A Heart of Salt & Silver Blog Tour Schedule

It’s time! The blog tour is upon us, and the first stop is today.

Links are provided below if you want to check out any of the bloggers, along with the dates that I’ll be appearing on their sites. Some stops have guest blogs written by me, others have interviews with special behind the scenes info and personal tidbits. These have been listed in bold print.

And of course, there will be a giveaway running throughout the duration of the tour. Stay tuned to learn how you can enter to win one of five signed hardbacks, each with their own swag pack.

Tour Stops:

October 26: Midnight Musings with Bertena
https://vocal.media/authors/midnight-musings-with-bertena

October 27: JB’s Bookworms with Brandy Mulder (Interview)
https://jbbookworms.blogspot.com  

October 28: SImply Kelina
http://simplykelina.blogspot.com

October 29: Bewitching Book Tours
https://bewitchingbooktours.tumblr.com/

October 30: Westveil Publishing
https://www.westveilpublishing.com

November 2: Bewitching Book Tours FB
https://www.facebook.com/BewitchingBookTours/

November 4: Roxanne Rhoads FB
https://www.facebook.com/RoxanneRhoadsAuthor/

November 5: Momma Says: To Read or Not to Read
http://mommasaystoreadornottoread.blogspot.com/

November 6: The Book Junkie Reads (Interview)
https://thebookjunkiereadspromos.blogspot.com/

November 9: Lisa’s World of Books
http://www.lisasworldofbooks.net/

November 9: Sapphyria’s Books
https://saphsbooks.blogspot.com/

November 10: Fang-tastic Books
http://fang-tasticbooks.blogspot.com

November 11: Other Worlds of Romance (Guest Blog)
Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Paranormal Romances
http://lindamooney.blogspot.com/

November 12: Paranormalists (Interview)
https://paranormalists.blogspot.com/

November 13: Roxanne’s Realm
http://www.roxannerhoads.com/

November 16: The Pimpettes FB
https://www.facebook.com/bookpimpettes/

November 17: The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom (Guest Blog)
http://creativelygreen.blogspot.com/

November 18: Jazzy Book Reviews
http://bookreviewsbyjasmine.blogspot.com/

November 19: Fang-tastic Books FB
https://www.facebook.com/FangtasticBooks/

November 20: T’s Stuff (Interview)
http://www.tsstuff.net
 
November 23: Supernatural Central (Interview)
http://supernaturalcentral.blogspot.com

November 23: Serena Synn
https://serenasynn.blogspot.com/

Be sure to check out each stop! Some of those interview questions were pretty intense.

I’ll be back on all my social media platforms throughout the week with a deleted scene and giveaway details.

If you’ve already pre-ordered (ebook, paperback, or hardback), don’t forget to send me a picture of your order to be entered for a chance to win a swag pack to go along with that new book. (This international giveaway is open until release day, aka November 3rd.)

If you haven’t pre-ordered and need some gritty paranormal fantasy in your life (chock full of shifters, magic, and deep psychological scars), you can order your copy here:

mybook.to/AHeartOfSaltAndSilver

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

A Heart of Salt & Silver: Excerpt and Playlist

Holy shit. There’s just over two weeks until the release of A Heart of Salt & Silver!

November 3rd is so close, and I’m freaking excited. So much so that I can’t resist sharing some more with you.

Down below, you’ll find an excerpt from this dark and brooding Paranormal High Fantasy Romance, as well as the playlist I listened to while writing.

Shall we start with the excerpt?

I pulled this one from chapter 12, taking you deep into the action. Ness and Elias are in some trouble, but since she’s immortal and Elias isn’t, she’s facing down a pack of Howlers (animals in a state of suspended/delayed death under the magical control of our big bad evil guy) all by herself.

~

Behind me, the alpha struggles to gain its feet, slipping in its own gore over by the tree. I turn to show it mercy, but the remainder, a small black wolf, grabs my right thigh in its jaws. It shakes its head back and forth, pulling my leg out from under me.

The ground rushes up to meet me, and I feel my nose break with the impact. Pain explodes through my skull. Blood gushes out, pouring down over my lips when I roll onto my back. The Howler drags me toward its alpha, arching its back and jerking as it does.

Thrashing, I swipe a hand at its face, desperate to end the pain for the both of us. My slash falls short, merely catching the flesh of her muzzle with my nails. It tears away in a bloody hunk. The poor thing screams, and the sound is just a bit too human.

It pierces my soul, sending shivers through my body.

But she lets go of my leg.

Scrambling upward, pain exploding through me with every move, I pull the wolf’s head to my chest. Holding her still against me, I take her head in both hands and snap her neck. She goes limp in my arms, and I set her gently on the ground.

Her eyes shine with nothing more than firelight, finally lifeless in death. As they should be. The bone around them glows against her black fur, matted down with dried blood.

Finally gaining its feet, the massive alpha charges, barreling into me as I wipe tears from my face. Its teeth find my left arm, sinking in deep. Lightning bursts of agony explode across every fiber of my being.

Pulling my hands apart, I pry the Howler’s jaws from my arms without ever touching the beast. A single twirling finger secures its jaw with a Nether binding, a thing I probably should have done from the start.

Another thing I’ll regret later…

Pulling the great grey beast against me, I hold it tight, despite its thrashing, finally finding a use for my unnatural strength. Staring into its eyes, I see pain.

And fear.

With one hand on the side of its face, I fill my own eyes with compassion, letting my emotions seep into the beast. Another seldom used ability. I’m much more likely to keep my feelings to myself.

But here, now, it soothes this poor creature. The beast lays down across my lap, staring up at me.

Snarls become whimpers, and howls morph into soft whines. I feel death in the poor thing. His body is cold, and thick blood drains from its gaping stomach. Eyes like caramel stare into my soul, aching for release.

Twirling one finger counterclockwise, I release Elias from his Nether binding in the tree and free the wolf’s jaws. He won’t bite me, now.

With tears streaming down my face, I place my right hand atop the wolf’s head. My savaged left arm lies limp across the beast’s side. Stroking gently and hiding a grimace of pain, I try to show this poor animal a bit of comfort.

Then, I place one nail over the top of his head. He whines softly, and I make gentle sounds of reassurance.

“Shhh… It’s okay, now,” I whisper, petting the poor animal slowly and driving my talon through his skull.

Black blood oozes out around it, but for a split second, before the life fades from his eyes, he finds peace. His muscles go limp, finally relaxing as they should have when he first died.

Heaving a great sob, I haul the massive wolf’s head to my chest. My cries drown out the sounds of Elias climbing down from the tree. I hug the cold, dead wolf to me, weeping into matted fur.

My body shakes with sobs, and my chest aches. My world goes black, wiping the stars and the moon from the sky. My breath catches in my throat as my fingers tighten around dirty fur.

~

Can I just say that I cried writing this scene?

God, the poor animals. They went through so much. And they tore Ness up pretty badly before she could put them out of their misery.

Needless to say, there are some truly sad songs in the playlist. There are also some happy ones, some songs full of romantic tension, and a few that just sound fucking bad ass.

So, if you’re looking to broaden your musical horizons, the playlist below (assembled on YouTube Music) has 94 songs from all different genres. If you don’t have YouTube Music, I’ve also included screenshots of the playlist.

Who knows, you could listen to it while reading.

If you haven’t entered my preorder giveaway, it’s open until release day. Preorders are still available.

Links are down below.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

A Pantser’s Guide to Tackling Continuity Errors

So, you don’t plan your books ahead of time. Me either. That doesn’t mean our work has to be riddled with continuity errors or plot-holes.

And avoiding those pesky problems is far easier than you might think.

I have three tried and true tricks to keep things consistent within my books, and today, I’d like to share them with you.

First (and easiest) of all: Take notes.

I don’t mean print it out and highlight key sections. I don’t mean fill notebook after notebook with every detail. At that point, you may as well just plot the book and take out all the fun of discovery that drives us to be pantsers in the first place.

What I mean is this.

When you start a new project, start two documents. One for the story, one for the notes. In the notes document, when your story unveils a new character, jump over into the notes document and jot down their name and whatever information you have about them (hair color, eye color, height, if they’re an asshole, etc.).

Then, jump back into your story and keep on writing.

Don’t stress about their background or what role they’ll play in the story to come. You’ll figure that out later.

This is just so that, when you come across that character later, you have an easy way to refresh your memory. That way, you don’t have a character with blonde hair and freckles show up later with dark hair and a tan.

Whatever develops for the character as you go, feel free to drop it over in the notes document.

You can do the same with world building stuff.

If you come up with a detail you know you’ll need to remember later, put it in your notes. You don’t have to flesh it out right then and there. You can let it marinate until it comes up in the story with more explanation later.

But at the very least, you won’t have to scour your entire WIP looking for what color fur you gave that one animal you made up that your MC’s little brother liked when they were growing up.

Second: Get other people to look at your work BEFORE you publish.

This one is significantly more difficult than the first little trick, because showing your precious to someone is nerve-wracking to say the least. But honestly, you should be doing this anyway.

There are so many things you need a second (or third or fifteenth) set of eyes for.

They come into it without expectation. They don’t know what the world you’ve built is like. They don’t know these characters.

Which means that they’ll see it differently than you do.

They’ll see it how it is.

Not how you meant it to be.

Our brains fill so much in. Words get mixed up or left out, but since we know what’s supposed to be there, our brain fills in the gap.

That also means that sometimes little details get glazed over.

We know what’s supposed to be there, so when a detail comes up that doesn’t quite line up with the previous scenes, our brains just make the correction and keep going.

But other people come into our WIPs with fresh eyes. They haven’t been staring at these pages for weeks/months/years. So when we focus too hard on the big bad evil guy or the incredibly specific personality quirk we want to shine and miss little details…

They stand out to other people.

And wouldn’t you rather fix them before the book is available for the public?

I would.

So, reach out to friends and family, talk to writer friends, get critique partners and beta readers. There are tons of groups specifically for that on Facebook.

Get eyes on your work.

Third: Build REAL people, not just characters. Build REAL worlds, not just words on a page.

This one will potentially require the most effort, but it’s my favorite one.

If your characters feel real to you, they’re more likely to act in real ways. If they feel like old friends, you probably won’t forget what color their hair is. If they move the plot on their own, making choices and doing shit, those actions are a little more likely to be in keeping with their personality and their circumstances.

The same is true of the world. If it feels real, you’re less likely to have a character start a scene on a beach and then magically end the scene in an office building. Unless you’re writing portal fantasy.

So, if you have to go for a walk and daydream about what your characters like to do when they relax to make them feel more realistic? Do it.

If you need to study psychology to get a better grasp on personality development or how people deal with a specific issue or sociology to see how different societies effect the people within them? Do it.

If you need to draw on real emotions from your life to inform your character’s reactions to events in the book? Do it.

Make them real, and their details will be harder to forget.

Now, go forth and write books with undeniable continuity. People will be impressed.

Or, more likely, they won’t notice, which is kinda what you should hope for here because seamless continuity goes unnoticed, whereas continuity issues stand out and jar the reader.

Stay tuned on social media in the coming weeks for the reveal of Soul Bearer’s new cover and a preorder giveaway featuring A Heart of Salt & Silver book swag.

Yeah, I said giveaway. It’s about that time.

Release day is less than a month away, after all.

Preorders available here: mybook.to/AHeartOfSaltAndSilver

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Of Projects and Progress: Where I’m At

I’ve kinda been slacking with telling you where I’m at with my current projects, and it’s time I rectify that. So, buckle up. This may take a minute, because I’m covering them all today.

A Heart of Salt & Silver
Dark Paranormal High Fantasy Romance
Status: Fucking prerelease!

I’ve been hitting the ads hard, though I hate marketing. I’ll be seeking ARC readers soon. Like… this week, if all things go according to plan. *hysterical laughter at the thought of things going according to plan*

The Regonia Chronicles
Dark Science Fiction
Status: Writing

This series is coming along really well. Since the middle of July, I’ve written nearly 50,000 words, bringing the grand total to 128,054 words so far.

And these characters still have a couple planets to travel to, alliances to broker, and a whole ass war to fight.

My previous prediction of this getting split into three books rather than two is pretty damn likely at this point.

And since I’ve stopped and started working on this series between writing other books, learning new stuff all the while, the editing process is going to be interesting. It’ll be like watching my writing skills evolve. I’m dreading it and also looking forward to it.

Where Darkness Leads
Dark Romantic High Fantasy
Status: Neck deep in a rewrite

I’ve already cut 10,000 words, and these bitches aren’t even to the mountain, yet. (For the sake of a reference point that actually means something to you, I’m almost exactly two thirds of the way through.) And this is on top of the 10,000 words I cut in the last round of edits. So basically, I’ve removed a novella from this book.

This is an older manuscript, and I used to be a lot wordier and do a lot of telling rather than showing.

Gotta get this bitch polished.

Allmother Rising
Dark High Fantasy Romance
Status: Beta Readers

I have feedback from most of my beta readers, and I’ve made most of the adjustments.

After I get the feedback from the last betas, I’ll go back to this one for adjustments and then more editing.

Second to None
Thriller Novella
Status: Beta Readers

This baby just started it’s beta reader stage. It’s had two rounds of edits so far, and I’m starting to send it to beta readers.

Thrall
Paranormal Flash Fiction
Status: Beta Readers

This one is also just beginning its beta journey, though I already have fantastic feedback from one.

Soul Bearer
Dark High Fantasy Romance
Status: Released

I’m giving this book a new cover for it’s birthday (later this month). The cover is done, and I fucking love it.

Whew.

There’s a decent amount going on, as you can see. I never have just one project going, though I only ever actively write one project at a time. I’ve attempted to write two side by side, but I always get pulled into one and have to finish the other later.

I have countless ideas for new stories, but as ever, there isn’t enough time in the day. I’ll just have to get to them after I finish The Regonia Chronicles.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

10 Amazing Romance Authors: Guest Post By Beth Linton

There’s nothing better than discovering a new author but often we discover those new authors by recommendation. Below, in no particular order, are some authors I have recently discovered and thought you might enjoy!

The Guardians’ Trust: Ana by Beth Linton

Beth Linton lives in North Wales and loves books, coffee, growing things and her young ‘un. Ana is her debut paranormal romance and is the first of a series (books 2 and 3 are due out soon). If you want a romance that has passion, shapeshifters and an almost magical connection with Mother Nature then this story will hook you.

Blurb:

Some women are born identical – one in the human world, one in the jungle of the Other Realm. It is their fate to change places. In The Guardians’ Trust series Doubles embrace their fate with the men born for them…

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU LEARNT THERE WERE TWO OF YOU?

Dr Ana Jones learns it is her destiny to leave the human world and cross into an Amazonian realm to join the Resistance who are fighting for survival – a fate that is akin to stepping back in time… no iPads, running water or underwear! A Double, one of a pair of identical women born by Mother Nature to swap places, she must cross into an Amazonian world to join the Resistance who are fighting for survival within the Other Realm and marry a stranger to help them win the war.

HE WAS BORN FOR HER

A warrior, leading the Resistance is Brenin’s life but Ana is his fate. Brenin embraces his marriage, and the shapeshifting gift his mating brings, but will her love be enough to help both man and panther survive the war?

Werewolves Only by Carrie Pulkinen

Carrie Pulkinen is an author of spicy, haunting romances. Like me, she is fuelled by coffee. She loves her dog and the worlds she creates in her series. We share a similar fascination with shapeshifters which is what first attracted me to her books – If you like sexy shifters and fated mates, you’ll love this thrilling paranormal romance.

Blurb:

Macey doesn’t know she’s hunting demons.

Luke is making sure she never discovers the truth.

Detective Macey Carpenter has been on the trail of a vicious attacker for weeks. The evidence keeps disappearing, and it seems she’ll never solve the case. Finding love is the least of her worries, but she can’t deny her attraction to a mysterious man who knows more about the crimes than he should.

A man who may be more than he seems…

When Luke falls head over tail for the feisty human detective, supernatural secrets aren’t the only things at stake.

He has to mate with another werewolf or he’ll sacrifice his position as alpha. But as heat builds between the pair, he discovers Macey has a few secrets of her own.

She may hold the key to ridding New Orleans of its demons…

But his feelings for her will tear his pack apart.

Stripped Down by Mae Harden

Mae Harden is an author of contemporary romances and, talented lady that she is, she also co-hosts a podcast. Harden started her love of romance by reading Harlequin just as I did and she shares my enjoyment of writing strong female characters. Her novel, Stripped Down is definitely going into my TBR pile. Hot!

Blurb:

Brooks

Contractor. Loner. Stripper? Not usually, but I’ll do anything to get the Bachelorette party in the room next door to settle down. All I want is a good nights sleep so I can focus on work. I never expected my entire world to shift when she opens the hotel door with her wide green eyes and sweet vanilla scent.

She’s just in town for the party, there’s no way I can have her. I certainly shouldn’t have pinned her against the wall and kissed her on my way out. After all, it’s not like I’ll ever see her again, right?

Olive

Baking is my thing. Running a successful, expanding business is my thing. Bachelorette parties are not. Surprise strippers even less so. But I’m pretty sure this guy isn’t really a stripper and if he is, he’s pretty bad at it.

On the other hand, he’s very very good at kissing. I’ll never see him again but at least I’ll have something to fantasize about when I’m baking muffins tomorrow morning.

Peterson Estate: Birth of A Witch by A. R. Grosjean

A. R. Grosjean is an author of multiple genres including Fantasy, Romance, Suspense, and more. She describes herself as ‘a head in the clouds kind of author’. I have chosen this book as not only is it the first in this series but you can also get the e-book for free when you sign up for her newsletter. Her new novel Stolen is out in October and sounds like a great read. Read an excerpt here.

Love, Art, and Other Obstacles by Sadira Stone

Sadira Stone writes contemporary romance set in the Pacific Northwest and this novel is book 3 of her Nirvana series. Stone is a star because she not only writes great romance stories but she also promotes fellow writers as well.

Blurb:

She’s a free spirit. He’s a one-woman man.

Rejected by her family for her bisexuality, graphic artist Margot DuPont yearns for a life with no fences, no limits, and no family ties. Between college, work at Book Nirvana, and an art competition, she barely has time for her part-time girlfriend much less a flirtation with her competitor.

Dumped into the foster system at a young age, ceramics artist Elmer Byrne craves a big, loving family of the heart. His artist tribe almost fills that need, but something is missing…until Margot. But when he offers his heart, her thorny defences shatter him.

Thrown together in an art competition that could jump-start one artist’s career, but not both, their irresistible attraction forces them to reconsider the meaning of success.

Bishop Takes Knight by Mckenna Dean

Mckenna Dean’s Instagram profile hooked me from the start: she loves putting her characters in hot water to see how strong they are – like tea bags, she says, only sexier. Romance, heat and humour all promised within one sentence! Her style is slow burn, crockpot paranormal.

Blurb:

Redclaw Origins: The year is 1955. Rebel without a Cause and The Seven Year Itch are playing in the movie theatres. The Chevy Bel Air is the most popular car in America. Gas is 25 cents a gallon and you can get a hotel room for $4 bucks. This flirty, fun series takes us back to the beginning and shows us how Redclaw Security got started.

Bishop Takes Knight (Redclaw Origins Book 1)

New York, 1955. Former socialite Henrietta (“Rhett”) Bishop, desperately seeking work, gets hired by Redclaw Security. But Redclaw is no ordinary operation. Part detective firm and part enforcement agency, Redclaw regulates matters involving the growing population of shifters who have emerged since the onset of the nuclear age.

Peter Knight is a nuclear scientist shattered by the death of his wife. Blacklisted by the government and scientific organizations, he drowns his sorrows while searching for the people behind his wife’s murder.

Together they form an unlikely partnership to search for a missing cache of mysterious technology stolen from Redclaw. But when a dangerous person from the past turns up to start a bidding war on the artifacts, Bishop and Knight wind up in a fight for their very lives.

A Heart of Salt and Silver by Elexis Bell

Elexis Bell writes books that sweep you off your feet, and tie you to the chair. Her style is romance sprinkled across high fantasy, sci-fi and post-apocalyptic novels. Whatever you chose to read of hers, they are always dark. Fans of gritty fiction, compelling romance, and imaginative takes on magic and the afterlife will love this dark paranormal high fantasy romance. A Heart of Salt and Silver (out November 3rd) is available for pre-order.

Blurb:

Ness, a demi-demon with a conscience, just wanted a peaceful afternoon in the Forest of Immortals. But Elias, a reckless mortal, went and spoiled it. Not that he wanted to be chased by psychotic vampires.

After saving his life, Ness agrees to help him find his estranged father and his Pack. But that means facing Nolan, the werewolf ex that holds her heart.

Now, Ness must decide. Use Elias to forget Nolan at the cost of his soul or crawl back to her ex and hope he still wants her even though she broke his heart.

But when the vampires come calling, broken hearts might be the least of their worries.

Hunting for a Highlander by Lynsay Sands

Lynsay Sands is a New York Times Best Selling author. Her stories are packed with not only romance but wit and humour. For both steam and a good laugh, her books are gold. Sands says that this story is much sexier than many of her others. Enjoy!

Blurb:

Lady Dwyn Innes feels utterly out of place among the eligible women who’ve descended on Buchanan Keep, vying for the attention of the last unmarried brothers. She isn’t long-legged and slender like her sisters, or flirtatious and wily like other lasses. Since her betrothed died, Dwyn has resigned herself to becoming an old maid. Yet a chance encounter with a stranger in the orchard awakens her to a new world of sensation and possibility…

After weeks away, Geordie Buchanan returns to find his home swarming with potential brides, thanks to his loving but interfering family. But one lass in particular draws his attention from the moment he spies her climbing a tree. Lady Dwyn is not nearly as plain as she thinks. Her lush figure and eager kisses delight him, as does her honesty. But the real test lies ahead: eliminating a hidden enemy, so that he and Dwyn can seal their Highland passion with a vow.

Highland Crossfire by Monica McCarthy

Monica McCarthy is a lawer and a hugely succesful author. Many of her books are historical and based in Scotland and, believe it or not, it was writing a legal paper on the Scottish Clan System that led to her love of Scotland.

Blurb:

At eighteen, Annie MacGregor thought the worst thing that could happen to her was a broken heart. But she was wrong. Caught in the crossfire of warring clans, Annie’s ravaging at the hands of the hated Campbells has nearly destroyed her. But she is determined to put her life back together, and that life doesn’t include Niall Lamont, the man who broke her heart two years before and has now appointed himself her unwanted avenger and sentinel.

Niall made the biggest mistake of his life when he told Annie that he couldn’t marry her. By the time he realizes his mistake, however, it’s too late. His clan is nearly destroyed by the Campbells for harbouring her kinsmen, he is outlawed, and the woman he loves has been brutalized. With time running out, and the king’s men closing in, Niall will do whatever he must to earn Annie’s forgiveness—even if it means teaching the stubborn lass to defend herself. But Annie is a MacGregor, and if there is one thing the persecuted clan knows how to do, it is fight. Forgiveness, however, is another matter, and Niall begins to wonder if some wounds just might be too deep to heal.  

Exorcism by Penny Jordan

Penny Jordan is the queen of romance. Writing for Mills & Boon, she writes around four books a year and is, arguably, the jewel of M&B’s crown. Jordan prefers to write about virginal heroines as a shorthand to convey her character’s attraction to the hero, so if this is your preferred trope then have look at her huge collection!

Blurb:

Could she exorcise her dreams of love?

Looking back, Christy realised that Simon hadn’t wanted to fall in love six years ago – while she’d had no other choice. Still, she shouldn’t have assumed he’d want to marry her.

She’d naively planned their future together until the day Simon accused her of trying to trap him into marriage. Apparently, unlike her, he hadn’t needed to be in love to experience desire.

Now he was determined to have her accompany him to the Caribbean to research his new book. Did he really expect her to put the past behind her?

Word count got you down? Don’t worry about it.

When trying to find a metric to measure your story by, word count seems to be the go-to. That’s how you separate novellas from novels, flash fiction from short stories.

Too often, people get hung up on the length of their story, trying to pigeonhole it into a specific category.

But you know what?

Your story will tell you when it’s done. Whether it’s too long or too short for the category you wanted it to fit in, it’s done when it’s done.

Cutting the juicy bits so it can be submitted as a short story or adding a bunch of extra bullshit so you can call it a novel instead of a novella isn’t going to improve your book.

It just fucks up the story.

And the story is more important than what category it falls into.

If you primarily write standalones in a genre filled to the brim with series (First of all, if it’s fantasy romance, hit me up. I’m always looking for a standalone fantasy romance. Second of all, looks like we’re in the same boat.) that doesn’t mean that your books are less worthy. It doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. It doesn’t mean your books won’t sell.

It just means that your stories, to date, are not the norm.

And that isn’t a bad thing.

It just means marketing might be more difficult because each book is a bit of a blank slate, whereas marketing a series means that each successive book already has an audience that you can build upon.

But if you intentionally stretch a standalone into a series, adding fluff here and there, it’s going to detract from the overall quality.

Same goes for cutting stuff out specifically to slip it in under a word count threshold. The character you cut because they added one too many subplots might have been the character that provided relief for a dark story or the character that provided the edge necessary to offset an abundance of silliness.

They might have been the character readers would fall in love with.

Is that sacrifice really worth getting the story finished at a certain length?

No.

Of course, add or cut things when you need to. If something needs more backstory, provide it. If something needs less exposition, get that shit outta there.

But don’t do it for the word count.

When I started writing The Regonia Chronicles, I intended it to be one book. Not a series with a prequel and everything. But then, it expanded to include a second alien race and three additional planets (It already had a couple).

Now, each time I sit down to work on it, it looks more and more likely that I’ll be splitting it into three books rather than two. Because that’s what the story needs. All that other stuff was necessary to make the original story idea make sense, I just didn’t know it when I started writing because I’m a pantser.

A Heart of Salt & Silver was intended to be a novella, but it blossomed into a novel.

Meanwhile, Second to None came in at half the word count that I thought it would.

And you know what that means?

It doesn’t mean that I didn’t fill enough pages or that I filled too many. It means that the story ended exactly where it needed to end.

It found its natural resolution.

Writing a good, solid story is far more important than meeting a specific word count. There’s an audience for every length of story within every genre. Some of those audiences hide better than others, but they’re there.

So stop stressing over word count and just write the damn story.

Do it the justice of letting it be the length it needs to be.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Writing with Curse Words: What to Consider

Should you write with curse words?

This question gets bandied about in writing groups far too often. It seems like people are afraid to break certain rules, and cussing is just one of those things where readers either don’t care at all or they care A LOT.

And the people who care A LOT about cussing tend to get super offended by it.

So I see where there might be a bit of trepidation when it comes to putting cuss words in your book.

So, should you do it?

It kinda depends. The answer for me and my books is… Fucking go for it. Lol.

But that answer might be different for you. Which means we have to get back to that “It depends” part.

First and foremost, what age group are you writing for?

I write books meant for adults, so it’s no problem for me.

But your book is going to be a hard sell if you drop a bunch of F bombs in a children’s book.

Unless it’s a “kid’s book” that’s actually meant for adults. Like “Go the Fuck to Sleep” by Adam Mansbach. Then, it works.

YA isn’t real big on cursing either. Despite the fact that most people reading YA novels frequently use those words, within typical guidelines for that age range, cursing is to be kept to a minimum.

As always, there are exceptions to the rule. Ellen Hopkins might use some cuss words, I don’t remember. It’s been a bit since I read her books. But she tends to go for the gritty depictions of real life struggles that teens face, so cuss words make sense in her books.

You should also consider your genre and the conventions within it.

Christian fiction isn’t going to have curse words. If they appear, it might be a little slip on the worst day of the MC’s life, and it probably won’t be any worse word than “crap” or “damn.”

And the character will likely regret it.

Unless it’s a reform/convert type book, in which case there might be a flashback, but even then, the foul language would likely be kept to a minimum.

Aside from those things, you should also consider setting. If you’re writing a book set in the Vatican 200 years ago… There probably won’t be any cussing.

Whereas, if you’re writing something in a modern day bar and you don’t include cussing, the flattened dialogue will almost certainly break the immersion.

But do you want to know the most important things to consider when deciding whether your books should include cussing?

It isn’t whether it’ll be embarrassing if your family or spouse or close friend reads it. That should never dictate what you write.

It isn’t whether the market hates or loves it, because there’s a market for just about everything.

The two most important things to consider are:

1. Is it right for the character?/Does it line up with their personality?

2. Is it right for your author voice?

If the answer is yes, then damn the doubt. Damn the fear of what others will say. Write those fucking cuss words.

If the answer is no, leave them out.

It’s really that simple. If it’s the right thing to do for you and your book, just fucking do it. If it isn’t right for you and your book, then don’t.

Give yourself the freedom to write your book the way it needs to be written.

Just be sure to market the book accordingly so you don’t get people who want grit reading clean books or people who expect clean books reading stories that have been carpet bombed with cuss words.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

How to Use Fashion to Build Your Fantasy World

Hi, guys!

We all know that fantasy worlds tend to have their own unique fashions. But they’re not all about beauty and appearances.

The styles and fashions in books can be used for some major world building.

What your characters value (or don’t value) says a lot about their society.

The trends in any world are likely going to be set by those in power, i. e. those who have the means to do what they want. Those who don’t have the means are just… stuck trying to keep up.

Which is unfortunate.

But usually true.

A society with rulers who don’t have to work the land or fight battles opens up the door for highly impractical fashions such as corsets or massive jeweled head-pieces.

A hunter-gatherer society might value durable clothing more than crowns with pretty rocks fastened to them.

A highly capitalistic society will likely revere brands over craftsmanship.

A warrior society will likely value clothes that keep their armor from pinching them or items that show their physiques to advantage.

So if you show me your character eyeing a gemstone-encrusted doublet, I’m going to assume that wealth is important in their country. Those in power likely sit on their asses making decrees, going to pompous parties that the rest of the realm could never afford, and wearing things just like that doublet.

If you show me your MC getting jealous over someone else’s brand new sash (They got one with 20 pockets?!), without further context, it tells me that your character lives in a gatherer society of some sort. Whether they’re gathering berries for food while on the run or spell ingredients, having the ability to keep things close at hand is clearly important.

Which tells me that people need to be somewhat mobile and very prepared.

These are all important world building details that can be worked into the story through fashion.

And then there are the gender roles that can be conveyed with fashion. If every woman in your book wears a long dress at all times, it implies a certain level of gender inequality.

Dresses, by their very nature, are less practical than pants. Forcing a certain gender to wear them limits some of the things they can reasonably do.

They catch on things. They drag the ground. They wrap around your legs (making it harder to run, thus also implying that the society sees little open conflict on the home front or that the men of the society are using cheap tricks and deeply embedded oppression to keep the women of the society in check).

Requiring long dresses of women also implies that a level of “restraint” is required from the women of that society. After all, long dresses (unless worn with a slit up the side) are notoriously known as modest clothing items in reserved patriarchal societies.

And this “fashion used for world building” thing doesn’t even apply strictly to clothing. Fashionable body types, i.e. what’s seen as desirable in a mate, depends heavily on the society, as well.

If your characters just survived a famine, they might find a well-fed/softer body more attractive than if they live in times of plenty. Because clearly, that person has a good food supply.

By contrast, warrior societies will prize strong, fit bodies.

Maybe certain tattoos mean certain things (I’ve done this in The Regonia Chronicles).

Maybe a certain hairstyle means they’re grieving (I’ve done this in Allmother Rising).

At the end of the day, this is fiction, and you can make up whatever you want. If your warrior society wants to run into battle with diamond encrusted armor because diamonds are super plentiful there and they’re super hard to cut… Go for it.

It’s gonna be heavy.

They would literally have a bunch of rocks hanging on their armor.

But you do you.

I’m just saying that looking into some sociology and using fashion to full advantage might be a good way to convey the world your characters live in without wasting page after page after page on exposition.

As for my own writing efforts last week, I wrote about 4,000 words in The Regonia Chronicles and made some major headway on the new cover for Soul Bearer.

I also edited about 7500 words on Where Darkness Leads. I had hoped to have this round of edits done by the end of August, but it’s turned out to be way more labor intensive than expected. I’m just over a third of the way through and have already cut 4,000 words. I cut about 7,000 words in the last round of edits.

This was a really old manuscript though. I used to be pretty long winded, apparently.

Anyway.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Vampires, Aliens, and Trilogies: A Writing Update

Hi, guys!

Last week was pretty productive, thank goodness. I’ve needed a week where I can just get shit done, and though not as productive as I’d like, I still got a decent amount done.

So, there’s this little piece of flash fiction that’s been bouncing around in my head for a couple years now. I have a playlist of songs specifically for it (as per my usual) called 90s vampire nightclub.

The vocalists sound like, well, like they’re not slacking off, but if they had anything better to do, they probably wouldn’t have been recording that day, which fits for the boredom that would set in after living for millenia.

Because these are old vampires running this night club.

They’ve lived recklessly. They’ve lived carefully and slowly, savoring everything. They’ve been every iteration of themselves, and now they just want the music and the drugs and the sex and the dancing, just to pass the time, just to get through another day.

And the music has to be grungy, it has to call to the violence within them. They’ve drawn blood, and they’ve tasted it, drawing that violence within themselves.

And one song is poignant and existential, with just the perfect amount of desperate disdain, reminding them that even after the Earth dies, they’ll still be there, trudging across a dead and barren rock, burning and suffocating, at once and forever.

And I can see them in my head, passing the time in this little nightclub they own in 1990 America, trying desperately to forget what they are and what it means to them.

This scene has been bouncing around in my head for a couple years, and I finally just wrote it.

It’s definitely just flash fiction. It’s less than 800 words.

But finally getting it down felt like an accomplishment, even though I literally could have done it at any point in time and just…didn’t.

Idk why, either.

But it’s done, now.

I also made some progress on editing Where Darkness Leads (nearly 10,000 words).

I’ve been steadily writing The Regonia Chronicles (I added nearly 4,000 words last week, 30,000 since July 14th) and decided that I may have to break it into three books. We’ll see what the final word count comes in at, but there are a couple natural breaks.

And doing three books would let me move the end of book one back to where it used to be, thus avoiding an absolutely MASSIVE cliffhanger that, if I were reading it, would make me mad. I’d get the next book, for sure, but I’d be super pissed about the cliffhanger.

So idk how many books it’ll end up being.

But I have titles lined up for both scenarios and potential covers for if it’s two books. Though they’ll likely change, regardless. I almost never go with the first covers I come up with.

But all in all, last week was a fairly productive week, despite the overtime at work.

I’m interested to hear your opinions, though. Three books with no (potentially) rage-inducing cliffhanger or two books with a massive cliffhanger?

Let me know in the comments. As always, feel free to subscribe to stay up to date on everything relating to my books. With the release of A Heart of Salt & Silver coming up, I’ll have giveaway news soon, and subscribers will always be the first to know (as well as having the added benefit of an extra chance to win).

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Why are we comparing short stories to novels?

Hi, guys!

Recently, in one of the many writing groups that I’m a part of, someone asked if people write short stories when they give up on writing a novel. As if writing a short story were something that could just be done with no thought or skill, whatsoever, because supposedly, it’s the easiest thing to write.

And that kinda stuck with me.

I was just flabbergasted.

That level of prejudice toward a type of story just… hadn’t occurred to me before then. I write stories of all lengths, flash fiction, short stories, novellas, novels, and now, series. So, I know that each one poses its own unique challenges.

No single one of these defines a writer’s skill.

None of them denote having given up.

Series require the solution to some problems, but the tension of certain things left undone for the next book. The characters have to develop and grow (or fall apart). They have to encounter one stumbling block after another, without it reading as if you’re literally just trying to draw the story out to make money on a second book. Or a third. Or a seventeenth.

Novels require all the loose ends to be tidied up by the end of the book, and hopefully enough intrigue to carry the reader to that point. Throwing in just enough obstacles to carry the characters (and the readers) through 70,000 to 110,000 words is a difficult balance to strike.

Novellas and novelettes have to operate on a smaller scale or go out with one hell of a bang. You have to choose your words carefully to get the exact right meaning across, which should be done regardless of book length, but especially so when you don’t have the word count to spare. And you have so much less space to truly develop your characters. It can be done, but it can be a challenge.

And then, there’s short stories and flash fiction.

Building a world, developing characters, and putting together a plot (then wrapping it up) in less than 7,500 words for a short story or less than 1,000 words for flash fiction is not an easy feat.

You have to grab people so quick. You have to make them give a shit about the character immediately.

Because there aren’t enough words not to.

So to say that failed novel writers become short story writers is a load of bullshit.

Writing short stories instead of novels has nothing to do with whether an author is successful or creative or smart. What it truly comes down to is the number of words it takes to successfully express a given story.

That’s it.

Some stories are meant to be a series that keeps you hanging on from one book to another. Some are meant to come in, punch you in the face with 700 words, and leave you reeling.

That’s just how it goes.

The stories should decide what length they are.

The writer’s skill or work ethic has nothing to do with it.

So, if you write short stories or flash fiction, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Your work poses it’s own unique set of difficulties.

Overcome them and show those judgmental jerks who’s boss.

Now, as far as my own work is concerned, I’ve been forging ahead on projects of varying lengths over this past week.

I did a full round of edits on a short story called Born of Heathen Gods. I’m torn between releasing it on its own or saving it back for an anthology, down the road.

I made some progress on this round of edits on Where Darkness Leads, cutting out over 1,000 words of info dumps/repetition so far.

And I’ve written over 5,000 words in The Regonia Chronicles. Some pieces are falling into place within book two, and I’m pretty excited to keep moving ahead.

Just not tonight.

Today’s 12 hour shift in the sweaty ass tire factory really took it out of me.

So for now…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.