Vampires, Aliens, and Trilogies: A Writing Update

Hi, guys!

Last week was pretty productive, thank goodness. I’ve needed a week where I can just get shit done, and though not as productive as I’d like, I still got a decent amount done.

So, there’s this little piece of flash fiction that’s been bouncing around in my head for a couple years now. I have a playlist of songs specifically for it (as per my usual) called 90s vampire nightclub.

The vocalists sound like, well, like they’re not slacking off, but if they had anything better to do, they probably wouldn’t have been recording that day, which fits for the boredom that would set in after living for millenia.

Because these are old vampires running this night club.

They’ve lived recklessly. They’ve lived carefully and slowly, savoring everything. They’ve been every iteration of themselves, and now they just want the music and the drugs and the sex and the dancing, just to pass the time, just to get through another day.

And the music has to be grungy, it has to call to the violence within them. They’ve drawn blood, and they’ve tasted it, drawing that violence within themselves.

And one song is poignant and existential, with just the perfect amount of desperate disdain, reminding them that even after the Earth dies, they’ll still be there, trudging across a dead and barren rock, burning and suffocating, at once and forever.

And I can see them in my head, passing the time in this little nightclub they own in 1990 America, trying desperately to forget what they are and what it means to them.

This scene has been bouncing around in my head for a couple years, and I finally just wrote it.

It’s definitely just flash fiction. It’s less than 800 words.

But finally getting it down felt like an accomplishment, even though I literally could have done it at any point in time and just…didn’t.

Idk why, either.

But it’s done, now.

I also made some progress on editing Where Darkness Leads (nearly 10,000 words).

I’ve been steadily writing The Regonia Chronicles (I added nearly 4,000 words last week, 30,000 since July 14th) and decided that I may have to break it into three books. We’ll see what the final word count comes in at, but there are a couple natural breaks.

And doing three books would let me move the end of book one back to where it used to be, thus avoiding an absolutely MASSIVE cliffhanger that, if I were reading it, would make me mad. I’d get the next book, for sure, but I’d be super pissed about the cliffhanger.

So idk how many books it’ll end up being.

But I have titles lined up for both scenarios and potential covers for if it’s two books. Though they’ll likely change, regardless. I almost never go with the first covers I come up with.

But all in all, last week was a fairly productive week, despite the overtime at work.

I’m interested to hear your opinions, though. Three books with no (potentially) rage-inducing cliffhanger or two books with a massive cliffhanger?

Let me know in the comments. As always, feel free to subscribe to stay up to date on everything relating to my books. With the release of A Heart of Salt & Silver coming up, I’ll have giveaway news soon, and subscribers will always be the first to know (as well as having the added benefit of an extra chance to win).

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Writing with Detail: How much is enough?

Hi, guys!

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

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

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

So how much detail should you use?

The short answer, unfortunately, is…

It depends.

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

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

Is it an action scene or a sex scene?

Is it the opening scene?

What genre are you writing?

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

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

That won’t happen.

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

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

Opening scenes need to have some pull, some gravity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

The Joys of Being a Pantser

Hi, guys!

As you probably know, I’ve been working on The Regonia Chronicles and releasing A Heart of Salt & Silver.

And out of all my books, these two are the ones I knew the least about when I started writing them.

I certainly had no idea that The Regonia Chronicles would be a series with 5 unique worlds, two alien races in the book (tons more not in the book), and a whole language.

I had no idea the twists and turns (or sheer drops) character arcs would take. I didn’t expect thousands of deaths.

As for A Heart of Salt & Silver, I intended to write a cut and dry romance that just so happened to take place in a fantasy world.

But as the characters developed and the villains revealed themselves, it kinda spiraled and lots of blood spilled.

That was just what the story called for.

And that’s why I love not planning my books.

Just writing means that I get to discover the world and the characters and the story as I go, just like a reader would.

It means that sometimes I get the joys of an epiphany, where a solution or a development just comes to me and everything falls into place (or gets infinitely more complicated).

It means that I get to go back and lace the framework of the revelation into the story in a way that will go unnoticed until the big moment, at which point, the readers can look back and see all the little things that lead to that. Or, I can take something small that’s already in the book and let it snowball out of control.

It means that anything and everything is subject to change, right up until the moment I publish it. So as I’m writing it, I’m just diving into the unknown.

And that unbridled discovery and creation is just so pure, so addictive that I can’t even imagine plotting a book ahead of time.

Especially since if I know exactly how a book is meant to end, I lose interest.

It just doesn’t have that mystery.

So, I’ll keep jumping into each new project with no idea where it’ll go.

You can check out the dark and twisty results of that process in my upcoming paranormal high fantasy romance novel, A Heart of Salt & Silver. These characters make an absolute mess of themselves, even though two of the three main characters are total badasses.

Pre-orders are available in ebook, paperback, and hardback at: mybook.to/AHeartOfSaltAndSilver

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Why I Write Romance (Even in My Darkest Books)

Hi, guys!

If you’ve been around books for long, you know that certain genres carry reputations. Hell, if you haven’t been around books for long, you probably still know that.

And I think I can safely say that romance probably gets more trash talk than any other genre.

There are a lot of people that like to say that romance is silly, or that those who write it are immature or just sad and lonely. I even heard a crime writer say that “romance is written by and for idiots.” (Of course, this was right before he launched into a tirade about crime fiction being the best that literature has to offer, which is clearly a matter of opinion.)

But when it comes to all the stigmas surrounding romance in literature, I call bullshit.

Yeah, sure, some romance books fit the stereotypes (throbbing members and heaving bosoms and all). But not all.

And romance is an important aspect of any fictional world.

There are a few reasons that I put romance into almost all of my books, even the darkest ones.

Yeah, there’s the obvious need to balance the darker aspects of a book with something more positive.

And yes, I genuinely enjoy writing that tension, that aching slow burn. It’s one of my favorite parts of writing and reading.

But I also write it because… romance is part of life.

Humans, by nature, are not solitary animals. The vast majority of humans crave companionship, even the most introverted among us.

Even in war zones, people want someone there. Even when their life is falling apart around them, people want someone to turn to, someone to help them through.

Perhaps even more so than when things are going well.

Love is a part of life. It’s part of our world.

Excluding it from books out of some bullshit elitist attitude doesn’t make your book better.

Honestly, including some aspect of it, even as a subplot for a side character, makes the world more realistic.

With very few exceptions, people do not desire a life alone.

We crave love. We crave acceptance. We crave companionship.

So almost every book I’ve written to date includes romance. And I expect the same to be true of the books I have yet to write.

Which brings us around to my books.

As you know, A Heart of Salt & Silver is available for pre-order. I FINALLY got the technical issues sorted with the hardback, so all three formats are waiting for you.

So, if you’re looking for a book with demons and magic, werewolves and witches, vampires and gods, love and gore, you can preorder your copy at: mybook.to/AHeartOfSaltAndSilver

It releases on November 3rd of this year, and I can’t freaking wait.

As for The Regonia Chronicles, I’m breaking the shit out of my characters in this one. Well, one character in particular, at the moment. Some are actually getting a break. But this one is having a very rough time.

Let’s just say book one leaves off on one hell of a cliffhanger. And the cleanup at the beginning of book two takes some time. This character arc fucking plummets.

I think me-writing-a-series is a dangerous thing for my characters. It’s that much longer for their lives to fall apart.

But anyway, I’m gonna keep on trucking.

And you should, too.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

My thoughts on Insta-love vs Slow Burn

Hi, guys!

So, it’s no secret that I’m not a fan of insta-love in books, whether I’m writing or reading.

I much prefer the sweet, drawn out tension of a slow burn. That will they/won’t they, that back and forth, is just way more appealing to me.

But I’m not sure I’ve ever explained why except to a few individuals.

Now, bear in mind, this is just my opinion. You’re free to write or read whatever you want. In fact, I actively encourage it. The literary world needs to serve all readers and writers.

But that’s a rant I’ve done before.

On to the topic at hand.

To me, insta-love just isn’t immersive or realistic.

I know that sounds rich coming from a sci-fi/fantasy writer. Magic and dragons and werewolves aren’t real.

But that’s the element of the fantastical that I prefer.

I want the characters, their personalities, and their interactions to be believable and immersive.

Instantly falling in love just isn’t believable for me.

Instant attraction, yeah. That makes way more sense. That happens to people all over the globe, day in and day out.

But if two characters just fall in love within a day or a week, I start trying to figure out if they have some sort of attachment problems, psychologically speaking.

And that isn’t usually what insta-love writers want their readers focusing on.

Plus, I always find myself picking out red flags, little things the characters should notice about each other (but don’t), and find it all a little worrisome.

Because there are usually a few.

Or a lot.

So I just tend to stay away from insta-love books, in general.

There are exceptions, of course.

If it’s written into the fabric of the world and based in a magical element…that makes more sense to me. Or in books where the aim is to show the dangers of losing yourself in a relationship, insta-love makes sense then, too.

But it just doesn’t work for me, outside of those few exceptions.

I’ll take the slow progress, the building chemistry, the back and forth and will they/won’t they of a slow burn over insta-love any day.

Again, this is all personal opinion. I strongly advise you to read or write whatever you want.

Where do you stand on the matter?

Come back next week to find out why I write romance into even my darkest books.

Now, as far as my progress on my books is concerned.

I finished the first round of edits on Second to None last week, battled countless technological demons, wrote about 6,000 words in The Regonia Chronicles, decided to move the divider between book one and two within the series, and got A Heart of Salt & Silver up for preorder in paperback and ebook. The hardback will be available soon.

Check it out here: mybook.to/AHeartOfSaltAndSilver

I need to jump into another round of edits on either Allmother Rising or Where Darkness Leads, soon.

I’d say that I’ll have eventually have fewer projects going at once, but that would be a lie. And I’m okay with that.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Why You Should Let Your Readers Use Their Imagination

Hi, guys!

I was talking with a friend a couple days ago about 2 sentence horror stories. I don’t know if you’ve looked any up, but there are some really good ones out there.

And they are absolutely beautiful in their simplicity.

Because sometimes, it isn’t so much what’s said as what isn’t said. It lets the reader’s mind fill in the gaps with all sorts of horrors, personalizing it to fit their individual fears.

But simplicity shouldn’t be reserved for 2 sentence horror stories.

We don’t live in the Edwardian times, anymore.

You can write like that if you want, of course, supplying the reader with literally every detail of every object within sight. You can use an absolutely overwhelming amount of descriptors to tell your readers the exact curvature of a sphere.

But do you have to?

No.

Should you always do that?

No.

Certain scenes demand a simpler, less detailed account. (Fight scenes, sex scenes, transitional scenes which just show the passage of time, etc.)

Personally, I prefer books that don’t beat me to death with the color of the throw pillows or the shape of each doily (complete with the pattern and the type of stitch most commonly used to attain that pattern).

I like fast-paced books that let me fill in the decorations with my own imagination. It’s certainly active enough to supply the details.

Character development and plot are far more important to me than the number of freckles on a person’s face.

Because that little bit of personalization, that little bit that’s different for every reader is part of the magic.

There’s the magic of sharing an entire world that you’ve created with other people. And there’s the magic of that world meaning something different to each person that enters it.

That makes it more real.

We don’t notice every detail of every object in our lives. Why the fuck would our characters?

Why should the reader?

Let them get tunnel vision when the book draws them in. Let them get so wrapped up in a climactic scene that the background becomes just that… background.

Now, as for my own work, I’ve been reading through what I have of The Regonia Chronicles to reacquaint myself with the characters. And it’s shown me just how much I’ve learned, even just in the last couple of years.

Don’t get me wrong, I still absolutely love the story and the characters.

But I’m gonna have a lot of editing to do. Lol.

I’ve also been prepping some cover reveal stuff for A Heart of Salt & Silver and finalizing the map. I’ll be moving on to formatting, soon.

Which means I’ll be announcing a release date, soon!

Subscribe to my newsletter to make sure you don’t miss any of the big announcements (or the upcoming giveaway).

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

World for the Broken: First chapter reveal

Hi, guys!

It’s so close to release day! Just 13 days… An unlucky day for a chapter reveal? Or perfect considering the terrible luck these characters have?

Either way, I won’t keep you waiting. Here’s the first chapter of my dark post-apocalyptic romance, World for the Broken. (Reader discretion advised. This book might hurt.)

Chapter 1

Christian

Snow crunches beneath feet, not far from my aching head. Dazed, I wonder how I could have let someone get so close. I try to lift my face from winter’s blanket, but the world threatens to fall out from under me with even the slightest movement. Head pounding, I struggle to center myself. Holding as still as humanly possible, I strain my ears to pick out the size of my newest friends.

A trickle of warmth slips through my hair, dripping over my scalp and down my forehead. It’s almost pleasant, except for the little voice in the back of my mind telling me that it shouldn’t be there. As if for emphasis, a cold wind sweeps over my back, the only part of me visible above the snow. Warmth has no place here.

I remember how to open my eyes, lifting my head as I do so, and see red swirling before my gaze. The ground tilts and whirls, mixing melting snow and blood in psychedelic patterns. I slam my eyes shut once more, letting my head fall to the ground. My face splashes in the watered-down blood.

My blood.

Another foot breaches the snow with a crunch. The danger that I’m in screams back into focus, so loudly my skull aches with it. Or maybe that’s just the head wound talking.

Fucking get it together, Christian.

I growl inwardly, but I’m excited that I can piece even that together amidst the agony bursting across my scalp.

Are these more of The Wolf’s men, come to finish the job?

Then, it all comes back to me, hitting like a ton of bricks. Tate, Jesse, Karen…Are they safe? I don’t know, don’t remember much, and that scares me.

We’d been on the run, having escaped Breyerville two and a half days ago with The Wolf’s Fangs dogging our heels every second. Poor Tate, just four years old, was terrified to fall asleep, as were we all. He’d only done so to the tune of Karen’s voice, singing a soft lullaby, nearly whispering through choking fear.

What if The Fangs were close? What if they heard her song?

What if they found us?

Then, the blizzard hit and made our tracks impossible to miss. The Fangs found us within a day of the first flakes falling. The scene bursts across my eyelids, like some horrible version of the instant replay used in sporting events back before the war.

We’d just stopped so Tate could go to the bathroom, which took an unfortunate amount of time given the layers the poor kid was wearing, and we were about to set off again. Not that we really knew where we were going.

Just…away.

Away from Breyerville and the brothel Karen was forced into. Away from The Wolf and his cronies, demanding payment and tribute from all locked within his stupid walls. The walls we all helped him build, back when he seemed like a decent human being, someone we could trust to help lead us through the end of the world.

Funny thing about the apocalypse, that. It brings out what’s hiding underneath the surface. Given time and power, The Wolf revealed his true nature, evil incarnate.

The Fangs found us unaware. Karen and Jesse had been arguing again, with Jesse lobbing some new unfair accusation at his poor wife. I’d been a little worried, thinking I may have to step in again and…calm my brother down.

Tate clung to his mother, burying his face in her legs. Her hands covered his ears, trying to spare him the worst of the argument, even as he shielded his eyes with tiny hands.

We heard the gun go off, loud and close. Instinctively, instantly, I ducked. A habit I wish I hadn’t had the opportunity, or the need, to cultivate. Another crack and a bullet meant for me sailed over my head.

A third shot was attempted, presumably to correct their mistake in thinking I wouldn’t drop to the ground. But the hammer fell, and the gun merely clicked. Empty. Luckily, they haven’t figured out how to reload their own ammo.

Before my eyes, my little brother fell. With a small hole in his forehead, blood trickling from it, Jesse landed in a crumpled heap. Thankfully, he was facing the sky. I’d rather Tate remember his father’s dead eyes than the state the back of his skull must have been in.

Four Fangs rushed us, giving me no chance to mourn.

One ripped Tate from Karen’s grasp and threw the kicking, screaming little boy into the snow. Heart racing, all thought gone from my mind, I threw myself upon The Fang whose boot hung in the air, poised above Tate’s head, and we went flying into a snowdrift.

I righted myself first, climbing atop the man, and pummeled him with everything in me. Rage filled me and boiled over. I remember the blood splattering across my face, some my own as my knuckles tore open a bit more with each hit, but mostly from The Fang, a dirty looking man with five o’clock shadow on his entire head. His hood fell back, and the scarf that covered half his face was soggy with blood.

Below each eye, the tattoos of fangs marked him as a bona fide member of The Wolf’s Fangs. The quality of the first tattoos meant he’d been a member for a while. Since before they ran out of traditional ink a year and a half ago and had to start making their own. Since before the legitimate tattoo gun broke a year ago, and they had to do it the old-fashioned way. He’d been a Fang for at least a year and a half. Maybe longer.

The number of fangs tattooed beneath his eyes, rimming the socket, denoted how many times this particular Fang had bitten for his master. Four beneath one eye, and five under the other. Nine times, he’d killed for The Wolf.

Another Fang followed, crushing snow beneath sprinting feet, leaving the other two struggling to contain Karen’s fury, all 5’4” of it. They shouldn’t have separated mother and child. Swearing and screaming and flesh-hitting-flesh rang out behind me, with Tate crying in the snow not far off to the right.

“Stay there, Tate!” I screamed, sending another fist into the face of the man who would have killed my nephew.

Anger almost got the best of me, and I momentarily lost track of the assailant approaching me at full tilt. As the Fang beneath me faded, head lolling to the side in death, I sprang to my feet. I spun, just in time for another Fang to barrel into me, a palmed blade ready to sink into my flesh.

Back down into the drift I went, and this time, I didn’t come out on top. The Fang hadn’t expected me to turn, so his blade merely gashed my side, rather than digging in. Unbelievable luck.

Twisted up in the cloth of my jacket, the spin also jerked the knife from my assailant, sending it flying off somewhere. A miracle.

But that’s where the good news ended.

With something clenched tightly in his fist, packing it for rigidity, The Fang landed a solid blow, unfortunately, located squarely on my temple thanks to the awkward way we landed.

I nearly passed out then and there, retaining only enough consciousness to hear Karen scream out, “Stop! I’ll go with you if you just stop! Leave my baby alone!” Tears choked her voice, but it carried, nonetheless. All motion stopped, even the man sitting atop my chest stilled, unafraid of his seriously dazed victim.

“Please,” Karen begged. “Please, just…we won’t cause any more problems. Just…don’t hurt him.” I heard her slump to her knees, heard the rustle of fabric, and Tate’s whimpering as she pulled him to her breast.

I saw the grizzled Fang standing behind her spit into the snow, mostly blood. Bright red gashes lined his face, leaking openly. He jerked his chin up at the man on top of me, and my chest got lighter as The Fang heaved himself onto his feet.

Karen’s hands clutched at her son, pressing him tightly against her. Her pale face was rosy with the cold, and her long, black hair tumbled in a tangled heap, spilling free from the hood of her jacket, partially concealing Tate from view. Between her hair and his too-big jacket, I couldn’t see the boy’s face.

Rather than walking away, my assailant turned toward me. With black eyes rimmed with seven fangs and a cruel smile lurking beneath them, he pulled his foot back and slammed it into the left side of my head.

I remember the pain, arcing through every synapse, filling every cell of my body. I remember curling onto my side, watching through eyes barely open, clouded with the blood that dripped into them, as Karen and Tate were led away, sobbing. All our packs were gathered up and taken, as well.

Now, lying broken in the snow, the reality of their absence wallops me, leaving me breathless and gasping.

They’re gone. All three of them. Jesse is dead. Karen and Tate…who knows. Will they kill Tate? Or use him against Karen to keep her pliable?

Disgust burns within me at the thought, simmering beneath the icy hands of agony as they steadily rip my heart to shreds.

And what of me?

I’d been so sure I would die, even as I slumped sideways, rolling onto my stomach. The snow fell around me, sapping the warmth from my body. When darkness took me, I thought it the end.

But now, shockingly gentle hands roll me over, and the ground tips beneath me. Stomach roiling, I worry I may vomit, but manage to hold myself together. Barely. My eyelids flutter, stars exploding in my vision.

A shadow takes form, just beyond the starbursts. A woman.

Brilliant red hair tumbles forward, hanging in loose waves just above my face. A gloved hand pulls the scarf down from her nose and full mouth, revealing pale cheeks flushed with cold. Meanwhile, surprise registers in her shining emerald eyes. Turning her head to the side, she speaks in a voice that sounds a hell of a lot like salvation. “He’s alive.”

She leans forward, no doubt getting her pretty hair dirty with the blood that coats my face as the delicate strands brush my skin.

“Can you hear me?” she asks, very gently.

I nod. Sort of. The motion upsets my already spinning equilibrium even more, and my eyes fall shut, robbing me of the sight of her.

“Please,” I murmur.

But what could I ask? Please save them? Please help me?

She owes me nothing. She and her companions will likely take whatever they can from me, from Jesse’s corpse, from the body of the Fang that I killed. They’ll desert me, likely take the shirt from my back.

Why wouldn’t they?

Before I can ask her anything, the darkness claims me again.

*****

I am so excited to finally share this with you all, and to get this book out. It sits so close to home, literally and figuratively. It’s set in Southern Illinois, aka the place I’ve lived my entire life. I took some liberties with town names and distances between them, but ya know…creative license and all that.

It’s also deeply emotional. So many of my own experiences have gone into this one. Of course, the experiences were changed to fit the story, some exaggerated, some downplayed with the burden split across multiple characters. And some things were just experiences I dealt with secondhand during my internship days getting my bachelor’s degree in psychology.

Regardless, a lot went into this novel, and I’m pumped to share it with you.

If you haven’t preordered your copy yet, all the purchase links are down below.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Amazon: http://mybook.to/WorldForTheBroken

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/world-for-the-broken-elexis-bell/1136379380?ean=9781951335069

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/world-for-the-broken

Booksamillion: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/World-Broken/Elexis-Bell/9781951335076?id=7678409965374

All my books: http://www.amazon.com/author/elexis_bell http://www.elexisbell.com/my-published-works/

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

Hi, guys!

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

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

But you know what…

Fuck that.

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

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

So chill out.

Stop shaming each other for what you read or write.

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

Just live.

We all love books.

Can’t that be enough?

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

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

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

But.

Not everyone reads to find the hidden meaning.

Not everyone cares why the curtains were blue.

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

And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I promise.

*steps off soap box*

Now. Progress report!

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

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

Same content. Same print quality. Less expensive.

So I’m excited about that.

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

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

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

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

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

Later.

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.