“Important” Books vs. Fun Books (Does it matter?)

Hi, guys!

Today, we’re talking about “important” books. Yes, the quotes are one hundred percent necessary, there.

There are so many people who go on and on about writing or reading the next great American novel. So many authors feel pressured to write books that others will deem “important,” and tons of readers feel pressured to read all the classics and all the high brow literature they can get their hands on.

But you know what…

Fuck that.

Read and write whatever you want. Books don’t have to be “important” to be valuable. They don’t have to be profound or life changing or satirical. They don’t have to make some insightful commentary on society to be worth reading.

There’s nothing wrong with a book that’s meant to be fun and entertaining.

So chill out.

Stop shaming each other for what you read or write.

Stop letting others shame you for what you read or write.

Just live.

We all love books.

Can’t that be enough?

If you want to spend hours analyzing every book you read to find every possible meaning, do it. You do you.

Maybe become an English teacher and get paid for that shit while you’re at it.

If you want to write books that are deep and meaningful, going into the writing process with the intention of writing something truly powerful…fuckin’ do it.

But.

Not everyone reads to find the hidden meaning.

Not everyone cares why the curtains were blue.

Sometimes, sitting down to read or write is just about going on an adventure instead of being anxious about bills.

And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Every time I read or write, I do it because I want a story. Not because I have wisdom to impart or need the sage advice of the elders.

Do I learn from books? Yeah. All the damn time. But that isn’t usually why I read or write them.

I want to see another world or a different version of this world.

I want to meet interesting new people without…actually…having to meet people.

I want to go on daring adventures and face mythical, magical beasts…from the comfort of my couch with little-to-no risk of being disemboweled.

Sometimes that’s all you need to feel a little better about life.

So. Do you. Read whatever the fuck you want. Analyze it to whatever degree you want. There is room for readers and writers of all kinds within the book world.

I promise.

*steps off soap box*

Now. Progress report!

All formatting on World for the Broken is done! I have to adjust the cover size for the paperback, because I changed my mind on the trim size at the last minute.

The pages will be slightly larger, which means more text will fit on each page, which means about 130 fewer pages. Good news: that means the paperback will cost less than it would have otherwise.

Same content. Same print quality. Less expensive.

So I’m excited about that.

Since I’m just about done with it, I’ll be revealing the cover this week, which I’m also excited about. I love how it turned out, and I can’t wait to show it to you all.

Now that I’m not actively editing something (mostly doing marketing images and metadata, as well as exploring blog tour options), I can get back to actively writing my new story instead of just squeezing in writing time around the World for the Broken edits.

As of right now, I’m just over 22,000 words. Which isn’t bad. But I’m hoping to get quite a bit done on it this week.

But now, it’s time for me to get some sleep.

Keep reading (whatever you want). Keep writing (whatever you want).

Later.

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.

Progress Report!

Hi, guys!

I’ve done something I maybe shouldn’t have. Or maybe I should have. Who knows.

At any rate, I’m excited about it. Lol.

I started writing a new story.

Yes, I should continue writing my sci-fi series, and I will. But it’s going back on the back burner for the time being. I’ll still add to it and work on it as I go, but this other story is calling me.

You see, I’m not a technology person. I’m a magic person.

I’d much rather plan out a magic system and create gods than calculate space travel times mid-writing session. There’s a reason most of my books are high fantasy.

I just love magic.

I love the idea of being more than just…human. That’s why the humans in most of my fantasy novels have access to magic or abilities. That’s why I write about humanoids (elves, orcs, and races I make up).

It’s also why this new story has NO HUMANS

.The characters are humanoids. They have pointed ears because I fucking love pointed ears. But they also have antlers and access to magic and all sorts of awesome shit.

I mean, these people redesign a fucking landscape, and I’m excited about it.
I know that doesn’t sound as epic as it actually is in the book, but I promise, it’s to die for.

Btw, after this book comes out, reread this blog. I promise that joke will hit differently. Lol.

You may think I’m a bit twisted for it.

But let’s be fair. If you read any of my books, you probably think I’m a bit twisted.

Anyway, the point is, sometimes you just have to write what you want to write. And this story is what I want to write.

I’m not condoning the abandonment of every project after it loses the “oooh shiny” effect of a new story. You do actually need to finish stories.

Which means actually writing them.

But I’m always worried that it’ll show through if I’m writing one story while my heart beats in another.

And I know I’ll knock this one out pretty quickly because it’s a fantasy romance story and I fucking love fantasy and romance. Plus, all the major scenes have already played through my mind.

I’m already 5,000 words deep (started handwriting eight days ago, started typing six days ago). The world is built, the Gods and magic system are in place, both mortal races have been created, and the main cast is assembled.

I have a title and ideas for the cover. I even made a little thing on Canva, stockpiling images I’m going to photoshop together for the cover. Lol.
And a kickass playlist is under way with songs specifically chosen for the story.

Basically, I’m pumped!

I’ve been in a loop of editing for months, trying to prep all my stockpiled manuscripts for release now that I’m officially self-publishing everything. I’ve done a round of editing on one story, then another, then another, then went back, and started the loop again, and then threw in a round of edits on a different one and…

Well, I’ve been feeling like an editor rather than an author. (Really, I’m a broke self-published author, which means I have to be an entire publishing company rolled into one person.)

But I was feeling like a fraud, like I wasn’t a real author because I was spending so much time editing and so little time writing.

I was even worried I wouldn’t be able to come up with anything or that I wouldn’t be able to write it if I did come up with an idea.

Yeah, I worked on The Regonia Chronicles off and on to keep the insanity at bay. (Seriously. Writing, creating worlds calms my anxiety. It gives my overactive mind something to focus on besides how terribly every aspect of my life could go wrong. ) The bits and pieces I wrote for Regonia, the chapters I added helped.

But the creative energy has been building.

And now, it’s all pouring out. Lol.

Don’t worry though.

I’m not screeching to a halt with my release prep. I’m still editing and all that.

The edits on Where Darkness Leads are pretty in depth, honestly. I wrote that one several years ago and I’ve learned a lot since I wrote it. Which is good for the stuff I’m working on now and for my edits.

But it also means that this round of editing is going to take some time.

Where Darkness Leads is going to take some serious work to whip it into release-ready shape, and…I have to write, too. I can’t just edit for months on end.

That ain’t me.

So, this super ambitious “release one of my stockpiled manuscripts every three months” plan I came up with (btw, I never officially announced that tentative release schedule, but that’s roughly what it was going to be) will likely have to be a bit more spaced out.

All beta reader feedback for Salt and Silver (to be retitled later, but this one has the wolf shifters and the demi-demon MC) has been received and considered. Necessary adjustments have been made.

I have all the swag I ordered for The Gem of Meruna, but I’m waiting for my book order to get here before I announce the giveaway. Holiday rush and all that means that the printing is slow and the shipping slower.

But it’s coming.

As with the giveaway when Soul Bearer released, winners will be chosen from Facebook, Instagram, and my email subscribers. And yes, there will be an extra prize for the winner chosen from my email subscriber list.

I’ll be officially announcing the new title for my post-apocalyptic story later this week. Once I do a final sweep for typos, I’ll be formatting, adjusting the cover size for final page counts, and revealing the cover to all you lovelies!

Keep an eye out for it. I’m pretty psyched about how it turned out (much thanks to my husband and my writing friends for all their feedback during the cover creation process, btw).

After that, I’ll have an official release date and set it up for preorder.

If you’ve been looking for a dark, dark, DARK post-apocalyptic romance novel, this is the one for you. Just saying. A book group I’m in requires a list of triggers on any book posts, so I was thinking through the list…and it’s almost all the triggers.

That wasn’t my intention when writing it, but that’s what happened. I didn’t even realize it until thinking through the list, either.

So…yeah. Readers beware, I guess? Lol.

Whew…that was a lot. As you can tell, I’ve been incredibly busy. They’ve been cutting back a little on overtime at work, so that’s helped me get stuff done. But it’s still been a hell of an undertaking.

But you know what?

I’m making my dream happen.

So I’m going to keep pushing and doing…all things bookish.

Just as you should do what you need to do to make your dreams happen.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Writing with Style

Hey, guys!

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

Such a loaded question, but a very simple answer.

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

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

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

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

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

Seriously.

Whatever you want.

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

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

With it?

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

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

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

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

Don’t be that cocky.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because it won’t be the same story.

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

So. Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

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

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.

How do you have the time?

Hey, guys!

I know, it’s not my normal intro. Ahh! Change! Scary! Let’s all take a second to visualize ourselves rampaging through a city because one of the few safe things in our lives has been shattered, and replaced with something different! (It’s obviously a different premise, but the movie, Falling Down, comes to mind, here.)

Anyway…

So, I’ve been on vacation this week, and I’ve made a ton of progress on my editing. Now, I haven’t spent the whole week editing, as I’m visiting family that I only see a couple times a year. But I’ve still had way more time to work on book stuff.

Not only do I now have my e-mail subscription set up (sign up below to stay up to date on release dates and future giveaways), but I did a shit ton of editing. I’m two thirds of the way through this round of edits of The Gem of Meruna, and nearly halfway through the final edits of Soul Bearer!

I didn’t intend to spend so much more time on Soul Bearer than on The Gem of Meruna, but every time I start doing anything with Soul Bearer, I just get sucked in. Lol. I assume that’s a good sign, especially since I’ve literally made myself cry going through this one.

Anyway, I’m pushing through this all at breakneck speeds, and I don’t even have to go back to work for a few more days.

After that, I’ll go back to working around my work schedule.

Which brings me to the topic of today’s blog…

Priorities.

So many of the writing groups (not all of them) that I’m in are filled with questions about how we have the time for writing. Often times, people say they struggle to fit it into their day, while still enjoying their other hobbies. They say that since it isn’t paying the bills, they find it hard to stay motivated, and end up playing video games or watching tv or whatever. (Btw, those things probably aren’t paying your bills either. Just saying.)

Now, I’m not about to tell you that you can’t do any of your other hobbies. Being a well-rounded person and experiencing life is important for writing well-rounded characters.

But.

If you want your writing to be taken seriously by anyone else, YOU have to take it seriously. Writing will never pay the bills if you don’t fucking write.

I love playing video games. I have a million and one hobbies that I enjoy. I like the occasional tv binge.

But I want my writing to (eventually) pay my bills, so I can stay home and write EVEN MORE. And I know that if I don’t write, if I don’t put in the time, and do what I need to do, that will never happen.

Ever.

I don’t expect a winning lottery ticket to blow into my lap. I also don’t expect some magical muse to flutter into my life, and give me the ability to type 3,000 error-free words a minute so that my novels will be written in less than an hour, then for them to somehow be magicked into New York Times bestsellers.

That’s not how the world works, and it sure as hell isn’t how writing works.

If you want to write, you have to give some things up. I used to play video games for hours on end, every night. Now, I haven’t picked up a controller in weeks.

Because that’s a hobby.

Writing is what I want to do with my life. There’s a huge difference there. I’m willing to put aside a few things to make it happen.

If it means I only play video games when my computer is updating or the day after I finish a manuscript, so be it. If it means that only I pick up my bow or crossbow for target practice when my entire body is restless from sitting still for too long, that’s fine.

Because writing is my thing.

It’s an art and a craft, and that requires time and dedication.

I don’t write because I HAVE the time for it. I write because I MAKE the time for it. That’s what you have to do. With anything, really. If you want to do something, if you want to accomplish something, you have to make it happen. Watch a couple hours less tv each night, and work toward your goal.

It isn’t going to happen, otherwise.

Now, there are things you can’t put off, I understand that. The job that pays the bills, taking care of kids, spending time with your significant other…Those things need prioritized, as well.

But if it comes down to choosing between spending a fourth night in a row vegging out on the couch with a show you don’t really care about on the tv and your phone glowing into your eye balls for 6 hours…or doing something that helps you achieve your dream?

Why is that even a question?

Even if you only put your phone down for an hour a day, that’s better than nothing.

For those of you who work two jobs, and take care of a kid on your own, and have to care for an elderly neighbor…Yeah, your time management struggles make more sense. But I assure you, that’s not the case for everyone asking, “How do you have the time?”

I don’t. I make the time. I prioritize my writing because it’s important to me, and I know it will never mean a thing to anyone else…if I don’t fucking write.

Whew…That was…not intended to be a rant. But that’s where it went, and I’m sticking with it. Lol.

Anyway, I’m forging ahead with editing, which means the release of Soul Bearer will get here that much faster, as will the rerelease of The Gem of Meruna (though it will need yet another round of editing). I’m fairly certain I have a cover for The Gem of Meruna. There’s a second design in the works, and I’ll choose between the two after it’s done.

As I mentioned above, you can now subscribe for my newsletter (the sign up bit is down below). I promise, I won’t fill your inbox with a bunch of shitty spam.

For now, though…

Keep reading. Keep fucking writing. (Lol)

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.

Making Up Words

Hello, all!

Today, we’re talking about world building! Specifically, language creation.

Over on Facebook, I’m part of a very large (89,000 members) writing group called Fiction Writing. (If you’re a writer, regardless of experience level, seeking to learn about writing fiction or just looking for a writing community, go join.) Members can post questions or helpful advice, and basically drink from the knowledge of the group.

Here lately, I’ve seen several posts asking for advice on creating a language.

They get responses ranging anywhere from “study linguistics” to “don’t” to all manner of genuinely helpful tips.

Now, I’ve only created a language for one of my WIPs (sci-fi series), but I do have some tips. If you’re going to tackle this beast, keep these in mind.

1. Identify the sounds you want them to use, and formulate an alphabet based on that.

Not every species is going to use the same convoluted alphabet we do. I think only 4 letters in the English alphabet make one sound, no matter what letters are next to them, or what word they’re in, or whether they want to be silent that day, or whatever.

English is a bit of a monstrosity like that.

Since I got to decide, Regonian is phonetic. Their letters have one sound each. They always make that sound, and they’re never silent.

2. Numbers! How do they count?

Please, for the love of God, don’t have them count like the French. Or do. It’s up to you.

But…that shit’s a mess. (I’ll put a link at the bottom for a video about French numbers.)

3. Come up with grammar rules. (Verb tense, showing possession, plural vs. singular nouns, punctuation, etc.)

Again, English is a fucking monstrosity. Your language doesn’t have to be. Mine isn’t. Because I didn’t want to deal with that shit.

4. Figure out how the words interact with/modify each other.

For instance, in Regonian, the word for smile is literally the words “lips” and “wide” smooshed together with a syllable dropped, because that’s how I decided nouns and adjectives interact.

Maybe your verbs join with the noun to illustrate the action framed by the actor. Who fucking knows? You. You know.

5. Decide the word order sentences will follow.

Do you want the noun to be the beginning of the sentence every time? Okay. That’s how it is. Do you want the adjectives to come after the noun (like in Spanish)? Got it.

For mine, for the sake of simplicity in writing the stuff, I stuck with the sentence structure that I’m most familiar with (English). But you don’t have to do that.

6. Identify key elements in their culture, and shape phrases around them.

For the Regonians, sound is a very important, almost religious aspect of their lives. It ties into their views of the afterlife. They’re a very musical people, using a multitude of instruments, singing, and even aspects of beat boxing in all important aspects of their lives. So sound influenced how they reference emotion and how they show their love.

Thus, I centered a lot of phrases around words pertaining to sound.

Do they have any neighbors? Most civilizations don’t develop in a petri dish. (The one in The Gem of Meruna developed without outside influence, but that’s explained in The Regonia Chronicles. Yes, there’s a tie in, which I’m pretty excited about.) How has that other culture shaped them? Because that’ll affect their language. Maybe they borrowed a few phrases or words.

7. Build a word database.

You never know what word you’re going to need. Believe me. Lol.

This part can kinda be done as you go along, just be sure to reference everything you came up with for numbers 1 through 6, so you don’t accidentally contradict yourself.
It’s not easy or quick. Lol. No advice in the world will make it simple. You’re literally trying to do something that took millennia to evolve naturally, in the course of, what, a few months? A year?

And it has to appear to have evolved naturally, changing over time. Certain phrases have to have been abandoned because they were too antiquated. New slang will erupt. Disdain for said slang may or may not be whispered amongst the older members of the community. Maybe your new race embraces the fluidity of language. If so, you’ve got your work cut out for you, because that means a lot more change is going to happen over time.

To a degree, creating a language an exercise in masochism. In all likelihood, only a few tidbits will actually be written in this new language. A quote here, a thought there…maybe a passage that a character sees written out before them.

So, for the most part, the readers will never know that you built a 2,000 words dictionary. But for the sake of doing it right, for the sake of continuity and feeling like a real language…you almost have to.

So, good luck.

I’m glad to have that part behind me. Lol. I have no intention of ever doing it again.

But I wouldn’t take it back, either. It really enriched The Regonia Chronicles.

Anyway, I’m about a fourth of the way through the edit for The Gem of Meruna, but…it may need another round after that. So, I may do the final edits on Soul Bearer or After (pending the feedback from final beta reads), and release one of those, first.

Man…you’d think all this planning would wear me out. Lol. Jk. I barely plan anything. Until I get one fully edited and ready for formatting, I’m pretty much just flying by the seat of my pants, for which…I apologize.

It makes sense, though. That’s how I write, so why wouldn’t it be how I edit?

Once I get one ready for formatting and ARC readers (thus setting in stone which one will be out next), I’ll set dates. Then, I’ll start posting about it, and telling you guys more about the story and the characters.

For now…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

It’s a Trap!

Hello, all!

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

Now, hear me out.

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

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

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

But this is a good thing.

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

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

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

But that’s bullshit.

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

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

And there is always room for editing.

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

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

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

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

But…no.

Not at all.

They did no professional edit.

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

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

Then, I regretted it when…nothing happened.

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

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

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

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

Vanity presses make their money off the authors.

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

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

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

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

So, learn from my mistake.

If a publisher requires money upfront, run.

They should pay you, not the other way around.

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

Keep that in mind.

For now…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

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

Antibiotics are helping, though. So, yeah.

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

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

Bye.

Lol.

*waves*