The Gem of Meruna: The Inspiration…And the Winners

Hi, guys!

It’s giveaway time, bitches!

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

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

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

But I didn’t know why.

That part wasn’t in the dream.

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

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

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

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

And thus, our heroine and her quest were born.

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

But anyway…

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

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

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

But that would have required a near-total rewrite.

Which felt a bit like cheating.

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

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

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

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

But for now, the thing that brought you here…

The giveaway winners…

*drum roll*

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

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

Congratulations to all of you!

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

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

Because holy freaking crap, release day is tomorrow!

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Book Reading!

Hi, Guys!

Doing a blog two days in a row isn’t exactly normal for me, so clearly it’s something special.

Here’s a video of me reading the prologue. 🙂

(I stumble a bit through the intro, but bear with me. Lol. I’ve never done this before.)

🙂

Obviously, I hope you like it.

Lol.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Frickin’ Goals

Hi, guys!

So, last week was mostly spent putting the final touches on Soul Bearer after receiving the proof copies (Centering the back cover and eliminating a few errant typos/unnecessary commas, that sort of thing).

I also made a decent amount of headway on the final round of (my) edits for the rerelease of The Gem of Meruna, and set up a date for it to go to an editor for proofreading.

All in all, not bad.

It’ll have me on track for the tentative release schedule I’ve set for myself. I’ll not be announcing dates until closer to time, because it’s all subject to change. I know very well that life throws curve balls.

But I have a schedule and I intend to stick to it as closely as possible.

It’s not an easy schedule, but I’m gonna give it everything I’ve got.

Which brings me to the main topic.

Frickin goals.

You need them.

They’re serious motivators. Humans (in general) hate feeling like they’ve failed. Setting a goal pushes you, it makes you feel like something’s at stake even if the only thing you stand to lose is a little pride.

You need goals for your life to keep you moving forward, to keep you from stagnating.

But you need good ones.

Whether you’re reading, writing, or working toward some other dream (maybe you want to sell ice cream on the beach? Idk), you need realistic, achievable, challenging goals.

If you say, “I want to read 300 books this year,” but it takes you an average of a week to finish a book, you’re probably not going to push yourself to reach that goal because you know it’s not going to happen.

Aiming for 52 books a year is more attainable, obviously. It holds you to reading, at a pace you know you can maintain. Wanna push yourself to read more? Go for 55.

On the flipside, if you set a goal of finishing your first draft (no editing, just first draft) by the end of this year and you only have one more chapter (and your average is a week for a chapter)…

Who gives a fuck about that goal? It’s meaningless.

It doesn’t push you to write faster or work harder. It’s just some silly arbitrary thing you came up with and didn’t care about.

Aiming to have it done by Friday rather than by Sunday? That’s a better goal. It’s more attainable, but still pushes you.

Achieving a goal provides a sense of satisfaction beyond the original satisfaction of finishing something, as well as a little ego boost because, hey, you freaking did it.

But if it’s something you knew you’d do and the goal was just kinda thrown in there for shits and giggles…that extra boost disappears.

For example, at work, we can build out.

Basically, what that means is, if we build the number of tires we’re supposed to build over the course of a shift before the end of the shift, we can stop working and still get paid for being there. We can sit in the cafeteria or go to the on-site gym. We just can’t leave until the end of the shift.

The rates used to be unbelievably high. Like…push-yourself-into-a-frenzy-all-day-long-and-if-one-thing-goes-wrong-you’re-done high.

And no one tried.

Because it was stupid.

Why exhaust yourself to get 5 minutes of sitting at the end of a 12 hour shift, knowing you’re going to be sore and dead on your feet the next day when you come back for another 12 hour shift?

Or worse, push yourself super hard, and then, with an hour left to go, get a cassette of material that’s absolute garbage, but there’s no more, so you just have to fix every single tire, and suddenly your build out disappears. But you’re still absolutely exhausted, and still working.

No thanks.

But recently, they lowered the rates. They’re attainable, now.

You still have to push, and any serious problem means it’s out the window….but it’s possible to have an entire hour at the end of the shift where you don’t have to run a machine.

So people try, now.

I try every damn day.

And most days, I get to spend 45 minutes to an hour and a half getting paid to sit on my ass, reading, while someone else takes over and builds more tires on my machine.

The company gets more product, morale goes up, and I get to read or write or work on a blog post at work.

All because of a challenging, but achievable goal.

So, as I said above, I’ve set a tentative release schedule for the rerelease of The Gem of Meruna and the releases of After, Where Darkness Leads, and Salt and Silver, all to follow the release of Soul Bearer.

I intend to finish The Regonia Chronicles by the time all those are out, and then those books will be added to the release schedule.

It’s going to be rigorous. It’ll be a lot of late nights (my preferred kind of night, honestly).

But I’m going to get these books out as close to the schedule as is humanly possible.

I’m pushing myself harder for a bunch of dates I literally pulled out of thin air.

Yeah, I made sure to leave time for life, while still keeping it challenging.

But now, I’m going to push.

And you should, too.

Set a goal for yourself, and push toward it.

Whether it’s a certain number of books to read for the year or a word count for the week or maybe something long term (starting a business or some such thing).

Believe in yourself enough to set a goal.

Then, fucking get it!

Feel free to leave tips or tricks for goal setting in the comments. You know, all that “like, comment, subscribe” stuff youtubers say at the end of their videos. It applies here, too, but I feel awkward as hell saying it. Lol.

As always…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Authentically Disorganized

Hey, guys!

Last week was a busy one. I finished this round of edits for The Gem of Meruna, and started on the last pre-beta-reader edits on Salt and Silver. I made it like…30 pages in. And it’s still formatted for 8.5 x 11 inch pages. So that’s not bad.

I also ordered awesome bookmarks to give away with my books, and a bunch of swag for Soul Bearer. The bookmarks came in, and were…misprinted. :/

So now I have to get them replaced, which sucks.

A lot.

The last order (business cards) that I placed with this company, one box was printed with a white line on the edge of one side. Now this…

The white line I can fix myself with a marker. Lmao. This one is a pretty major mess up. I actually had to be a grown up and contact them about it. Which doesn’t make me happy, because I don’t like conflict or dealing with people. Hopefully, it’s handled well. Idk. We’ll see. Since it’s the weekend, I’m still waiting to hear back from an actual person.

The swag should be in later this week or next week. Since some of it involves the cover art, and I know I’m going to want to show it off, I’ll be revealing the cover for Soul Bearer this week!

Email subscribers will get to see it first, btw. They’ll also get to see all the book swag first, and have an extra shot at winning when it comes time for giveaways. (Hint hint. Subscribe maybe?)

Now that the shameless subscriber plug is behind me, this coming week, I’ll be doing final touches, and, if all goes well, uploading into Ingram Spark. Then…ARC readers.

Which brings me to the main topic today.

Writing tends to lead to a lot of self-exploration, whether you intend to do so in your writing or not. It teaches you a great deal about how you think and how you see the world. You have to analyze all of it, and analyze others, and check to see if your viewpoints are overwhelming the story. You have to analyze the viewpoints and characteristics of the characters, and question whether they’re viable.

Sometimes you find a trend in your stories, something that you just tend to work into one novel after another, that reveals something about you.

Well, this week, I learned something very unexpected about myself.

You see, I’ve been busily compiling a list of reviewers (IG handles, blogs, etc. No personal information.) to approach for Soul Bearer’s release, and this week, I shared that list with a few author friends.

And that forced me to actually look at the list from someone else’s perspective.

Which made me realize that I am NOT an organized person.

At all.

I knew I wasn’t organized with my writing. I don’t outline, and I barely do any planning in my head. I just start writing, taking down the most basic notes as I go. Hell, with Salt and Silver, I knew *maybe* 2% of the final book when I started. So much got changed, or deleted, or moved. The very bones of the story shifted at one point, so strongly that I stopped writing, and reworked the first 40,000 words to accommodate the change. I had to.

(Kudos to anyone whose been following me long enough to have read THAT blog…yikes. That was a rough couple of weeks.)

Now, that one is one of the most extreme, an outlier, but I never really know more than 10% when I start writing.

And I love that. I love the exploration of it. I love learning the story as I go, and getting to know the characters as they develop.

But in pretty much every other aspect of my life, I always thought I was an organized person.

But I’m nowhere near it.

Sure, I know where all my stuff is, but if I needed someone to get me a certain book or trinket from my library, I’d be better off getting it myself. They could not go in there, and just figure out the system of organization. because there isn’t much of one. I have a couple bookcases of collection books, a couple of bookcases for books I’ve read, and some for the ever growing “To Be Read” books. Each bookcase has books stacked in front of the rows, and on top of the rows. And within those three groups, there is no objective system.

My favorites go on the top shelf. As you progress further down the shelves, you find books I like progressively less. That’s it.

And the stuff on the shelves with the books is just arranged in ways that I like. Lmao. I call it aesthetically arranged clutter. But I can go in there, and find any little trinket easily.

My notes for writing are barely more organized than that. Mainly, I just put a heading at the top of a page, and fill in whatever I need to remember about that subject below it. When I need to find it, I just search for the heading.

That list of reviewers was no different. Lol. Headings. A lot of parentheses. No real solid structure.

Because I’m not organized.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I use my phone calendar for doctor’s appointments, and I can budget like a boss.

But that’s about it. Lol.

That isn’t the lesson I expected to learn about myself this week, but I’ll take it. Lol.

Which, I guess, explains why my IG and FB look how they do. So many authors have super pretty, refined profiles. They have color palettes and specific fonts that they use for specific things, and their author platforms look beautiful. They have solid brands.

And mine is memes and cat pictures. Lmao. Throw in a nice picture from my library every now and then, sprinkle in a few posts about my books.

But branding is all about authenticity, so I guess I’m just being authentically disorganized? Maybe that’s an excuse? Who fucking knows.

Lmao.

Can you tell I’m tired?

I did just work a 12 hour shift. And did one yesterday, as well…

Meh. Lol.

I think I should probably sign off, now.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Symphony of Dragons

Hi, guys!

So, we all know music is awesome, and lots of writers like to listen to music when they write or edit. It isn’t exactly rare for songs to inspire stories or complete novels.

I’m certainly not an exception to these rules/happenings.

One of my short stories (Vivification, currently on submission for an anthology) was inspired by a song by Phaeleh. The Regonia Chronicles was inspired by a conversation with my husband and the song “Turtle Ship” by Ghasper. “Various Storms and Saints” by Florence and the Machine inspired the rewrite of Salt and Silver (soon to go into another round of edits, then be sent to beta readers).

Not to mention the new story idea I got a couple days ago, thanks to a song called “BFF” by Leah Kate, not that I know when I’ll get to actually write that one. Lol. Too many irons in the fire.

Anyway…

I almost always have music on when I write. Each story gets its own playlist, full of songs handpicked from the 100+ gb of music on my phone. (I’m one of those people that gets every single penny (and then some) of the monthly subscription for Google play music. Lol.)

I hop genres often, typically just putting stuff on shuffle, and seeing what comes up. There’s just too much music out there to limit yourself to one or two genres.

Plus, you never know what genre will resonate with a character or a scene. Some of my characters like blues metal, and others prefer electronic. Some like classical, others like grungy folk.

And sometimes you stumble across a song that just fits a certain ambiance. I have a playlist on my phone comprised of songs that are perfect for a 90’s vampire nightclub. The beats are slower than your average club song, more trance-inducing and sensual than beat-your-brains-out-with-your-eardrums. The vocals are almost…bored. Like, if the singer could be somewhere else, they would be. But they have to be there, so they may as well do the song. And there’s just enough of an industrial feel to make it seem a little dangerous, because, lets face it, vampires were more dangerous back then. Lol.

(I have a scene in my head for that playlist, and eventually I’ll write it, but that’s a journey for another day.)

Sometimes, thanks to my OCD and the luck of finding the perfect song, I put a single song on repeat for the duration of a scene. Whether it takes me thirty minutes to write it or an hour and a half, it doesn’t matter. Then, every time I hear the song, I’m taken right back to that book, that scene.

And I love that.

So, today, I thought I’d share my playlist for Soul Bearer with you all. Not all of them seem fitting for a fantasy romance, but each one fits a character or a scene.

And each song comes with my wholehearted recommendation that you listen to it, because, well, they’re all awesome. Lol.

First and foremost, my MCs’ songs:

Aurisye’s theme song, of sorts, is “Gold” by SHELLS. She’s always felt kind of…out of place. Showing her true colors has never really worked out for her, and she wants to just be seen as normal. More than that, she wants to be loved.

Rafnor’s theme is “Simple” by The Moth and The Flame. Rafnor wants a simple life. He wants a wife who loves him and a huge family. But, getting a simple life is difficult with the return of…dun dun dun…dragons. Lmao.

The rest of these are in the order that I found them, and thought, “This would be perfect for Soul Bearer!”

“Say it” by Blue October

“Tell me lies” by Deorro (feat. Lesley Roy)…Btw, her voice sounds like the vocal equivalent of a pan flute. Just saying.

“100 years” by Serj Tankian (feat. a lot of people with really long names, and lets be honest here, its 2:00am and I’m tired. Lol. By the way, this one is perfect for scenes showcasing utter devastation.)

“Lover, Please Stay” (Live) by Nothing But Thieves

“Outside” (Explicit) by The Weeknd (I told you not all of them seemed appropriate for the genre. Lol. But it fit a scene, very well.)

“Fingertips” by OneRepublic

“Hear Me” by Kelly Clarkson

“Should be Higher” by Depeche Mode

“Shiva” (Live at La Finca Venado Volando) by The Human Experience

“Another Word for Beautiful” by Sundara Karma

“Cherry” by Lana Del Rey

“Notions” by Lovedrug

“Light” by Sleeping At Last

“Kettering” by The Antlers (This one is good for romance scenes, and leads very well into the next one…)

“Wolf Like Howls from the Bathhouse” by Sonny Smith (Excellent for scenes of sexual tension.)

“Nothing” by Vessbroz (feat. Kyle Davis)

“Can You Hold Me” by NF (feat. Britt Nicole) (The scene this one is associated with…Oh my god…I cried when I wrote it, and every time I edited it. Lol. Good luck, guys.)

“Clouds” by BØRNS

“You’re Special” by NF

“Do You Feel It?” by Chaos Chaos

“Round” by The Moth and The Flame

“The Flood” by Cyrus Reynolds and Gregg Lehrman (There’s a drop in this one that is amazing.)

“Synthetic Love” by Sarah Jaffe (This one is also in my Regonia playlist, and is very strongly associated with a scene in the first book.)

“Lux” by Cyrus Reynolds and Gregg Lehrman

“Can You Feel My Heart” by Bring Me The Horizon

“My Neighborhood” by Lovedrug

“You’ll Be Fine” by Alex Clare

“Angel” by Tokio Meyers (Breathtaking song.)

“The Warden” by Chelsea Wolfe (Perfect for magic/casting scenes)

“Running For Your Life” by UNSECRET

“Nobody Else Will Be There” by The National (Another good one for romantic tension.)

“Sour Breath” by The Devil Wears Prada

“Riverside” by Agnes Obel

“Archibald MacDonald of Keppoch” by Alasdair Fraser
(This one…oh my god…the scene it goes with…it hurts.)

“Healing” (Original mix) by Phaeleh

“Burn the Witch” by Shawn James

“A Different Time” by Phaeleh

“Víðbláinn” by Peter Gundry

“Can’t Help Falling in Love” (DARK) By Tommee Proffitt (feat. brooke) (Super intense build up, good for gathering courage and slaying dragons…)

“Onward and Upward” by Tommee Proffitt (feat. Fleurie) (Another excellent build up song. Think fire and smoke everywhere, with the roars of a massive beast vibrating your chest as you run, sword aloft, into battle…)

“Finale” by Michael Abels

Whether you’re excited for Soul Bearer (which I hope you are) or whether you just want music recommendations, this is a pretty good list, in my opinion.

Update time! I got all my formatting done this week! It was a mind-numbing, infuriating, blur of tedium, and I’m not quite looking forward to doing that again. Lol.

Now, I’m on to copyright stuff and ISBNs and uploading and swag and proof copies and ARC readers. But first, I’m beta reading a friend’s novel.

For the time being, though, I think I’m going to sign off.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Happy listening.

Later.

Note…I don’t have rights to these songs, and I’m not being paid by them or Google play (though wouldn’t that be nice?) to promote them. I just really like music. Lol.


A different path, perhaps?

Hi, guys!

So, I figured I’d get back to writing related topics today. I don’t know if you guys will be relieved or disappointed by that (let me know in the comments below), but that’s what’s happening.

I been trying to make a pretty important decision regarding publication, this week. I think I’m going to publish my books through Ingram Spark instead of KDP.

Now, that may not sound like it would be make a difference to anyone but me. But it does mean something important to readers.

Ingram Spark allows the option of… *drum roll* …

Hard back books!

KDP doesn’t have that. At all.

Ingram Spark also allows me to do a couple different types of ebooks. So basically, I can offer my book in more formats, so people can read it however they want. Now, to save myself some money, I’ll be using KDP specifically for the Kindle ebook.

That brings me to the impact for me.

Amazon KDP generates its own ISBNs and Barcodes…for free.

Ingram Spark does not provide free ISBNs. And let me tell you, they aren’t cheap. I never expected a little number on the back of the book to cost so much.

But, at the end of the day, it’s an investment in the career I want, an investment in my dream. And if that’s what it takes to get my book out in every format (fucking hard back books, guys!), then so be it.

Another plus side to Ingram is that they offer preorder for all formats. Amazon KDP only allows preorder on ebook. :/

Which is dumb.

Ingram Spark also seems to concentrate more on expanded distribution (bookstores, libraries, etc.), which is nice.

With Kindle, it’s just kinda…there. Lol. Just an afterthought. It’s an Amazon company after all, and brick and mortar stores are the competition.

Amazon keeping their competitors afloat by having their stuff sold in stores? Stores keeping their competition afloat by selling Amazon stuff? Not super likely.

So, while this did just become a much more expensive endeavor, I’m psyched to get a hard back option for my books.

And I’m glad I made this decision now, because I’m almost done with the final edits of Soul Bearer.

I’m within 20 pages of the end!

Granted, there’s an adjustment that I need to make which may add a page or two, but still!

It’s so close!

I got to this point a couple days ago, but I had 12 hour shifts both days since. They were only 12 hours apart, so I had to go to the store, eat, take care of animals, shower, and sleep. I never get to do book stuff on weekends.

(Side note, don’t work in a tire factory over the summer. It’s fucking miserable.)

So, all day at work, today and yesterday, my head was stuck in the ending of my book, circling, waiting, begging me to get back to it…

And, tomorrow afternoon (I still have yet to sleep since getting off work and have to run errands in the morning), I’ll have it finished.

Then, I just have to do formatting, make final adjustments to the cover, and learn how to navigate a new publishing process. Lol.

No big deal. Just a bunch of shit that’s gonna be difficult and tedious.

The formatting is what I’m looking forward to the least. KDP has these helpful little plug-ins for Word…Idk if Ingram has that. We’ll see what happens, there. Lol. But I’ll figure it out.

I always do.

Anyway, after that, I’ll be looking for ARC readers. (I have a list of reviewers to ask.) Then, I need swag for giveaways.

Yeah, you heard (saw) that right. Every book release will have giveaways. I’ll choose winners from IG, FB, and from my email subscriber list. (Participate/subscribe on all three platforms for extra chances to win.) A grand prize winner will be selected from my subscribers, btw. So make sure you subscribe. Don’t forget. (It’s down at the bottom of the page, btw. Lol.)

I’ll announce more details on the prizes (and subscriber grand prize) closer to time.

So, if you’re an indie author trying to decide between the two, maybe this will help. Maybe not. You may like ebook better, and not care about hard back books at all. Maybe you don’t want to buy your own ISBN for your book, which makes complete sense.

You may have stock in Amazon. I don’t freaking know. Lol.

If my post wasn’t thorough enough for you, or didn’t hit the points you were curious about, there are plenty of reviews out there.

But for now…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

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.

Decisions…

Hello, all!

Since I know the aforementioned announcement is what likely brought most of you here, I will, of course, keep you waiting.

Lol.

After all, what writer in their write (see what I did there?) mind would give away the goods at the beginning?

None. Not a single one.

So, I’ll start with a progress report. The rewrite of the first half of Salt and Silver is done, and I have officially moved forward into writing the rest of the story. This supernatural romance has taken a lot of twists and turns that I did not see coming. But I love it.

When I started the rewrite, I had roughly 40,000 words across 100 pages (ish). Now, I have 49,547 words over the course of 128 pages. 🙂

I’m pretty happy with how it’s going, and I’m super excited to keep pushing forward.

I also managed to do the alchemy photo shoot I mentioned last week. If you haven’t seen it, head over to my Instagram or my Facebook author page, and check it out. (Links for both are at the absolute bottom of any page of my website.)

Anyway, I really like how it turned out. It took so long to do, but that’s okay. The sigils on the necklaces (which I sculpted and painted) took about an hour and a half to make, and turned out awesome. Set up for the shoot took about an hour and a half, maybe two hours, and the shoot itself took maybe an hour?

But it really brought Ness’ potion making livelihood right into my living room (literally). It brought her to life even more than she already was. In doing so, it contributed to Salt and Silver in a more…ambiguous way. Because now, I’ve been in her “home.” Lol.

Now, though, to bring this around almost to the main topic.

Over the past week, I’ve been doing more research into the differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing, as well as the pros and cons of each.

Some of these things are obvious.

Traditional publishing means you have teams of professionals doing some of the work for you, which is nice, especially when it comes to marketing (which I suck at). It also means unbearably long wait times.

The query/submission stage of any book project is maddening. Each agent or publisher has their own list of things they want you to write about the book to send along with the manuscript, and they all have their own formatting requirements.

Some want a one sentence summary, including the ending, of the story you’ve just spent 70,000 to 120,000 words telling (which is incredibly difficult), along with a query letter, and the first three chapters of the manuscript. Another might want a three page synopsis, a cover letter (yes, this is different from a query letter, though in very small ways), and the whole manuscript. Others want all of the above, as well as market research, and five year plans.

And every single submission item, be it a one sentence summary, a query letter, or a synopsis, is both an art and a science, in and of itself.

Needless to say, submitting to one agent or publisher can take hours. And all of this is after you’ve compiled a list of people to submit to who are, at that exact moment in time, accepting unagented submissions in that genre, with no theme or subject matter restrictions which would eliminate your work.

Then, you get to wait.

Anywhere from two weeks to an entire year.

Some of them require that you submit nowhere else while they consider it.

So a manuscript can just be placed on hold in someone’s inbox for a year, and you can’t do a thing with it.

Then, there’s the fact that offers are only made on 1-2% of submissions at any given publisher…

All told, the submission process is riddled with grueling hours in front of a screen and waiting and rejections and waiting and heartache and yes…more waiting.

Then, more rejections…

And, for a while, I thought it would be worth it.

Not for the prestige of being picked up by a traditional publisher. Don’t get me wrong, getting an offer for a book deal would be fantastic. The validation of it would be magnificent.

But I just kind of assumed it would be better. I assumed that my work would do better with a traditional publisher, and that the money would be better, thus I’d be able to be a full time author much faster.

Over the course of my research this week, though…I discovered that this isn’t really the case. I was watching a video on Youtube by Alexa Donne called Traditional Publishing Book Money 101, and learned some rather shocking things about the publishing industry.

Apparently, advances (predicted royalties paid ahead of time in good faith) are paid out over the course of a couple years, not all at once. As of 2017 (when she made the video), the average advance was between $1,000 and $10,000. Sounds good, right?

Except, that it’s then halved by agent fees and taxes (which are 40%, because Uncle Sam treats it as freelance/contractor work). So…$500 to $5,000…over the course of a couple years…

Not quite quit your day job money.

And since it takes so long to get a book deal, often years, there aren’t going to be many of those small checks coming in.

So…it seems…far less worth it to wait out the submission process.

Now, self-publishing can work very well for people who write quality books quickly, and who can market themselves.

I suck at marketing, but I learn fast.

And I write quickly, with high standards.

So, if you haven’t guessed where this is leading, I’ve decided to stop putting time into submissions. Instead, I’ll be focusing on the final rounds of edits, formatting, arranging cover art, and self-publishing.

I’ll be re-releasing The Gem of Meruna (likely first, because it needs updated and I can assign a lower price on kdp than that assigned by the original publisher).

Then, I have three standalone novels to release. Where Darkness Leads is dark fantasy romance. Soul Bearer is sword and sorcery/fantasy romance. After is post-apocalyptic, and a bit of a roller coaster.

By the time all that is done, I hope to have Salt and Silver done, as well as The Regonia Chronicles. And the thriller I got an idea for over the past week, tentatively called Second to None. Plus all the other ideas I have, and the stories I’ve begun, but haven’t had time to finish just yet.

So, long story short, the decision to self-publish is a very exciting one.

After and Soul Bearer are each still submitted to a couple agents and publishers, so, of course, I’ll await their responses before moving forward with this. It wouldn’t make sense to throw away the work of submitting, my time, and the time of the people reading through them.

But, given the 1-2% odds, they’ll likely be self-published. Lol.

Anyway, the future looks rather promising. I’ve got a lot to do, and I can only hope that my day job doesn’t mandate me for too much overtime. :/

But, for now, I’d better be going. I’m off work tomorrow, but I have an unfortunately early morning calling my name.

So…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.