their noses pressed to the page, maybe leave that scene alone.

If they find a typo or say something doesn’t make sense, fix it.

Because these are the opinions of readers.

AKA the type of people you want to buy your book later.

If one beta reader says something that’s completely subjective and the others gave the opposite feedback, consider it thoughtfully and make a judgement call.

Books are, after all, very subjective. Each person has a different experience with each book. That’s part of the magic of reading.

And beta readers clue you in to how readers perceive your book.

You need that, especially if you plan to self-publish, because you won’t have an entire publishing company full of experts and professionals guiding you in the right direction.

Now, you can find beta readers in a lot of places.

You can ask trusted friends or family members (if you can count on them for honest feedback), or you can ask writer friends in various writing groups.

Btw, if you’re not in writing groups, mingling with other writers…you need to be. You’ll learn a lot more than you think and form some amazing friendships with people who understand the trials of writing and publishing.

There are also countless groups across social media specifically tailored for connecting authors with beta readers. Literally, just type into the search bar on your preferred platform “beta readers.”

I know it can feel awkward asking, but think of it as practice for all the marketing you’re going to be doing later. Because whether you’re doing traditional- or self-publishing, you’re going to be marketing.

Now, what to expect from beta readers. Because let’s face it, not all beta readers are created equally.

I finally have a good group, but it took some time to get here.

There will be some that agree to read, then never speak to you again after you send them a manuscript.

There will be some that agree to read, then life shits on them, rendering them unable to read in the time frame you need.

Some give mean, unhelpful feedback laced with pettiness. You’ll have to sort them out and determine what feedback is actually helpful. Discard any rude, belittling comments for what they are: useless.

So if a beta reader tells you that your novel is garbage and that you’ll never make it because you’re a talentless hack, “thank” them for their feedback and never send another manuscript to them.

Crap comments like that won’t help you grow or learn or better yourself or your writing. It’ll only hold you back. You need constructive criticism and positive reinforcement. Not bullying.

So, grit your teeth and keep going. There are good beta readers out there. (I promise. I’ve found several.)

Some are wonderfully helpful and thorough. Some go above and beyond the call of duty, sussing out typos, continuity errors, inconsistent character behavior, etc., in addition to giving general feedback.

Obviously, those are the ones you want.

Now, prepare yourself. The feedback you get won’t always be positive. Sometimes, your beta readers will find flaws.

*gasp*

But that’s literally the entire point.

So keep your chin up, remember that every manuscript has flaws, and fix the fucking problems.

Your book will be much better for it, I promise.

If you’re worried about someone stealing your work, Microsoft Word has a watermark feature. Do that, then send it out. You hold the copyright as soon as you write the manuscript. In the US, of course, you can’t sue for financial compensation without registering it, but I’m fairly sure you can pursue a cease and desist.

Now, for my weekly progress report. I wish I had more to report, but some stupid cold/flu bug has done everything in its power to knock me on my ass this past week. (It did knock my legs out from under me once, actually. Coughing until you gag/dry heave so badly that you fall to your knees…not pleasant.)

Anyway, I finished my final edits of World for the Broken. I’ll be announcing the official release date this week! The cover reveal will follow, probably next week or the week after, depending on how long the formatting takes.

I typed a little (roughly 2,500 words) on my new WIP and planned (*gasp*) several scenes for later in the book. I even made a timeline.

I really was sick. Lol. I was plotting.

I never fuckin’ do that.

Anyway, hopefully this stupid sickness doesn’t come back for round three so I can actually get shit done.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Self-Editing: How to do it well

Hi, guys!

If there’s one writing rule that I believe applies to every piece of writing, it’s that you NEED to edit. Don’t publish a rough draft.

That’s just bad juju.

But editors are expensive (for good reason). Editing is work.

It takes a long time and a lot of effort.

Many people say never ever publish without a professional edit.

But sometimes, that isn’t feasible financially.

That is NOT an excuse for publishing poor quality content, though.

It just means you have to do even work yourself.

So, if you’re a broke bitch from way back (*raises hand*) and have to rely on self editing, here’s the process I put my work through.

It isn’t fool proof. Some typos hang on, fighting tooth and nail, to make sure they make it into the final draft. That’s why there’s an industry standard of allowed typos. (1 for every 10,000 words, I think? Don’t quote me on that, I may very well be wrong.)

But this process helps me to feel better about the standard to which my work is edited.

For starters, study grammar. Learn that shit. If you struggle with commas, study comma usage. (I overuse them, so I’ve been writing with Grammarly open, letting it yell at me to break the extra comma use.)

If you struggle with showing possession on a noun that ends in an “s,” fucking study it. This is a personal pet peeve of mine. I once read a traditionally published book wherein the author gave the MC a last name that ended in an “s.”

(I’m going to say Childers, though that’s not the name from the book.) The possessive form ranged throughout the book from the correct Childers’ to Childers’s to Childerses, and even Childerseses.

My brain melted when I read that last one.

Please, if you’re going to self-edit, study grammar.

Now, the actual editing routine.

I do something a lot of people say not to do (in addition to self-editing, because apparently I’m a rule breaker). I edit as I write.

Any obviously misspelled words are fixed immediately. Like, before I type another word. I keep flow and pacing in mind as I write and adjust accordingly. My style uses sentence fragments, so I make sure the only ones in there are 100% intentional.

Since I’m a pantser, sometimes I come up with new things or realize I have a plot hole. That means I have to go back and fix stuff.

And I do. Right then.

Most would say to include a note somewhere and do it in edits. But I don’t. I fix it then, adjusting what needs adjusted before continuing to write.

So by the time I finish my “first draft,” it’s more like a second draft.

If you have trouble finishing manuscripts, I don’t recommend this. Just do another round of edits later.

Now, there’s some debate as to whether you should do a round of edits immediately after finishing writing (with it still fresh in your mind) or put it away and come back with fresh eyes.

I say, do both.

If you’re self-editing, you need to be thorough as fuck, anyway.

Now, there are several types of editing. Proofreading, checking for continuity errors, making sure it flows, looking for grammar and syntax errors, etc.

You can do each one separately, but I do all of them, every single time I edit.

After a few rounds, it’s time for beta readers. Because you need someone else’s eyes on your work. After a while, your brain is likely going to fill in details or skipped words because you know what’s supposed to be on the page.

But beta readers don’t. They can tell you when something doesn’t make as much sense as you think it does. They can tell you whether it works or fits in the genre you’re aiming for.

You can also find critique partners in writing groups. You read and critique their work, and they do the same for yours.
That allows for another perspective, i.e. someone who knows about formatting and marketing and flow and all that stuff.

Now. Please. For the love of all that is good, take their opinions into consideration. If they point out a blatant mistake, don’t get defensive. Just fix it.

If they have a valid point about a potential plot hole.

Fill the plot hole.

If they point out a style choice that they don’t like, consider it. Give it some thought. Decide whether it’s a flaw in your story or personal preference. (Books are, after all, very subjective.) But if all your beta readers have a problem with the exact same thing, chances are, it needs fixed.

Now, implement all the beta reader/critique partner feedback.

After that, you guessed it…another full round of edits.

After that?

I recommend getting Grammarly or some sort of computer editing program. There are a lot of them out there. I use Grammarly because it came highly recommended and it’s super easy to use. It plugs right into Word and pops up in the task bar, ready for use.

Whichever program you choose, go through your manuscript with it. I usually do that during another round of edits, fixing the things Grammarly finds when I get to them.

It might be alarming how many errors it finds, especially if you write fantasy and have a bunch of made up words/place names/species names. When I first opened Grammarly on Soul Bearer, it had something like 1500 errors.

Then, I added Aurisye’s name to the dictionary and knocked off a few hundred errors. Lol. Then, I added Rafnor’s name to the dictionary. Knocked off another few hundred. Each name (or place name) made a huge difference.

So did cutting all my extra commas.

And Grammarly fucking hates characters with accents. Be prepared to add a lot to the dictionary.

So don’t panic if it’s a huge number.

Then comes the “read aloud” round. No, you don’t have to read the whole thing out loud, yourself, chugging water to moisten your parched throat.

Word has a feature that will read whatever’s on the page to you. It mispronounced a lot of things, but it also shows you when a sentence doesn’t flow. Each word is highlighted when it’s read, so follow along looking for typos.

Plug in some headphones and listen to that emotionless voice coldly stabbing you with every sentence that needs shortened.

Then, maybe do one more round of normal edits.

And then, after all those rounds of edits (what was that, 8 rounds? 9?), your book should be good to go. As long as you did that first step and studied grammar. It doesn’t do any good to look for errors if you don’t know what to look for.

Anyway, this has been an incredibly long blog, so I’ll keep the update part short. I’m now 96 pages shy of finishing the final round of edits on World for the Broken, and an absolute fuck ton of handwritten stuff to add to the 17,721 words that I already have typed for my new WIP.

Don’t forget, the ebook version of my novella, Annabelle, will be on sale in the Amazon US and UK marketplaces the entire last week of January. Just 0.99 (dollars and pounds).

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

How to make it as an author

Hi, guys!

Not only is it a new year, it’s a new decade. (Sick of hearing that yet?) Let’s start this shit off right.

Everyone has dreams. Or at least, everyone should.

But so many people give up on their dreams or spend more time fantasizing about the dream come true aspect than they do actually working for it.

Humans love short cuts and easy little tricks to cut the work load in half. We love the idea of things just happening for us even better.

But.

(Yeah, I know, I’m a terrible person for this next part.)

That isn’t how it works.

Not unless you’re in the 1%.

For the vast majority, making your dreams come true takes time and effort. It takes work.

That’s it.

That’s the big secret, the little trick.

Effort.

Actually. Fucking. Trying.

Some parts will be easier than others, of course. Some parts will be so hard that you want to smash something to bits.

But you still have to put in the time to get to the “dream come true” part.

Now, I’m not 100% there yet. I’m not living my dream, and I admit that freely.

But I intend to, at some point.

As such, even with family visiting for the past couple weeks and the stress/busy nature of the holidays, I’ve still spent time on my books.

I’ve made it through a third of the final round of edits of World for the Broken and put together promotional materials. I did promo stuff for The Gem of Meruna and rereleased it. I even managed roughly 3,500 words (idk exactly, I don’t remember what my word count was a couple weeks ago) on my new WIP and started working on a cover. I know that’s not a lot of words over two weeks, but alongside all the stuff for my other projects, it’s decent.

Basically, even through the holidays, an author’s work never sleeps. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love the worlds I’ve built for these stories and want to share them with you.

That means spending time in those worlds, in the minds of those characters. (Which certainly isn’t a bad thing.)

And eventually, that time and effort (spent doing something I love) will lead me to my dream of being a stay-at-home author. Yes, I’m going to daydream about what it would be like to already be there.

But I’m also going to do the work necessary to get there.

That means that when I want to relax, I explore the worlds of my stories more often than the worlds of the video games I used to sink months’ worth of play time into. When I get off a 12 hour shift on a Sunday night and want to go to bed, I still do my blog. Every week. So that I can post it early Monday morning before I go to sleep.

Your schedule will obviously be different from mine, and you can adjust it as need be. But the effort has to be there.

At some point, you have to stop talking about it, stop daydreaming, and just do. Take a step.

No tricks.

No short cuts.

Because that isn’t how life works.

So please, whatever your dream is, give it the time and effort it deserves. “Life” is not an excuse to set your dreams aside. Your shows will still be there after you do some shit to make your dreams happen. So will the closet you keep telling yourself you’ll clean out, so stop staring at it, thinking of what to do with it just to procrastinate. That won’t help you reach your goals.

Life is always going to happen around you. You just have to make things work.

Because when life steps aside, it’s too late for dreams.

Now, that got a little darker than I expected when I started this blog…but what the hell? That’s pretty normal for anything I write.

In short, don’t fucking slack. DO YOUR SHIT.

K, thanks.

Lol.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later. 

The Gem of Meruna: The Inspiration…And the Winners

Hi, guys!

It’s giveaway time, bitches!

But first, I want to talk a little bit about what brought me to this point.

I’ve talked before about the reason I’m rereleasing The Gem of Meruna (vanity press, not understanding anything anout the publishing world, etc.). Today, I want to talk about the inspiration for the story and the process of fleshing it out from there.

So, this story started out as a dream. I woke one day with visions of a girl with vivid purple eyes venturing through a dangerous forest and riding a massive (several stories tall) pure-white stag. In my dream, she was after a magical Gem that perfectly matched the color of her eyes.

But I didn’t know why.

That part wasn’t in the dream.

Now, since I tend toward the macabre, my conscious mind filled in corrupted animals controlled by a vicious dictator, slaughtering people left and right. That’s enough to motivate someone to want change.

But I needed a reason for Kiluna, specifically, to try to change things.

And that’s where her grandmother’s part of the story came in, with tales of the world before they lived in fear, tales of a magical Gem that could right their world…tales that no one else dared speak.

But Kiluna’s grandmother told her all these beautiful stories, told her that things could be better.

And thus, our heroine and her quest were born.

Of course, the story has blood and action, because my stories always have that. And romance, because I fucking love romance in my books.

But anyway…

This has been a hell of a journey. From start to finish, this book took about 4 months to write, but it’s been years coming back from the nightmare of the vanity press. For so long, I contemplated just shoving it in a dark corner and forgetting that it existed, mainly out of frustration and not knowing my options.

But I’m so glad to finally have this book out on the market in a state that doesn’t embarrass me. The original was woefully under-edited, but now that’s fixed.

It was so difficult to restrain myself during edits though. My style has changed a lot since the original release, and the temptation to make it conform to my new style was definitely there.

But that would have required a near-total rewrite.

Which felt a bit like cheating.

For the sake of not making it so that everyone who bought the original would feel the need to buy the new one to know the new story, I did no story edits. Only grammar/spelling stuff. I cut redundancies and tightened up sentences, but left the story as it was originally intended.

And now, with all the irritations of the vanity press finally behind me, I can move into the new decade with confidence.

And let me tell you, 2020 will be a big year, if I have anything to say about it. Lol.

I’ll be releasing World for the Broken and at least one (maybe two) high fantasy romances.

But for now, the thing that brought you here…

The giveaway winners…

*drum roll*

The winner from Facebook is Erin Brown and from Instagram, we have Taryn Chester. Both will receive a signed hardback copy of The Gem of Meruna along with all the accompanying book swag!

The grand prize winner, receiving swag, a signed hardback copy of The Gem of Meruna, and a signed copy of Annabelle, drawn from my email subscribers, is Rae Watson!

Congratulations to all of you!

I’ll message the winners individually later today (it’s fairly late, I just got off a 12 hour shift, and have to get up early), and I’ll need addresses to ship the prizes to. If I don’t receive a response within three days, I’ll have to choose a different winner.

For everyone else, pre-orders are still open until tomorrow.

Because holy freaking crap, release day is tomorrow!

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Why we need “controversial” books

Hi, guys!

There’s a trend here lately, leaning our society toward sensitivity, and it’s creeping into literature. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for being thoughtful in your actions and your words. There’s no reason to hurt people unnecessarily.

It’s just that…there have been a lot of books throughout time, especially lately, that have been considered controversial.

But let’s be real here.

Sometimes…that’s exactly what we need.

Here’s what I mean by that.

Books about tyrannical governments can show us if our own government is…maybe taking advantage of its citizens.

A book about suicide might be the one that cues someone into the signs their secretly suicidal friend is sending out. That might be the book that gets someone the help they need.

Maybe someone in denial about the abusive, manipulative tendencies of their partner will read a book that features an abusive relationship and identify with the character.

Maybe they’ll be in denial about it still…until they hear someone else comment on how abusive and manipulative the love interest was, citing little behaviors that the real life person is dealing with on a daily basis but minimizing and hiding from others. Or until the love interest gets a little more abusive and kills the MC. (Or if you want a happy ending, maybe they try to kill the MC, but the MC fights back for the first time, and wins. Who knows.)

Maybe that’ll show the real life person that they need to do something about their own life before it’s too late.

A book about sexual abuse might show someone that they’re not alone and give them the courage to reach out. Knowing I wasn’t alone was all it took for me to tell someone what happened to me.

My point is, not all books need to be about role models who learn lessons from every experience in their life. Not all books have to feature relationships that are #goals or love interests worthy of being a book boyfriend.

Sometimes literature needs to show us the grit, the worst case scenario.

Sometimes it takes seeing the bad to realize what we need to do to fix our own lives, and books are a safe way to do that.

Sometimes books are meant to show us the less pleasant option.

Other times, they’re just meant to be realistic.

People have flaws. People make mistakes.

People do bad things and hurt the ones they care about.

It happens, whether it should or shouldn’t.

It’s part of being human.

So stop banning books because they aren’t fluffy enough. Stop banning books or shaming authors for having the guts to write about difficult topics or mean people or abusive relationships.

Sometimes, that’s exactly what we need in our books.

To show us what not to do or put up with. To challenge how we see things.

Now, the is rant over…Lol.

Guys, The Gem of Meruna rereleases in just a week and a half! I’m so excited to have this book out the way it should have been released the first time. It’s been a long time in the making, but it’s finally going to be made right.

Don’t forget to preoder your copy!

I will be hosting a giveaway, I’m just waiting for the books to get here before I officially open the entries. Just in case they get damaged or lost in the holiday mail or something.

So stay tuned. As soon as the giveaway copies get here, I’ll be announcing it. There will be stickers and magnets and bookmarks to accompany them. As with the Soul Bearer giveaway, the winner chosen from my email subscriber list will get a copy of my novella, Annabelle, as well.

(I just got a freaking amazing review for that one from Magic Book Corner, btw. If you haven’t yet, check out themagicbookcorner.com for loads of book reviews.)

Anyway, I’ve been busily editing Where Darkness Leads and hammering away at writing my new story, as well. I started on some formatting for World for the Broken.

All in all, last week was super busy.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Why my book title had to change…

Hi, guys!

I finally announced the official title for World for the Broken this past week, and today, I thought I’d explain why I changed the title, to begin with.

Originally, World for the Broken was called After.

It was simple and easy to remember. It fit with the post-apocalyptic theme as well as the themes of coping and resilience.

But then the After series by Anna Todd hit it big. Then, it became controversial and absolutely blew up.

And I knew my novel would be buried under the avalanche of posts about her books.

I wen’t back and forth on whether to change my title or not. I toyed with the idea of keeping the title simply to have it show up in the same searches, but the people looking for her books (contemporary romance, possibly YA)…probably aren’t looking for a visceral, intensely dark post-apocalyptic romance.

Then, when I came up with World for the Broken, I fell in love with it. This title stands out quite a bit more. Obviously, it still fits the post-apocalyptic narrative.

And I’m so glad I changed it.

I had a similar thing happen with Salt and Silver. Not exactly the same, because the title wasn’t exactly the same. And the other book has yet to be released.

But I want my books to be unique, just like any other author.

So, here are a few quick tricks for making sure you have a good title for your book.

First of all, get feedback.

Just like every other aspect of writing, working in a vacuum without any outside influence isn’t the best idea. You need more eyes on your work and more opinions than just your own.

If you have a few potential titles in mind, don’t be afraid to ask other writers or perhaps book club members for their opinion. They know books. Of course, it’s best if they know the genre you’re working in, but ask away.

Second, think about which one embodies your book best. Genre, themes, and all.

Abandon catchy and trendy for just a second and dare to twist words around for effect. Words are so versatile. Double meanings abound. Maybe use a contradictory double meaning to your benefit, if both meanings fit your book.

Swap words around. Try synonyms. Try different variations of whatever you’ve come up with.

Okay. It’s time to go back for the catchy, trendy shit. Consider it briefly. After all, trends are trendy for a reason. People like them. And they work. Look at titles within your genre. Is there a pattern that tends to pop up a lot?

There are a lot of books out there that are “blank of blank” (City of Ember, Crown of Conspiracy, House of Night). Lots of book titles lately have just been a list of three things in the book, often with the first two obviously fitting together but the third being “random.”

Do those formats fit your book? If they do, use the shit out of them.

They obviously work.

Now, the advice lots of writers hate when it comes to the actual book, itself. Cut unnecessary words. For the love of everything good, there’s a reason book titles aren’t usually a full paragraph. It’s too hard to remember and no one wants to type a 14 word title into a search bar to pull up a book they heard about and were sorta interested in but wanted to look it up to learn more about it.

There’s a good chance that’ll drive away buyers that were on the fence.

Last but certainly not least, type it into amazon or google. Make sure there aren’t an absolute fuck ton of results. If there are, I don’t care how good your title is…you probably need to change it.

If a couple hundred things come up, your brand new book is not going to be at the top of the results. Not without a shit load of work on search engine optimization, a ton of build up before launch, and probably some paid ads.

Believe me.

I didn’t think about it when I titled my novella, Annabelle, and it DOES NOT show up unless it’s typed in with my first and last name.

Because…well, you know. Ghosty-possession movies or something. Some doll. I don’t know. Lol. I don’t watch horror movies often, so I haven’t watched them.

Anyway.

Picking a title is hard. I know.

But it’s important. Which means it’s worth doing it well.

Now, to hold myself accountable for the past week…

I’ve been alternating between knocking out some more edits on Where Darkness Leads and writing my new novel. I think I wrote about…3,000 words? So, nowhere near as much as I wanted to. That was only two good writing sessions.

But I have to keep editing so I can get these other books out. Lol.

I also sketched a quick map for the new story, made a gif and a trailer for The Gem of Meruna. I’ll be unveiling the trailer soon. I already posted the non-looped video from the gif.

All in all, not a bad week.

For now though, I’m exhausted. Work was…well, exhausting. Lol. It’s time for me to sign off and get some sleep.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.