Really…What are you waiting for?

Hi, guys!

So, I’m sure that, of the people here, the majority of you found your way here from Instagram or Facebook.

Which means that you likely saw the Shatner/Captain Kirk meme about novels not completing themselves. If not, don’t worry because that’s the gist of it.

Novels don’t write themselves.

There’s this problem called procrastination, though. It seems to get the best of everyone, at some point or another.

But it doesn’t have to.

Now, the first problem here isn’t actually the procrastination. It’s why you’re procrastinating.

Are you afraid your work won’t be good?

Here’s a hint, it can’t be good if you don’t write it.

Maybe you don’t know where to start.

Maybe try outlining.

I don’t do it, but it helps a lot of people.

Just don’t get so hung up on all the tiny details like the birthday of the MC’s fourth cousin three times removed, who plays no role in the story, but you feel like you should have everything lined out before you put a single word of prose into a document, when really you’re just procrastinating again.

Maybe you’re procrastinating because secretly you don’t want to write, but don’t know how to admit that to everyone you’ve already told that you’re a writer. (If that’s the case, you need to address why you’re afraid to be honest with those people.)

No matter what, you need to figure out why you’re procrastinating.

Then, you need to cut the bullshit.

Quit pretending all those DVDs need re-alphabetized, or whatever you’re doing to avoid writing.

If you don’t want to be a writer, that’s a different matter altogether. You have to come to terms with that.

But if you do, if you want to be a writer, then at some point…

You have to write.

That’s literally all it takes.

So get out of your way and write.

If you’re afraid that it’ll be bad, type one terrible sentence, just to get your fingers on the keys, then just don’t stop. It’s not like you’re going to write a bunch of stuff worse than that first sentence.

And if you do?

So fucking what.

First drafts aren’t perfect. They aren’t meant to be.

They’re just meant to be written.

You’re going to go through multiple rounds of editing, anyway, be it self-editing, having a friend who’s a grammar nut go through it, or hiring a professional.

And if you’re not editing anything, if you’re self-publishing your first draft, you’re doing this wrong.

That’s about the only thing in the writing world that can, without a doubt, be judged as right or wrong. Everything else is subjective as hell.

But if you’re not editing AT ALL before publishing, you’re doing it wrong.

So lighten up.

Get over yourself.

Your first draft will not be perfect.

And that’s fine.

It doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to be written.

Get rid of all the pressure of getting it perfect and write something.

Anything.

Even if you delete the entire scene from the final story.

So long as you’re writing.

Now, I’ll step off my soapbox. Lol.

This past week, I completed my last round of pre-professional edits on The Gem of Meruna. It’s going off for proofreading in October, at which point I’ll likely announce the official re-release date.

I made huge headway on editing my post-apocalyptic novel, formerly known as After. I’m changing the title because I don’t want my story to get lost beneath the pile of other stories called After.

I came up with a new title and put together a mock up for the cover, which I really like. It got a positive reaction from my husband, who knows a thing or two about art/design, and I’ll be asking some writer friends for their opinion soon.

I also decided to change the title of Salt and Silver to avoid clashing titles with a fellow writer, and even came up with a new one. And a potential cover design idea for it.

And…super exciting…I ordered the copies of Soul Bearer that I’ll be giving away! They should be here within a couple weeks, at which point I’ll plaster pictures of them all over the internet and announce the official rules and prizes.

And I started reading Bird Box. And made it like halfway through. I’ll post a review when I finish it, of course, but so far I’m enjoying it. I’m definitely glad I watched the movie first, thus avoiding the inevitable “I can’t believe they left that out, now I’m angry” moments.

Holy crap, guys.

I didn’t realize how busy I’ve been. Lol.

For now, though, I need some sleep. Work dragged on today, and I am exhausted.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Keep It Punchy

Hi, guys!

So, the hardback proof of Soul Bearer came in this week (the paperback should be in today/tomorrow, and I’ll put up pictures after that. Idk why they shipped separately). It’s so exciting to see it, to finally hold it in my hands after staring at it on a computer screen for so long.

It still doesn’t quite feel real. Lol.

Of course, there are a couple things that need adjusted, some things that didn’t translate to print how they should have (hence the need for a proof copy), and I’ll have to adjust those. But it’s in my library, now.

It’s on my shelf, and I freaking love it!

I’ll stop gushing now though, and get to the point. Lol. The physical copy sparked a conversation between my husband and I. He expected the hard back copy to be thicker than it is.

It’s not a super long novel, by any means, coming in at just over 70,000 words. High fantasy, nowadays has a tendency to run pretty long though, sometimes topping out above 100,000 words.

There’s this trend lately for books to be huge, lengthy tomes that, if used as a weapon, could knock someone senseless. (Ironically.)

Now, my husband is a huge fan of Andre Norton. He has about one sixth of her books (which is saying something, since she wrote several hundred). She wrote high fantasy and scifi. But her average word count was, I think, between 40,000 and 50,000 per book.

Nowadays, that’s considered a novella, not a novel.

So many people want big books, now.

Anyway, my husband asked how I get so much stuff into my books, without the books being far longer. And my answer kinda surprised me. Lol.

I hadn’t thought about it until the words came out of my mouth.

I told him that I use my world building to build my characters, and my characters to build my world. I multitask.

Doing the two things separately just fills the pages…for no reason.
I mean, the main characters are going to play a pivotal role in shaping the world they live in, especially in fantasy, otherwise they wouldn’t be the main character.

So showing their experiences relative to the world…makes sense.

For them to have motive to change things, they have to have been affected by the negative sides of their world at some point. So showing their world relative to them…makes sense.

Okay, I feel like I’m talking in circles, so I’ll give examples.

In Soul Bearer, Aurisye is looked down on and treated horribly for being half-Orc. That tells the reader that the two races don’t get along (they’re actually at war), and builds up who she is…an outcast.

Rafnor joined the military for equal treatment. He grew up poor, and was bullied over it (so money is important in their realm, another problem for Aurisye). But the military runs on skill and the ability to improve, rather than on basis of connections or finances.

Now, in Salt and Silver, Ness is a demi-demon. That alone tells you a few things about her world. It tells you that, in the world of Theran, demons are real, whether you believe in them in our world or not. It also tells you that they can, at times, walk the earth, and procreate with humans.

The existence of demons implies the existence of gods, otherwise a different word would’ve been chosen in place of demon. It sets up the juxtaposition to imply that yes, the gods are real and can be interacted with.

In the opening scene, she’s called a witch, telling you that magic exists in their realm.

Which brings us to the word choice topic again. I wanted to have one term for magic users, regardless of gender, and I wanted it to be one that would be instantly recognizable.

Choices?

Wizard, witch, mage, or caster.

Caster might not be recognized outside the gamer community, so it was out.

Mage works for Soul Bearer because it implies the use of spells, runes, and potions alike. Mage also has a connotation of prestige, of exclusivity. Since not everyone in Visun (the world of Soul Bearer) can use magic, that holds true. The term also lends itself nicely to high councils (which is a thing in Soul Bearer).

Wizard instantly conjures the wizarding world of Harry Potter, where only certain people can access magic, primarily through the use of wands. Sure, magical items, potions, and divination exist, but mostly, it’s commanded with wands.

And in Salt and Silver, that isn’t the case.

Anyone can access magical energy, but most don’t care to. It relies heavily on potion making, devotions to multiple gods or demons, and occasional sacrifices. Basically, it’s useful, but tedious and time consuming for mortals. It’s a skill that has to be developed, much like leather working.

For most, it’s easier to pay someone else to do it.

The term witch makes me think of potion making and lonely little cottages in the woods. It calls to mind paganism and a deeper understanding of nature.

And that’s what I wanted for Salt and Silver.

One word can have such a huge impact on the atmosphere of the world.

Making sure you have those pivotal words down can make a world of difference in the length of a book.

Another Salt and Silver example. I didn’t have to explain that their country is divided up into city states led by their own militaries, because when shit hits the fan, they consult the leader of the local chapter of Knights. That alone spared me several pages of exposition on the way their country is set up.

Basically, it all boils down to that old adage, show vs. tell.

If you show me your character sitting in a classroom, zoning out during a calculus lesson amidst kids who are just a bit older, I’m going to assume they’re in high school, taking advanced classes.

You don’t have to tell me what grade they’re in or what grade the other students are in. You don’t have to tell me they’re attending high school. You can let the character’s mind wander over the problems they’re facing (i.e. the point of the story), thus building the world and the character in the same scene.

If you need me to know that your character is having relationship problems, add in a flashback to a fight or have their partner’s voice echo through their head. That way you can show me the tone of voice, you can show why they’re fighting…how they’re fighting.

And all those things build the world that the characters are living in. It paints a picture of the life they lead, in addition to showing the personalities and desires of the characters.

Of course, there are times where you just need to tell something, and get it over with. A quick thought or comment could do that without devoting page after page to an explanation of the country’s history.

At any rate, there needs to be balance between showing and telling, and that balance lands in different places along the spectrum for every author.

I tend to lean more toward showing. Obviously. Lol. I like my stories…punchy.

The point is, it’s possible to write high fantasy in less than 100,000 words. Lol.

So, if you find yourself falling short of that mark when writing fantasy, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything bad about your writing. There’s the chance that maybe you missed something, but it could just be that you eliminate most exposition.

Anyway, I’ll stop rambling, now.

Over the past week, I did some editing on The Gem of Meruna, and did some work toward the Soul Bearer release. I also added a chapter to Salt and Silver to fill in a plot issue pointed out by beta readers, and filled out the playlist for my sci-fi series.

Basically, I’m jumping from one story to another like a damn maniac.

And this coming week promises to be just as chaotic.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Writing with Style

Hey, guys!

So, I’m in several writing groups, and the big one on facebook (Fiction Writing, 90,000+ members) has had a lot of posts asking a pretty similar question, here lately. “I have an idea for a story, but there are already so many stories like this out there. Should I even bother writing it?”

Such a loaded question, but a very simple answer.

As long as you’re not just straight up stealing someone’s work, write your story. It won’t be like the other stories, because it’ll be yours, written with your voice, in your style.

Who gives a fuck how many werewolf stories there are, or how many accidental baby with a billionaire stories have been written. If you have an idea about an accidental baby with a billionaire werewolf, fucking go for it.

Because your individual writing style and voice will change it, and make it unique.

Individual writing styles vary so much that it’s insane. Some writers even use different styles for different types of stories.

So, as long as you have a clear style and voice, you can write whatever you want.

Seriously.

Whatever you want.

Writing style let’s you get away with some serious shit.

Hell, at one point in his short story, “The End of the Whole Mess,” Stephen King forsakes spelling, punctuation, and every rule of grammar. And without that section, the story would’ve been…meh.

With it?

The story was phenomenal. I think back to it frequently, even though I read it like 5 months ago.

I’m not going say why he does it, or when, because it’s a pretty major plot device. It MAKES the story.

But it happens. Every basic writing rule…gone. And because of the style the story was written in, not spelling anything properly or bothering with punctuation…it enhances the story rather than taking away from it.

Side note…the shit you want to get away with has to be intentional. Don’t just bury your head in the sand, and refuse to learn about writing. Don’t pretend rules don’t exist or apply to you.

Don’t be that cocky.

If you’re gonna break a rule, don’t just say, “That’s how I write,” and expect everyone to think it’s awesome. Lol. You need to have a reason, and an understanding of how it affects the story.

Now, if you want an example that doesn’t seem so unattainable (because Stephen King is pretty high up there), my personal writing style is meant to be like you’re in the mind of the character. It reads sorta like a mixture of thought and direct experience, even when I write in third person for the sake of clarity when switching points of view.

Therefore, it’s rife with sentence fragments and occasional repetition. Because people don’t think or experience things in perfectly composed sentences.

I use curse words and sarcasm. Since I write very naturally, it makes sense. People curse. People get snarky sometimes. It happens.

I use enough description to get the point across, but no more, and only stuff the character would notice. Writing the scenes in such a direct way means that the character isn’t going to pay attention to the type of fabric every other person’s clothes are made of, or the type of trees in the careful landscaping at someone else’s house. Not unless they’re a seamstress or landscaper. Maybe not even then, if their mind is otherwise occupied.

And I pack the stories with emotion and dark subjects. If the story calls for gore or violence, well, it’s gonna be in there.

Not everyone wants to focus on trauma or battle scenes. Not everyone wants curse words. (Clearly, I don’t mind them. Lol.)

The book I’m currently reading (Winterhued by E. H. Alger) is in a genre that I write in a lot (fantasy romance), but is nothing like my books.

It begs to be read in an old English accent. It’s got beautiful, flowery writing and rich description. So far, it’s stayed away from heavy battle scenes, and focused more on the interpersonal goings-on of a besieged castle.

Had I written about a besieged castle with knights and a princess and ladies-in-waiting, it would have been a very different book aimed at a different audience. But Alger wrote it, using a different style, and a different voice, and different ideas.

Not writing it because other people have written about castles and knights would’ve been silly and sad.

It’s beautiful, and there’s no substitute. The author’s voice, the author’s style, and individual spin on things are what make the book unique.

So, to sum up, if someone else wrote about a vampire that used to be a viking and is also an angel (yeah, seriously, it’s been done. It’s a seven book series by Sandra Hill) that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t.

Because it won’t be the same story.

Write what you want, even if someone else wrote a story about the same general principal.

So. Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

P.S.- I haven’t read that series by Sandra Hill, but I love the title for the last book. “The Angel Wore Fangs” is catchy as fuck.

Character like a Coloring Book

Hello, all!

So, first I want to tell you to get your butts over to my social platforms! I’m talking about my (soon to be released) fantasy romance, Soul Bearer, in a July challenge for the next couple weeks, and you should check it out. 🙂 Also, check out World Indie Warriors (the group hosting the challenge) if you want to participate. There will be a giveaway at the end.

Now, with the plug behind me, I want to talk about the work that goes into building a character. Because there’s a lot of work involved.

You don’t just come up with a name, their appearance and favorite color, and then that’s it. That would make for some shitty characters, and an even shittier book.

So, here we go. Because no one wants to read a half ass book full of characters as vivid as the pages of a brand new coloring book.

Okay, first (and most obvious thing) is their personality. Snippy? Compassionate? Ice queen?

Pick one per character, and fucking stick to it. Unless a plot point catalyzes a personality change. If someone is super kind and sweet and optimistic and soft spoken, and they have everything ripped away from them, don’t fucking tell me they won’t ever question the point of caring.

Life changes us. Why wouldn’t it change the characters? We need to see how they develop, what they learn, what they struggle with…

Now, you have to figure out why they’re that way. You don’t get to just say, “Because I want them to be that way.”

Nah. That’s some bullshit.

So, this is where their past comes into play. Some people are naturally shy, yes, but has their life intensified that? Or maybe it taught them to come out of their shell.

Or maybe they pushed through all sorts of hardship, through sheer force of will, because they don’t see any option but to keep going.

You have to plot out a past that helps to shape them into the person they are, and makes sense.

Keep in mind, it has to make sense. Unlike real life, people expect fiction to be believable. If I threw every shitty experience I’ve ever had at one character, people would throw the book away.

“Oh, of course she walks out on the front porch, first thing in the fucking morning, and finds a dead kitten, in pieces. Of fucking course.”

(Side story, but yeah, that actually happened. One mama cat had her baby, her first litter, and it didn’t make it. My husband and I couldn’t get to it to bury it, because we’re not cat size. Another mama wanted the spot a couple weeks later, got the dead kitten out, and promptly deposited it on the front porch for us to see. Not a good day.)

So, you have to meter the trauma. Spread it out a bit, make it believable. Look at statistics. Study psychology to see how shit affects people. Make it believable.

Give them quirks and habits and odd behaviors to make them real and relatable.

Now, there’s the issue of friends. If your MC likes who they are, they’ll probably seek out people with at least some similarities. If they dislike themselves, they might have friends who are their opposite.

People seek out friends and significant others who embody traits they find desirable. That’s why there are so many books and movies where shy girls befriend super outgoing party girls, and vice versa.

Or, maybe they want to be around people like themselves for the sake of common ground, even if they don’t like their own personality. Because then they can be miserable together.

My point is, there needs to be a reason (aside from convenience for your plot) for them to willingly surround themselves with these people.

And then there’s family life to consider. Good childhood vs. bad, and what made it that way. What influenced their thinking as they grew and developed?

Chances are, since they’re your MC, their childhood was probably shit. Or maybe it was fantastic, until they reached adulthood, and then everything went to shit, making them the equivalent of a 90s kid. A bitter, nostalgic adult wishing the world looked like the one they were promised as a child.

Oof. That may have been too real.

We’re talking about fiction here…lmao.

Anyway…Making people is incredibly complicated.

Read up on psychology. It helps. This wasn’t what I intended to use my bachelor’s degree for (I planned to go to grad school, and become a therapist), but I like this use of it better. This career path is for me.

Becoming a therapist was just so people wouldn’t question my career choice. Because no one questions that. They just say they know a few people who need to come see you, and offer to send you clients. Lol.

Though…it is ironic. I didn’t want to spend hour after hour hunched over a desk or worrying about whether people would hurt themselves or others because of something I said wrong. Now, I’m trying to make a career out of spending hour after hour…working away at my computer…worrying over which people will hurt others or themselves…because of things I say…Lmao.

But it’s fictional people. And that makes it okay. Lol.

Alright. I’ve rambled long enough.

I’m more than halfway through this round of edits for The Gem of Meruna, with a possible cover. I’m a quarter of the way through the final edits of Soul Bearer, and am introducing it on IG and FB.

Forward progress. 🙂

I’m pretty excited.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Wish Fulfillment…and why you probably shouldn’t write it…

Hello, all!

So, fiction is supposed to be about living different lives, looking through different eyes, sometimes at different worlds or different versions of our world, right?

Right.

There’s this tendency when writing fiction, though, where a lot of authors write themselves directly into their book. Not just bits and pieces of themselves, but their whole self in one character.

And, unless it’s fan fiction, that’s bad. For a lot of reasons.

Now, don’t get me wrong, use parts of your life, parts of yourself. have at it. I do it, all the time. I give one character my favorite color, and another drives a car like mine. One gets my anger, and another feels my guilt. Some get an experience that I’ve gone through, though I always tweak them (either amping them up or cooling them to a simmer) to make it fit the story and/or world.

Basically, you want one of your characters to have dealt with a certain bad experience from your past because you went through it, and thus understand it?

Cool. That character has a good chance of seeming genuine, because you know the emotions they would experience, to a degree (They may have a different personality, and thus may cope differently.).

But don’t also make that character look just like you, and act just like you, and think like you…and have a name that’s a thinly veiled variation of your name (or middle name).

When you’re writing for the sake of wish fulfillment, a lot of times, the story is sacrificed for the sake of…getting what you want. Things get twisted, and moved around, and massaged into place, all for the sake of getting the personal satisfaction that the author wants.

That isn’t what writing is about, necessarily. Yes, there is satisfaction in a good story, but…the story comes first. The story should always come first.

And fiction has to make sense. It has to be believable, and relatable…to more than one person.

Another problem with wish fulfillment in writing (because fuck smooth topic segues) is that it breeds a lack of diversity. If all your main characters are exactly like you…well, that’s pretty much the exact opposite of diversity.

If you always write about a short white girl because you’re a short white girl, or always write about a tall black man because you’re a tall black man…you’re not really stretching yourself. If you always write straight characters, or always write gay characters, because that’s what you are…then you’re not looking at the world through different eyes.

If you do that, over and over, your stuff is going to be boring as fuck. You don’t want that. Your readers don’t want that.

Side note…not all of your characters are going to logically be the same race/gender/sexuality as your main character. Mix that shit up. Common sense. There are a lot of different types of people.

Those differences lead to conflict and (eventual) resolution. You know, that thing that’s essential to a good story.

Anyway, back to wish fulfillment. Where was I?

Ah, yes.

The clapback…

When you write stuff that obviously falls into this category, you’ll probably get some crap for it. “Oh, he wrote about a character that looks just like him, and sounds just like him, and the character just went around hooking up with all these girls who were just hovering on the brink of being legal…God, he’s a perv…”

Do you really want that? (The backlash, not the hook up thing.)

No. No one wants their book to be mocked. We want our books to be well-received. (Perhaps even loved.)

And what if people don’t realize it’s wish fulfillment, and bash on your character? What if they call him/her boring or weak? Or worse, an over-inflated side character? It’s going to hurt. You’re going to be super attached, and get your feelings hurt, because…that’s you.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure you’re all awesome in your own way. But blatant wish fulfillment tends to…not always be well thought out. But I don’t want every book I read to have the exact same main character…

Sometimes, this beast takes the form of a super character. An idealized, perfect person, with no flaws and no problems. Which instantly loses all relatability.

And then, that brings us back to the whole…boring thing. If the character has no flaws or problems, then what’s the point of the story? They’re not struggling with any major problem.

It just becomes the tedious march toward death that we all live every single day.

And, let me tell you, I ain’t about to read four hundred pages of some perfect bitch living a perfect life.

Now, I’m not going to lie to you. I have tropes that I enjoy writing and reading. Outcasts/underdogs. Strong female leads. Battle-worn and downtrodden, but rising to the occasion. Self-sacrificing hero types (even better if they realize what they’re doing, and see the shit they bring upon themselves by always playing hero).

And, yeah, I refuse to write a damsel in distress (unless she were to rise to the occasion later on), or a slutty brat, or a stereotypical jock as my main character.

But avoiding/preferring certain tropes is different. If you like your leading ladies to be delicate, wilting-flower types, write the shit out of them!

But don’t write yourself as them.

Give them a trait or two that you possess, then make up the rest of their lives and personalities from scratch.

Get creative with it, and have some fun.

Now, I’ll step off my soap box…Lol.

So, anyway…I’m about halfway through my edit of The Gem of Meruna. At work, after building out (a.k.a. I built the amount of tires I’m supposed to build in the entire shift before the end of the shift, and thus could sit in the cafeteria), I started editing Soul Bearer.

That one will be the next release! I’m so fucking excited to get it out for you guys to read.

I’ll be doing a challenge on IG and FB (challenge set forth by World Indie Warriors) in July, wherein I’ll begin talking about the story, introducing characters, sharing a couple scenes, etc.

So, if you’re curious about my upcoming fantasy romance novel, or want writing memes (I’ve been posting a lot of those lately for some reason), follow me on IG or FB. Links below.

If you’re a fellow indie writer, check out World Indie Warriors. It’s still new, but there are a lot of plans in the works. You can participate in the July challenge with us, and, by doing so, be entered to win a box of goodies, including some signed books!

Anyway, I’ve talked your ears off (or typed your eyes out) long enough.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

It’s a Trap!

Hello, all!

So, you’re probably going to think I’m being wishy-washy, but I swear, I’m not. I’m going to have to edit The Gem of Meruna.

Now, hear me out.

Last week, I said I would only edit it if I found a lot of grammar errors or problems, and I cannot, in good conscience, rerelease it in its current state.

Not that it’s bad, but I’ve learned so much about the craft of writing over the past five years, and the state this book is in just…falls way short of the mark.

For those of you who’ve read it, don’t worry. The story isn’t changing. It’s just sentence structure and stuff like that. It needs tightened up. Honestly, it could probably stand to lose about 5,000 words, over all, just by fixing the lengthy sentences and losing the few instances of passive voice.

But this is a good thing.

It means that I’m learning more and more about writing as time goes by.

Which, in my opinion, is how you tell a good writer from a bad one. Good writers keep trying to improve.

Bad ones…think they don’t need to. They think their work is the best in existence, a gift to the world, and to edit or tweak it, or change their process at all is tantamount to blasphemy.

But that’s bullshit.

Bad writers can write good stories, and good writers can write bad stories. That’s not what I’m getting at, here.

The day you stop learning and growing as a writer (or as a person) is the day that you become a bad writer. Even if your stuff is gold, there is always room for improvement or experimentation.

And there is always room for editing.

Of course, at some point, you have to pull the trigger, and release your work upon the world, but it needs polished, first. I’ve read several books lately that could have stood to undergo one or two, or five, more rounds of edits. (I won’t name them, because I’m not here to trash talk other writers. My point is…edit your fucking books. Lol.)

Anyway, this will be the last rerelease I do. Any future books will be edited, published, and left the fuck alone.

The first time around for Meruna was a train wreck, though. Lol. (And I need it rereleased under my married name so it’ll be on my Amazon Author page with the rest of my books.)

You see, I went through a vanity press, because I didn’t know better. At that point, I didn’t know what that meant. I assumed it was a normal publisher, and that everything they did was, well, normal.

But…no.

Not at all.

They did no professional edit.

I arranged the cover art myself. (A.K.A. My husband, an incredibly talented artist, did it.) A traditional publisher (what I thought I was doing) would have done editing and had a cover done by their own artists.

They formatted and printed the book, and charged me for their services. Since I didn’t know that isn’t how the publishing industry is supposed to work, I gladly signed and paid.

Then, I regretted it when…nothing happened.

Because, unless I paid them more money, they weren’t about to do any marketing.

All this was in the contract, of course, making it completely legal.

But I didn’t know, at the time, that that wasn’t how it would have happened with a traditional publisher.

The big difference is that traditional publishers and self publishers make their money off sales.

Vanity presses make their money off the authors.

Which is why I still get calls from them, five and a half years later, trying to talk me into paying them for more (subpar) marketing, primarily by talking over me and not letting me get a word in edgewise.

The worst part is that…once I realized my mistake, I was super embarrassed. I didn’t know any better. I was just a noob, trying to get a book published. But I was mortified. I didn’t want to tell anyone. I was terrified that someone would ask how I got published. But I should’ve talked about it.

I’m certainly not the only person who’s done this. I know of others who’ve had much MUCH worse experiences with vanity presses than I had. So, I’m definitely not alone in this. I could have been commiserating with them so much sooner, helping myself to feel less awful about it, and actually dealing with the problem.

Now, this isn’t where I intended to go with this blog, but I think people need to know that vanity presses are not the same as self or traditional publishers. People need to know how/why they’re different. (I’ll talk about what I was going to talk about next week.)

So, learn from my mistake.

If a publisher requires money upfront, run.

They should pay you, not the other way around.

Of course, if you self publish, the cost of editing, cover design, formatting, and a copyright is on you. Some of those things, you can do yourself, but the cost is on you regardless. But the printing and distribution costs come out of the purchase price of the book. Not your pocket.

Keep that in mind.

For now…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

P.S. – Fun fact, for those of you who came here via my IG or FB…The picture I chose for this is especially fitting for me this week. I got bit by either a tick carrying lyme disease or a brown recluse spider…eight goddamn times. Two of the bites did that whole…bullseye thing. Red ring with bruising around the outside (one the size of a fruit can, and the other the size of a half dollar coin). Feels great…

Antibiotics are helping, though. So, yeah.

But yeah, the two things have the same symptoms, apparently, and look pretty similar. The main difference is that tick bites usually have a tick in them, and brown recluse bites usually happen in pairs (at most) and turn necrotic. None of those things happened. I found no tick. There was no necrosis.

So…who fucking knows. All I know is that I want to rip the skin off my legs to stop them from itching. Yay!

Bye.

Lol.

*waves*

Handle with Care

Hello, all!

It would seem that my overactive mind is not the only thing rejecting this “just editing, no writing” phase that I’m in. My body is, as well. Lol.

For those of you who don’t know, I work in a factory. I operate a machine the size of a small house to produce tires. Now, apart from the occasional breaks to go load more material into the machine (which means pushing things, by hand, which weigh anywhere from 200 lbs to 2500 lbs), I do the same 75 second cycle over and over again. It involves a great deal of repetitive hand movements, and a lot of walking in circles from one part of the machine to another.

Repetitive hand movements tend to cause problems, and my wrists have started this blasted aching…possibly tendinitis.

Well, this week, I was off an extra day (because anniversary). My wrists felt so much better. I chalked it up to a combination of being off work an extra day and not typing (because editing is mostly staring at the words, and agonizing over whether or not they’re correct). But now, after working only 32 hours this week, my wrists feel even worse than they did before.

I think the typing involved in actively writing a book may have actually been helping me. I think it was stretching my hands and wrists in a different way, easing the tension/inflammation from work. And now that I’m just editing, that stretching isn’t happening. And it’s worse.

By the way, I do the recommended stretches at the beginning of each shift for my wrists. I also do them throughout the shift, as the ache progresses.

I just really hope I don’t end up having to have surgery or something. Carpal tunnel surgery is a pretty common thing where I work, and it would basically put me out of commission for typing for a while, or at least relegate me to the slow hunt-and-peck method of one handed typing.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Anyway, I’ve made really good progress on the initial edit of Salt and Silver, and I think The Gem of Meruna is shorter. So, the final revisions for it should be quicker. But I may have to start writing alongside my edits.

Ya know.

For my health. Lol.

*shakes head*

Factory work is so hard on the body. Steel toes on concrete floors for 8 to 12 hours is bad enough. Then, there’s the repetition…

And my body is stupid enough on its own.

I never have enough iron, vitamin d, b12, or calcium. I have eczema, so my skin is fucking dumb, picking random patches to just suddenly become unbearably itchy when I’m stressed. I have a circulatory issue called Raynaud’s Syndrome. Basically, the arteries in my wrists and ankles overreact to cold and stress. They constrict, cutting off blood to my hands and feet. Super fun. As is the ice bath test used to diagnose the damn thing.

(They measured the temperature of my hands, submerged them in ice water for 10 minutes, then measured the temperature once a minute for the following 20 minutes. Those numbers were compared to the warm up of a normal person’s hands. It was absolutely agonizing.)

Minor scoliosis (super minor) and early onset arthritis top it all off quite nicely.

Though, the factory work, and the muscle I had to build up to do my job, actually helped the arthritis. Mine is mostly in my knees. Since I have to use my legs to push all the super heavy shit, my legs are quite a bit stronger. The extra muscles have stabilized my knees, and taken some of the burden off the joints.

So, I guess it isn’t all bad for me. Lol.

But, apparently, just editing and not writing is bad for my health. Lol.

So, though I’m two thirds of the way through my first edit of Salt and Silver, I’m going to have to write alongside it, and see if my theory pans out. Not that I’m at all disappointed by this. Lol. I already miss writing, and it’s only been a couple weeks. Maybe a week and a half.

Anyway, stay tuned for more complaining and ranting next week. Lol. In the meantime, I’m just gonna push on through. As usual.

Because I have shit to do, and no one’s gonna do it for me.

So, in a similar vein, do what you gotta do, and get your shit done. Lol.

And, as usual…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Sating the Monster

Hello, all!

There’s a quote by Franz Kafka that I love. “A non-writing writer is a monster courting disaster.”

It feels 100% accurate, most of the time, let me tell you.

When you write a lot, it becomes such a huge part of your day, of your life, really, that not writing makes you…anxious. Like there are a million words about three thousand worlds and people, all itching to get out.

Because there are.

Beneath the skin, behind the eyes, of every writer, there lie untold universes. And they’re all trapped, until they meet the page (or the screen). They claw and scratch and shout for freedom.

It’s hard to explain, but every character feels like a real person, with their own mind and heart and decision making abilities.

And they all want their time in the limelight.

Denying that…is hard. Focus drifts back to the story, to the world that you so badly want to be putting to paper. Things that stop you from writing become…a hassle. (Work, chores, etc.)

So, a non-writing writer…a bit of a time bomb. Lol.

But this week, disaster was averted.

I started the week on page 41 of 102 with the rewrite of the first half of Salt and Silver. Now, I’m sitting rather comfortably at the end of page 86 of 112.

And I’m so freaking excited about it!

Of course, I’m still anxious to get through the rewrite and finish the story, but this is just going so well. Now, that I’ve given myself over to the idea of cutting things out, somehow, I’m actually adding pages to the story as I go.

*sighs contentedly*

It’s been a good week.

Anyway, a couple other updates. I’ll be doing an alchemy themed photoshoot in the coming days or weeks. One of the MC’s in Salt and Silver, Ness, is a demi-demon, and she isn’t exactly accepted in polite society. So, she mixes potions and salves in her mountain cottage to sell for coin when she has to venture into towns.

I plan to base the photoshoot around her.

I even made some of the pendants from the story. She has various necklaces draped around the necks of bottles throughout her home, and I wanted to include them. Since I’ve pulled the symbols from thin air, finding pre-made ones wasn’t going to happen.

But I have them, now. I just have to attach them to chains and suede bands.

At any rate, that’s exciting for me.

In other news…

If you follow me on Instagram, you may already know, but Annabelle is being featured in another indie writer’s giveaway. She’s put together a collection of books by indie authors, is reviewing them, and giving them away.

Annabelle received one hell of a review, which I’m incredibly thankful for. Today was the last day to enter for the April boxes, but there will be another drawing in May. So, find @write_read_talk_live on Instagram, and check out her giveaway post for rules for entry. Follow her to stay posted on when the new giveaway will open for entries.

Or, if you don’t want to wait, you could always check out Annabelle on Amazon. Lol.

But follow her, regardless. She’s super cool, and posts a ton of awesome stuff.

Also, on a completely unrelated note, I may or may not be self-publishing another novel this year. I’m still debating, to be honest. Currently titled “Where Darkness Leads,” it’s a dark fantasy novel. Like…real dark.

It’s one that…will be hard to find a traditional publisher for. But I’m still toying with the idea.

Traditional publishing just has this…lure about it, this prestige. Being the one out of thousands to be chosen by a big publisher is a very nice thought. Honestly, submitting a manuscript to agents and publishers isn’t unlike playing the lottery. The odds are never in favor of the author. Ever. Most traditional publishers make offers on 1% of submissions. Maybe 2%.

But gambling can be so addicting.

The lure of the reward keeps pulling me along, despite the risk (time and effort that could have been put into writing, not to mention the painstaking research on which publishers/agents to submit to, all of which could very well be for naught).

It’s rather discouraging, at times.

And this particular novel…well, the only publisher I’ve found so far that seemed an absolute perfect fit…closed three years before I wrote the novel. Lol. So there’s that.

*sighs*

*rolls eyes at the ludicrous odds of such terrible timing*

Anyway…

I’d stay and ramble on a bit longer, but…I’m just so excited to get back to writing.

So, for now…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Writing tips? Who the hell am I to give writing tips?

Hello, all!

I recently got an audio book version of one of my favorite books (I won’t say which, because I’m about to shit on it a bit. Figuratively, of course. Lol.) I put it on my phone, and have been listening to it while at work, and….it’s just stunning. It really is a perfect story, even if the writing could stand a few improvements, at least in the beginning of the book.

It has aliens and futuristic technology, primitive survival and humans on the brink of extinction, other worlds and a new vision of our world, drama and tension. Multiple romances, even a love triangle, though in this case it’s more like a square with one side collapsed so that two corners collide.

In short, the story has nearly everything that I like to read.

But hearing it spoken aloud brings writing flaws to attention. There’s a reason that one very common tip mentioned in writing groups is to read your work aloud.

Which brings me to the topic of discussion today: passive voice and copula spiders.

Basically, they’ll fuck your shit up.

Too many make your story drag on, racking up the word count without adding to the plot, or moving it forward, at all. I know how comforting a higher word count can be, believe me, but if it’s all going to be cut out in editing, it doesn’t help in the end.

Passive voice example:

The apple was eaten by Tom. (passive as hell)
Tom ate the apple. (much better)

The second sentence actually shows someone doing something. It’s active. It’s more interesting, and doesn’t pack your story with useless words. (A tip I saw in a meme recently said that if you can insert “by zombies” after your verb, you’re using passive voice. The apple was eaten…by zombies.)

Now, for copula spiders. Basically, if you search for the word “is,” or some other conjugation of the word “be,” in your manuscript, and can find more than 8 on a page, that’s a copula spider. If it’s printed, circle one, and then circle the others, connecting them all to one in the center. It’ll kinda look like a spider.

Is, am, were, was, be, been.

Look into it. They’re vicious soul suckers, and slow the story down. Don’t believe me? Here you go:

The apple is red. It is shining. The sunlight is bouncing off it.
The red apple shines brilliantly in the sunlight.

Which would you rather read?

Hell, I was able to add another word (“brilliantly”) for impact, and the second version was still shorter. Concise writing vastly improves story quality.

Let’s combine the two flaws, because they tend to go hand in hand. How about we raise the stakes while we’re at it, really drive the point home?

The gun is loaded. It is pointed at me by Tom.
Tom points the loaded gun at me.

Sweet (in theory, not in the practice of pointing guns at people), simple, and to the point (pun intended).

It just flows, so much better.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times where this can be used for emphasis. Perhaps, Tom wants to assure us that the gun is loaded. Perhaps, someone is colorblind, and has confused a fuji apple for a granny smith. They need corrected, lest they put the wrong type of apple in their pie, and someone says, “It is red.”

Similarly, passive voice can be used to emphasize parts of the sentence, and, let’s face it, people love to really drive their points home, any way they can. So, dialogue becomes a free-for-all, to a degree.

In a similar vein, first person-present tense can use these things quite effectively, if the story is written as if it were the character’s thoughts. Even then, it has to be done well.

Not to mention the potential for a troublesome character who tends to over-explain, thus limiting any possibility for concise language.

So, every rule has its exceptions.

But, for the most part, passive voice and copula spiders hinder storytelling. Burdensome and ineffectual, they slow the reader, transforming a potentially page-turning novel into a sluggish read.

That’s not exactly something most writers want.

Some stories are strong enough to pull their weight, regardless of a few extra words. The one I’ve been listening to, for example.

But not every story can bear that kind of burden.

Do yourself, your editor (and thus your wallet), and your readers a favor. Be wary of these things. When you employ them in your story, do them with great purpose, and make sure it’s obvious that you meant to do it.

We can tell when it’s an accident.

*steps down from the soap box*

*prepares to use the hell out of copulas, because at this point, I’m just talking*

On a more personal note, I want to say that rewrites are exhausting. Lol. I worked through about seven chapters of Salt and Silver, and was frustrated the whole time. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I just knew that it wasn’t working.

Then, I realized I was holding on too tightly. To sentences. To phrases. To chapters.

To a character.

So much stuff must be cut to make room for the things I have to work in. I was trying too hard to adjust things, rather than eliminating them. But if a character’s role in the story changes…naturally the amount of time they’re given in the limelight should change, as well.

So, I head into this week’s revisions with a clearer idea of what I must do.

Wish me luck. Lol.

For now, though…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

My Writing Process

Clutter. Crossed wires. Messy. Tangled wires on a telephone pole.

Hello, all!

This was a week of decision making. At least, as far as one of my WIPs (works in progress) is concerned.

Now, I’ just about done editing/reacquainting myself with what I have written of The Regonia Chronicles. Book one is edited (first sweep, I’ll do more later before submissions), and four of the…seven or eight chapters I’ve already written of book two are edited.

As such, I’ll be diving back into writing that one very soon. Which I’m looking forward to. There’s a lot to be written, and I’m pretty pleased with how one of the character arcs is turning out.

Salt and Silver, though…

I finished writing the first novella and even the scene which connects it to the second novella. but I hate this wonky format, and the shift in perspective forced upon me by the ending of the first novella makes the whole story fall flat.

Now, before I say much more on the subject, I should probably tell you a bit about how I write.

Some authors are incredibly organized. Some even use the “snowflake method,” which, I believe, goes as follows:
1. Write a sentence containing the story you wish to tell.
2. Expand that one sentence summary into a paragraph with all main plot points.
3. Come up with basic info for your main characters.
4. Turn that single paragraph mentioned above into a page.
5. Do a thing called character bibles and character synopses, which entails writing a full page about each main character (background, personality traits, appearance, etc.) and half a page per minor character.
6. Use everything from steps 1-5 to make a four page synopsis and scene list (EVERY SCENE!!).

THEN, you start your first draft.

Some people spend YEARS just planning their novel. Which is fine. If it works for you, keep doing it.

But to me, quite frankly, that sounds exhausting, and extremely confining. Such a restrictive, planned method seems…suffocating.

I don’t do any of that stuff from the snowflake method.

At all.

There are a few names for my writing style. Discovery, exploratory, organic. I prefer pantser (flying by the seat of my pants).

I get an idea, and start writing.

Period.

Then, I just figure out the details, and build the world and the characters as I go. Usually, i have a vague idea of how the story will end, with a few scenes I know I want to include, though everything is subject to change, at any point in time.

I keep a separate document for important information, like character or world description, a basic timeline (established/filled in as I go), things like that. But aside from main characters, I rarely know the appearance or background before starting. Sometimes, all I know of my main characters is there appearance and a single defining trait. I just make sure to put details in the other document as I come across them, so I can reference that, and avoid continuity errors.

Basically, I make it all up as I go, letting the characters and the details of the story reveal themselves to me as I write. It’s just more fun for me that way.

Only about 20% is ever really planned before I start writing.

Salt and Silver had about 2% planned. If that.

I had the opening scene, which has been revised several times over to incorporate details which eliminate plot holes later on. I had the aesthetics and names of two main characters, but only because they’re in that scene.

Nothing else.

By far, this has been my least organized WIP to date.

(Side note: My writing style frustrates my husband. Lol. He likes to see the process, and pictures me with a room with notes tacked to the wall with strings tied from one pin to another, making a huge mess. But I keep all that in my head. Lol.)

But now, I’ve hit a snag.

Those of you who follow my blog might remember a little mention of a song which sparked an idea for this story a couple weeks ago. I resisted, stupidly enough, and came up with the janky novella-scene-novella format to “solve” the issues.

I was already almost done with the first novella, and didn’t want to rewrite nearly 40,000 words. But the final scene, the one where the couple finally gets together, was such a chore to write, and I didn’t know why. Usually, I love writing that scene to wrap up a book.

But the story was broken.

And now…I have to rewrite. There’s no way around it.

I thought I was going to have to kill off a couple characters, too. But, a few days of agonizing over it while at work helped me figure out a way to use those characters (alive) to drive the story forward. Monotonous, labor intensive factory work is great for working through writer’s block. Seriously.

They now have the ability to pull their own weight in the story, creating all kinds of extra tension and conflict for a prolonged amount of time, rather than just, “BAM! They’re dead! Everyone’s sad. Ope, time to move on.”

Yay, torture! Lol.

Jk.

But seriously, that’s the best advice I’ve ever heard about writing. Find out what your character wants (sometimes it takes a while to figure it out), and then do everything you can think of to keep them from getting it.

Long story short, I’ve solved the problem. I just have to rewrite/reshape 40,000 words to implement the solution… I’ve already started, though, and it flows so much better.

Since I’ll be doing a major overhaul of Salt and Silver at the same time as writing The Regonia Chronicles, I should probably try to maintain a schedule. Sunday night/Monday afternoon will be blog time. Monday night will be Salt and Silver. Tuesday night will be Regonia. Wednesday night will be submissions and/or whichever story is calling to me.

By the way, if you couldn’t tell, I’m a night time writer.

The rest of the week is all work, though. Actually, Sunday is a 12 hour shift at the factory, but I normally start my blog after work, regardless.

Anyway, though, I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me, but I’m genuinely excited about all of it. Salt and Silver will be so much better for it.

So, for now…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.