The Joys of Being a Pantser

Hi, guys!

As you probably know, I’ve been working on The Regonia Chronicles and releasing A Heart of Salt & Silver.

And out of all my books, these two are the ones I knew the least about when I started writing them.

I certainly had no idea that The Regonia Chronicles would be a series with 5 unique worlds, two alien races in the book (tons more not in the book), and a whole language.

I had no idea the twists and turns (or sheer drops) character arcs would take. I didn’t expect thousands of deaths.

As for A Heart of Salt & Silver, I intended to write a cut and dry romance that just so happened to take place in a fantasy world.

But as the characters developed and the villains revealed themselves, it kinda spiraled and lots of blood spilled.

That was just what the story called for.

And that’s why I love not planning my books.

Just writing means that I get to discover the world and the characters and the story as I go, just like a reader would.

It means that sometimes I get the joys of an epiphany, where a solution or a development just comes to me and everything falls into place (or gets infinitely more complicated).

It means that I get to go back and lace the framework of the revelation into the story in a way that will go unnoticed until the big moment, at which point, the readers can look back and see all the little things that lead to that. Or, I can take something small that’s already in the book and let it snowball out of control.

It means that anything and everything is subject to change, right up until the moment I publish it. So as I’m writing it, I’m just diving into the unknown.

And that unbridled discovery and creation is just so pure, so addictive that I can’t even imagine plotting a book ahead of time.

Especially since if I know exactly how a book is meant to end, I lose interest.

It just doesn’t have that mystery.

So, I’ll keep jumping into each new project with no idea where it’ll go.

You can check out the dark and twisty results of that process in my upcoming paranormal high fantasy romance novel, A Heart of Salt & Silver. These characters make an absolute mess of themselves, even though two of the three main characters are total badasses.

Pre-orders are available in ebook, paperback, and hardback at: mybook.to/AHeartOfSaltAndSilver

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Why I Write Romance (Even in My Darkest Books)

Hi, guys!

If you’ve been around books for long, you know that certain genres carry reputations. Hell, if you haven’t been around books for long, you probably still know that.

And I think I can safely say that romance probably gets more trash talk than any other genre.

There are a lot of people that like to say that romance is silly, or that those who write it are immature or just sad and lonely. I even heard a crime writer say that “romance is written by and for idiots.” (Of course, this was right before he launched into a tirade about crime fiction being the best that literature has to offer, which is clearly a matter of opinion.)

But when it comes to all the stigmas surrounding romance in literature, I call bullshit.

Yeah, sure, some romance books fit the stereotypes (throbbing members and heaving bosoms and all). But not all.

And romance is an important aspect of any fictional world.

There are a few reasons that I put romance into almost all of my books, even the darkest ones.

Yeah, there’s the obvious need to balance the darker aspects of a book with something more positive.

And yes, I genuinely enjoy writing that tension, that aching slow burn. It’s one of my favorite parts of writing and reading.

But I also write it because… romance is part of life.

Humans, by nature, are not solitary animals. The vast majority of humans crave companionship, even the most introverted among us.

Even in war zones, people want someone there. Even when their life is falling apart around them, people want someone to turn to, someone to help them through.

Perhaps even more so than when things are going well.

Love is a part of life. It’s part of our world.

Excluding it from books out of some bullshit elitist attitude doesn’t make your book better.

Honestly, including some aspect of it, even as a subplot for a side character, makes the world more realistic.

With very few exceptions, people do not desire a life alone.

We crave love. We crave acceptance. We crave companionship.

So almost every book I’ve written to date includes romance. And I expect the same to be true of the books I have yet to write.

Which brings us around to my books.

As you know, A Heart of Salt & Silver is available for pre-order. I FINALLY got the technical issues sorted with the hardback, so all three formats are waiting for you.

So, if you’re looking for a book with demons and magic, werewolves and witches, vampires and gods, love and gore, you can preorder your copy at: mybook.to/AHeartOfSaltAndSilver

It releases on November 3rd of this year, and I can’t freaking wait.

As for The Regonia Chronicles, I’m breaking the shit out of my characters in this one. Well, one character in particular, at the moment. Some are actually getting a break. But this one is having a very rough time.

Let’s just say book one leaves off on one hell of a cliffhanger. And the cleanup at the beginning of book two takes some time. This character arc fucking plummets.

I think me-writing-a-series is a dangerous thing for my characters. It’s that much longer for their lives to fall apart.

But anyway, I’m gonna keep on trucking.

And you should, too.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

My thoughts on Insta-love vs Slow Burn

Hi, guys!

So, it’s no secret that I’m not a fan of insta-love in books, whether I’m writing or reading.

I much prefer the sweet, drawn out tension of a slow burn. That will they/won’t they, that back and forth, is just way more appealing to me.

But I’m not sure I’ve ever explained why except to a few individuals.

Now, bear in mind, this is just my opinion. You’re free to write or read whatever you want. In fact, I actively encourage it. The literary world needs to serve all readers and writers.

But that’s a rant I’ve done before.

On to the topic at hand.

To me, insta-love just isn’t immersive or realistic.

I know that sounds rich coming from a sci-fi/fantasy writer. Magic and dragons and werewolves aren’t real.

But that’s the element of the fantastical that I prefer.

I want the characters, their personalities, and their interactions to be believable and immersive.

Instantly falling in love just isn’t believable for me.

Instant attraction, yeah. That makes way more sense. That happens to people all over the globe, day in and day out.

But if two characters just fall in love within a day or a week, I start trying to figure out if they have some sort of attachment problems, psychologically speaking.

And that isn’t usually what insta-love writers want their readers focusing on.

Plus, I always find myself picking out red flags, little things the characters should notice about each other (but don’t), and find it all a little worrisome.

Because there are usually a few.

Or a lot.

So I just tend to stay away from insta-love books, in general.

There are exceptions, of course.

If it’s written into the fabric of the world and based in a magical element…that makes more sense to me. Or in books where the aim is to show the dangers of losing yourself in a relationship, insta-love makes sense then, too.

But it just doesn’t work for me, outside of those few exceptions.

I’ll take the slow progress, the building chemistry, the back and forth and will they/won’t they of a slow burn over insta-love any day.

Again, this is all personal opinion. I strongly advise you to read or write whatever you want.

Where do you stand on the matter?

Come back next week to find out why I write romance into even my darkest books.

Now, as far as my progress on my books is concerned.

I finished the first round of edits on Second to None last week, battled countless technological demons, wrote about 6,000 words in The Regonia Chronicles, decided to move the divider between book one and two within the series, and got A Heart of Salt & Silver up for preorder in paperback and ebook. The hardback will be available soon.

Check it out here: mybook.to/AHeartOfSaltAndSilver

I need to jump into another round of edits on either Allmother Rising or Where Darkness Leads, soon.

I’d say that I’ll have eventually have fewer projects going at once, but that would be a lie. And I’m okay with that.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Writing with Tropes: 4 tips to help you do it well

Hi, guys!

So, there are these things in literature called tropes. Basically, tropes are themes or character types that pop up over and over in a lot of books. The hero’s journey or forbidden love, the jock or the hardass or the air headed pretty girl.

Or the smart pretty girl that doesn’t realize she’s pretty even though literally every one she meets falls in love with her and wants to get into her pants. That one seems to be increasingly popular, of late.

Tropes are everywhere, and they’re pretty hard to avoid.

And tropes aren’t bad, in and of themselves. If you’re not sure where to begin, they can provide a jumping off point.

But relying on them to heavily can prove disastrous for a book.

It breeds boring, two-dimensional characters and insanely predictable books.

If every character is a well-known stereotype and the story itself is a formula story, then there’s no real depth to draw a reader in and make them wonder what might happen.

Because they already know.

Because they’ve read that exact story with those exact characters a million different times.

Or worse, the cheesiness of all the over-the-top tropes could just become too much, ruining what might otherwise be a real edge-of-your-seat page turner.

You might think, “Well, I’ll just be completely original and not use a single trope.”

To which, I say…good luck. There’s bound to be some sort of trope in there somewhere.

There are literal tons of them.

Orphan finds out they’re magical, marriage of convenience, whirlwind billionaire romance, elderly mentor, secret heir, magical object to save the world, love triangle, the list goes on.

Plus, when you’re busy striving for originality, you get stuck thinking of what’s already been done (trying to avoid it) rather than just writing and letting your voice make whatever you write an original.

Which brings me to the first way to avoid over-troping your book.

Find your voice.

Every author has a signature style, a way of writing that is uniquely them.

It’s a mixture of the types of stories they tell, the words they choose, the aesthetic they tend to go for, the level of detail they strive for, the tense and the POV they write in, and many other things.

And if you really develop your voice as an author, you can write the tropiest tropes that ever troped, and still make something original.

Because it’s been spun in your unique voice.

The second way to avoid accidentally trashing your book with tons of blatant tropes is to study psychology.

Getting a better grasp on how people think (and what might have lead them to think that way) will inform your writing and deepen your character development.

You don’t have to get a degree. (I did, but not with the intention of using it for writing. I intended to become a therapist, at the time.)

But do some research into personality development and the effects of trauma or various disorders. Maybe buy a used psychology textbook online or take a class at a community college.

Third, study sociology and history. Again, no degree necessary, but do some research, watch some documentaries, read some books.

Learning how empires rise and fall, seeing how precarious some societies really are, and how small problems can topple mighty countries might show you something that you could use in a rebellion in your book. Or it might show you what it takes to rebuild afterward.

Tropes for the story line (star-crossed lovers, make-over, villain decay, the chosen one, etc.) are usually okay because there’s so much going on within and around them that it mixes it up. Just try not to draw attention to the fact that it’s there (let the readers analyze/enjoy the story without you saying hey look what I did here), and don’t throw too many of them into one story.

And last but not least, ask yourself these simple questions. (And answer honestly. The success of your book depends on you being honest with yourself about what it contains.)

Is there more to this character than the trope they spawned from? If the answer is no, you need to workshop that character and develop their personality.

Are all of my characters directly linked to a trope? If the answer is yes, you might need to mix it up. There should be at least a few characters that don’t spawn from a trope.

Get a second opinion, if you aren’t sure. Ask them to read it with this in mind. If you’ve developed your characters well enough beyond their trope spawn point, you could pull it off beautifully. But there’s the risk of making your book cheesy if all your characters are tropes.

And no one wants that.

Now, go forth and write deeply developed characters and plot lines.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

A Heart of Salt & Silver Cover Reveal!

Hi, guys!

It’s finally time to show off this cover!

Dark supernatural high fantasy romance novel cover art

I’m so freaking excited to get this out there.

Here are a couple of excerpts to give you a sneak peak at the book!

Excerpt one:

“Unhand us, witch!” the vampire shouts.

The mortals, apparently far smarter than this vampire, remain silent. Even the vampire’s own pledge seals his lips shut. A wave of Nether wafts off him, marking him as a Nether witch.

But fury sparks within me, and a dark grin overtakes me. I lower my arm, setting the blades down gently in the middle of the clearing.

“What was that?” I ask, daring the vampire to repeat himself.

Stupidly enough, he does. “I said, ‘unhand us, witch!’ Let us go quickly, and I might not kill you.”

Arrogant fool.

I laugh quietly, and all the birds fly away, deserting their treetop perches. A dangerous glint shines in my eyes as I saunter within arm’s reach.

“Witch? You think me a witch?”

“How else could a pitiful, puny little woman like you do all this?” He jerks his head at the other two men, unable to move his arms. Cheeks flushed with anger, he draws back and spits in my face, dark eyes flashing, all the while.

Nearby animals sense my anger reverberating on the Nether, and the woods fall completely silent. Fury roils within me, and visions of blood fill my mind. Everything in me demands his evisceration.

Or perhaps the removal of some limbs

With eyes narrowed, I lift one hand. He flinches, and I smile, baring my teeth. His spit floats into the air, leaping happily from my skin. My spine shivers with disgust and hatred as I force the spit to smear itself over the vampire’s face, over his eyes.

Slowly twirling one finger, I tighten his bonds. Air rushes from his lungs, and his soft face goes red as he struggles to breathe.

“You underestimate me. I don’t know a single witch who can do everything I’ve done without at least three days of spell and potion preparation. Not to mention the difficulty of lugging all those ingredients out here.”

Lifting one average looking fingernail to his face, I trace one of his cheekbones, then the other, splitting the skin wide. A line drawn down the center of his nose, from bridge to tip, releases still more blood.

My eyes flutter as the darkest parts of me savor the sight.

“As for spitting on me,” I whisper, knowing my voice will carry to the others, echoing in their bones despite its low volume, “that was a grave mistake. Most of my kind would have killed you on the spot, simply for the disturbance.”

Voice suddenly a hiss, I say, “You’re lucky I’ve learned patience.”

My soul riots for revenge, and my blood boils in my veins. I fight the damnable words, hating my own weakness before my rage, but still, I say, “But ignorance must not go to seed. Your family line will end with you. You will never again create, or prolong, life.”

And I shift the Nether to make it so.

“Your kind? What are you talking about? What makes you think you can curse me?” All bluff and bluster, the vampire tries to appear brave and defiant.

But I feel the fear leaking off him. I smell it in his blood, acrid and spoiled. I hear it in his sputtering heartbeat, slightly more erratic than those of the others.

Again, I say nothing. Drawing a deep breath, I close my eyes slowly.

Thunder roars through the clearing, rumbling in all our chests. I open my eyes, glittering gold sending light reflecting back at the vampire, and my skin grows paler. Fingernails become golden talons, embedded in black skin which reveals hues of purple as it fades to white just above my wrist. My eyelids are colored similarly, pulsing with the Nether that reaches out through my skin.

Black horns burst from my skull, sticking through locks of deepest red. My horns twist as they taper off, curling back over the top of my head.

The color drains from the vampire’s face, concealed as it is by his blood. Sick glee spikes through me.

“Did you know you would feel my revelation in your blood? Did you know the very air would tremble with it?” I ask, knowing the answer to be a resounding “no.”

“You’re a…” he trails off, unable to speak for lack of air.

“Demi-demon is, I believe, the word you’re looking for,” I say, smiling malevolently. “Now, I’m going to untether you, and you’re going to run. Before I change my mind.”

***

Can I just say that Ness is pretty OP? Lol. She has her flaws, don’t get me wrong. She isn’t perfect. But she’s powerful as hell.

And because I just can’t help myself, here’s another excerpt:

With my good arm, I pull my leg up to bend the knee. Hiking the hem of my dress up, I reveal torn muscle and shredded skin. I wince as the fabric moves over it, tugging flaps of skin in directions they aren’t meant to go.

Elias’ hands set to work, scooping water up, and pouring it over my thigh. Each drop, gentle as the administration of them may be, pulls a moan of pain from my lips. Wrapping fingers tightly around a stone, I do what I can to bear the pain without making Elias feel worse.

The blood washes away, revealing the true devastation wrought by the dead wolf’s jaws. My leg hangs open, dark muscle showing itself to the sky as it was never meant to do.

“Itand have mercy,” he whispers, calling on the goddess of fortitude.

But she’ll spare no blessings for the likes of me.

“What do I need to do?” he asks. His eyes roam over me, and one hand finds its way to my cheek. Brows knitted together, he clearly longs for something to do, some reassurance that I’ll be ok.

Does he want me to be alright for the sake of spending more time together? Or merely for the sake of having an escort for the rest of the trek?

I hope for his sake that it’s the latter. But the well of loneliness within me wishes for the former.

Either way, there’s nothing he can do.

“My body will mend itself,” I tell him. “It’ll hurt, but it’ll mend. It’s already started.”

His eyes drop to my arm, my leg. The bleeding has stopped, and the cuts aren’t as deep as they were mere seconds ago. Had he seen it when the wounds were first inflicted, he likely would’ve been sick.

“I wish you would’ve let me help,” he murmurs, sliding his hand along my jaw until his thumb finds my earlobe.

Exhaustion pulls my inhibitions low. Despite myself, despite the guilt churning within me, I lean into his caress.

Nolan won’t want me back, anyway.

My heart shrinks from the thought, and I close my eyes, nuzzling my cheek into Elias’ palm.

“Letting you help would’ve been a terrible idea. They could never kill me. They had no salt, no silver. They couldn’t say any incantations.”

I pause, squeezing my eyes tight against the horrid images which flash before them. I don’t want to see the ways they could’ve hurt him. I don’t want to watch them tear him to shreds. I don’t want to see his blood on the ground.

“They could’ve killed you, though,” I whisper.

Suddenly desperate to see him alive and healthy, to ease my conscience just a bit, I open my eyes. Sure enough, he’s there, face inches from mine. The moonlight glows in his magnificent eyes, but the blood of the Howlers still adorns his face.

Reaching for his sodden shirt, I lift a corner of it to his face. Wiping away the dried blood, I memorize the strength in his jaw, the kindness in his eyes. I trace the small kink in his nose, a remnant from a previous fight.

From a distance, it’s almost impossible to notice, but this close…

My eyes drop to his lips, full and soft. They part, but only to speak.

Confusion wrinkles his brow. “If they couldn’t kill you, why were they sent after us? To maim you and kill me?”

“No,” I say, shaking my head. I stifle a groan as my thigh stitches itself together. “They sent them to find us. They know where we are, now. They know which way we were headed. They’ll find us.”

Those words sew our lips shut, for we both know. This won’t be the last of the vampire and his pledge. And if this was just the search party, what awaits us down the path?

***

The things awaiting them down the path are pretty intense. Just so you know.

Subscribe and/or follow on social media to stay up to date on all things A Heart of Salt & Silver. It’s officially set to release on November 3rd of this year, and preorders will be available soon!

Stay awesome.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Project Updates

Hi, guys!

I have been super busy, and just now realized that it’s been a few weeks since I gave you any sort of real update on my writing progress, a situation which must be rectified.

Especially since the only project I haven’t worked on in some way, shape, or form here recently, is Where Darkness Leads.

Now, if you’ve been following along on social media, you already know that I set a goal to finish my thriller novella this month, and I definitely accomplished that.

My guesstimate for the word count that I’d need in order to finish it was way off, so I’ll be editing it to finish the word count goal on the nanaowrimo website.

Adjustments have been made for some beta reader feedback within the depths of Allmother Rising. It’s still being perused by several beta readers, so I’ll have more changes to make before jumping into another round of edits.

I’ve finished the reread of The Regonia Chronicles, and all week, I’ve been covering my arm in notes while at work. I shared a video of what my arm looked like after one work day with particularly talkative characters on twitter.

Check it out here: www.twitter.com/bell_elexis

But beware, my handwriting is atrocious. I don’t think you’ll glean much insight into the story from that video. Lol. (I even had to skip a word and figure out what it said by using context clues… And I wrote it. Lol. )

Anyway, this story is fucking ready to be written, and I’m pumped.

All the twists and turns are screaming to be put to paper (or screen).

And I’m fucking here for it.

There are a couple of adjustments that need made to book one to accommodate the timing of a couple things in book two, but I already know what to do with them. And since I have the next two days off work, I intend to make some serious progress.

Now, I’ve also been devouring audiobooks, lately.

And of course, I’ve been hard at work on release prep for A Heart of Salt & Silver. I’ve been designing some book merch. The formatting is done. The cover is set to be revealed THIS FREAKING TUESDAY!

It’ll be featured on a lot of book blogs, so if you’re looking for some new book bloggers to follow, I’ll show you where to look.

I’ll be setting the book up for pre-order this week, so I’ll be sure to let you all know when it’s available. Don’t forget to subscribe to make sure you know as soon as it’s up.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Three Types of Writers and What They Might Mean For You

Hi, guys!

There are so many ways to write a book. Every author has their own method, their own process. But there are a few basic types of writers that most can agree on, though some have different names for them.

For all the readers out there who are curious and for all the writers just looking to figure out where you fall (maybe you’re looking for a group of like-minded writers to seek out tips on streamlining the process you prefer, but need a name for your group), I’ll be going over three types of writers.

There’s the pantser, the plantser, and the plotter.

Basically, it’s a range of planning.

Plotters do ALL the planning.

They’ll take personality tests as their characters, building in depth profiles for every single one. They might spend months or even years building their world, ironing out every detail of that realm’s history, weather patterns, physics, and magic before ever putting down a single word of prose.

And they need that.

A lot of plotters feel lost or overwhelmed without those things. They need to have that organization, that detail, laid out before they start writing to ensure that when they start to write, they never mess anything up or forget anything.

Every twist and turn, every angle, every character development is planned and accounted for before they start writing.

Then, there’s the other end of the spectrum.

Pantsers (aka discovery writers, aka flashlight writers) jump right in. No planning. No outlines.

All that extra stuff, the detailed character profiles, the story bibles… feels like a waste of time to pantsers. It cages them in, restraining the characters and the story. It impinges on their creative freedom, a thing they value above all else.

They’d rather let the story unfold as they go, exploring the world and learning about the characters as the plot develops. That might mean going back and adjusting things every now and then to accommodate new developments, but that’s something they’re willing to do.

For these writers, the book is every bit as much of a mystery to them when writing as it is to readers. And they love it.

Characters often feel like separate entities and sometimes “refuse” to talk to them, a thing that plotters often put down to inadequate planning, but plotters chalk up to fully developed characters.

And then, there are the people in the middle.

Plantsers do some level of planning, but also enjoy the exploration and mystery.

They might put together a small outline, maybe a page or so, but deviate from it if necessary. And they probably won’t lose sleep over doing so.

They like to have an idea of how things will go and where the character arcs will lead them, but are open to change.

Personally, I tend to fall on the pantser end of the spectrum. If I know too much about a story when I start writing, I lose interest. Because there’s no freedom left in it.

There’s one story that I started writing several years ago, and one day, the ending just appeared in my mind, and I wrote it out, word for word, in complete detail.

And in my head, that story was done. I knew the ending. I knew how all the characters developed.

But the middle of the book wasn’t written.

And it still isn’t.

I’ve written several others instead.

Eventually, I’ll go back and write the middle of that one, but there are all these other ideas that haven’t reached a conclusion in my mind. Those just pull me in more than the one that’s “finished.”

Now, I do take notes as I go, putting character descriptions into a separate document as I go so I don’t give a side character blonde hair at the start of the book and black hair at the end.

But that’s about it.

What should all my fellow writers take away from this?

The resolution to write how you need to write. Everyone has their own process. Writing a book is an intensely personal experience. What works like a charm for one person might stop another in their tracks.

Write your book however you need to.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Celebrate Accomplishments (Even if there’s still more work to do)

Hi, guys!

Today, we’re talking about something that I’m particularly bad at… Celebrating your own achievements.

I know it’s important to step back and look at all that you’ve accomplished, every now and then. Keeping your eyes on your to-do list is a good way to end up overwhelmed, especially as writers, because our to-do list is basically infinite.

Between seemingly endless edits, all the nit-picky things involved in formatting, and the literally endless march of marketing…

It’s a lot.

Sometimes, you get into the groove and just start knocking shit out left and right. But other times, usually when you get to a step that you don’t feel like you excel at or one that you’re particularly picky about, it can feel like a lot.

For me, it’s the marketing that tends to feel overwhelming. For you, maybe it’s the writing or the editing or who knows.

There are all these different ways to measure your progress, all these different people and famous authors to compare ourselves to…

Which just makes our own progress seem lackluster by comparison, even when we’re making great strides.

Sometimes, you just have to set the to-do list aside and look back at what you’ve already done.

I’m not saying stop making forward progress altogether, but maybe just take a second to appreciate the work you’ve already put in.

I’m particularly bad about this.

I have a lot of perfectionist tendencies and a fear of disappointing people and always put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed. And in such a subjective field, i get to define what I consider success, but since it’s me, that means the standards are always going to be insanely high.

So, I keep my gaze trained on the stuff I have yet to do, rather than the things I’ve already done.

On the one hand, I keep pushing forward. But on the other… I never quite feel good enough or like I’ve done enough.

And sometimes, being a perfectionist can actually stop you from reaching completely reachable goals.

But there’s one thing I know I can do to try to help myself with this.

I need to start celebrating my accomplishments. And if this is something you struggle with, you probably should, too.

Instead of thinking, “I only wrote 1,000 words today,” celebrate the fact that you wrote 1,000 words. That’s 1,000 words that didn’t exist in that order before. That’s 1,000 words’ worth of character development and world building, bringing things and people to life that weren’t there before.

If you submit your book to an editor, don’t stress over the changes you’ll inevitably have to make. Celebrate the fact that the book is written.

I’ll be trying to focus more on thoughts like this in the future. If you struggle to feel like you’re doing enough even when you’re making progress, maybe you should too.

To that end, instead of being upset with myself that I haven’t finished writing Second to None yet or finished my read through of The Regonia Chronicles, I’m going to celebrate the fact that I’m almost done with both of those things.

And instead of beating myself up for not having all of my release prep stuff done for A Heart of Salt & Silver, I’m going to be happy that I’ve finished the formatting and have the cover reveal set up.

Rather than lamenting the books I haven’t sat down to read, I’ll just remember (and review!) the ones I listened to.

Now, it’s your turn. Tell me something you’ve accomplished lately, be it in the comments here or on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Writing Diversity

Hi, guys!

So, I read a book recently that was meant to feature an empowering female lead and be LGBT friendly and such.

But it was pretty mishandled.

The female lead did want equality for women, but she was also…a manipulative, scheming, murderous bitch. Not exactly a role model, by any means.

100% it was written through the perspective of a villain. Which is cool. It was interesting enough for me to finish it.

But in a Q&A, the author said she wanted it to empower women. Seducing a man with the intent to take everything he has…That’s no role model.

That’s a bitch.

And the LGBT aspect consisted of one side character with very few speaking parts, but every time he danced with a guy, it was pointed out as if to say, “Hey, look, I’m inclusive.”

And it kinda breaks the world a bit because it’s set in a society VERY similar to Victorian England.

Two dudes dancing probably wasn’t gonna happen.

Now, I’m all for writing diversity into your books. Characters with the goal of equality are great.

But DON’T shoehorn diversity in for the sake of patting yourself on the back for being inclusive.

That ain’t how it works, my dudes.

If you do that, it will be obvious, and it will not make you look like a hero.

You want to know how to properly write diversity?

Write people.

That’s it.

It’s that goddamn simple.

Look at the world you’ve built. Look at their individual backstories. Look at their cultures. Shape each character as an individual within that culture with those experiences.

Don’t rely on stereotypes. Just write people.

Diversity will come naturally if you do that.

Honor the setting if it’s historical.

If your story takes place in medieval Scotland, don’t drop one Asian guy in there with no reasonable explanation and call yourself inclusive. If it’s set in Victorian England, don’t drop one flamboyant gay guy in there and pat yourself on the back.

If it’s a fantasy setting wherein everyone is seen as equal, then those things that tend to divide us should hold no bearing over their personality, whatsoever. Their experiences would shape them far more than the color of their skin or who they go to bed with.

If it’s set in a place where there is a lot of division, still don’t go to stereotypes. Build a person.

Think about what you’re writing and the way those characters interact with the world you’ve built.

Maybe the division in their land made them more defiant or more repressed, more prideful or more self-conscious. It isn’t going to guarantee they act one specific way.

Just write people.

Period.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Why You Should Let Your Readers Use Their Imagination

Hi, guys!

I was talking with a friend a couple days ago about 2 sentence horror stories. I don’t know if you’ve looked any up, but there are some really good ones out there.

And they are absolutely beautiful in their simplicity.

Because sometimes, it isn’t so much what’s said as what isn’t said. It lets the reader’s mind fill in the gaps with all sorts of horrors, personalizing it to fit their individual fears.

But simplicity shouldn’t be reserved for 2 sentence horror stories.

We don’t live in the Edwardian times, anymore.

You can write like that if you want, of course, supplying the reader with literally every detail of every object within sight. You can use an absolutely overwhelming amount of descriptors to tell your readers the exact curvature of a sphere.

But do you have to?

No.

Should you always do that?

No.

Certain scenes demand a simpler, less detailed account. (Fight scenes, sex scenes, transitional scenes which just show the passage of time, etc.)

Personally, I prefer books that don’t beat me to death with the color of the throw pillows or the shape of each doily (complete with the pattern and the type of stitch most commonly used to attain that pattern).

I like fast-paced books that let me fill in the decorations with my own imagination. It’s certainly active enough to supply the details.

Character development and plot are far more important to me than the number of freckles on a person’s face.

Because that little bit of personalization, that little bit that’s different for every reader is part of the magic.

There’s the magic of sharing an entire world that you’ve created with other people. And there’s the magic of that world meaning something different to each person that enters it.

That makes it more real.

We don’t notice every detail of every object in our lives. Why the fuck would our characters?

Why should the reader?

Let them get tunnel vision when the book draws them in. Let them get so wrapped up in a climactic scene that the background becomes just that… background.

Now, as for my own work, I’ve been reading through what I have of The Regonia Chronicles to reacquaint myself with the characters. And it’s shown me just how much I’ve learned, even just in the last couple of years.

Don’t get me wrong, I still absolutely love the story and the characters.

But I’m gonna have a lot of editing to do. Lol.

I’ve also been prepping some cover reveal stuff for A Heart of Salt & Silver and finalizing the map. I’ll be moving on to formatting, soon.

Which means I’ll be announcing a release date, soon!

Subscribe to my newsletter to make sure you don’t miss any of the big announcements (or the upcoming giveaway).

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.