Book Research: Sometimes Google isn’t enough

Hi, guys!

We all know writing requires research, sometimes into unexpected subjects. I never thought my writing would require calculating space travel times and learning how bears show affection.

But here we are.

But there are things we need to research that can’t be found in a half an hour on Google.

Over the years, I’ve indulged quite a few hobbies. I’ve always been that person who got interested in what her friends were interested in. I never had my own thing (didn’t have the guts to) until recently. I’ve been writing creatively for over a decade and a half, but only recently did I begin to take it seriously.

And now, I’m grateful for all those other hobbies and still intend to collect a few more.

Because some things just need to be experienced firsthand.

For instance, before I ever picked up a bow, I assumed that the arm pulling back on the bowstring would get tired first. Nope. The other one does. It still has the tension of the bow being drawn, plus it’s holding the weight of the bow straight out from your body. Under tension.

Before ever setting foot into a garage, I never thought about the unbelievable strain working on a lowered car puts on your back. It’s much more comfortable to just plant your feet real fuckin’ wide and bring yourself down low enough to lean on the fender (with a microfiber cloth between you and the car…You don’t want to scratch the paint, you monster.)

Before I cleaned a fish for the first time, I assumed breaking a neck would be a simple trick of leverage. *shakes head* Nope. I’m pretty strong, and I struggled, hard.

Now, I do have a thin layer of insulation (thank you soda and candy) but I have trouble finding non-sweatshirt material jackets that fit me because my fucking arms are too big for women’s jackets. But I still had to hand that fish off to someone stronger and more experienced. I did clean it afterward, though, and it wasn’t as bad as I expected.

Before getting into manual labor, I never truly knew the meaning of “farm strong,” because yes, it’s a fucking thing. Outdoorsy, hunting/fishing/farming types are probably pretty fucking strong, even if they have a belly from home-cooked goodies and beer. Because they have to be.

And while we’re at it, factories do not work the way you think. In theory, they should be streamlined and clean and smooth running, but they’re run for profit. Anything that doesn’t absolutely have to be fixed, won’t be.

Running a machine with a broken or malfunctioning part means that other parts have to be made to function in ways they aren’t meant to in order to pick up the slack. Which causes a domino effect of quirks and other malfunctions, and gives each machine their own unique “personalities.”

Before getting into video games, I didn’t realize Console vs. PC is a thing in the gaming world, with a lot of elitism involved. I also never realized that pre-built, store-bought gaming computers are never going to be as good as what can be built by the gamers themselves. So they build them, upgrading parts every so often or just building from scratch every few years.

To anyone who isn’t tech savvy (i.e. me), 3d printers can seem like magic. And just like magic, there are so many ways it can go wrong. Machinery malfunctions and improperly heated beds, errors or missing chunks in G-code, prints not sticking to the bed, filament breakage or clogging…The list goes on.

Drawing can be unbelievably messy if you’re using charcoal. And believe it or not, drawing a naked model in a room full of people…not awkward and certainly not sexual.

My point is, these aren’t things I learned from Google. These are things that came from personal experience.

They’re little quirks of doing something that aren’t strictly necessary in a generic how-to guide, but they make the experience human.

You don’t have to be an expert at everything your characters do. But maybe give their interests a shot.

(The legal ones, anyway. I don’t need any lawyers coming for me saying I encouraged their clients to try whatever they did.)

At the very least, ask someone who does those things. There are tons of real people in writing groups online, and stuff like this is where the massive Facebook groups, like Fiction Writing, really shine.

That’s where I learned that cremations of obese people can result in grease fires that get the fire department called over the amount of smoke. The former mortician answering questions in the group noted a preference to cremate larger people at night, for that reason.

So don’t spend every second of your life hunched over your keyboard. You need to experience things in order to write the little details that make your characters more realistic.

You need to live and be a well-rounded human being in order to write characters that seem real and well-rounded.

So get out there and try a new hobby. Your characters (and your readers) will thank you for it.

Now, if you haven’t noticed, we’re getting closer and closer to the release of World for the Broken. April 21st is just around the corner, barely over two weeks away.

If you haven’t preordered, you totally should. (You can do so here: mybook.to/WorldForTheBroken )

I’ll be posting a special blog this Wednesday containing the ENTIRE first chapter. So, if you want a sneak peek before you order your copy or if you’ve already ordered and want to read a bit ahead of time, you’ll get your chance in a couple of days.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Work in Progress: Updates and Quarantine Goals

Hi, guys!

Well, I’ve officially joined the ranks of the “unessential.” I work at a tire factory, and several car manufacturers shut down for a short time. So, we stockpiled until our warehouse was full, and now we’re laid off for a couple of weeks.

Which means I now have a shit ton of time to work on my books.

As such, I’ve set a couple of goals for myself over my two week lay-off. Since the original purpose of this blog was accountability, I’m going to share these goals here, and we’ll see how it goes.

  1. I want to finish my first draft of my current WIP, officially titled Allmother Rising. I’m currently sitting at roughly 56,700 words, up 3,300 from last week, and have about 6-8 chapters left.
  2. I want to finish this round of edits on Where Darkness Leads. I have 85 pages left, but it’s basically a rewrite. It’s an older WIP, and I’ve learned so much since I wrote that one.
  3. I want to make some serious progress on my TBR pile. It’s gotten unreasonable of late, and I have so many worlds to jump into.

As of last Monday, I had a fourth goal for the shutdown, which was to complete another full round of edits on A Heart of Salt & Silver (official title).

But I started it that night, and burned through the entire fucking thing over the course of 4 days.

Yes, it’s a more recent work, so I made far fewer mistakes. (Still made some, don’t come at me. I know I’m not perfect. Just fewer mistakes than with older WIPs.)

But I also got sucked in.

Like…I gave myself a proper book hangover. Honestly, I just want to go back and do another round of edits on that one right now, just so I can be in that story again.

The fifth goal I was going to set for the shutdown (deciding on a cover option for A Heart of Salt & Silver) isn’t necessary anymore, either. I had a couple drafts prepared, sitting on my computer. But I was so caught up in that story that I ended up coming up with a new one from scratch that I love even more than the previous variations.

So, I’ll only have three goals for the next two weeks. Finish writing Allmother Rising, finish this round of edits on Where Darkness Leads, and read an absolute fuck ton.

I should probably restrain myself from doing yet another round of edits on A Heart of Salt & Silver until after those are complete, but goddamn.

Lol.

Now, it may seem crass or impolite to be so wrapped up in my own story. But you know what…I don’t care.

We need to be proud of our books.

We need to be confident in what we’ve done.

I know it isn’t perfect. That’s why I’m editing it.

But I fucking love it. Just like I love all my books. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t fucking publish them. I’d hide them away and pretend they never happened. They’d just be weird files on my computer, buried in a file within a file within a file within about four hundred levels of file inception.

But they’re not.

I like them enough to share them with others, which is saying something because I’m not typically a confident person who shares what they’ve made with others. I never have been.

So, while I’m certainly not bragging or saying my work is better than anyone else’s (because I’m not saying that), I’m excited with how all of these projects are turning out so far and with the growth I’ve made over the past few years.

Editing Where Darkness Leads alongside A Heart of Salt & Silver has shown me just how much I’ve learned and how far I’ve come.

So, to all my fellow readers, let’s knock out our TBR piles.

To my fellow writers, let’s be more confident in our work and the progress we’ve made, all while getting tons of stuff done over quarantine.

To people following along for the sake of my books, first of all, fucking thank you. Second, I fully intend to get all of these books out as quickly as I can, while still striving to produce quality work.

Who knows, maybe I’ll even have time to make some progress on The Regonia Chronicles during this lay-off.

For now, though, I’m going to jump into some edits.

Feel free to share your goals in the comments.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Be fucking proud.

Later.

Making magic: Things to think about when building a magic system

Hi, guys!

Now, if you’ve been following along, you know I like fantasy books. Give me a book with very little tech and a shit ton of magic, and I’ll eat it up.

But writing them can be tough. Magic systems can be taxing to put together.

So, to help you build a complex, SOLID magic system, I have a few things for you to consider.

First and foremost, does it have limits? What can magic be used for…and what can it not be used for?

Can it heal? Can it kill? Do people use it to manipulate time or elements? Can they summon things or people? Can they teleport or raise the dead?

Can they do some other thing I haven’t listed? The world is vast, and magic pushes the boundaries even further. So, feel free to be as creative as you wish.

But there will be limits. You need to decide what your magic is able to do and where to draw the line.

Second, are there different types?

Maybe different types do different things. Maybe there’s elemental magic and healing magic.

Third, you need to decide what those results cost.

Blood sacrifices? Does it make them tired? Or…maybe it doesn’t cost them anything, at all, though that’s less likely. (That’s crossing into the realm of supernatural/paranormal stuff with innate abilities. Vampires, demi-demons, werewolves, etc.)

You need to figure out what they have to give up in order to get what they want.

Fourth, how do they use it?

A series of hand gestures or waves of a wand? A complicated ritual? Maybe it comes down to a specific string of words, chanted in just the right way. Do they simply have to ask their god for power or is the magic stored in plant and animal matter, and they just have to mix the right things together in a potion?

There has to be a method of harnessing the power you’ve given them access to.

Fifth, is it widely available?

If your magic system is based on asking a god for power, obviously someone who’s never heard of that god won’t have access. Maybe it’s widely available and anyone can practice magic, they just have to learn how to do it. Perhaps, it’s hoarded by the rich and powerful or handed down through bloodlines.

All of these things define your world. Magic is linked to the very fiber of the fantasy world you’re building.

You cannot just say, “Well, it’s fine. It works because it’s magic,” and expect your reader to accept that.

Because it’s bullshit.

I’ve said it so many times, and I’ll say it again. You’re already taking the time to write a book…You may as well do it well.

Don’t half-ass it. Think this shit through.

In the end, you’ll end up with a better book. (Just don’t info-dump your world building on your readers all at once.)

Now, as for my own projects, I’ve jumped up to 53,483 words on my current WIP (whose magic system is heavily dependent upon their god).

Where Darkness Leads features many types of magic, distributed amongst the populace through blood lines and the amount of elements used for their creation. And I got a decent amount of editing done on it this week.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

So you want to write a fight scene: Five quick tips for writing violence

Hi, guys!

Last week, we talked about sex scenes. This week, we’re talking about fight scenes.

So, literally the opposite type of tension resolution.

I love a good fight scene. Whether I’m reading or writing, I need action in my books. But if the fights are all cheesy or forced or physiologically impossible, then it just ruins it.

And no one wants that.

(Side note: magic and supernatural abilities will alter some of these things. Exhaustion, pain, strength, endurance, etc. That’s a topic for another day, though.)

So, here’s a few tips to make sure your fight scenes are up to scratch.

First, do you even need a fight scene? Much like sex scenes, people tend to want to include a fight more often than they actually need to.

Does it fit with your character’s personalities? Is there enough on the line for them to come to blows over it?

If not, write in a shouting match, a heartfelt conversation, or some passive aggressive, bullshit move.

Whatever your character would actually do.

Because no matter how much you want to ramp up the tension in your story, sticking to what your characters would really do (according to their personality, their background, their opinions, and what’s at stake for them) is more important than forcing a fist fight onto the page.

Second, do some research.

Take a self defense class, watch a bunch of videos online, maybe even learn martial arts if you’re feeling particularly plucky. You need to know something about the fighting style your character is supposedly using. You don’t have to be an expert, but you need to know something.

At the very least, spend some time on the internet for research.

Second, exhaustion and pain are very real. They will take a toll.

Training helps people deal with them more effectively.

Adrenaline helps to keep both of them at bay, to an extent. But it wears off. And the human body can only take so much.

Study the limits.

You’re a writer. I’m sure your search history is already on a few watch lists. What’s one more eyebrow-raising search?

Google whatever you need to in order to attain a relatively realistic fight scene.

Don’t expect your readers to believe that a 105 pound, 5’1″ woman is going to take three punches to the stomach and a slap to the face from a mountain of a man, then run three miles and climb the side of a building to escape.

That bitch is probably going to puke. A lot. And she’ll have to stop to breathe. A lot. Likely puking even more. She will not look pretty doing any of this. Her sweat will not be a graceful glitter upon her skin. Bitch is gonna drip sweat. Like…too much of it.

The world will tip and sway beneath her feet, and her face is going to scream in pain from being slapped.

Bloody nose? Sure. Temporarily seeing a bright light? Sure.

Getting slapped is no laughing matter.

A three mile run and then free climbing? Not gonna happen after that level of assault from a big ass dude.

Honestly, it could result in internal bleeding or broken ribs (if he didn’t quite hit the fleshy part below the ribs, which might poke something vital), and she could die before she gets to that building she’s supposedly going to scale.

Now, when the adrenaline wears off, your character will feel it. They will crash. They might shake or cry. They might do both, or some other thing. Research is your friend, here.

Third, don’t focus too much on their surroundings. During a fight, the person is obviously going to be paying attention to the fight. They probably aren’t going to notice a lot of their surroundings unless they have a lot of military/police training or perhaps specialized in a field related to that particular aspect of their surroundings.

So don’t tell me what period the art on the wall is from unless they teach art history at the college level and happen to throw someone up against that painting.

In that case, they might lament the destruction of such a thing…as their opponent tears the canvas.

You need the scene to be fast and gripping, not bogged down by excess details. Don’t worry about the pattern of the lace on the tablecloth by the window across the room, painstakingly stitched by the character’s great aunt on their father’s side of the family before she died of natural causes, disappearing from their lives quietly in the middle of the night.

Worry about the look in their opponent’s eyes or the feeling of a drop of blood dripping from a busted lip. Focus on quick breaths and all-consuming rage burning them from the inside out. Show us clenched fists slamming into a nose and the ensuing crunch of cartilage.

Keep the scene moving forward. It’s a fight.

It needs to be active.

Fourth, people get distracted.

Emotions tend to seep in around the edges. Unless they’re a trained fighter, maybe even then, they’re going to think about the reason they’re in that fight. Maybe they’re worried about the person they’re trying to save. Maybe they’re worried about their own impending death.

If they duck behind cover or get tossed like a ragdoll, they might think strategy. Or they might dwell on the mistake that landed them in that position.

If chaos and fear sink gnarly teeth into their bones, they might spiral a bit, focusing on their tendency to make mistakes.

Just don’t spend too much time on stuff like that. Again, you want it to be fast and punchy. Always bring it back around to what’s actually happening in the conflict.

Fifth, use the appropriate amount of gore.

Certain genres and age groups tolerate/crave different levels of gore. YA contemporary calls for far less gore (probably almost none, maybe a bloody nose) than adult splatter punk (all the gore).

Unless you’re writing splatter punk or something akin to Dexter, you probably don’t need as much detail of the blood and body parts as you think.

Additionally, consider the effect it will have on the scene. Does the extra description add to the emotional value of the scene or slow it down?

If your character finds a loved one dead and cradles them to their chest, describing the blood that comes away on their hands or clothes could add to the weight of the scene. But it isn’t necessary to count each drop or describe the way it runs through every crease of their palm.

They won’t be focusing on that.

They’ll be focusing on the fact that…that blood should be inside their loved one. Not on their hands.

As for my own projects, I’m finally approaching the “landscaping their enemies to death” portion of my current WIP. So I’m heading for violence in that one. (Currently sitting at 48,817 words)

I’m nearing a lot of fighting in my edits of Where Darkness Leads.

And all the promo stuff for the April 21st release of World for the Broken (dark post-apocalyptic romance) is ironed out. And that one is chock full of fights.

Now, go forth and fill your books with as much violence as they call for.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

So you want to write a sex scene…Five quick tips for writing sex

Hi, guys!

We all know sex sells. So, the temptation to include it in a book is easy to understand.

But writing a sex scene is an art form.

Do it well, and it will improve the reading experience.

Do it poorly, and your readers might roll their eyes, skimming through it with a chuckle, or even put the book down entirely.

So today, I thought I’d share a few tips to help you write the best sex scene you can.

First and foremost, don’t psych yourself out. It’s easy to get embarrassed about this subject or to feel ashamed of including sex in your book. Plus, there’s always the ever-present fear that a family member will read it and be shocked.

But let’s face it.

Sex is part of life. It’s part of the human experience. And what’s more, it’s absolutely everywhere in modern society. Everyone knows what sex is. Almost everyone has done it, at some point in their life.

So chill the fuck out and write your book. If it needs a sex scene to show the bond between two (or more) characters, if it’s an integral part of the society you’ve created for your fictional world, write it.

Don’t cheapen your book by leaving out a crucial scene, just because your family might read it.

Your family members (unless they’re children, in which case, keep the sex book away from them) also know what sex is. They’ve probably done it.

So write the book however it needs to be written.

Second, integrate it into the plot. If your story doesn’t need a sex scene, don’t throw one in just for the sake of having one. If it doesn’t make sense in the story, don’t do it.

Don’t toss one into an otherwise chaste book.

Additionally, throwing a sex scene into a poorly written/edited book will not save it. If your book needs work, work on it. Don’t just make it sexy and hope no one will notice obvious flaws.

People will still see the flaws. And they’ll know what you’ve done to cover them. Give your readers some credit.

Third, don’t be too specific. Unless you’re writing hardcore erotica. Then, be detailed and descriptive. Show as much as you fucking want.

But if your book isn’t hardcore erotica, don’t fill your scene with overly detailed close-up shots. Anyone old enough to be reading a book with a sex scene knows what vaginas, breasts, and penises look like.

Hell, they’ve probably even seen a few in their day.

*gasp*

Vivid description of vein placement and a count of how many hairs…completely unnecessary. The shape of their manscaping…completely unnecessary. It won’t make the scene better to know that stuff.

By the same token, don’t prattle on about his right hand or her left breast. Leave the sides out of it. Some things should be left to the reader’s imagination. Perhaps the reader favors one side over the other. If you specify one side and they happen to be more sensitive on the opposite side, I guarantee they reword it in their head and imagine it the way they want.

All you’re doing is wasting words and bogging down a scene that’s supposed to be intense and riveting.

So, instead of over-describing everything, focus on general gestures, sensations, and emotions. The sensation of a hand sliding over bare skin, the prickle of goosebumps as fingernails slide up the spine, heat building in the air around them, hands twining in hair to pull questing mouths closer, the deep need to join together.

Things like that.

Because unless you’re writing really hardcore stuff, that’s more than sufficient. It gets the point across and evokes emotion. It reads quickly and intensely.

Which is what you want.

Fourth, don’t head hop. Pick a character for the scene, whichever one has more of a driving emotional need, whichever one the stakes are higher for, and write it from their perspective.

Don’t stray.

You’ll just throw off your reader.

You don’t want them rereading paragraphs to figure out whose thoughts they’re combing through. You want them rereading paragraphs (or the whole scene) because the emotions were high and the scene was captivating.

Last, but certainly not least, don’t say quivering member.

Please.

I beseech you.

That phrase is the height of ridiculousness. There are much better ways to refer to a penis. And if you don’t want to actually name it, if it feels too callous or unromantic, just say he slides into him/her. You don’t have to specify what part of him is going in, because unless you name some other part (finger, for example), people will assume that you mean his penis.

Again, give your readers some credit.

Now, go forth and write the smuttiest smut your book can handle.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

The Dangers of Comparison

Hi, guys!

Writers tend to want to learn from their favorite authors and writer friends. Which is good. We need to learn.

With the importance of maintaining a good author platform, social media has made it easier than ever for writers to network with each other and show their readers how they write.

That also means that writers see exactly how other writers write. Sometimes, that makes for a good bonding opportunity or lively discussion. Sometimes, it can be discouraging to newer writers who haven’t quite found their own creative process, yet.

Lurking on social media, comparing ourselves to each other…does very little good.

So what if someone else wrote more or less than you did this week Maybe they used a vacation day to stay home and write. Maybe they had a bunch of overtime.

Did a writer friend start a new project the same day you did? Maybe you were both psyched that you’d be working on your projects, side by side, but now…one of you is falling behind.

That doesn’t mean anything bad about either of you. It doesn’t mean one is better or worse than the other.

It just means that you’re not the same person, and the two of you approach writing in a different way. Maybe you edit as you go, whereas your friend types anything and everything that comes into their head. Of course, their word count will climb faster than yours.

If you like to plot your book ahead of time and your friend doesn’t, they’re going to jump in and write. If they have a few chapters written before you ever start writing? So what.

Your writing journey will be different than theirs.

There comes a point where we need to stop comparing ourselves to others and just write like ourselves.

After all, the thing that could truly make you a great writer…is your unique style and process.

There are so many options, so many ways to personalize your writing.

Trial and error is the best way to find your own voice. Practice writing and eventually, you’ll find your groove.

It might be a niche. It might be a wildly popular genre. Maybe you like to write in the mornings like Stephen King.

Maybe (if you’re like me) that just doesn’t work for you. Writing in the middle of the night instead of getting up at 5 am to write doesn’t make you less of a writer.

Maybe you like typing anything and everything that comes into your head and organizing/editing later. Or (if you’re like me) you make sure everything is halfway decent before moving on to another chapter.

As long as you don’t let that stop you from actually finishing your book, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Writing is a very personal thing. The creative process varies wildly from one person to another, and that’s a good thing.

There are so many different readers out there, all searching for something different.

3rd person or 1st? Both are good in their own ways.

Present tense or past? Both are good in their own ways.

Whether you love interpersonal drama or action, whether you like your prose flowery or quick and punchy…That’s up to you.

Your stile and process will develop naturally. You just need to practice and try new things with your writing.

And most importantly, stop telling yourself that the way you write is wrong because someone else writes faster/slower or different than you.

Keep learning. But stop comparing your progress. You will grow and write at your own pace.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Why you should write EXACTLY what you want

Hi, guys!

Today, we’re tackling something that seems to be a rather large issue when it comes to writer morale.

Namely…”Should we bother?”

I guess, basically, that is morale.

It’s all over writing groups. People describe the general premise of their book, then ask other writers if it sounds like it would be worth the effort of writing it.

They site flooded markets and the use of the same tropes in a million other books. They claim that certain genres or markets are dead.

Some ask if people even bother reading nowadays, with all the instant gratification and high speed stimulation available in movies and tv shows and various things online.

They doubt whether the readers (or money) will be there.

First off…money shouldn’t be why you write. The odds of being a full time author are slim. We all know that. We just prefer to internalize our lack of a 6 figure writing income as being our own fault, our own shortcoming, for some masochistic reason or another.

We’re an anxious bunch. It happens.

But whether you think you’ll get rich off your books or not…shouldn’t decide whether you write them.

Writing, given how slim the odds are of being the next J.K. Rowling, is a labor of love.

So why not write what you love?

Pining away after that one idea, that one story that will get you rich…is a good way to never actually write a book. You’ll just sit there, repeatedly dismissing potentially amazing ideas, and never get down to the business of actually writing.

As for tropes that have been done before or flooded markets, obviously people like that kind of story. Plus, no matter how many other authors have written it, they don’t have your voice. Your unique compilation of experiences will shine light on different parts of the trope and cast shadows on other aspects.

And besides, if it’s what you want to write, who the fuck cares how many times it’s been written before?

Write it.

Make it your own and it will be glorious.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, think your target market is dead?

Take it as a challenge.

Take advantage of the lower numbers of books in that genre. Be the one to revive it.

Now, as for the crap about people not reading anymore. People fucking read.

Go to Instagram. Search the tag #bookstagram and look at how many posts turn up. As of right now…39.8 million. Now, search #reading. 25 million posts. #amreading has a couple million.

All of them…are about reading. (And that’s just on Instagram.)

#amwriting has a few million posts.

#writingcommunity has 5.5 million.

I mention writing because do you know what all those authors are also doing? Especially when they’re procrastinating working on their own books?

They’re reading.

Over a million books are published each year.

Now, that might be intimidating because your book is kinda just floating in a sea of words, but it’s also heartening.

Because most authors are also avid readers, consuming books left and right.

Who the fuck can write, knowing how much they and their writer friends love to read, and question whether people read? Do you not talk books with these people all the damn time?

Sure, since there are more people in the world, more people than in previous centuries have decided they don’t like reading. There are so many hobbies that exist now that weren’t even dreamed of a hundred years ago.

I mean, playing a video game on a phone a few centuries ago? Obviously not happening. You’d likely be thrown into what passed as a psychiatric hospital back then, or burned at the stake, for mention of a magical, flat brick that showed moving pictures and let you play a game with someone on the other side of the world.

But a higher population also means that more people are reading. A percentage of a larger number equals a higher number than the same percentage of a lower number.

Which sounds like I’m talking in circles. So, 20% (arbitrary number, pulled out of thin air) doesn’t sound like a lot. After all, 20% of 100 is only 20.

But 20% of a million?

200,000.

20% of a billion?

200,000,000.

You see my point. Now, I don’t know the percentage of adults that read on a regular basis. I couldn’t find current statistics.

But if one in five people reads, if one in twenty people reads regularly…across the entire world…that number is fucking huge.

And there’s bound to be a group within that number that will like your book.

So take heart.

And write whatever you fucking want.

There is someone out there who will want to read it.

Now. On the topic of writing. I’ve made progress on my own WIP. I’m hovering around the 35,000 word mark now, so up roughly 2,500 words from last week. I’ve been spending a lot of time on release prep for World for the Broken, ironing out details and such. It’s remarkable how many of those keep popping up.

It isn’t the amount of progress I’d hoped to be able to report, but I should probably be kinder to myself, given the toll my body has been taking on me.

That double ear infection from a couple weeks ago? Well, none of that stupid fluid in my inner ears actually drained. The infection cleared up, but all that swelling stayed put, holding that fluid in. So my ears have been ringing, I’ve had a nonstop, dull headache for several days (punctuated by sharper, shorter-lived headaches which felt like knife points), and I’ve been dealing with episodes of nausea-inducing vertigo that last anywhere from five minutes to twelve hours.

Of course, there were more doctor visits, and thus medicine. Lots of early mornings, because the rest of the world doesn’t abide by my nocturnal writing schedule. I honestly don’t know how much dramamine I had to take to be able to go to work this week without having a dizzy episode and falling into a machine.

But it’s improving. The dizziness is down to one or two episodes (lasting less than five minutes each) if I go too long without taking dramamine.

So, I’m on the mend.

And pushing forward.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

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.