A Heart of Salt & Silver: Excerpt and Playlist

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

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

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

Shall we start with the excerpt?

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

~

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

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

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

It pierces my soul, sending shivers through my body.

But she lets go of my leg.

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

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

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

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

Another thing I’ll regret later…

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

And fear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~

Can I just say that I cried writing this scene?

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

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

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

Who knows, you could listen to it while reading.

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

Links are down below.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

A Heart of Salt & Silver Cover Reveal!

Hi, guys!

It’s finally time to show off this cover!

Dark supernatural high fantasy romance novel cover art

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

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

Excerpt one:

“Unhand us, witch!” the vampire shouts.

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

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

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

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

Arrogant fool.

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

“Witch? You think me a witch?”

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

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

Or perhaps the removal of some limbs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I shift the Nether to make it so.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Either way, there’s nothing he can do.

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

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

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

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

Nolan won’t want me back, anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

Stay awesome.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Project Updates

Hi, guys!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I’m fucking here for it.

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

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

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

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

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

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

World for the Broken: First chapter reveal

Hi, guys!

It’s so close to release day! Just 13 days… An unlucky day for a chapter reveal? Or perfect considering the terrible luck these characters have?

Either way, I won’t keep you waiting. Here’s the first chapter of my dark post-apocalyptic romance, World for the Broken. (Reader discretion advised. This book might hurt.)

Chapter 1

Christian

Snow crunches beneath feet, not far from my aching head. Dazed, I wonder how I could have let someone get so close. I try to lift my face from winter’s blanket, but the world threatens to fall out from under me with even the slightest movement. Head pounding, I struggle to center myself. Holding as still as humanly possible, I strain my ears to pick out the size of my newest friends.

A trickle of warmth slips through my hair, dripping over my scalp and down my forehead. It’s almost pleasant, except for the little voice in the back of my mind telling me that it shouldn’t be there. As if for emphasis, a cold wind sweeps over my back, the only part of me visible above the snow. Warmth has no place here.

I remember how to open my eyes, lifting my head as I do so, and see red swirling before my gaze. The ground tilts and whirls, mixing melting snow and blood in psychedelic patterns. I slam my eyes shut once more, letting my head fall to the ground. My face splashes in the watered-down blood.

My blood.

Another foot breaches the snow with a crunch. The danger that I’m in screams back into focus, so loudly my skull aches with it. Or maybe that’s just the head wound talking.

Fucking get it together, Christian.

I growl inwardly, but I’m excited that I can piece even that together amidst the agony bursting across my scalp.

Are these more of The Wolf’s men, come to finish the job?

Then, it all comes back to me, hitting like a ton of bricks. Tate, Jesse, Karen…Are they safe? I don’t know, don’t remember much, and that scares me.

We’d been on the run, having escaped Breyerville two and a half days ago with The Wolf’s Fangs dogging our heels every second. Poor Tate, just four years old, was terrified to fall asleep, as were we all. He’d only done so to the tune of Karen’s voice, singing a soft lullaby, nearly whispering through choking fear.

What if The Fangs were close? What if they heard her song?

What if they found us?

Then, the blizzard hit and made our tracks impossible to miss. The Fangs found us within a day of the first flakes falling. The scene bursts across my eyelids, like some horrible version of the instant replay used in sporting events back before the war.

We’d just stopped so Tate could go to the bathroom, which took an unfortunate amount of time given the layers the poor kid was wearing, and we were about to set off again. Not that we really knew where we were going.

Just…away.

Away from Breyerville and the brothel Karen was forced into. Away from The Wolf and his cronies, demanding payment and tribute from all locked within his stupid walls. The walls we all helped him build, back when he seemed like a decent human being, someone we could trust to help lead us through the end of the world.

Funny thing about the apocalypse, that. It brings out what’s hiding underneath the surface. Given time and power, The Wolf revealed his true nature, evil incarnate.

The Fangs found us unaware. Karen and Jesse had been arguing again, with Jesse lobbing some new unfair accusation at his poor wife. I’d been a little worried, thinking I may have to step in again and…calm my brother down.

Tate clung to his mother, burying his face in her legs. Her hands covered his ears, trying to spare him the worst of the argument, even as he shielded his eyes with tiny hands.

We heard the gun go off, loud and close. Instinctively, instantly, I ducked. A habit I wish I hadn’t had the opportunity, or the need, to cultivate. Another crack and a bullet meant for me sailed over my head.

A third shot was attempted, presumably to correct their mistake in thinking I wouldn’t drop to the ground. But the hammer fell, and the gun merely clicked. Empty. Luckily, they haven’t figured out how to reload their own ammo.

Before my eyes, my little brother fell. With a small hole in his forehead, blood trickling from it, Jesse landed in a crumpled heap. Thankfully, he was facing the sky. I’d rather Tate remember his father’s dead eyes than the state the back of his skull must have been in.

Four Fangs rushed us, giving me no chance to mourn.

One ripped Tate from Karen’s grasp and threw the kicking, screaming little boy into the snow. Heart racing, all thought gone from my mind, I threw myself upon The Fang whose boot hung in the air, poised above Tate’s head, and we went flying into a snowdrift.

I righted myself first, climbing atop the man, and pummeled him with everything in me. Rage filled me and boiled over. I remember the blood splattering across my face, some my own as my knuckles tore open a bit more with each hit, but mostly from The Fang, a dirty looking man with five o’clock shadow on his entire head. His hood fell back, and the scarf that covered half his face was soggy with blood.

Below each eye, the tattoos of fangs marked him as a bona fide member of The Wolf’s Fangs. The quality of the first tattoos meant he’d been a member for a while. Since before they ran out of traditional ink a year and a half ago and had to start making their own. Since before the legitimate tattoo gun broke a year ago, and they had to do it the old-fashioned way. He’d been a Fang for at least a year and a half. Maybe longer.

The number of fangs tattooed beneath his eyes, rimming the socket, denoted how many times this particular Fang had bitten for his master. Four beneath one eye, and five under the other. Nine times, he’d killed for The Wolf.

Another Fang followed, crushing snow beneath sprinting feet, leaving the other two struggling to contain Karen’s fury, all 5’4” of it. They shouldn’t have separated mother and child. Swearing and screaming and flesh-hitting-flesh rang out behind me, with Tate crying in the snow not far off to the right.

“Stay there, Tate!” I screamed, sending another fist into the face of the man who would have killed my nephew.

Anger almost got the best of me, and I momentarily lost track of the assailant approaching me at full tilt. As the Fang beneath me faded, head lolling to the side in death, I sprang to my feet. I spun, just in time for another Fang to barrel into me, a palmed blade ready to sink into my flesh.

Back down into the drift I went, and this time, I didn’t come out on top. The Fang hadn’t expected me to turn, so his blade merely gashed my side, rather than digging in. Unbelievable luck.

Twisted up in the cloth of my jacket, the spin also jerked the knife from my assailant, sending it flying off somewhere. A miracle.

But that’s where the good news ended.

With something clenched tightly in his fist, packing it for rigidity, The Fang landed a solid blow, unfortunately, located squarely on my temple thanks to the awkward way we landed.

I nearly passed out then and there, retaining only enough consciousness to hear Karen scream out, “Stop! I’ll go with you if you just stop! Leave my baby alone!” Tears choked her voice, but it carried, nonetheless. All motion stopped, even the man sitting atop my chest stilled, unafraid of his seriously dazed victim.

“Please,” Karen begged. “Please, just…we won’t cause any more problems. Just…don’t hurt him.” I heard her slump to her knees, heard the rustle of fabric, and Tate’s whimpering as she pulled him to her breast.

I saw the grizzled Fang standing behind her spit into the snow, mostly blood. Bright red gashes lined his face, leaking openly. He jerked his chin up at the man on top of me, and my chest got lighter as The Fang heaved himself onto his feet.

Karen’s hands clutched at her son, pressing him tightly against her. Her pale face was rosy with the cold, and her long, black hair tumbled in a tangled heap, spilling free from the hood of her jacket, partially concealing Tate from view. Between her hair and his too-big jacket, I couldn’t see the boy’s face.

Rather than walking away, my assailant turned toward me. With black eyes rimmed with seven fangs and a cruel smile lurking beneath them, he pulled his foot back and slammed it into the left side of my head.

I remember the pain, arcing through every synapse, filling every cell of my body. I remember curling onto my side, watching through eyes barely open, clouded with the blood that dripped into them, as Karen and Tate were led away, sobbing. All our packs were gathered up and taken, as well.

Now, lying broken in the snow, the reality of their absence wallops me, leaving me breathless and gasping.

They’re gone. All three of them. Jesse is dead. Karen and Tate…who knows. Will they kill Tate? Or use him against Karen to keep her pliable?

Disgust burns within me at the thought, simmering beneath the icy hands of agony as they steadily rip my heart to shreds.

And what of me?

I’d been so sure I would die, even as I slumped sideways, rolling onto my stomach. The snow fell around me, sapping the warmth from my body. When darkness took me, I thought it the end.

But now, shockingly gentle hands roll me over, and the ground tips beneath me. Stomach roiling, I worry I may vomit, but manage to hold myself together. Barely. My eyelids flutter, stars exploding in my vision.

A shadow takes form, just beyond the starbursts. A woman.

Brilliant red hair tumbles forward, hanging in loose waves just above my face. A gloved hand pulls the scarf down from her nose and full mouth, revealing pale cheeks flushed with cold. Meanwhile, surprise registers in her shining emerald eyes. Turning her head to the side, she speaks in a voice that sounds a hell of a lot like salvation. “He’s alive.”

She leans forward, no doubt getting her pretty hair dirty with the blood that coats my face as the delicate strands brush my skin.

“Can you hear me?” she asks, very gently.

I nod. Sort of. The motion upsets my already spinning equilibrium even more, and my eyes fall shut, robbing me of the sight of her.

“Please,” I murmur.

But what could I ask? Please save them? Please help me?

She owes me nothing. She and her companions will likely take whatever they can from me, from Jesse’s corpse, from the body of the Fang that I killed. They’ll desert me, likely take the shirt from my back.

Why wouldn’t they?

Before I can ask her anything, the darkness claims me again.

*****

I am so excited to finally share this with you all, and to get this book out. It sits so close to home, literally and figuratively. It’s set in Southern Illinois, aka the place I’ve lived my entire life. I took some liberties with town names and distances between them, but ya know…creative license and all that.

It’s also deeply emotional. So many of my own experiences have gone into this one. Of course, the experiences were changed to fit the story, some exaggerated, some downplayed with the burden split across multiple characters. And some things were just experiences I dealt with secondhand during my internship days getting my bachelor’s degree in psychology.

Regardless, a lot went into this novel, and I’m pumped to share it with you.

If you haven’t preordered your copy yet, all the purchase links are down below.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Amazon: http://mybook.to/WorldForTheBroken

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/world-for-the-broken-elexis-bell/1136379380?ean=9781951335069

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/world-for-the-broken

Booksamillion: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/World-Broken/Elexis-Bell/9781951335076?id=7678409965374

All my books: http://www.amazon.com/author/elexis_bell http://www.elexisbell.com/my-published-works/

Book Research: Sometimes Google isn’t enough

Hi, guys!

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

But here we are.

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

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

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

Because some things just need to be experienced firsthand.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.