Why are we comparing short stories to novels?

Hi, guys!

Recently, in one of the many writing groups that I’m a part of, someone asked if people write short stories when they give up on writing a novel. As if writing a short story were something that could just be done with no thought or skill, whatsoever, because supposedly, it’s the easiest thing to write.

And that kinda stuck with me.

I was just flabbergasted.

That level of prejudice toward a type of story just… hadn’t occurred to me before then. I write stories of all lengths, flash fiction, short stories, novellas, novels, and now, series. So, I know that each one poses its own unique challenges.

No single one of these defines a writer’s skill.

None of them denote having given up.

Series require the solution to some problems, but the tension of certain things left undone for the next book. The characters have to develop and grow (or fall apart). They have to encounter one stumbling block after another, without it reading as if you’re literally just trying to draw the story out to make money on a second book. Or a third. Or a seventeenth.

Novels require all the loose ends to be tidied up by the end of the book, and hopefully enough intrigue to carry the reader to that point. Throwing in just enough obstacles to carry the characters (and the readers) through 70,000 to 110,000 words is a difficult balance to strike.

Novellas and novelettes have to operate on a smaller scale or go out with one hell of a bang. You have to choose your words carefully to get the exact right meaning across, which should be done regardless of book length, but especially so when you don’t have the word count to spare. And you have so much less space to truly develop your characters. It can be done, but it can be a challenge.

And then, there’s short stories and flash fiction.

Building a world, developing characters, and putting together a plot (then wrapping it up) in less than 7,500 words for a short story or less than 1,000 words for flash fiction is not an easy feat.

You have to grab people so quick. You have to make them give a shit about the character immediately.

Because there aren’t enough words not to.

So to say that failed novel writers become short story writers is a load of bullshit.

Writing short stories instead of novels has nothing to do with whether an author is successful or creative or smart. What it truly comes down to is the number of words it takes to successfully express a given story.

That’s it.

Some stories are meant to be a series that keeps you hanging on from one book to another. Some are meant to come in, punch you in the face with 700 words, and leave you reeling.

That’s just how it goes.

The stories should decide what length they are.

The writer’s skill or work ethic has nothing to do with it.

So, if you write short stories or flash fiction, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Your work poses it’s own unique set of difficulties.

Overcome them and show those judgmental jerks who’s boss.

Now, as far as my own work is concerned, I’ve been forging ahead on projects of varying lengths over this past week.

I did a full round of edits on a short story called Born of Heathen Gods. I’m torn between releasing it on its own or saving it back for an anthology, down the road.

I made some progress on this round of edits on Where Darkness Leads, cutting out over 1,000 words of info dumps/repetition so far.

And I’ve written over 5,000 words in The Regonia Chronicles. Some pieces are falling into place within book two, and I’m pretty excited to keep moving ahead.

Just not tonight.

Today’s 12 hour shift in the sweaty ass tire factory really took it out of me.

So for now…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Writing with Detail: How much is enough?

Hi, guys!

We all want to find that perfect balance of detail in our books.

Too little might not accurately depict the scene in our head, which could result in a serious miscommunication between you and your reader.

Too much will slow your reader down, possibly driving them out of the book.

So how much detail should you use?

The short answer, unfortunately, is…

It depends.

I know, that isn’t what you want to hear, but it’s the truth.

But here are some things to consider to help you decide what level of detail you need to provide for your reader.

Is it an action scene or a sex scene?

Is it the opening scene?

What genre are you writing?

Action scenes and sex scenes need to be gripping. They need to flow. They need to glue the reader to the page and keep them on the edge of their seat, holding that book in a white-knuckled death grip.

And if you stop to describe the brocade on the settee…

That won’t happen.

So maybe skimp on scenery detail unless it’s important to the action or “action” of the scene.

If you’re working on your opening scene, avoid info dumps at all costs. Don’t pile descriptive detail and world building and character backstory and the history of the type of garment the character is wearing into your opening scene.

Opening scenes need to have some pull, some gravity.

Hit your reader with some sort of interesting event or conversation, something to draw them in and keep them reading, and they’ll still stick around for the details later in the book.

As for genre, if you’re writing contemporary romance, you don’t have to describe every detail of the world. We live in it. There are certain things you can take for granted.

Modern readers know what a cell phone is. We know what it means to work full time. We know what a cat is.

You don’t have to explain these things at any point in time. You can say the basic name for what’s happening (“Ugh, I have overtime, again.”), and your reader will know that your character just got hit with an extra shift at work.

But if you’re writing sci-fi or fantasy, there are going to be a lot of things that require some explanation.

Your readers won’t see the name of your country and automatically know what kind of government is in place. They won’t just magically know how time is measured in that world.

So, there will need to be more details in a book of that sort.

And then there’s your own personal writing style to consider. Some writers are just more detailed than others. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

The trick with detail is to spread it out. That way, your reader gets the information they need without feeling overloaded or bogged down.

And if you’re ever in doubt, enlist the assistance of a beta reader, alpha reader, or critique partner. You can always ask them to go into it with the intention of keeping an eye out for the level of detail.

Or, you can ask them after they read it if there was anything that needed clarified or any scenes where it just felt like you were beating them over the head with adjectives and scenery.

Now, I have a strong personal bias on this matter. I don’t like loading up on extra detail. I like my books to be “punchy.” As such, I have a tendency to multitask with the details I choose to include.

If you want more information on that method of employing of detail, check out this blog post:

Just disregard the little update section. Soul Bearer came out last October. I’ve released two other books since then, with another coming out this November, so the writing progress section of that blog is… outdated. Lol.

If you’re new here, don’t forget to subscribe down below to stay up to date on all my future book releases, giveaways, and blog posts.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Writing self-sabotaging characters

Hi, guys!

Last week, I talked about writing believable romance and compelling chemistry, exploring the things that might draw two people together.

But if one of the people involved tends toward self-sabotage, the normal conventions no longer apply and relationships tend toward… dysfunctional.

If you’re writing a self-sabotaging character, it isn’t enough to just put them in a bad relationship. You need to understand why they’re there, so you can write them, and the ensuing relationship, accurately.

There are several types of people who do this. People who fear change and sabotage opportunities to prevent change. People who want to make others feel better about themselves.

And the most common, which is the one we’ll be talking about today, people with catastrophically low self-esteem.

People who genuinely hate themselves or feel intrinsically broken, perhaps due to trauma or a broken home or depression/anxiety, aren’t likely to look for someone who would be good for them. There’s a reason so many people end up in shitty, abusive relationships.

They don’t value themselves worth the effort of improvement or worth taking a good person off the market. They probably don’t even realize what they’re doing to themselves, but they’re seeking the shitty treatment they think they deserve.

At such a low point, something small might be enough to draw them in. Attention of any kind from someone who has even one quality they like, even something small like an outgoing nature, a cool tattoo, or good fashion sense, might be enough to draw them in.

Why?

Because they’re surprised they got attention or compassion from anyone.

And since they’re getting attention from someone, which is more than they think they deserve to begin with, they overlook glaring faults (drug abuse, cheating, domestic abuse, etc.) with ease. There’s a good chance they’ll internalize all of that, blaming themselves for their partner’s philandering or the abuse.

They’re likely to push good people away and seek out shitheads. Meeting someone good isn’t going to magically fix them or show them that they deserve happiness.

Until they learn to value themselves (which takes a hell of a lot of time and work), they won’t seek a functional relationship.

And that may very well be their downfall.

These characters can be absolutely heartbreaking to write, partly because it’s all too real. Far too many people destroy their own chances at happiness simply because they don’t believe themselves worthy of it.

So, if you decide to write one of these characters, keep these things in mind. It will be one hell of a journey, with a lot of time spent in darkness.

Now, on to the progress report. I’ve come to realize that Second to None may end up being a novella. I tend to write far shorter than the average length, regardless of genre. I write very punchy stories, sparing very little time for fluff.

I use my characters to build my world and vice versa, something I explained in a previous blog, which I’ll link below. (Ignore the progress report at the end of that one, because so much has happened since then that it’s irrelevant.)

Now, fantasy tends toward an average of 110,000 words (roughly), but mine lean toward an average of 70,000 or 80,000. Thrillers tend to be about 70,000 words.

So, with my writing style, I expect Second to None to total around 40,000 words. I’m currently sitting at about 7,500 words.

I’ve also made some strides toward releasing A Heart of Salt & Silver, and I’ve been reveling in the recent release of World for the Broken. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, it’s available wherever books are sold. (Amazon link: mybook.to/WorldForTheBroken )

For now, I’m going to keep working away on editing Allmother Rising and writing Second to None.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

P.S.- Here’s the link for the blog explaining the concept of using your world to build your characters and using characters to build the world.

Self-Editing: How to do it well

Hi, guys!

If there’s one writing rule that I believe applies to every piece of writing, it’s that you NEED to edit. Don’t publish a rough draft.

That’s just bad juju.

But editors are expensive (for good reason). Editing is work.

It takes a long time and a lot of effort.

Many people say never ever publish without a professional edit.

But sometimes, that isn’t feasible financially.

That is NOT an excuse for publishing poor quality content, though.

It just means you have to do even work yourself.

So, if you’re a broke bitch from way back (*raises hand*) and have to rely on self editing, here’s the process I put my work through.

It isn’t fool proof. Some typos hang on, fighting tooth and nail, to make sure they make it into the final draft. That’s why there’s an industry standard of allowed typos. (1 for every 10,000 words, I think? Don’t quote me on that, I may very well be wrong.)

But this process helps me to feel better about the standard to which my work is edited.

For starters, study grammar. Learn that shit. If you struggle with commas, study comma usage. (I overuse them, so I’ve been writing with Grammarly open, letting it yell at me to break the extra comma use.)

If you struggle with showing possession on a noun that ends in an “s,” fucking study it. This is a personal pet peeve of mine. I once read a traditionally published book wherein the author gave the MC a last name that ended in an “s.”

(I’m going to say Childers, though that’s not the name from the book.) The possessive form ranged throughout the book from the correct Childers’ to Childers’s to Childerses, and even Childerseses.

My brain melted when I read that last one.

Please, if you’re going to self-edit, study grammar.

Now, the actual editing routine.

I do something a lot of people say not to do (in addition to self-editing, because apparently I’m a rule breaker). I edit as I write.

Any obviously misspelled words are fixed immediately. Like, before I type another word. I keep flow and pacing in mind as I write and adjust accordingly. My style uses sentence fragments, so I make sure the only ones in there are 100% intentional.

Since I’m a pantser, sometimes I come up with new things or realize I have a plot hole. That means I have to go back and fix stuff.

And I do. Right then.

Most would say to include a note somewhere and do it in edits. But I don’t. I fix it then, adjusting what needs adjusted before continuing to write.

So by the time I finish my “first draft,” it’s more like a second draft.

If you have trouble finishing manuscripts, I don’t recommend this. Just do another round of edits later.

Now, there’s some debate as to whether you should do a round of edits immediately after finishing writing (with it still fresh in your mind) or put it away and come back with fresh eyes.

I say, do both.

If you’re self-editing, you need to be thorough as fuck, anyway.

Now, there are several types of editing. Proofreading, checking for continuity errors, making sure it flows, looking for grammar and syntax errors, etc.

You can do each one separately, but I do all of them, every single time I edit.

After a few rounds, it’s time for beta readers. Because you need someone else’s eyes on your work. After a while, your brain is likely going to fill in details or skipped words because you know what’s supposed to be on the page.

But beta readers don’t. They can tell you when something doesn’t make as much sense as you think it does. They can tell you whether it works or fits in the genre you’re aiming for.

You can also find critique partners in writing groups. You read and critique their work, and they do the same for yours.
That allows for another perspective, i.e. someone who knows about formatting and marketing and flow and all that stuff.

Now. Please. For the love of all that is good, take their opinions into consideration. If they point out a blatant mistake, don’t get defensive. Just fix it.

If they have a valid point about a potential plot hole.

Fill the plot hole.

If they point out a style choice that they don’t like, consider it. Give it some thought. Decide whether it’s a flaw in your story or personal preference. (Books are, after all, very subjective.) But if all your beta readers have a problem with the exact same thing, chances are, it needs fixed.

Now, implement all the beta reader/critique partner feedback.

After that, you guessed it…another full round of edits.

After that?

I recommend getting Grammarly or some sort of computer editing program. There are a lot of them out there. I use Grammarly because it came highly recommended and it’s super easy to use. It plugs right into Word and pops up in the task bar, ready for use.

Whichever program you choose, go through your manuscript with it. I usually do that during another round of edits, fixing the things Grammarly finds when I get to them.

It might be alarming how many errors it finds, especially if you write fantasy and have a bunch of made up words/place names/species names. When I first opened Grammarly on Soul Bearer, it had something like 1500 errors.

Then, I added Aurisye’s name to the dictionary and knocked off a few hundred errors. Lol. Then, I added Rafnor’s name to the dictionary. Knocked off another few hundred. Each name (or place name) made a huge difference.

So did cutting all my extra commas.

And Grammarly fucking hates characters with accents. Be prepared to add a lot to the dictionary.

So don’t panic if it’s a huge number.

Then comes the “read aloud” round. No, you don’t have to read the whole thing out loud, yourself, chugging water to moisten your parched throat.

Word has a feature that will read whatever’s on the page to you. It mispronounced a lot of things, but it also shows you when a sentence doesn’t flow. Each word is highlighted when it’s read, so follow along looking for typos.

Plug in some headphones and listen to that emotionless voice coldly stabbing you with every sentence that needs shortened.

Then, maybe do one more round of normal edits.

And then, after all those rounds of edits (what was that, 8 rounds? 9?), your book should be good to go. As long as you did that first step and studied grammar. It doesn’t do any good to look for errors if you don’t know what to look for.

Anyway, this has been an incredibly long blog, so I’ll keep the update part short. I’m now 96 pages shy of finishing the final round of edits on World for the Broken, and an absolute fuck ton of handwritten stuff to add to the 17,721 words that I already have typed for my new WIP.

Don’t forget, the ebook version of my novella, Annabelle, will be on sale in the Amazon US and UK marketplaces the entire last week of January. Just 0.99 (dollars and pounds).

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Building Character

Hi, guys!

This past week was mostly spent working on behind the scenes stuff for Soul Bearer. I’ve been reaching out to ARC readers left and right. I got a bit of editing done for the rerelease of The Gem of Meruna.

I also finished the pre-beta reader edits of Salt and Silver, and got it sent out to them. They found a few things that need adjusted, and I’m glad they caught it. Their response was overwhelmingly positive though, and I’m so freaking excited about it!

It’s a great feeling to know someone enjoyed your work.

And that story was so much fun to write. The characters are…interesting (a demi-demon with a conscience, a werewolf with a hero complex, a reckless mortal). lol.

Which brings me to the topic of the day…

Character development.

So, there are a lot of types of writers, and a lot of standpoints on how autonomous our characters actually are. Some people believe their characters have minds of their own, and have a lot of control on how the story develops. Some people believe all the control rests within the hands of the author.

And to be honest, as far as my next point is concerned…which side of that fence you’re on doesn’t matter.

Because, whether you think they’re forcing your hand or not, you need to think of them as fully independent people.

Whether you’re plotting carefully or running wildly through pages, the characters have to be people to you. Because if you don’t see your character as a person, your reader won’t, either.

You need to see all the facets of their personality. Otherwise, how will you ever figure out how they’ll react in a given situation?

If they’re a full person to you, it’s easier to figure out what they’ll do.

They can’t just be heroic because you say they are. Fiction has to make sense, ironically enough. Your characters have to have a motive.

Which is where backstory comes in.

Now, getting a normal ass person to leave a life with which they’re content to go chasing danger is going to take some persuasion. A person who has reason to hate their current situation…will go more readily.

Which is why backstories get rough.

But no matter what the backstory, you need to be consistent. If they have a history of running their mouth, they’re not going to stop whenever its convenient for the writer for them to not spout off at a superior or an uneasy ally.

It’ll take work for them to control that impulse, if they even see it as a problem. If they don’t, they won’t bother adjusting their attitude. And you either have to find a different way to move your plot forward or curb their temper in earlier scenes.

Because people change, but not instantly, and not when it’s most convenient.

Oftentimes, change is brought about by a low point. (Terrible backstory…reason 2.)

Now, there are a lot of ways to see your characters as real people.

Some writers do personality tests as each character. Some give each character a quirk, or a phrase that they use a lot. It makes them just a bit more distinct, a bit more human.

Whatever you do, each character needs a voice. You don’t want your reader to struggle to tell one side character from another. You definitely don’t want that struggle with your main characters.

The most basic thing you can do is figure out what they want. They’re not always going to want the same thing as your other characters, so there’s a pretty easy distinction.

Then, figure out why they want that thing.

This kinda brings us back to their backstory. What we go through has a huge impact on what we want out of life. And we tend to think about things we want…a lot.

Which means that a character’s thoughts (an important tool in character voice) will be informed by their past.

If someone went through something terrible…they’re going to think about it. If they want to prevent that happening to someone else, they’re going to think about that.

If one character is in love with another, and they’re going along on a quest to try to win affection…they’re not going to spend as much time thinking about the quest as the person on it for a personal vendetta. Instead, they’ll be preoccupied with how their crush is doing and how safe they are and what needs done to win them over.

That right there, the thing they focus on in the safety of their own mind…

That’s a huge distinction.

Take the backstory you’ve provided, and pick something (preferably plot-related) that makes your character anxious. That’s another huge difference between characters. Or maybe it’s something two characters can bond over.

Does your character have low self-esteem? Maybe that makes them befriend people who possess qualities they envy, because they want to be like them.

Maybe it does the opposite.

Perhaps they can’t handle being surrounded by the quality they admire, and they tell themselves that quality is dumb to ease the tension of not being good enough. Maybe they end up hating the person they know they should emulate, as a defense mechanism, surrounding themselves instead with like-minded people to avoid any cognitive dissonance.

Who knows?

There are so many options, so many ways to build messed up people for your stories.

At the end of the day, the best recommendation I can give is to learn about psychology. You don’t have to get a degree. You don’t have to be an expert.

But learning about psychology has so many benefits for writers.

You can use it to build people.

Believable people that readers can relate to.

And that’s huge.

It’s…kinda…the point. Or, a major part of it, anyway.

But I digress. I’ll stop ranting, now.

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.

Step One: Panic. Step Two: Do Shit.

Hi, guys!

It’s been an interesting week…

Any of you who follow me on social media (if you don’t, you totally should, btw. Links below) know that a tree decided to play patty cake with our garage. So my husband and I have been lining up times to meet with insurance people and tree removal services and contractors.

Right now, we’re in the middle of that mess, so our yard has a cut up tree spread throughout it, and the garage has a busted up roof.

But more progress will be made in the next couple days.

I also did a beta read for a friend this past week. Since I also read a bit of another book, that means I actually got to do a ton of reading. That doesn’t happen nearly enough. Honestly, that’s pretty much all I did last Monday. Lol. And a good portion of last Tuesday.

Have I mentioned that I read slowly?

So, reading an entire book, and a decent portion of another in a few days…That’s pretty good for me.

Now, as far as my own books are concerned, I did a bit of editing on The Gem of Meruna, and a little more formatting stuff for Soul Bearer (turns out that’s not completely done), designed and ordered some custom bookmarks (which will accompany any ARC copies of Soul Bearer, as well as giveaway copies), and did some research into the business side of publishing.

I’m excited about the bookmarks and about the progress with Soul Bearer and The Gem of Meruna.

But the business side of publishing…stresses me the fuck out.

The creative aspects of books (writing, world building, character development, cover design) are all magnificent and super easy for me to wrap my head around. Editing is just interactive reading, so that’s not bad. Formatting is tedious, but I’ve figured it out, now.

But business…

Marketing and business registration and taxes…

Man…That stuff stresses me out way more than it probably should. Anything money related always does.

Figuring out business type aspects of this process made me feel like I was in over my head. Imposter syndrome crept back in, and I spent literally an entire day doubting whether I would ever get these books out, or whether I would do it well or do it right. I started doubting whether I could do this.

There was even a brief moment where I thought I should have continued pursuing traditional publishing, writing book after book after book, and waiting years and years for anyone to give the manuscripts a second glance.

Just so someone else would have to deal with the business side of it.

I spent an entire day, building tires, working my overtime shift, getting down on myself and my ability to do this. I have this terrible tendency to get stuck in my head, and spiral…

Something I’m sure a lot of you understand. Anxiety is a pretty common affliction.

It doesn’t help that I started looking into all this while wondering how much our insurance would cover on the garage, or if we would have to fight with them over it. (We’ve never had to make a claim, and didn’t know what to expect. Thankfully, they’ve been pretty easy to work with.)

But, all day long, all I could think was how much of a failure I was bound to be, and how terrible I was going to prove myself to be at all of this, and just how far out of my element I am.

It didn’t matter that I’ve written seven complete novels and a novella, with a couple more under way. It didn’t matter that I’ve learned more and more and more about the publishing world every day for the past five years, or that I’ve been steadily honing my skills as a writer. It didn’t matter that I’ve already overcome a shit ton of obstacles in my personal life.

In that moment, I couldn’t see how far I’ve come, only how far I’ve yet to go.

And I was miserable.

And over what?

Making my taxes harder for my accountant? Having to learn more about SEO and marketing strategies? Having to work an extra overtime shift or two to cover a deductible for the garage, and possibly having to postpone the purchase of ISBNs by a week? (Which I don’t even have to do now, because it all worked out with the insurance.)

But I’m lucky.

My reaction when things get difficult has always been two steps. 1) Moment of panic, which was a full day in this case. 2) Keep doing shit.

Yeah, that first bit sucks ass, but it’s important to actually feel your feelings. The body expresses stress, one way or another (headaches, stomach aches, eczema, etc.). Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. Sometimes, you just have to feel it, shitty as that may be. But the second part, that bit about actually doing shit, (which, in my case, is usually brought about by morbid curiosity causing me to start researching things) tends to alleviate some of the panic.

Panic and emotion move far beyond the realms of logic, actively shunning all forms of reason. Things get blown out of proportion or overlooked depending on what’s most convenient for the anxiety. It isn’t a conscious thing, it’s just how anxiety works.

But the second you start looking into the facts, and start looking for ways to accomplish what you’re aiming for, and taking steps forward, the panic starts to ease. As soon as you make that first step, you see that it wasn’t as terrible as it seemed. And even if it was terrible, at least it’s done and out of the way, and you’re closer to your goal.

Taking that first step is so hard sometimes, and a bit paradoxical in that completing it gives you a thing to bolster your resolve with (which would’ve come in handy to take that first step). Sometimes, you just have to be stubborn, though.

Whether you feel like it or not, whether you have the energy or not, whether you think you’ll make it or not…

You can’t stay in a state of panic forever. The human body can’t handle that. Something has to give.

So, if you’re in a similar place, if you’re doubting yourself, take a second, and look at everything you’ve overcome so far. Don’t ignore what you still have to do, that won’t help you, but look at what you’ve already done.

Imposter syndrome doesn’t care what you’ve accomplished, and neither does anxiety. They come back, whether you’re successful or not.

But that doesn’t mean YOU should stop caring about how far you’ve already come. You’re out here, doing things. Whether you’re writing your first book or your tenth, whether you’re raising a kid or running a farm or starting a business…Whatever you’re doing, pay attention to how far you’ve come, so you can keep moving forward.

Your goals are important and worth the effort.

And now, I’ll let you all get back to making shit happen.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

P.S.- Subscribe? Maybe? Okay, I’ll go, now. 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.

Dreaming

Hey, guys!

Progress report first.

So, I got like…20 pages edited since my last blog post. :/

But I also got a potential cover for Soul Bearer knocked out, with a second option currently on the works. And I designed some swag for the release!

All of which…believe it or not…took a long ass fucking time. Lol. There’s a reason graphic designers charge as much as they do. It’s hard work, and takes time.

The biggest part of my days off this week was spent driving and/or riding back home from Texas. Thanks to traffic and shitty drive thru wait times, the 15 hour drive turned into 17.5 hours…

So that sucked.

But oh well. I’m back home now, and have my work week behind me. I’ll be able to put in some real editing time this week (hopefully), and get the final potential cover mocked up so I can pick one, and start moving forward there.

Now, the main event…Lol.

Today, I’m sort of continuing last week’s topic, but not really. Last week, I talked about making time to write. This week, I want to talk to you guys about making time for what’s important to you.

Now, I didn’t have the best childhood. I’ve talked about a few of the reasons for that in previous blogs, and I’m not going to rehash them today. That’s not the point here.

The point is that…it screwed me up. A lot.

All the trauma, the social anxiety, the depression, and the crippling OCD combined to make me feel…worthless.

Worse than worthless.

So, I didn’t really have any real dreams for myself. I wanted to be financially stable and have a stable relationship. That was about it.

I did all my school work and got good grades so no one would be concerned about me (because, for whatever reason, good grades equates to good mental health in the eyes of our school systems. To me it meant a way to keep people from asking questions). I followed the rules for the same reason.

I didn’t want anyone’s attention, be it positive (I didn’t feel like I deserved it) or negative (I couldn’t stand the thought of being a bigger disappointment than I already thought I was).

After high school, I went to college because any kid with good grades (or, in my generation, almost any kid) is expected to go. And I couldn’t be a disappointment.

I liked english and art, but I couldn’t bear the thought of having to explain what I would possibly use the degree for. The criticism would be too much.

I also liked psychology. I didn’t realize at the time how much of that was a need to understand myself and my own childhood, but it didn’t matter.

Because no one questions a psych major. No one asks, “What will you possibly use that degree for?” Instead, they say, “Let me know when you’re out of school. I know some people who need to come see you.”

A cheesy laugh follows, and the conversation moves to a different topic.

Basically, it was the perfect major for keeping people happy.

But…then I had some health problems senior year, and the doctors couldn’t figure it out. They were tossing around the big ones…cancer, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis…

And I thought about what I wanted out of life.

And it wasn’t the life of a therapist. I didn’t (still don’t) want to listen to the aftermath of traumatic events, day in and day out. I didn’t want to lie awake in bed wondering if something I said or didn’t say would be the breaking point, the straw that broke the camel’s back…the thing gone wrong that made a client kill themself. I didn’t want to spend every second outside of the office writing up notes on the day’s sessions.

So I didn’t. The doctors found a bunch of little manageable shit, rather than one big problem, and I stopped applying to graduate schools.

Even then, I didn’t dare dream of writing for a living. I just wanted to get a job, marry my then-boyfriend/now-husband, get a house, and live my life.

It took a couple more years of steadily working on myself to realize that…I deserved to have a dream, to have something to work toward.

Even then, I never thought of writing for a living as being attainable. It was just a pipe dream that I thought about occasionally, but didn’t put any faith in.

I thought myself worth having a dream, but not worth attaining it. So I didn’t really…try.

But if you don’t try to attain your dream, it’s guaranteed not to happen. If I never wrote a word, never edited a single page, I wouldn’t just wake up one day, a stay-at-home writer. That isn’t how it works.

But now, I’m trying. I’m working toward it. When I’m at home, I devote chunks of time to writing/editing. When my husband drives us to work, I post to my author pages. When I drive, I post on break. On my other breaks, I work on designs for book merch book or cover ideas. I stay up late to work on my blog, even after getting off of a 12 hour shift in steel toes on concrete floors…

Because I want this.

And I finally feel like…maybe I deserve it. Not because I’m special. But because I’m a person, and people deserve to be happy, and writing makes me happy.

So, anyone reading this, please, just know that you deserve to be happy. You deserve to have a dream, and you deserve to have something to work toward.

Whether it’s writing, or running a kickass book review blog, or becoming a therapist, or working a job that allows you to go home and actually be present at home…Whatever it is, you deserve to do what makes you happy.

You’ll probably have to work for it, especially if it’s writing. This isn’t the easiest field to go into, that’s for sure. (Hence, me keeping my day job indefinitely, because mortgage companies expect to be paid whether you’re living your dream, or not. Lol.)

Now, go out there, and be yourself. Live for you. You’re not going to be happy hiding who you are, or pretending that what you want doesn’t matter as long as everyone else is happy.

There are limits here, obviously. Still pay your bills. I don’t want anyone saying, “I took your advice, and my house got repossessed.” You still have to work to pay your bills. Lmao.

But it’s okay to have a goal beyond that.

Anyway.

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.