Project Updates

Hi, guys!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I’m fucking here for it.

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

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

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

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

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

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Making magic: Things to think about when building a magic system

Hi, guys!

Now, if you’ve been following along, you know I like fantasy books. Give me a book with very little tech and a shit ton of magic, and I’ll eat it up.

But writing them can be tough. Magic systems can be taxing to put together.

So, to help you build a complex, SOLID magic system, I have a few things for you to consider.

First and foremost, does it have limits? What can magic be used for…and what can it not be used for?

Can it heal? Can it kill? Do people use it to manipulate time or elements? Can they summon things or people? Can they teleport or raise the dead?

Can they do some other thing I haven’t listed? The world is vast, and magic pushes the boundaries even further. So, feel free to be as creative as you wish.

But there will be limits. You need to decide what your magic is able to do and where to draw the line.

Second, are there different types?

Maybe different types do different things. Maybe there’s elemental magic and healing magic.

Third, you need to decide what those results cost.

Blood sacrifices? Does it make them tired? Or…maybe it doesn’t cost them anything, at all, though that’s less likely. (That’s crossing into the realm of supernatural/paranormal stuff with innate abilities. Vampires, demi-demons, werewolves, etc.)

You need to figure out what they have to give up in order to get what they want.

Fourth, how do they use it?

A series of hand gestures or waves of a wand? A complicated ritual? Maybe it comes down to a specific string of words, chanted in just the right way. Do they simply have to ask their god for power or is the magic stored in plant and animal matter, and they just have to mix the right things together in a potion?

There has to be a method of harnessing the power you’ve given them access to.

Fifth, is it widely available?

If your magic system is based on asking a god for power, obviously someone who’s never heard of that god won’t have access. Maybe it’s widely available and anyone can practice magic, they just have to learn how to do it. Perhaps, it’s hoarded by the rich and powerful or handed down through bloodlines.

All of these things define your world. Magic is linked to the very fiber of the fantasy world you’re building.

You cannot just say, “Well, it’s fine. It works because it’s magic,” and expect your reader to accept that.

Because it’s bullshit.

I’ve said it so many times, and I’ll say it again. You’re already taking the time to write a book…You may as well do it well.

Don’t half-ass it. Think this shit through.

In the end, you’ll end up with a better book. (Just don’t info-dump your world building on your readers all at once.)

Now, as for my own projects, I’ve jumped up to 53,483 words on my current WIP (whose magic system is heavily dependent upon their god).

Where Darkness Leads features many types of magic, distributed amongst the populace through blood lines and the amount of elements used for their creation. And I got a decent amount of editing done on it this week.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

So you want to write a fight scene: Five quick tips for writing violence

Hi, guys!

Last week, we talked about sex scenes. This week, we’re talking about fight scenes.

So, literally the opposite type of tension resolution.

I love a good fight scene. Whether I’m reading or writing, I need action in my books. But if the fights are all cheesy or forced or physiologically impossible, then it just ruins it.

And no one wants that.

(Side note: magic and supernatural abilities will alter some of these things. Exhaustion, pain, strength, endurance, etc. That’s a topic for another day, though.)

So, here’s a few tips to make sure your fight scenes are up to scratch.

First, do you even need a fight scene? Much like sex scenes, people tend to want to include a fight more often than they actually need to.

Does it fit with your character’s personalities? Is there enough on the line for them to come to blows over it?

If not, write in a shouting match, a heartfelt conversation, or some passive aggressive, bullshit move.

Whatever your character would actually do.

Because no matter how much you want to ramp up the tension in your story, sticking to what your characters would really do (according to their personality, their background, their opinions, and what’s at stake for them) is more important than forcing a fist fight onto the page.

Second, do some research.

Take a self defense class, watch a bunch of videos online, maybe even learn martial arts if you’re feeling particularly plucky. You need to know something about the fighting style your character is supposedly using. You don’t have to be an expert, but you need to know something.

At the very least, spend some time on the internet for research.

Second, exhaustion and pain are very real. They will take a toll.

Training helps people deal with them more effectively.

Adrenaline helps to keep both of them at bay, to an extent. But it wears off. And the human body can only take so much.

Study the limits.

You’re a writer. I’m sure your search history is already on a few watch lists. What’s one more eyebrow-raising search?

Google whatever you need to in order to attain a relatively realistic fight scene.

Don’t expect your readers to believe that a 105 pound, 5’1″ woman is going to take three punches to the stomach and a slap to the face from a mountain of a man, then run three miles and climb the side of a building to escape.

That bitch is probably going to puke. A lot. And she’ll have to stop to breathe. A lot. Likely puking even more. She will not look pretty doing any of this. Her sweat will not be a graceful glitter upon her skin. Bitch is gonna drip sweat. Like…too much of it.

The world will tip and sway beneath her feet, and her face is going to scream in pain from being slapped.

Bloody nose? Sure. Temporarily seeing a bright light? Sure.

Getting slapped is no laughing matter.

A three mile run and then free climbing? Not gonna happen after that level of assault from a big ass dude.

Honestly, it could result in internal bleeding or broken ribs (if he didn’t quite hit the fleshy part below the ribs, which might poke something vital), and she could die before she gets to that building she’s supposedly going to scale.

Now, when the adrenaline wears off, your character will feel it. They will crash. They might shake or cry. They might do both, or some other thing. Research is your friend, here.

Third, don’t focus too much on their surroundings. During a fight, the person is obviously going to be paying attention to the fight. They probably aren’t going to notice a lot of their surroundings unless they have a lot of military/police training or perhaps specialized in a field related to that particular aspect of their surroundings.

So don’t tell me what period the art on the wall is from unless they teach art history at the college level and happen to throw someone up against that painting.

In that case, they might lament the destruction of such a thing…as their opponent tears the canvas.

You need the scene to be fast and gripping, not bogged down by excess details. Don’t worry about the pattern of the lace on the tablecloth by the window across the room, painstakingly stitched by the character’s great aunt on their father’s side of the family before she died of natural causes, disappearing from their lives quietly in the middle of the night.

Worry about the look in their opponent’s eyes or the feeling of a drop of blood dripping from a busted lip. Focus on quick breaths and all-consuming rage burning them from the inside out. Show us clenched fists slamming into a nose and the ensuing crunch of cartilage.

Keep the scene moving forward. It’s a fight.

It needs to be active.

Fourth, people get distracted.

Emotions tend to seep in around the edges. Unless they’re a trained fighter, maybe even then, they’re going to think about the reason they’re in that fight. Maybe they’re worried about the person they’re trying to save. Maybe they’re worried about their own impending death.

If they duck behind cover or get tossed like a ragdoll, they might think strategy. Or they might dwell on the mistake that landed them in that position.

If chaos and fear sink gnarly teeth into their bones, they might spiral a bit, focusing on their tendency to make mistakes.

Just don’t spend too much time on stuff like that. Again, you want it to be fast and punchy. Always bring it back around to what’s actually happening in the conflict.

Fifth, use the appropriate amount of gore.

Certain genres and age groups tolerate/crave different levels of gore. YA contemporary calls for far less gore (probably almost none, maybe a bloody nose) than adult splatter punk (all the gore).

Unless you’re writing splatter punk or something akin to Dexter, you probably don’t need as much detail of the blood and body parts as you think.

Additionally, consider the effect it will have on the scene. Does the extra description add to the emotional value of the scene or slow it down?

If your character finds a loved one dead and cradles them to their chest, describing the blood that comes away on their hands or clothes could add to the weight of the scene. But it isn’t necessary to count each drop or describe the way it runs through every crease of their palm.

They won’t be focusing on that.

They’ll be focusing on the fact that…that blood should be inside their loved one. Not on their hands.

As for my own projects, I’m finally approaching the “landscaping their enemies to death” portion of my current WIP. So I’m heading for violence in that one. (Currently sitting at 48,817 words)

I’m nearing a lot of fighting in my edits of Where Darkness Leads.

And all the promo stuff for the April 21st release of World for the Broken (dark post-apocalyptic romance) is ironed out. And that one is chock full of fights.

Now, go forth and fill your books with as much violence as they call for.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

So you want to write a sex scene…Five quick tips for writing sex

Hi, guys!

We all know sex sells. So, the temptation to include it in a book is easy to understand.

But writing a sex scene is an art form.

Do it well, and it will improve the reading experience.

Do it poorly, and your readers might roll their eyes, skimming through it with a chuckle, or even put the book down entirely.

So today, I thought I’d share a few tips to help you write the best sex scene you can.

First and foremost, don’t psych yourself out. It’s easy to get embarrassed about this subject or to feel ashamed of including sex in your book. Plus, there’s always the ever-present fear that a family member will read it and be shocked.

But let’s face it.

Sex is part of life. It’s part of the human experience. And what’s more, it’s absolutely everywhere in modern society. Everyone knows what sex is. Almost everyone has done it, at some point in their life.

So chill the fuck out and write your book. If it needs a sex scene to show the bond between two (or more) characters, if it’s an integral part of the society you’ve created for your fictional world, write it.

Don’t cheapen your book by leaving out a crucial scene, just because your family might read it.

Your family members (unless they’re children, in which case, keep the sex book away from them) also know what sex is. They’ve probably done it.

So write the book however it needs to be written.

Second, integrate it into the plot. If your story doesn’t need a sex scene, don’t throw one in just for the sake of having one. If it doesn’t make sense in the story, don’t do it.

Don’t toss one into an otherwise chaste book.

Additionally, throwing a sex scene into a poorly written/edited book will not save it. If your book needs work, work on it. Don’t just make it sexy and hope no one will notice obvious flaws.

People will still see the flaws. And they’ll know what you’ve done to cover them. Give your readers some credit.

Third, don’t be too specific. Unless you’re writing hardcore erotica. Then, be detailed and descriptive. Show as much as you fucking want.

But if your book isn’t hardcore erotica, don’t fill your scene with overly detailed close-up shots. Anyone old enough to be reading a book with a sex scene knows what vaginas, breasts, and penises look like.

Hell, they’ve probably even seen a few in their day.

*gasp*

Vivid description of vein placement and a count of how many hairs…completely unnecessary. The shape of their manscaping…completely unnecessary. It won’t make the scene better to know that stuff.

By the same token, don’t prattle on about his right hand or her left breast. Leave the sides out of it. Some things should be left to the reader’s imagination. Perhaps the reader favors one side over the other. If you specify one side and they happen to be more sensitive on the opposite side, I guarantee they reword it in their head and imagine it the way they want.

All you’re doing is wasting words and bogging down a scene that’s supposed to be intense and riveting.

So, instead of over-describing everything, focus on general gestures, sensations, and emotions. The sensation of a hand sliding over bare skin, the prickle of goosebumps as fingernails slide up the spine, heat building in the air around them, hands twining in hair to pull questing mouths closer, the deep need to join together.

Things like that.

Because unless you’re writing really hardcore stuff, that’s more than sufficient. It gets the point across and evokes emotion. It reads quickly and intensely.

Which is what you want.

Fourth, don’t head hop. Pick a character for the scene, whichever one has more of a driving emotional need, whichever one the stakes are higher for, and write it from their perspective.

Don’t stray.

You’ll just throw off your reader.

You don’t want them rereading paragraphs to figure out whose thoughts they’re combing through. You want them rereading paragraphs (or the whole scene) because the emotions were high and the scene was captivating.

Last, but certainly not least, don’t say quivering member.

Please.

I beseech you.

That phrase is the height of ridiculousness. There are much better ways to refer to a penis. And if you don’t want to actually name it, if it feels too callous or unromantic, just say he slides into him/her. You don’t have to specify what part of him is going in, because unless you name some other part (finger, for example), people will assume that you mean his penis.

Again, give your readers some credit.

Now, go forth and write the smuttiest smut your book can handle.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Beta Readers: Why you need them and what to expect

Hi, guys!

Last week was all about self-editing, and one of the steps I mentioned was beta readers.

For those who don’t know, beta readers read a manuscript after some editing has been done. Where people bring them into the process at differs. I send my work to beta readers roughly halfway through the editing process.

No, I don’t mean edit half the manuscript one time, then send it to them. That’s more like an alpha reader, someone who reads after a first draft. The only person who ever reads my first drafts, aside from me, is my husband.

I just mean after roughly half the rounds of edits have been done, I send it to my beta readers.

When you choose to send yours to beta readers is up to you.

After reading, they give the author feedback. You can ask them questions afterward to get more detail. If there are things that you know you struggle with, you can even ask them to go into it with those things in mind.

At its core, this phase is meant to get more eyes on your work. After going through your novel time and time again, your brain is going to fill in gaps. You know what’s supposed to be on the page, so of course it makes sense to you. But it might not be as clear as you think.

That’s where beta readers come in.

They tell you what works and what doesn’t, what needs explained more and what’s over explained. They can tell you where the book drags and which scenes kept them on the edge of their seat.

Pay attention to what they say.

If all your beta readers (yes, you need multiple) say that a specific scene was so slow they didn’t want to keep reading, you need to fix that scene.

If they all agree that a certain scene was riveting and had them gripping the book with their noses pressed to the page, maybe leave that scene alone.

If they find a typo or say something doesn’t make sense, fix it.

Because these are the opinions of readers.

AKA the type of people you want to buy your book later.

If one beta reader says something that’s completely subjective and the others gave the opposite feedback, consider it thoughtfully and make a judgement call.

Books are, after all, very subjective. Each person has a different experience with each book. That’s part of the magic of reading.

And beta readers clue you in to how readers perceive your book.

You need that, especially if you plan to self-publish, because you won’t have an entire publishing company full of experts and professionals guiding you in the right direction.

Now, you can find beta readers in a lot of places.

You can ask trusted friends or family members (if you can count on them for honest feedback), or you can ask writer friends in various writing groups.

Btw, if you’re not in writing groups, mingling with other writers…you need to be. You’ll learn a lot more than you think and form some amazing friendships with people who understand the trials of writing and publishing.

There are also countless groups across social media specifically tailored for connecting authors with beta readers. Literally, just type into the search bar on your preferred platform “beta readers.”

I know it can feel awkward asking, but think of it as practice for all the marketing you’re going to be doing later. Because whether you’re doing traditional- or self-publishing, you’re going to be marketing.

Now, what to expect from beta readers. Because let’s face it, not all beta readers are created equally.

I finally have a good group, but it took some time to get here.

There will be some that agree to read, then never speak to you again after you send them a manuscript.

There will be some that agree to read, then life shits on them, rendering them unable to read in the time frame you need.

Some give mean, unhelpful feedback laced with pettiness. You’ll have to sort them out and determine what feedback is actually helpful. Discard any rude, belittling comments for what they are: useless.

So if a beta reader tells you that your novel is garbage and that you’ll never make it because you’re a talentless hack, “thank” them for their feedback and never send another manuscript to them.

Crap comments like that won’t help you grow or learn or better yourself or your writing. It’ll only hold you back. You need constructive criticism and positive reinforcement. Not bullying.

So, grit your teeth and keep going. There are good beta readers out there. (I promise. I’ve found several.)

Some are wonderfully helpful and thorough. Some go above and beyond the call of duty, sussing out typos, continuity errors, inconsistent character behavior, etc., in addition to giving general feedback.

Obviously, those are the ones you want.

Now, prepare yourself. The feedback you get won’t always be positive. Sometimes, your beta readers will find flaws.

*gasp*

But that’s literally the entire point.

So keep your chin up, remember that every manuscript has flaws, and fix the fucking problems.

Your book will be much better for it, I promise.

If you’re worried about someone stealing your work, Microsoft Word has a watermark feature. Do that, then send it out. You hold the copyright as soon as you write the manuscript. In the US, of course, you can’t sue for financial compensation without registering it, but I’m fairly sure you can pursue a cease and desist.

Now, for my weekly progress report. I wish I had more to report, but some stupid cold/flu bug has done everything in its power to knock me on my ass this past week. (It did knock my legs out from under me once, actually. Coughing until you gag/dry heave so badly that you fall to your knees…not pleasant.)

Anyway, I finished my final edits of World for the Broken. I’ll be announcing the official release date this week! The cover reveal will follow, probably next week or the week after, depending on how long the formatting takes.

I typed a little (roughly 2,500 words) on my new WIP and planned (*gasp*) several scenes for later in the book. I even made a timeline.

I really was sick. Lol. I was plotting.

I never fuckin’ do that.

Anyway, hopefully this stupid sickness doesn’t come back for round three so I can actually get shit done.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Why my book title had to change…

Hi, guys!

I finally announced the official title for World for the Broken this past week, and today, I thought I’d explain why I changed the title, to begin with.

Originally, World for the Broken was called After.

It was simple and easy to remember. It fit with the post-apocalyptic theme as well as the themes of coping and resilience.

But then the After series by Anna Todd hit it big. Then, it became controversial and absolutely blew up.

And I knew my novel would be buried under the avalanche of posts about her books.

I wen’t back and forth on whether to change my title or not. I toyed with the idea of keeping the title simply to have it show up in the same searches, but the people looking for her books (contemporary romance, possibly YA)…probably aren’t looking for a visceral, intensely dark post-apocalyptic romance.

Then, when I came up with World for the Broken, I fell in love with it. This title stands out quite a bit more. Obviously, it still fits the post-apocalyptic narrative.

And I’m so glad I changed it.

I had a similar thing happen with Salt and Silver. Not exactly the same, because the title wasn’t exactly the same. And the other book has yet to be released.

But I want my books to be unique, just like any other author.

So, here are a few quick tricks for making sure you have a good title for your book.

First of all, get feedback.

Just like every other aspect of writing, working in a vacuum without any outside influence isn’t the best idea. You need more eyes on your work and more opinions than just your own.

If you have a few potential titles in mind, don’t be afraid to ask other writers or perhaps book club members for their opinion. They know books. Of course, it’s best if they know the genre you’re working in, but ask away.

Second, think about which one embodies your book best. Genre, themes, and all.

Abandon catchy and trendy for just a second and dare to twist words around for effect. Words are so versatile. Double meanings abound. Maybe use a contradictory double meaning to your benefit, if both meanings fit your book.

Swap words around. Try synonyms. Try different variations of whatever you’ve come up with.

Okay. It’s time to go back for the catchy, trendy shit. Consider it briefly. After all, trends are trendy for a reason. People like them. And they work. Look at titles within your genre. Is there a pattern that tends to pop up a lot?

There are a lot of books out there that are “blank of blank” (City of Ember, Crown of Conspiracy, House of Night). Lots of book titles lately have just been a list of three things in the book, often with the first two obviously fitting together but the third being “random.”

Do those formats fit your book? If they do, use the shit out of them.

They obviously work.

Now, the advice lots of writers hate when it comes to the actual book, itself. Cut unnecessary words. For the love of everything good, there’s a reason book titles aren’t usually a full paragraph. It’s too hard to remember and no one wants to type a 14 word title into a search bar to pull up a book they heard about and were sorta interested in but wanted to look it up to learn more about it.

There’s a good chance that’ll drive away buyers that were on the fence.

Last but certainly not least, type it into amazon or google. Make sure there aren’t an absolute fuck ton of results. If there are, I don’t care how good your title is…you probably need to change it.

If a couple hundred things come up, your brand new book is not going to be at the top of the results. Not without a shit load of work on search engine optimization, a ton of build up before launch, and probably some paid ads.

Believe me.

I didn’t think about it when I titled my novella, Annabelle, and it DOES NOT show up unless it’s typed in with my first and last name.

Because…well, you know. Ghosty-possession movies or something. Some doll. I don’t know. Lol. I don’t watch horror movies often, so I haven’t watched them.

Anyway.

Picking a title is hard. I know.

But it’s important. Which means it’s worth doing it well.

Now, to hold myself accountable for the past week…

I’ve been alternating between knocking out some more edits on Where Darkness Leads and writing my new novel. I think I wrote about…3,000 words? So, nowhere near as much as I wanted to. That was only two good writing sessions.

But I have to keep editing so I can get these other books out. Lol.

I also sketched a quick map for the new story, made a gif and a trailer for The Gem of Meruna. I’ll be unveiling the trailer soon. I already posted the non-looped video from the gif.

All in all, not a bad week.

For now though, I’m exhausted. Work was…well, exhausting. Lol. It’s time for me to sign off and get some sleep.

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.

Really…What are you waiting for?

Hi, guys!

So, I’m sure that, of the people here, the majority of you found your way here from Instagram or Facebook.

Which means that you likely saw the Shatner/Captain Kirk meme about novels not completing themselves. If not, don’t worry because that’s the gist of it.

Novels don’t write themselves.

There’s this problem called procrastination, though. It seems to get the best of everyone, at some point or another.

But it doesn’t have to.

Now, the first problem here isn’t actually the procrastination. It’s why you’re procrastinating.

Are you afraid your work won’t be good?

Here’s a hint, it can’t be good if you don’t write it.

Maybe you don’t know where to start.

Maybe try outlining.

I don’t do it, but it helps a lot of people.

Just don’t get so hung up on all the tiny details like the birthday of the MC’s fourth cousin three times removed, who plays no role in the story, but you feel like you should have everything lined out before you put a single word of prose into a document, when really you’re just procrastinating again.

Maybe you’re procrastinating because secretly you don’t want to write, but don’t know how to admit that to everyone you’ve already told that you’re a writer. (If that’s the case, you need to address why you’re afraid to be honest with those people.)

No matter what, you need to figure out why you’re procrastinating.

Then, you need to cut the bullshit.

Quit pretending all those DVDs need re-alphabetized, or whatever you’re doing to avoid writing.

If you don’t want to be a writer, that’s a different matter altogether. You have to come to terms with that.

But if you do, if you want to be a writer, then at some point…

You have to write.

That’s literally all it takes.

So get out of your way and write.

If you’re afraid that it’ll be bad, type one terrible sentence, just to get your fingers on the keys, then just don’t stop. It’s not like you’re going to write a bunch of stuff worse than that first sentence.

And if you do?

So fucking what.

First drafts aren’t perfect. They aren’t meant to be.

They’re just meant to be written.

You’re going to go through multiple rounds of editing, anyway, be it self-editing, having a friend who’s a grammar nut go through it, or hiring a professional.

And if you’re not editing anything, if you’re self-publishing your first draft, you’re doing this wrong.

That’s about the only thing in the writing world that can, without a doubt, be judged as right or wrong. Everything else is subjective as hell.

But if you’re not editing AT ALL before publishing, you’re doing it wrong.

So lighten up.

Get over yourself.

Your first draft will not be perfect.

And that’s fine.

It doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to be written.

Get rid of all the pressure of getting it perfect and write something.

Anything.

Even if you delete the entire scene from the final story.

So long as you’re writing.

Now, I’ll step off my soapbox. Lol.

This past week, I completed my last round of pre-professional edits on The Gem of Meruna. It’s going off for proofreading in October, at which point I’ll likely announce the official re-release date.

I made huge headway on editing my post-apocalyptic novel, formerly known as After. I’m changing the title because I don’t want my story to get lost beneath the pile of other stories called After.

I came up with a new title and put together a mock up for the cover, which I really like. It got a positive reaction from my husband, who knows a thing or two about art/design, and I’ll be asking some writer friends for their opinion soon.

I also decided to change the title of Salt and Silver to avoid clashing titles with a fellow writer, and even came up with a new one. And a potential cover design idea for it.

And…super exciting…I ordered the copies of Soul Bearer that I’ll be giving away! They should be here within a couple weeks, at which point I’ll plaster pictures of them all over the internet and announce the official rules and prizes.

And I started reading Bird Box. And made it like halfway through. I’ll post a review when I finish it, of course, but so far I’m enjoying it. I’m definitely glad I watched the movie first, thus avoiding the inevitable “I can’t believe they left that out, now I’m angry” moments.

Holy crap, guys.

I didn’t realize how busy I’ve been. Lol.

For now, though, I need some sleep. Work dragged on today, and I am exhausted.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Keep It Punchy

Hi, guys!

So, the hardback proof of Soul Bearer came in this week (the paperback should be in today/tomorrow, and I’ll put up pictures after that. Idk why they shipped separately). It’s so exciting to see it, to finally hold it in my hands after staring at it on a computer screen for so long.

It still doesn’t quite feel real. Lol.

Of course, there are a couple things that need adjusted, some things that didn’t translate to print how they should have (hence the need for a proof copy), and I’ll have to adjust those. But it’s in my library, now.

It’s on my shelf, and I freaking love it!

I’ll stop gushing now though, and get to the point. Lol. The physical copy sparked a conversation between my husband and I. He expected the hard back copy to be thicker than it is.

It’s not a super long novel, by any means, coming in at just over 70,000 words. High fantasy, nowadays has a tendency to run pretty long though, sometimes topping out above 100,000 words.

There’s this trend lately for books to be huge, lengthy tomes that, if used as a weapon, could knock someone senseless. (Ironically.)

Now, my husband is a huge fan of Andre Norton. He has about one sixth of her books (which is saying something, since she wrote several hundred). She wrote high fantasy and scifi. But her average word count was, I think, between 40,000 and 50,000 per book.

Nowadays, that’s considered a novella, not a novel.

So many people want big books, now.

Anyway, my husband asked how I get so much stuff into my books, without the books being far longer. And my answer kinda surprised me. Lol.

I hadn’t thought about it until the words came out of my mouth.

I told him that I use my world building to build my characters, and my characters to build my world. I multitask.

Doing the two things separately just fills the pages…for no reason.
I mean, the main characters are going to play a pivotal role in shaping the world they live in, especially in fantasy, otherwise they wouldn’t be the main character.

So showing their experiences relative to the world…makes sense.

For them to have motive to change things, they have to have been affected by the negative sides of their world at some point. So showing their world relative to them…makes sense.

Okay, I feel like I’m talking in circles, so I’ll give examples.

In Soul Bearer, Aurisye is looked down on and treated horribly for being half-Orc. That tells the reader that the two races don’t get along (they’re actually at war), and builds up who she is…an outcast.

Rafnor joined the military for equal treatment. He grew up poor, and was bullied over it (so money is important in their realm, another problem for Aurisye). But the military runs on skill and the ability to improve, rather than on basis of connections or finances.

Now, in Salt and Silver, Ness is a demi-demon. That alone tells you a few things about her world. It tells you that, in the world of Theran, demons are real, whether you believe in them in our world or not. It also tells you that they can, at times, walk the earth, and procreate with humans.

The existence of demons implies the existence of gods, otherwise a different word would’ve been chosen in place of demon. It sets up the juxtaposition to imply that yes, the gods are real and can be interacted with.

In the opening scene, she’s called a witch, telling you that magic exists in their realm.

Which brings us to the word choice topic again. I wanted to have one term for magic users, regardless of gender, and I wanted it to be one that would be instantly recognizable.

Choices?

Wizard, witch, mage, or caster.

Caster might not be recognized outside the gamer community, so it was out.

Mage works for Soul Bearer because it implies the use of spells, runes, and potions alike. Mage also has a connotation of prestige, of exclusivity. Since not everyone in Visun (the world of Soul Bearer) can use magic, that holds true. The term also lends itself nicely to high councils (which is a thing in Soul Bearer).

Wizard instantly conjures the wizarding world of Harry Potter, where only certain people can access magic, primarily through the use of wands. Sure, magical items, potions, and divination exist, but mostly, it’s commanded with wands.

And in Salt and Silver, that isn’t the case.

Anyone can access magical energy, but most don’t care to. It relies heavily on potion making, devotions to multiple gods or demons, and occasional sacrifices. Basically, it’s useful, but tedious and time consuming for mortals. It’s a skill that has to be developed, much like leather working.

For most, it’s easier to pay someone else to do it.

The term witch makes me think of potion making and lonely little cottages in the woods. It calls to mind paganism and a deeper understanding of nature.

And that’s what I wanted for Salt and Silver.

One word can have such a huge impact on the atmosphere of the world.

Making sure you have those pivotal words down can make a world of difference in the length of a book.

Another Salt and Silver example. I didn’t have to explain that their country is divided up into city states led by their own militaries, because when shit hits the fan, they consult the leader of the local chapter of Knights. That alone spared me several pages of exposition on the way their country is set up.

Basically, it all boils down to that old adage, show vs. tell.

If you show me your character sitting in a classroom, zoning out during a calculus lesson amidst kids who are just a bit older, I’m going to assume they’re in high school, taking advanced classes.

You don’t have to tell me what grade they’re in or what grade the other students are in. You don’t have to tell me they’re attending high school. You can let the character’s mind wander over the problems they’re facing (i.e. the point of the story), thus building the world and the character in the same scene.

If you need me to know that your character is having relationship problems, add in a flashback to a fight or have their partner’s voice echo through their head. That way you can show me the tone of voice, you can show why they’re fighting…how they’re fighting.

And all those things build the world that the characters are living in. It paints a picture of the life they lead, in addition to showing the personalities and desires of the characters.

Of course, there are times where you just need to tell something, and get it over with. A quick thought or comment could do that without devoting page after page to an explanation of the country’s history.

At any rate, there needs to be balance between showing and telling, and that balance lands in different places along the spectrum for every author.

I tend to lean more toward showing. Obviously. Lol. I like my stories…punchy.

The point is, it’s possible to write high fantasy in less than 100,000 words. Lol.

So, if you find yourself falling short of that mark when writing fantasy, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything bad about your writing. There’s the chance that maybe you missed something, but it could just be that you eliminate most exposition.

Anyway, I’ll stop rambling, now.

Over the past week, I did some editing on The Gem of Meruna, and did some work toward the Soul Bearer release. I also added a chapter to Salt and Silver to fill in a plot issue pointed out by beta readers, and filled out the playlist for my sci-fi series.

Basically, I’m jumping from one story to another like a damn maniac.

And this coming week promises to be just as chaotic.

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.