Rites and Rituals in Fiction

Hi, guys!

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you likely saw my post about which rites or rituals are in my upcoming dark supernatural high fantasy romance, A Heart of Salt & Silver.

There are quite a few in there, and it was so much fun to write them.

But rites and rituals are more than just fun to write.

They’re major worldbuilding tools, and deserve proper attention from writers. You can’t just write a pretty ceremony or a dark, broody ritual and not pay attention to the context.

These things have bigger implications for the world, the characters, and the plot than just being some party they go to.

Rites and rituals say a lot about the culture they exist within. You can learn a lot about a group of people by studying how they mourn, how they celebrate, what they mourn, and what they celebrate. That shows you what that group of people values.

You should also pay attention to what kind of ceremony is held and how much of a commotion they make about it.

So, let’s say your book includes a wedding (or whatever you call it in your fictional universe). The level of pomp and circumstance put into that ceremony can show the role those domestic partnerships play in their society.

If it’s pivotal to their culture, the entire village might turn out for the big ceremony. If marriage is seen as more of a merger of power and wealth, the decorations and the food and the finery will likely take center stage.

In The Regonia Chronicles, Daen Tribe partnering ceremonies include a lot of singing. They honor their ancestors, the Drennar, with their voices. Singing pervades nearly every aspect of their life. So naturally, it’s part of every rite and ritual.

They wear special headdresses made with antlers and local flowers, showing reverence for nature.

They get new tattoos done in a vibrant shade of blue, the same shade of blue that decorated their ancestors’ skin (you know, before the last of the Drennar died out from a mysterious illness contracted while exploring the deep recesses of space, leaving Daen tribe to its own devices on Regonia).

Their relationships are very important to them, and divorce is not a thing for them. As such, the tattoo for their partnering ceremony is VERY large, so much so that the specific location where the tattoo is placed can only fit one.

So, just showing a partnering ceremony tells A LOT about their culture.

Now, you can get deep into the details during the planning stage (if you plan) or while writing. You can go into the symbolism behind each color and how those colors came to mean those things.

You can fill a summoning ceremony with lore, telling your reader which gods or demons or creatures are more receptive to the pleas of mortals.

You can plan out each and every possible symbolic meaning for each piece of plant or animal matter used in a ritual sacrifice, whether all that detail finds its way into the final draft or not.

But be careful, despite how important these rites and rituals are.

If you tend to procrastinate, this has the potential to swallow you. And at some point, you have to write the story.

And on that note…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Treat yo’self

Hi, guys!

If you follow me on social media, you know that, as of a couple days ago, I finished writing Allmother Rising! This one took just under 4 and a half months (126 days, but short ass February fucked up the months.) It’s freaking amazing to have another book under my belt.

But the thing with finishing a first draft is that…there’s the initial lull of “what now?” that follows (quite similar to a book hangover when reading) and then there’s all the editing and the formatting and the cover design and then the metadata and the copyright and all that other stuff that needs done next.

But.

It’s important to take a second to appreciate the gravity of what’s just been accomplished, whether it’s your first book or your thirtieth book.

Yes, there is a lot of work to be done, still.

But people, events, worlds (if you write fantasy or science fiction) have just been created out of literal thin air. Synapses fired in your brain, and you moved your fingers over a keyboard, and magically, ideas and entire fictional lives exist.

And that is a magnificent thing deserving of celebration.

Normally, whenever I finish a book, my husband and I go out to eat to celebrate. I’m not sure if you’ve taken a look at the world lately, but that isn’t an option.

So, a massive, juicy grilled steak, grilled corn on the cob, and asparagus with a cold can of soda and Community playing on tv was the celebration this time around.

But that’s me.

I’m a major fan of red meat, specifically steak, so that’s a pretty special thing for me.

You can have cake or treat yourself to a new book. Buy yourself something special or take an extra long bubble bath (with salts and candles and bath bombs galore).

The point is, take a second to appreciate what you’ve accomplished. Look at what you’ve done and give yourself credit for it.

Celebrate where you’re at and how far you’ve come, regardless of how far you still have to go.

Because you’re doing things. And, to paraphrase John Mulaney, it’s so much easier to not do things.

For all of you out there kicking ass during Camp NaNoWriMo, celebrate the fact that you’re doing something with your time that most people only ever talk about. Everyone says they want to write a book, many say they could write a book if they ever had the time (which frustrates me to no end, and I did a whole blog about having time, link below if you’re interested).

But you’re actually doing it.

You’re not just talk. You’re not a hack or a poser.

You’re writing a goddamn book.

Soak it in. Really appreciate that. Because it’s huge.

Celebrate this, you magnificent do-er of things.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

(Ignore the progress updates in the linked blog below, because both those books are already published. Lol.)

Work in Progress: Updates and Quarantine Goals

Hi, guys!

Well, I’ve officially joined the ranks of the “unessential.” I work at a tire factory, and several car manufacturers shut down for a short time. So, we stockpiled until our warehouse was full, and now we’re laid off for a couple of weeks.

Which means I now have a shit ton of time to work on my books.

As such, I’ve set a couple of goals for myself over my two week lay-off. Since the original purpose of this blog was accountability, I’m going to share these goals here, and we’ll see how it goes.

  1. I want to finish my first draft of my current WIP, officially titled Allmother Rising. I’m currently sitting at roughly 56,700 words, up 3,300 from last week, and have about 6-8 chapters left.
  2. I want to finish this round of edits on Where Darkness Leads. I have 85 pages left, but it’s basically a rewrite. It’s an older WIP, and I’ve learned so much since I wrote that one.
  3. I want to make some serious progress on my TBR pile. It’s gotten unreasonable of late, and I have so many worlds to jump into.

As of last Monday, I had a fourth goal for the shutdown, which was to complete another full round of edits on A Heart of Salt & Silver (official title).

But I started it that night, and burned through the entire fucking thing over the course of 4 days.

Yes, it’s a more recent work, so I made far fewer mistakes. (Still made some, don’t come at me. I know I’m not perfect. Just fewer mistakes than with older WIPs.)

But I also got sucked in.

Like…I gave myself a proper book hangover. Honestly, I just want to go back and do another round of edits on that one right now, just so I can be in that story again.

The fifth goal I was going to set for the shutdown (deciding on a cover option for A Heart of Salt & Silver) isn’t necessary anymore, either. I had a couple drafts prepared, sitting on my computer. But I was so caught up in that story that I ended up coming up with a new one from scratch that I love even more than the previous variations.

So, I’ll only have three goals for the next two weeks. Finish writing Allmother Rising, finish this round of edits on Where Darkness Leads, and read an absolute fuck ton.

I should probably restrain myself from doing yet another round of edits on A Heart of Salt & Silver until after those are complete, but goddamn.

Lol.

Now, it may seem crass or impolite to be so wrapped up in my own story. But you know what…I don’t care.

We need to be proud of our books.

We need to be confident in what we’ve done.

I know it isn’t perfect. That’s why I’m editing it.

But I fucking love it. Just like I love all my books. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t fucking publish them. I’d hide them away and pretend they never happened. They’d just be weird files on my computer, buried in a file within a file within a file within about four hundred levels of file inception.

But they’re not.

I like them enough to share them with others, which is saying something because I’m not typically a confident person who shares what they’ve made with others. I never have been.

So, while I’m certainly not bragging or saying my work is better than anyone else’s (because I’m not saying that), I’m excited with how all of these projects are turning out so far and with the growth I’ve made over the past few years.

Editing Where Darkness Leads alongside A Heart of Salt & Silver has shown me just how much I’ve learned and how far I’ve come.

So, to all my fellow readers, let’s knock out our TBR piles.

To my fellow writers, let’s be more confident in our work and the progress we’ve made, all while getting tons of stuff done over quarantine.

To people following along for the sake of my books, first of all, fucking thank you. Second, I fully intend to get all of these books out as quickly as I can, while still striving to produce quality work.

Who knows, maybe I’ll even have time to make some progress on The Regonia Chronicles during this lay-off.

For now, though, I’m going to jump into some edits.

Feel free to share your goals in the comments.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Be fucking proud.

Later.

Why you should write EXACTLY what you want

Hi, guys!

Today, we’re tackling something that seems to be a rather large issue when it comes to writer morale.

Namely…”Should we bother?”

I guess, basically, that is morale.

It’s all over writing groups. People describe the general premise of their book, then ask other writers if it sounds like it would be worth the effort of writing it.

They site flooded markets and the use of the same tropes in a million other books. They claim that certain genres or markets are dead.

Some ask if people even bother reading nowadays, with all the instant gratification and high speed stimulation available in movies and tv shows and various things online.

They doubt whether the readers (or money) will be there.

First off…money shouldn’t be why you write. The odds of being a full time author are slim. We all know that. We just prefer to internalize our lack of a 6 figure writing income as being our own fault, our own shortcoming, for some masochistic reason or another.

We’re an anxious bunch. It happens.

But whether you think you’ll get rich off your books or not…shouldn’t decide whether you write them.

Writing, given how slim the odds are of being the next J.K. Rowling, is a labor of love.

So why not write what you love?

Pining away after that one idea, that one story that will get you rich…is a good way to never actually write a book. You’ll just sit there, repeatedly dismissing potentially amazing ideas, and never get down to the business of actually writing.

As for tropes that have been done before or flooded markets, obviously people like that kind of story. Plus, no matter how many other authors have written it, they don’t have your voice. Your unique compilation of experiences will shine light on different parts of the trope and cast shadows on other aspects.

And besides, if it’s what you want to write, who the fuck cares how many times it’s been written before?

Write it.

Make it your own and it will be glorious.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, think your target market is dead?

Take it as a challenge.

Take advantage of the lower numbers of books in that genre. Be the one to revive it.

Now, as for the crap about people not reading anymore. People fucking read.

Go to Instagram. Search the tag #bookstagram and look at how many posts turn up. As of right now…39.8 million. Now, search #reading. 25 million posts. #amreading has a couple million.

All of them…are about reading. (And that’s just on Instagram.)

#amwriting has a few million posts.

#writingcommunity has 5.5 million.

I mention writing because do you know what all those authors are also doing? Especially when they’re procrastinating working on their own books?

They’re reading.

Over a million books are published each year.

Now, that might be intimidating because your book is kinda just floating in a sea of words, but it’s also heartening.

Because most authors are also avid readers, consuming books left and right.

Who the fuck can write, knowing how much they and their writer friends love to read, and question whether people read? Do you not talk books with these people all the damn time?

Sure, since there are more people in the world, more people than in previous centuries have decided they don’t like reading. There are so many hobbies that exist now that weren’t even dreamed of a hundred years ago.

I mean, playing a video game on a phone a few centuries ago? Obviously not happening. You’d likely be thrown into what passed as a psychiatric hospital back then, or burned at the stake, for mention of a magical, flat brick that showed moving pictures and let you play a game with someone on the other side of the world.

But a higher population also means that more people are reading. A percentage of a larger number equals a higher number than the same percentage of a lower number.

Which sounds like I’m talking in circles. So, 20% (arbitrary number, pulled out of thin air) doesn’t sound like a lot. After all, 20% of 100 is only 20.

But 20% of a million?

200,000.

20% of a billion?

200,000,000.

You see my point. Now, I don’t know the percentage of adults that read on a regular basis. I couldn’t find current statistics.

But if one in five people reads, if one in twenty people reads regularly…across the entire world…that number is fucking huge.

And there’s bound to be a group within that number that will like your book.

So take heart.

And write whatever you fucking want.

There is someone out there who will want to read it.

Now. On the topic of writing. I’ve made progress on my own WIP. I’m hovering around the 35,000 word mark now, so up roughly 2,500 words from last week. I’ve been spending a lot of time on release prep for World for the Broken, ironing out details and such. It’s remarkable how many of those keep popping up.

It isn’t the amount of progress I’d hoped to be able to report, but I should probably be kinder to myself, given the toll my body has been taking on me.

That double ear infection from a couple weeks ago? Well, none of that stupid fluid in my inner ears actually drained. The infection cleared up, but all that swelling stayed put, holding that fluid in. So my ears have been ringing, I’ve had a nonstop, dull headache for several days (punctuated by sharper, shorter-lived headaches which felt like knife points), and I’ve been dealing with episodes of nausea-inducing vertigo that last anywhere from five minutes to twelve hours.

Of course, there were more doctor visits, and thus medicine. Lots of early mornings, because the rest of the world doesn’t abide by my nocturnal writing schedule. I honestly don’t know how much dramamine I had to take to be able to go to work this week without having a dizzy episode and falling into a machine.

But it’s improving. The dizziness is down to one or two episodes (lasting less than five minutes each) if I go too long without taking dramamine.

So, I’m on the mend.

And pushing forward.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Soul Bearer: The Beginning

Hi, guys!

So, with Soul Bearer’s release date coming up (freaking tomorrow!), I thought I’d talk about the creation of the story. I’ve talked about my writing process (or lack thereof) before, but I’ve never really gone into specifics for this story in, particular.

The spark, the catalyst, was a dream, which I know sounds corny. But that’s what the prologue was. I woke up with a dream of a princess and a burning necklace and the return of dragons.

So I wrote down the bare bones of that scene and ran with it.

The princess in that scene just happened to fall into a trope I don’t particularly like writing. She’s prissy and overly concerned with her looks. She’s led an easy, privileged life and as such, follows whims even when they’re definitely a bad idea because well…what are consequences?

She doesn’t really know because she’s never faced them.

I hate that trope, that stereotypical princess type.

And she certainly wasn’t going to be the one fighting the dragon.

So her part ended, sort of, in the prologue. I can’t say how her part continued because spoilers.

But that meant I had to come up with someone else to sort out the problem of the dragon and a means for them to do so.

And therein lies the problem with writing something from a dream. It takes a lot of work to make it work. I know, writing a book takes work, in general, but dreams have a tendency to make little to no sense.

And fiction has to make sense.

You have to have a reason for everything. Anything you put in the story has to be justified by a fully built world and three dimensional characters whose backgrounds support the information you’re giving.

Everything has to line up.

Because if it doesn’t line up, you end up with plot holes and angry readers.

And no one wants that.

Now, I tend to have these little…half imagined bits of story floating around in my head, pretty much constantly. A character here, an encounter there. There’s always an assortment to choose from.

I just have to find the world, and the story, they fit into.

Well, Visan (the world of Soul Bearer) turned out to be the home I’d been lacking for Aurisye. I hadn’t named her yet,and her story ended up changing drastically by the time it was all said and done. I didn’t know she’d be so powerful before I found her home in this story. But the core of her, the basis of who she was before the dragons rose, was already in my head and it belonged in this world.

There was another little tidbit, a chance encounter, that eventually became her mother’s story. I had no idea it belonged in Soul Bearer until I got to close to the scene, though. Lol.

As for Rafnor, he was always a part of this world. He developed with it, grew with it. He was never separate from the world of Soul Bearers.

Now, there was something I was asked about by a couple of ARC readers: the names. They wanted to know how I came up with them.

So, in case any of you are curious, this is what I did.

I chose a few languages that I don’t speak, picked words that I associated with the characters, and then looked them up in those other languages. When I found a translation or translated synonym that I liked the sound of, I altered it to fit the sounds of the cultures in the book.

For the Elves, I mostly translated stuff to French. I wanted it to have a soft, seductive feel. It just seems like something that would whisper through the leaves of their wooded kingdom.

The Elves in this story (dark elves, btw) are intelligent and witty, but also conniving. Having such smooth sounds set up a nice contrast.

I wanted the Orcish names to be the exact opposite. I wanted their names to embody the harsh, rough culture (and climate) they live in. So I translated to German and roughed the words up a bit more, smashing consonants together.

For the Humans, I went with variations on old English and Nordic words and names.

No matter what word I chose, I always…massaged the spelling to make it sound how I wanted, though.

It took about 6 months to write the first draft of this one. Then, after many edits, I started submitting it to traditional publishers. Before it got accepted anywhere though, I decided traditional wasn’t the way for me to go.

I’ve been heading down the Indie road ever since.

Now, I’ll be posting a video on release day, aka October 22nd. (Freaking tomorrow!)

*gasp* A video?

I know, I almost never show my face. It’s almost like I don’t like being in pictures or videos…

But, for you guys, I’m going to get over it, and do something that I always dreaded back in school. I’m going to read aloud for the group.

I’ll be doing a reading of the prologue of Soul Bearer!

It’ll be posted here for sure. Possibly on FB or IG, if I can figure out how to get around the time limit on IG. It’ll be at 3:00 p.m. central time. I’ll post about it on social media when it’s up, and I’ll send out an email to all my subscribers to let you know.

Then, I’ll be going live for the first time EVER on Instagram at 4:00 p.m. central time to answer questions and….*drum roll* announce the winners of the giveaway!

Don’t worry. If you can’t tune in, it doesn’t null your winnings. I’ll message each winner directly to let them know.

It’s going to be an exciting week.

And I finally get all three of my days off this week! No overtime, just my actual 40 hour schedule. That hasn’t happened in a while.

Now, normally I would do a full-on update on how my week went, but this time, I think I’ll just say that I got a lot of editing done on one story, some formatting done on another, and managed to get through all of my days.

I might do a full blog about this past week…next week. I’m not sure yet. It’s been an absolute train wreck.

These three days off could not have been better timed.

For now, though…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Many Much Thanks

Hello, all!

First off, I’ve got some news about the rerelease of The Gem of Meruna. I’m not going to do a full edit, or any extra editing, really. If I do, I’m pretty sure I’ll have to redo the copyright registration. So, unless I find a shit ton of errors as I’m going through it (picking out excerpts for marketing and doing the formatting), I’m going to leave it alone.

It’s already been edited and published in its current state, so it’s fine. I have to keep telling myself that, because I’m sorely tempted to do a major overhaul. You see, for whatever fucking reason, I wrote it in past tense.

Which…isn’t like any of my other stuff.

I don’t know why I did it.

But I did.

And I want so badly to switch it to present tense.

But the idea of redoing the copyright registration is less appealing than leaving it how I intended it from the start.

So, that speeds up the rerelease process. All I have to do is format and pick excerpts. New cover art is under way. Then, I can order proofs, and pick ARC readers. (That’s when I’ll set a release date, btw.)

I just want to do this right.

The first time around was such a mess, and I knew nothing about the publishing industry or what it takes to make it as an author, at the time. Not that I know all the ins and outs of this industry, now, but I know a hell of a lot more than I did five years ago. (I know that if a publisher is going to charge you to print your book, run the other way, as fast as possible.)

And not that I’m “making it” as an author, just yet, either. My day job is still 100% necessary. But one day, I’d like writing to be my job.

So I have to take the steps to do this right. This time, and with all my future book releases.

Of course, it helps that I’ve found a lot of writing friends online. I’ve learned so much from the people in the writing groups I’ve joined recently.

Which brings me to my next subject.

Thank you for reading this.

I start all of my blogs as if I’m addressing a lot of people, and I always assume that to be false. It doesn’t seem real that anyone would want to read my silly little ramblings, and I just assume that maybe three people read these blogs.

But, here lately, people have been mentioning stuff from my blogs in conversations and comments and messages…

I kinda had one of those “Holy shit, maybe I can actually do this” moments when I realized people are actually reading my blogs. I genuinely had no idea. The only comments I get are spam from gambling websites and shit. Lol. Obviously, those get deleted. (You guys know you can comment, right? Ask questions, say things, whatever.)

Anyway, author platforms, including blogs, are super important for connecting with readers and for networking and meeting other writers. I’m not great with technology, or socializing, so it typically feels pretty alien to me, like I’m flailing my arms and shouting at the screen and…not really getting anywhere.

So, to those of you who read these posts, those who comment or message on Instagram or Facebook, who talk to me in person about my books and my blog, and especially those of you who’ve read my books, those who’ve taken the time to leave reviews…Thank you!

Thank you, so freaking much!

I always doubt myself and my ability to get anywhere with my writing, but the support you’ve all shown me makes me think it might be possible. It means the world to me.

To friends and family, to my husband, letting me rant and ramble about books and publishing…Thank you! I need to vent and hear my ideas out loud, sometimes, so thanks for putting up with it all. Lol.

Well, for now, I think I’m going to sign off, and get some sleep. I had another 12 hour shift today, and I really pushed myself. I built 12 hours worth of tires in 9 hours, and it really took it out of me.

I just wanted to get this posted before bed because, well, that’s my routine. Plus, I’ll be out running errands all day when I get up, so there won’t be time.

I’ll be back next Sunday night/Monday morning. I’m on Instagram and Facebook through the week, though. And, I’m trying to get stuff up and going, so my Amazon author page is in the works, as well. Links are down below.

For now…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

TV, Movies, and Other Sacrificial Lambs

Hello, all!

Today, i wanted to give budding writers, readers, and just plain old curious folks a little glimpse of the sacrifices made to write. Because writing a book, let alone multiple books, is not a passive process. it takes time, a hell of a lot of patience, and a ton of work.

So, here goes.

One of the first things to go, for me, was tv and movie time. I usually watch a bit with my husband while we eat, but beyond that…it’s just background noise.. we occasionally have a binge day, where I set my writing aside for a few hours, but that’s like…every couple weeks.

Now, for me, that was an easy thing to do. I’d already sacrificed these poor creatures to the OCDemons when I was a kid. Remotes were “dirty,” as was the couch, even though nothing in the house I grew up in was ever all that dirty. It just violated the rules set forth by my OCD.

So, tv and movies were never a huge part of my life. For some, this is a big problem.

But you can’t expect a book to materialize in front of you, with your name on the cover, if all you do after work is sit in front of a tv for hours on end.

Not unless you want it to take about 20 years.

Now, video games have been harder to let go.

When I was younger, these, too, were sacrificed at the alter of the OCDemons. But after college, they were resurrected. And they found me.

Hell, for a while, when Final Fantasy XIV came out, my husband and I would alternate nights, and that was just…what we did. One of us played, and the other either did chores, or watched. Then, the next night, it switched. We did that for months.

And don’t even get me started on Skyrim or Fallout 4. I sank so much time into those games, and I loved every second of it.

But I want to write. I want to, eventually, make a career out of writing so I can write even more. That means cutting out other things to make time for it.

So, I put less time into video games.

And…all my other various hobbies. Lol.

And…also some social time.

Basically, what I’m saying is that it takes work and dedication.

And if you’re going to do it, if you’re going to put in the effort of writing a book, you may as well put in the effort to do it right. That means learning about grammar, and style, and flow, and character arcs, and so many other things…In addition to writing time.

So, anyone beginning a writing career, balance is going to be hard. You’re going to have to give up a lot. But if it’s your dream, do it. Make time for loved ones, of course, but if it comes down to choosing between watching a show you’ve seen several times or hammering out a chapter…

You know what you have to do.

Readers…please just appreciate the effort that goes into a book. As a ton of online posts would say, “feed an author, leave a review.” Lol.

But seriously, leave reviews.

Amazon doesn’t put books into certain featured lists until they get a certain number of reviews. They’re pretty important.

Anyway, I’ll stop ranting and raving for now. It’s been a pretty productive week. I typed just over 6,600 words for Salt and Silver, and have a chapter handwritten. Then, just the epilogue and I might add a chapter. I’ve got it planned, and it’ll help with balance and closure, but it isn’t completely necessary.

We’ll see. I’ll probably write it, and then go through the story with and without it. Then…it may face the guillotine.

Either way, I’m getting so freaking close to being done with the first draft. And the closing line of the last chapter…

I can’t tell you (literally, because spoilers) how happy I am with it. That one line wraps it all up so damn nicely.

I still have to type that part up, and I’m genuinely looking forward to typing that last line. It won’t be the last part I type, because I’ll still have to do the epilogue. But I want to get to that part of the story, again. The rush of it when I wrote it out by hand…

*sighs contentedly*

Well, for now, I’ll be signing off.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.