Before You Break

Hi, guys!

I’m almost done with my last round of edits on The Gem of Meruna! Then, it goes off for proofreading in October. I think I’ll be finalizing the release date soon.

I also went through Salt and Silver with Grammarly, and learned that…Grammarly hates when you write a character with an accent. But I don’t care. The editing program just had to get over that. Lol.

It really sets that character apart.

Which is important.

Not to mention the impact on the plot for him to have come from a different country. He’s seen more things than the other two MCs. He’s experienced things in coming to their country that shaped him into who he is.

So it’s plot related, thus Grammarly can shove it. The accent stayed, misspelled words and all.

Also, Soul Bearer is so freaking close…Officially less than a month, now! Release day is so close, and I’m super excited.

But I’m also…not where I need to be.

I should have called a bunch of places last week (local libraries and bookstores) about carrying my book and doing signings (something I’ve never done before). Honestly, I should’ve done all that long before now.

I went to a few places a couple weeks ago. I put on my big girl pants, and told myself I just had to do it. But…

I don’t do well with people.

The librarians I spoke with were so nice…

But my nerves were so frazzled from speaking to strangers, from trying to tell them my book was good enough for them to bother with, and by extension, trying to convince them that I’m a good enough author for people to bother with…

…my hands were shaking when I got back to the car. I sat there with tears pouring down my cheeks, telling myself I was stupid for crying.

I mean, all I did was talk to really nice librarians.

True, the bookstore I went to before that turned out to be disappointing. (They charge authors a LOT of money to do a signing. I don’t know if that’s normal, as this is the first attempt I’ve made at doing a signing. Possibly the last for a while if I don’t get a better hold on my social anxiety.)

Anyway, it took me far too long to stop the tears and still my trembling hands. I held it together while talking to the people, but after the fact, I fell apart.

I have no patience for myself or the ways that my body reacts. I’ve never had patience for myself. I always expect perfection in anything I do.

But this social anxiety…I’m so tired of it, you guys.

In the moment, I vented to my husband and to some writer friends, and they all told me what I would have told them, if the roles were reversed. “It’s how your body reacts. It isn’t stupid. You’re not stupid. This is just a stressful thing for you.”

And of course, they were right.

I’ve never handled social situations well. It just isn’t my strong suit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m getting better at it.

I push myself.

But it’s still holding me back, and I hate that.

Even more so, because this is my dream.

This is it for me. I’m a writer. I want to be a successful writer so I can stay home and write even more. But publicity and events and all that is such a vital part of getting my books out there, and I’m just…not sure I’m there, yet.

I’m sure it’s like tons of other things, do it enough and you get used to it.

And I’m sure I’m not going to let myself out of it. I’m not that kind to myself. I push.

But god…There should be a limit to how many times a person can fall apart. Lol. You deal with a set number of anxiety attacks over the course of your life, and then after that, your anxiety levels are proportional to the things going on in your life.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

I feel like I’m rambling.

Anyway…

I did take a bit of time for myself this week. I’ve been overextending myself lately, spreading myself too thin.

I’ve always been reclusive, and I’ve always needed that time to myself to recharge. But I’ve been people-ing nonstop for months now, never truly being alone.

It was running me ragged. I know it’s hard to tell on social media sometimes, but I’ve been incredibly cynical and flat, of late. (I always am, but it’s been really bad lately.)

So, this week, I did one nice thing for myself.

When it came time for editing a few days ago, I locked myself away in my library. I ignored my phone. I put in headphones, and tuned out the real world and all the people I needed to call or message, and all the things I needed to do that involved people.

I let my little sanctuary soothe me. I let the unbelievably mesmerizing scent of that room, with all its old books and candles and incense, take me away.

And I just sat there, by myself, editing my book.

And barring the absolute shit show at work the past couple days, I’ve been in a much better mood since then.

Surprise, surprise.

*rolls eyes at self*

God…

Guys, take care of yourselves.

Don’t be dumb, like me. DO something to help yourself cope with the world around you BEFORE you reach anxiety-attack-levels of stress.

You can even keep yourself productive while you do your self care, like I did, if you really feel like you don’t have time. (Another jab at myself? No…never…) I sat by myself with candles and music and chocolate and old books, and did some editing.

But chances are…you probably have time. Even if it’s just five minutes to unwind.

Stop scrolling, set the phone aside, and do something for you. Maybe stay up ten minutes later and go for a walk, clear your head.

Do something for you.

Please.

As always…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Frickin’ Goals

Hi, guys!

So, last week was mostly spent putting the final touches on Soul Bearer after receiving the proof copies (Centering the back cover and eliminating a few errant typos/unnecessary commas, that sort of thing).

I also made a decent amount of headway on the final round of (my) edits for the rerelease of The Gem of Meruna, and set up a date for it to go to an editor for proofreading.

All in all, not bad.

It’ll have me on track for the tentative release schedule I’ve set for myself. I’ll not be announcing dates until closer to time, because it’s all subject to change. I know very well that life throws curve balls.

But I have a schedule and I intend to stick to it as closely as possible.

It’s not an easy schedule, but I’m gonna give it everything I’ve got.

Which brings me to the main topic.

Frickin goals.

You need them.

They’re serious motivators. Humans (in general) hate feeling like they’ve failed. Setting a goal pushes you, it makes you feel like something’s at stake even if the only thing you stand to lose is a little pride.

You need goals for your life to keep you moving forward, to keep you from stagnating.

But you need good ones.

Whether you’re reading, writing, or working toward some other dream (maybe you want to sell ice cream on the beach? Idk), you need realistic, achievable, challenging goals.

If you say, “I want to read 300 books this year,” but it takes you an average of a week to finish a book, you’re probably not going to push yourself to reach that goal because you know it’s not going to happen.

Aiming for 52 books a year is more attainable, obviously. It holds you to reading, at a pace you know you can maintain. Wanna push yourself to read more? Go for 55.

On the flipside, if you set a goal of finishing your first draft (no editing, just first draft) by the end of this year and you only have one more chapter (and your average is a week for a chapter)…

Who gives a fuck about that goal? It’s meaningless.

It doesn’t push you to write faster or work harder. It’s just some silly arbitrary thing you came up with and didn’t care about.

Aiming to have it done by Friday rather than by Sunday? That’s a better goal. It’s more attainable, but still pushes you.

Achieving a goal provides a sense of satisfaction beyond the original satisfaction of finishing something, as well as a little ego boost because, hey, you freaking did it.

But if it’s something you knew you’d do and the goal was just kinda thrown in there for shits and giggles…that extra boost disappears.

For example, at work, we can build out.

Basically, what that means is, if we build the number of tires we’re supposed to build over the course of a shift before the end of the shift, we can stop working and still get paid for being there. We can sit in the cafeteria or go to the on-site gym. We just can’t leave until the end of the shift.

The rates used to be unbelievably high. Like…push-yourself-into-a-frenzy-all-day-long-and-if-one-thing-goes-wrong-you’re-done high.

And no one tried.

Because it was stupid.

Why exhaust yourself to get 5 minutes of sitting at the end of a 12 hour shift, knowing you’re going to be sore and dead on your feet the next day when you come back for another 12 hour shift?

Or worse, push yourself super hard, and then, with an hour left to go, get a cassette of material that’s absolute garbage, but there’s no more, so you just have to fix every single tire, and suddenly your build out disappears. But you’re still absolutely exhausted, and still working.

No thanks.

But recently, they lowered the rates. They’re attainable, now.

You still have to push, and any serious problem means it’s out the window….but it’s possible to have an entire hour at the end of the shift where you don’t have to run a machine.

So people try, now.

I try every damn day.

And most days, I get to spend 45 minutes to an hour and a half getting paid to sit on my ass, reading, while someone else takes over and builds more tires on my machine.

The company gets more product, morale goes up, and I get to read or write or work on a blog post at work.

All because of a challenging, but achievable goal.

So, as I said above, I’ve set a tentative release schedule for the rerelease of The Gem of Meruna and the releases of After, Where Darkness Leads, and Salt and Silver, all to follow the release of Soul Bearer.

I intend to finish The Regonia Chronicles by the time all those are out, and then those books will be added to the release schedule.

It’s going to be rigorous. It’ll be a lot of late nights (my preferred kind of night, honestly).

But I’m going to get these books out as close to the schedule as is humanly possible.

I’m pushing myself harder for a bunch of dates I literally pulled out of thin air.

Yeah, I made sure to leave time for life, while still keeping it challenging.

But now, I’m going to push.

And you should, too.

Set a goal for yourself, and push toward it.

Whether it’s a certain number of books to read for the year or a word count for the week or maybe something long term (starting a business or some such thing).

Believe in yourself enough to set a goal.

Then, fucking get it!

Feel free to leave tips or tricks for goal setting in the comments. You know, all that “like, comment, subscribe” stuff youtubers say at the end of their videos. It applies here, too, but I feel awkward as hell saying it. Lol.

As always…

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.

Building Character

Hi, guys!

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

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

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

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

Which brings me to the topic of the day…

Character development.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which is where backstory comes in.

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

Which is why backstories get rough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then, figure out why they want that thing.

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

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

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

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

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

That’s a huge distinction.

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

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

Maybe it does the opposite.

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

Who knows?

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

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

But learning about psychology has so many benefits for writers.

You can use it to build people.

Believable people that readers can relate to.

And that’s huge.

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

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

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Bah. Socializing.

Hi guys!

Last week was a hell of a week. I got Soul Bearer up and going, despite a shit ton of technical problems. It’s officially up for pre-order, in case you didn’t know from me posting all over social media about it. Lmao.

The official release date is October 22, 2019. So close! I’ll have information about the giveaway soon, I promise. But it won’t actually take place until closer to release day, anyway.

I’ll be honest, it doesn’t feel real yet.

I also started contacting ARC readers, and powered through a SHIT TON of editing on Salt and Silver (WIP in preparation for beta readers).

I also realized just how much I’m working on. Lol. I don’t know if you’ve looked at my works in progress page, but damn.

I never really think about it until I talk about one of my stories with someone, and they mix it up with another, and I have to stop and say, “no, that’s a different one.”

I can’t wait to get all these books out.

I’m gonna need help maintaining my sanity over the next year or year and a half. Which brings me to the topic of the day.

The importance of finding a writing group.

I’m lucky enough to have a supportive husband and family, but a lot of writers don’t have that. From what I’ve seen in various groups, a lot of people have the opposite.

Which sucks because…writing isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Whether you struggle to write, or to edit, or to market (*cough cough* me + marketing = nightmare), there’s always some part of it that trips people up. I’ve yet to meet a writer who loved every single aspect of being an author.

And that’s fine.

It can be frustrating, at times.

Not to mention the drain of imposter syndrome. Feeling like you aren’t good enough, or like you’re not a real writer can really drag you down. Any creative profession is rife with self doubt.

On the one hand, it’s what tells you to keep learning and improving. But it also has the potential to stop you in your tracks.

And that’s why you need a group of people around you to keep you going.

And coming from me, that’s saying something. I AM NOT a group oriented person.

At all.

I’ve briefly touched on my social anxiety in past blogs, and how it dates all the way back to preschool. I’ve mentioned how I started preschool a year early to socialize, then didn’t talk to the teachers for a year and a half. Then, when it was time to do testing for kindergarten, I wouldn’t talk to them either, so they thought I needed special ed. My mom asked me their questions, I did fine, and they said, “just go to kindergarten.”

So I did.

But I didn’t talk to the teacher there for like…9 months.

So I don’t typically like groups or socializing or talking.

But writing groups are a necessity.

I’m in several. Lol.

The friendships I’ve built (with people who know the struggle of misbehaving imaginary friends) and the things I’ve learned from them…they’re definitely worth the initial awkward feeling of, “Oh, god! New people! What do I say? What do I do? Have I gone too long without saying anything? Did they forget I’m in the group? Are they glad I’m not messaging? Do they talk about me when I’m not in the group?”

Because when you push that aside and get past it, you get so much out of a writing group.

If you’re looking for one, I’m in World Indie Warriors. There’s a page on IG and FB. They’re wonderful, and super supportive. Not only are they amazing friends, they’ve talked me through a lot of tech problems (because I’m garbage with computer anything) and helped me with cover design and all manner of other things.

There’s also Fiction Writing on FB. It’s a huge group, so anytime you need a lot of opinions, that’s a great place to go. It’s also great for getting questions answered. With 90,000 members, there’s bound to be someone who knows the answer. Lol.

I recently joined Writing Bad on FB, but have been working, so I haven’t gotten to explore that one yet.

There’s also Fellow Creative Minds on IG and Women Writing Fiction on FB, but I’m not in either of those as much as I should be.

Even if you just join a small group, maybe five or six people, it can be super helpful.

Especially when it comes to writing quality. You NEED to have other people looking at your work. You’re too close to it to pick out every flaw. You know the scenes and the characters, so you don’t always see when you need to elaborate more. Maybe it’s the opposite. Some people over-describe.

If other people are looking at your work, they can tell you these things (in a constructive manner) to help you grow as a writer.

You need people to push you, to challenge you. You need people to help you become the writer you’re meant to be.

And that means…*dun dun dun*…reaching out.

Because even the most antisocial among us…sometimes just need someone we trust to say, “You’re good enough, you can handle this, and you deserve this.”

So, go join a group. All the ones I mentioned above are very welcoming.

I’ll stop screaming socialization, though. Lol.

For now…

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.

Authentically Disorganized

Hey, guys!

Last week was a busy one. I finished this round of edits for The Gem of Meruna, and started on the last pre-beta-reader edits on Salt and Silver. I made it like…30 pages in. And it’s still formatted for 8.5 x 11 inch pages. So that’s not bad.

I also ordered awesome bookmarks to give away with my books, and a bunch of swag for Soul Bearer. The bookmarks came in, and were…misprinted. :/

So now I have to get them replaced, which sucks.

A lot.

The last order (business cards) that I placed with this company, one box was printed with a white line on the edge of one side. Now this…

The white line I can fix myself with a marker. Lmao. This one is a pretty major mess up. I actually had to be a grown up and contact them about it. Which doesn’t make me happy, because I don’t like conflict or dealing with people. Hopefully, it’s handled well. Idk. We’ll see. Since it’s the weekend, I’m still waiting to hear back from an actual person.

The swag should be in later this week or next week. Since some of it involves the cover art, and I know I’m going to want to show it off, I’ll be revealing the cover for Soul Bearer this week!

Email subscribers will get to see it first, btw. They’ll also get to see all the book swag first, and have an extra shot at winning when it comes time for giveaways. (Hint hint. Subscribe maybe?)

Now that the shameless subscriber plug is behind me, this coming week, I’ll be doing final touches, and, if all goes well, uploading into Ingram Spark. Then…ARC readers.

Which brings me to the main topic today.

Writing tends to lead to a lot of self-exploration, whether you intend to do so in your writing or not. It teaches you a great deal about how you think and how you see the world. You have to analyze all of it, and analyze others, and check to see if your viewpoints are overwhelming the story. You have to analyze the viewpoints and characteristics of the characters, and question whether they’re viable.

Sometimes you find a trend in your stories, something that you just tend to work into one novel after another, that reveals something about you.

Well, this week, I learned something very unexpected about myself.

You see, I’ve been busily compiling a list of reviewers (IG handles, blogs, etc. No personal information.) to approach for Soul Bearer’s release, and this week, I shared that list with a few author friends.

And that forced me to actually look at the list from someone else’s perspective.

Which made me realize that I am NOT an organized person.

At all.

I knew I wasn’t organized with my writing. I don’t outline, and I barely do any planning in my head. I just start writing, taking down the most basic notes as I go. Hell, with Salt and Silver, I knew *maybe* 2% of the final book when I started. So much got changed, or deleted, or moved. The very bones of the story shifted at one point, so strongly that I stopped writing, and reworked the first 40,000 words to accommodate the change. I had to.

(Kudos to anyone whose been following me long enough to have read THAT blog…yikes. That was a rough couple of weeks.)

Now, that one is one of the most extreme, an outlier, but I never really know more than 10% when I start writing.

And I love that. I love the exploration of it. I love learning the story as I go, and getting to know the characters as they develop.

But in pretty much every other aspect of my life, I always thought I was an organized person.

But I’m nowhere near it.

Sure, I know where all my stuff is, but if I needed someone to get me a certain book or trinket from my library, I’d be better off getting it myself. They could not go in there, and just figure out the system of organization. because there isn’t much of one. I have a couple bookcases of collection books, a couple of bookcases for books I’ve read, and some for the ever growing “To Be Read” books. Each bookcase has books stacked in front of the rows, and on top of the rows. And within those three groups, there is no objective system.

My favorites go on the top shelf. As you progress further down the shelves, you find books I like progressively less. That’s it.

And the stuff on the shelves with the books is just arranged in ways that I like. Lmao. I call it aesthetically arranged clutter. But I can go in there, and find any little trinket easily.

My notes for writing are barely more organized than that. Mainly, I just put a heading at the top of a page, and fill in whatever I need to remember about that subject below it. When I need to find it, I just search for the heading.

That list of reviewers was no different. Lol. Headings. A lot of parentheses. No real solid structure.

Because I’m not organized.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I use my phone calendar for doctor’s appointments, and I can budget like a boss.

But that’s about it. Lol.

That isn’t the lesson I expected to learn about myself this week, but I’ll take it. Lol.

Which, I guess, explains why my IG and FB look how they do. So many authors have super pretty, refined profiles. They have color palettes and specific fonts that they use for specific things, and their author platforms look beautiful. They have solid brands.

And mine is memes and cat pictures. Lmao. Throw in a nice picture from my library every now and then, sprinkle in a few posts about my books.

But branding is all about authenticity, so I guess I’m just being authentically disorganized? Maybe that’s an excuse? Who fucking knows.

Lmao.

Can you tell I’m tired?

I did just work a 12 hour shift. And did one yesterday, as well…

Meh. Lol.

I think I should probably sign off, now.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Step One: Panic. Step Two: Do Shit.

Hi, guys!

It’s been an interesting week…

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

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

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

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

Have I mentioned that I read slowly?

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

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

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

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

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

But business…

Marketing and business registration and taxes…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I was miserable.

And over what?

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

But I’m lucky.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your goals are important and worth the effort.

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

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

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

Symphony of Dragons

Hi, guys!

So, we all know music is awesome, and lots of writers like to listen to music when they write or edit. It isn’t exactly rare for songs to inspire stories or complete novels.

I’m certainly not an exception to these rules/happenings.

One of my short stories (Vivification, currently on submission for an anthology) was inspired by a song by Phaeleh. The Regonia Chronicles was inspired by a conversation with my husband and the song “Turtle Ship” by Ghasper. “Various Storms and Saints” by Florence and the Machine inspired the rewrite of Salt and Silver (soon to go into another round of edits, then be sent to beta readers).

Not to mention the new story idea I got a couple days ago, thanks to a song called “BFF” by Leah Kate, not that I know when I’ll get to actually write that one. Lol. Too many irons in the fire.

Anyway…

I almost always have music on when I write. Each story gets its own playlist, full of songs handpicked from the 100+ gb of music on my phone. (I’m one of those people that gets every single penny (and then some) of the monthly subscription for Google play music. Lol.)

I hop genres often, typically just putting stuff on shuffle, and seeing what comes up. There’s just too much music out there to limit yourself to one or two genres.

Plus, you never know what genre will resonate with a character or a scene. Some of my characters like blues metal, and others prefer electronic. Some like classical, others like grungy folk.

And sometimes you stumble across a song that just fits a certain ambiance. I have a playlist on my phone comprised of songs that are perfect for a 90’s vampire nightclub. The beats are slower than your average club song, more trance-inducing and sensual than beat-your-brains-out-with-your-eardrums. The vocals are almost…bored. Like, if the singer could be somewhere else, they would be. But they have to be there, so they may as well do the song. And there’s just enough of an industrial feel to make it seem a little dangerous, because, lets face it, vampires were more dangerous back then. Lol.

(I have a scene in my head for that playlist, and eventually I’ll write it, but that’s a journey for another day.)

Sometimes, thanks to my OCD and the luck of finding the perfect song, I put a single song on repeat for the duration of a scene. Whether it takes me thirty minutes to write it or an hour and a half, it doesn’t matter. Then, every time I hear the song, I’m taken right back to that book, that scene.

And I love that.

So, today, I thought I’d share my playlist for Soul Bearer with you all. Not all of them seem fitting for a fantasy romance, but each one fits a character or a scene.

And each song comes with my wholehearted recommendation that you listen to it, because, well, they’re all awesome. Lol.

First and foremost, my MCs’ songs:

Aurisye’s theme song, of sorts, is “Gold” by SHELLS. She’s always felt kind of…out of place. Showing her true colors has never really worked out for her, and she wants to just be seen as normal. More than that, she wants to be loved.

Rafnor’s theme is “Simple” by The Moth and The Flame. Rafnor wants a simple life. He wants a wife who loves him and a huge family. But, getting a simple life is difficult with the return of…dun dun dun…dragons. Lmao.

The rest of these are in the order that I found them, and thought, “This would be perfect for Soul Bearer!”

“Say it” by Blue October

“Tell me lies” by Deorro (feat. Lesley Roy)…Btw, her voice sounds like the vocal equivalent of a pan flute. Just saying.

“100 years” by Serj Tankian (feat. a lot of people with really long names, and lets be honest here, its 2:00am and I’m tired. Lol. By the way, this one is perfect for scenes showcasing utter devastation.)

“Lover, Please Stay” (Live) by Nothing But Thieves

“Outside” (Explicit) by The Weeknd (I told you not all of them seemed appropriate for the genre. Lol. But it fit a scene, very well.)

“Fingertips” by OneRepublic

“Hear Me” by Kelly Clarkson

“Should be Higher” by Depeche Mode

“Shiva” (Live at La Finca Venado Volando) by The Human Experience

“Another Word for Beautiful” by Sundara Karma

“Cherry” by Lana Del Rey

“Notions” by Lovedrug

“Light” by Sleeping At Last

“Kettering” by The Antlers (This one is good for romance scenes, and leads very well into the next one…)

“Wolf Like Howls from the Bathhouse” by Sonny Smith (Excellent for scenes of sexual tension.)

“Nothing” by Vessbroz (feat. Kyle Davis)

“Can You Hold Me” by NF (feat. Britt Nicole) (The scene this one is associated with…Oh my god…I cried when I wrote it, and every time I edited it. Lol. Good luck, guys.)

“Clouds” by BØRNS

“You’re Special” by NF

“Do You Feel It?” by Chaos Chaos

“Round” by The Moth and The Flame

“The Flood” by Cyrus Reynolds and Gregg Lehrman (There’s a drop in this one that is amazing.)

“Synthetic Love” by Sarah Jaffe (This one is also in my Regonia playlist, and is very strongly associated with a scene in the first book.)

“Lux” by Cyrus Reynolds and Gregg Lehrman

“Can You Feel My Heart” by Bring Me The Horizon

“My Neighborhood” by Lovedrug

“You’ll Be Fine” by Alex Clare

“Angel” by Tokio Meyers (Breathtaking song.)

“The Warden” by Chelsea Wolfe (Perfect for magic/casting scenes)

“Running For Your Life” by UNSECRET

“Nobody Else Will Be There” by The National (Another good one for romantic tension.)

“Sour Breath” by The Devil Wears Prada

“Riverside” by Agnes Obel

“Archibald MacDonald of Keppoch” by Alasdair Fraser
(This one…oh my god…the scene it goes with…it hurts.)

“Healing” (Original mix) by Phaeleh

“Burn the Witch” by Shawn James

“A Different Time” by Phaeleh

“Víðbláinn” by Peter Gundry

“Can’t Help Falling in Love” (DARK) By Tommee Proffitt (feat. brooke) (Super intense build up, good for gathering courage and slaying dragons…)

“Onward and Upward” by Tommee Proffitt (feat. Fleurie) (Another excellent build up song. Think fire and smoke everywhere, with the roars of a massive beast vibrating your chest as you run, sword aloft, into battle…)

“Finale” by Michael Abels

Whether you’re excited for Soul Bearer (which I hope you are) or whether you just want music recommendations, this is a pretty good list, in my opinion.

Update time! I got all my formatting done this week! It was a mind-numbing, infuriating, blur of tedium, and I’m not quite looking forward to doing that again. Lol.

Now, I’m on to copyright stuff and ISBNs and uploading and swag and proof copies and ARC readers. But first, I’m beta reading a friend’s novel.

For the time being, though, I think I’m going to sign off.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Happy listening.

Later.

Note…I don’t have rights to these songs, and I’m not being paid by them or Google play (though wouldn’t that be nice?) to promote them. I just really like music. 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.