Plot Armor (And How To Avoid It)

We’ve all seen it. The character that always scrapes by because they’re the main character (or the main love interest), no matter how ridiculously high the stakes are and no matter how unrealistic it is for them to come out okay.

Some genres demand a happy end for the book (Romance, in particular), but that doesn’t mean that your characters should just have everything work out through sheer force of luck and having you on their side.

That level of un-realism takes away from the story.

So here are a few things you can give your character in lieu of plot armor.

Knowledge

Give them the information necessary to realistically survive what you’re throwing at them. Some battles are best won with brain rather than brawn.

Build a subset of knowledge into their background (a hobbyist in the family who liked learning about the things they’re facing or maybe a previous job that had parallels). Make them research and plan.

Or just straight up give them a teacher.

Mentors can be excellent side characters.

Skills

Make these people practice. Make them learn combat or lockpicking or endurance running.

Maybe they ran track in high school. Maybe they were in the army or your book’s equivalent. Maybe they dropped out and lived on the streets, stealing what they needed to get by.

Or maybe their life changed at the beginning of the book and they found a mentor for the skills they’d need. Trial and error is a pretty harsh teacher, but also an option.

Allies

More than one person working toward the same goal will almost certainly increase the chances of achieving it.

Now, these people aren’t meant to be bullet sponges or cannon fodder, though some may end that way.

But a prepper friend can teach your MC about filtering water and keep them from getting dysentery in the apocalypse.

A friend who’s also a cop could help them talk down (or subdue) an assailant.

The Ending

Maybe give them the realistic ending. Tragedies may not be as common now, but they are part of literature. And though it might mean a genre change for some (dark romantic fantasy instead of dark fantasy romance), it could be worth it to stick to what would really happen.

That last one is the choice I would go with, but that’s just me.


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Check out my gritty, literary sci-fi and fantasy books here.

Want to help fund this blog and my writing efforts? You can support me directly here.

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Self-Publishing

The choice to pursue self-publishing or traditional publishing is a tough one, and the “right choice” is different for everyone.

For me, it was self-publishing.

But there are a few things I wish I knew ahead of time.

Today, I’m sharing them with you. 

It’s difficult.

This path takes so much work. You’re not just the writer. You have to be an entire publishing house.

That means that everything falls to you.

Unless, of course, you hire some of the work out. There are a few aspects of this route that most would recommend working with a pro (covers and editing, for example).

So, it can get pricey.

And it is definitely a lot of work. 

This should not be done alone.

I know, the “self” in self-publishing implies otherwise, but working in a vacuum is a dangerous thing, for multiple reasons.

You need feedback from others to know what works and what doesn’t. You’re too close to your work to see all the flaws, sometimes because of attachments to characters and sometimes because we know what’s going on and our brain fills in the things that aren’t (but should be) on the page.

But also because this shit gets stressful.

Having a group of writer friends, people who understand all the intricacies, or a few non-writers willing to learn about publishing through your venting, is pivotal. It really helps alleviate the stress sometimes.

And who knows, they might see a solution you don’t.

Or in the case of writer friends, they might have experienced the same problem you’re experiencing, and maybe they already have a workaround for it.

Start your author platform now.

I used to hate social media. I avoided it like the plague. I dragged my feet, posted inconsistently, and hesitated to start my newsletter.

But now, my author platform is kinda the only reason I’ve sold any books.

At all.

It’s how I reach people, how I meet other authors, how I connect with reviewers and readers.

And it takes time to build a solid author platform. I started late, so I’m not where most would like to be after releasing seven books. But I’m getting there.

And if you haven’t, you need to start building yours.

Even if you haven’t finished a book yet. 

You can post things about you, about how you write, what books you like to read (extra points if they’re in the genre you write in because that’ll draw in people who read in that genre).

Figure out which platform you want to start with and go for it. Start a newsletter ASAP.

And if you’re counting Instagram out because “What would I post pictures of?”… You. Books. Bookshelves. Character art. Mood boards. There are infinite possibilities.

Take some marketing and advertising classes.

Marketing and advertising (yeah, they’re different things) are the main reason I considered traditional publishing. Then, research revealed that a good portion would still fall to me even if I went the traditional route.

But instead of doing the smart thing and throwing myself into classes and figuring out how to do those things properly right at the outset, I… didn’t.

I don’t know why, honestly.

Dread, I think. Social anxiety and intimidation.

But I’ve been taking classes off and on, and trying to figure them out. I still have a long way to go, so I’m not about to do any advertising blogs, but I do suggest learning how to market and advertise your books.

As a self-published author, it falls to you to get your books out there, and it is not an easy thing to do. There are literally millions of books out there, and it’s up to us to figure out how to get people to first, see our books, and second, buy them.

This is a valid publishing route.

The self-publishing stigma is intense. So much so that for a while, I was ashamed of my choice. Of course, part of that is just me. (I tend to worry too much about what others think and whether or not I’m letting them down.)

But after more research, after talking to other (much more successful) indie writers, after seeing what’s out there, after paying attention to which books are indie and which aren’t (and seeing monstrosities and absolute gems in both publishing avenues), I realized that this is a valid publishing route.

And shame has no place in it.


Check out my gritty, literary sci-fi and fantasy books here.

Want to help fund this blog and my writing efforts? You can support me directly here.

Subscribe for sneak peeks and updates on my upcoming books (and get a free short story).

Things Left Unsaid: Read the Prologue Free

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how it’s already almost release day. It doesn’t quite make sense, and I’m not sure where the time went.

And yet, somehow, release day is tomorrow.

But this time, since I’m still getting over this century’s plague and about to start physical therapy for my carpal tunnel, I’m going to cut myself a break.

Rather than stress myself out even more with a live reading (because social anxiety plus reading aloud for people on the internet is stressful as fuck), I’m going to leave the prologue here for you to read at your leisure.

Fair warning, the prologue is from the perspective of the bad guy. And he is definitely a bad guy.

Prologue

Kurt

The car bumps along on the old dirt road as Ian hits yet another pothole. Elbows dig into both my sides as Jake and Kerry ricochet in their seats. I hold myself rigid, digging my feet into the floorboard to brace myself.

You’d think they’d try a little harder to keep from jabbing me. It isn’t that hard to keep control of your parts.

Staring forward at Ian and Ariella in the front seats, I seethe, wishing I could sit there. But my hips are narrower than Ariella’s, making me a better fit for this stupid seat. And it’s Ian’s stupid, tiny car, so of course, he’s driving.

And she called it, so eager as she shouted, “Shotgun!”

My eyes roll as I stare out at the trees choking the road. Yet again, I question the point of this trip.

Her words from yesterday echo in my mind. “Come on, Kurt. You know I love haunted places. And I haven’t seen Ian or Jake or Tori in so long.”

Now, she sits in front, bathed in sunlight and beaming at Ian. They laugh together, recalling old college memories. Their arms bump together on the armrest with each dip in the road.

Ariella tips her head back, laughing deeply. She covers her mouth with her hand, but when she puts her arm back on the armrest, it lands skin to skin with Ian’s.

And she barely pulls away.

Heat surges through my veins as anger burns me. I grit my teeth.

Ian swerves, hitting another pothole. Laughter fills the front seat as their arms brush again. Elbows dig into my sides. Again.

Fucking bastard’s doing it on purpose…

And suddenly, I hear her voice, really hear it, as she begged me to go on this trip. I hear the way she lingered on his name. In my mind, she rushes over the other names, not caring whether she sees them again or not.

She didn’t even try to hide it.

Who knew I’d end up with someone just like my whore of a mother.

And when she called riding shotgun, her eyes lit up brighter than the fucking sun. I watch it play out in my mind, and this time I see the soft smile on his lips, see the way he leers at her.

Fucking Ian.

Kerry sits forward, craning her neck to see the road. She leans toward me, peering out between the seats and stealing my view of Ariella’s betrayal. “Shut up, you guys,” she tells the harlot and the casanova. “It wasn’t that bad.”

But I missed what they were laughing about.

Beside me, Jake laughs at his wife. “It really was.”

She reaches over me to lightly smack his knee. Confined as we are, she hits my knee too, and I barely suppress a glare.

“Oh, sorry, Kurt,” she says. Briefly, she leans her head against my shoulder in a sorry excuse for an apology, and her long brown hair tickles my arm. “See what you guys made me do!” she shoots at Jake. “You made me smack Kurt!”

Ariella’s eyes dart upward, meeting mine in the rearview mirror. Dark eyes pulled tight with worry, she holds my gaze.

Is she afraid for Kerry?

People don’t usually hit me and get away with it.

But she doesn’t know that yet.

I hold myself in check, clenching my jaw. My hands ball up in my lap, but I cross my arms, tucking tight fists under my elbows.

Still staring at me, Kerry asks, “Are you okay?”

Ariella turns to look at me, waves of black hair spilling over the armrest. Long, silky tresses swirl over Ian’s arm, and his eyes tear away from the road for a quick glance at her. His eyes sparkle in the waning sunlight, and the corners of his lips lift into a wistful smile.

My stomach sours.

“Kurt?” Kerry prompts, stealing my attention away from the philanderer in the front seat. Her crisp blue eyes stare into mine, edged with concern.

“I’m fine,” I say, voice tight. “Just carsick. Always happens in little cars.”

She accepts my lie, but when I look forward, Ariella’s brows reach for each other, huddling in confusion. I’ve never been carsick in my life, and she knows it. I’m not that weak.

“Sorry, man,” Ian says over his shoulder. “This is a pretty bumpy road. That probably doesn’t help.”

A deep breath puffs out my chest as I stare hard at Ariella.

“Do you… need to switch seats?” she offers, but I hear her reluctance.

After all, why would she want to give up her seat next to Ian?

“Oh, no,” I answer quickly. “I’ll be fine.”

Her lips purse as she considers me, but only for an instant.

Ian taps her knee with the back of his hand, and she turns forward, not even sparing me a second thought. “We’re here,” he says.

Everyone else stares out the windows at the rickety old farmhouse and the shitty barn behind it. They gape and chatter excitedly about the murders that happened here in the early 1900s and the ghosts rumored to haunt the place.

But I stare at the lecher moving in on my woman. Blond scruff decorates his chin and his short blond hair is a mess.

Yet, she thinks she’ll leave me for him?

I shake my head.

I’ll be second to none.


Let’s just say… Kurt doesn’t handle things very well on their trip.

If you want to find out what he does, you can get your copy of Things Left Unsaid here.

It officially releases August 31st (tomorrow), but preorders are available and it’s free in Kindle Unlimited.

If you want a thriller now, you can check out Annabelle and her weaponized parasol here, also free in Kindle Unlimited.


Check out my gritty, literary sci-fi and fantasy books here.

Want to help fund this blog and my writing efforts? You can support me directly here.

Subscribe for sneak peeks and updates on my upcoming books (and get a free short story).

An Indie Author’s Guide to Repackaging a Book

One of the brilliant things about being an indie author is that you can repackage your book whenever you need to. Covers, trim sizes, fonts, whatever you want to change, you can change it.

Traditional publishers do this for you, or without you, picking and choosing the cover (sometimes consulting you on the matter).

But for an indie, repackaging a book means a lot of work.

So, how do you know if you need to do it?

Without a team of experts in a big time publishing company to make the decision to repackage a book, it can be hard to tell. So today, we’re covering a few circumstances wherein you might benefit from repackaging your book, starting with the most dire circumstances.

Unprofessional

If your book cover does not look professional, something reviewers and bloggers will likely point out, you NEED to repackage your book.

Your cover is the most important piece of marketing material you have. It’s everywhere that your book is. It’s in all your promotional material.

If it looks like it was whipped up in a matter of minutes by someone with no clue as to what they’re doing, it will turn readers away.

Your cover doesn’t match your genre

It’s important to stand out from other books. But your cover should lend itself to your genre.

If your book is a cozy mystery but the cover looks more like a fantasy romance, first of all, how? Second, you’ll be drawing in the wrong types of readers.

People who would be interested in your book likely won’t give it a second glance, whereas the people drawn in by the fantasy cover will turn away after reading the blurb.

It has nothing to do with the story

Your cover needs to reflect the type of story the book contains. And this goes beyond genre. This gets into subgenres and tropes.

Magical orbs fit fantasy, but they should not appear on the cover of a low fantasy book (fantasy minus magic).

A sci-fi novel without a single romance subplot shouldn’t have a couple on the cover about to kiss or a topless dude posing for the camera. Those things draw in romance readers looking for at least a subplot of love.

Which might lead to disappointment once they start reading and find none in the book.

Now, on to the less dire circumstances that might require a book to be repackaged.

Branding

Whether you’re going for a consistent art style, color palette, or font choices, branding is important. It lets readers know that a book is yours before they ever see your name on it.

If they recognize your style on the cover and they know they can trust you, trust your work, that’s an easier sale.

If you’re redoing your brand (or just realizing that branding can apply to book covers), this is a good reason to pick out a new cover.

It isn’t make or break. It won’t destroy your career if your book covers don’t all match in some way. But having them look cohesive can help.

This is especially important in series. Outside of a series, it could just be a tendency toward a specific color palette and the use of a certain font for your author name.

New Edition

If you’ve added a significant amount of content to your book, enough to constitute a new edition, then a new cover could help readers differentiate between the two.

Book birthday celebration

If your book has reached its first birthday, maybe celebrate with a shiny new cover?

I’ve done this for most of mine, updating the covers as a celebration and to keep up with current genre tendencies.

Special edition/Limited edition

If you want to generate a bit of buzz and have a backup cover that you didn’t use, there’s always the option of running that cover for a little while as a special edition/limited edition.

Just keep in mind that if a seller has already ordered a few copies, they’ll ship those out first before ordering any copies with the new cover. A workaround for this is to set up a different book altogether, with a separate ISBN, to sell the limited edition cover copies.

Now, there are other times to change covers. This is not a comprehensive list, by any means. But keep in mind that you should do so strategically. Changing the cover every other week could drive your readers bonkers.

But doing so every now and then provides you with an opportunity to bring your book back out into the public eye. It’s an event, just like the original cover reveal.


Check out my series on making book covers the right way. Part One, Two, and Three.


Want to fund this blog and my writing efforts? You can support me directly here.

Check out my gritty, literary sci-fi and fantasy books here.

Subscribe for sneak peeks and updates on my upcoming books (and get a free short story).

How to Avoid the NaNoWriMo Blues

As we near the end of NaNoWriMo, the writing community seems to be polarizing. That’s not to say the divide is intentional or discriminatory. It isn’t.

But it’s there.

Writers who are on track to meet that lofty 50k goal are growing more and more excited by the day, and understandably so. That’s a lot of words to write in a single month.

Other writers who have fallen behind are starting to get down on themselves, though.

And since I hate to see that, I want to have a little chat with you and offer up five tips for avoiding the NaNo Blues.

If you’ve “only” written 15,000 words on your story so far this month, that’s still 15,000 words. That’s still progress. You’re still writing and doing things and pushing forward.

50,000 words in a month is monstrous for anyone who isn’t a full time author. Hell, it’s a lofty goal, even for full time authors.

And we all know how few and far between full time authors really are.

So cut yourself some slack. Be kind to yourself. Life is fucking chaos, especially lately.

If you’re working full time plus raising kids plus taking care of animals plus you’re sick plus your house needs repairs plus all the absolute nonsense that has been thrown at us this year…

Not hitting 50k in one month is 100% understandable.

I’ll openly admit, there’s no way in hell I would have managed it if I’d decided to try Nano this year. No fucking way.

I made progress. I released a book and I wrote and I edited. But no way in hell did I write 50,000 words this month. There’s too much shit going on in my personal life, and I’m working on too many projects.

And that’s okay.

I’m human. You’re human. Our plans don’t always work out, and our lives throw curveballs.

So please, be kind to yourself. If November ends and you find yourself with 27,561 words in your story, celebrate.

That’s a fuck ton of words.

But I know it’s natural to feel disappointed if a goal isn’t reached. So, if you’ve hit critical mass and you know you can’t catch up to meet the 50k goal, here are some tips to keep the NaNo Blues at bay.

1. Don’t give up. I know this whole thing might be discouraging, but keep writing. Your story is still worthwhile.

2. Do some daydreaming, specifically within the world you’re writing to remind yourself why you love this story. It may even inspire a new subplot.

3. Take a bit of time to relax. Do something non-writing related that you enjoy, even if only for half an hour. It may just be the refresher your overworked mind needs to push forward.

4. Give yourself permission not to hit that goal. It might sound silly, but accepting that you’re human and that sometimes life gets in the way of our goals is a very liberating thing.

Paradoxically, it could actually lead to greater productivity because all the time and mental energy that goes into beating yourself up is suddenly free for making progress.

5. Make a new goal. Use this experience with NaNo to inform your goal setting process.

That nifty little word tracker on the NaNo site can be a very useful tool for analyzing how many words you average per day or per week, thus allowing you to set an informed target word count for your next goal rather than some arbitrary number set forth for you by someone who knows nothing about your life.

Now, I have to add a disclaimer.

To the people who spent hours and hours, day in and day out, scrolling through tumblr or tiktok, or sharing memes on Facebook, or playing games on their phone, or binge-watching three different shows instead of writing and now want pity because you fell behind…

This blog is not for you.

You need someone to light a fire under your ass to get you moving, not someone to make you feel better. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. That’s it.

I have a different blog for you:

How do you have the time?

Just ignore the progress report opening/ending. The books mentioned in that blog have already been released. (Soul Bearer came out 10/22/2019 and The Gem of Meruna cam out 12/31/2019)

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

A Heart of Salt & Silver: Themes and Meanings

Everyone always talks about the deeper meanings in books, and though I never start writing with a specific theme in mind, these things always find their way in.

So today, I want to discuss some of them with you.

Of course, there are the obvious ones. Good vs evil, love and redemption, revenge and second chances. Isolation and war, forgiveness and religion. All the big ones.

But there are others.

One of the biggest themes is the importance of growth and change. Two of the MCs (Ness and Nolan) are exes, star-crossed lovers, of sorts. They both have their faults, and each played their role in breaking up their relationship.

But people aren’t stagnant, never should be stagnant. So, we see them confront some of their issues, facing down the demons (pun intended, since demons are actually in this book) that wore them down (as individuals) in the first place, so that things might work better in the future.

Which brings me to another theme.

The differences between self-perception and how others perceive you.

With the vast majority of people, there’s a gap between these two things. Arrogant fucks tend to think far higher of themselves than others think of them. They see only their own strengths and don’t understand why others don’t worship them.

People with depression or anxiety disorders tend to think far lower of themselves than others do. They see only their own flaws, never seeing their strengths, and this creates a discrepancy, one that other people don’t always know about. If they know about it, they may not understand because the person they see is wonderful.

The downtrodden, self-destructive type shows up in this book.

Ness is… hurting. She believes herself to be inherently broken, less than. Nothing she ever does for anyone is enough to meet her standards. Nothing she says is kind enough. She’s so hung up on being half demon, so focused on the rage and the fury that could send her on a rampage if she lost control, that she fails to see all the good she does or just how well she controls her half-demon heart.

And she certainly doesn’t feel like she deserves love or happiness. And it takes her a long time, and some pretty extreme circumstances, to even realize that people might actually care about her.

Mainly because she doesn’t see herself (or her actions or motivations) accurately. Her childhood kinda skewed her perception of herself.

Being raised by your mortal enemy, a member of a religious sect sworn to kill you on sight who was bewitched to raise you, can do that to a person.

Which brings me to yet another theme.

The importance of being self-aware.

It’s awfully hard to grow and improve yourself if you don’t know where your issues lie. And it’s pretty hard to have the motivation to improve if you think you’re the worst person alive.

Acknowledging flaws and strengths alike is important for growth as a human being. Analyzing why you’re really doing something, rather than just taking all your actions at face value, is a necessary step. Otherwise, you’re likely to end up doing the wrong thing for the right reason or vice versa.

Motives can taint actions.

Being the hero because you need to be the hero… Yeah, people get saved. But maybe there was someone better suited to the task that stepped back because you needed to do it? Maybe other people are suffering because you had to be the one to fix something?

That’s one of the biggest problems for Nolan.

Elias also lacks self-awareness, but where Nolan has already started seeing and fixing things, Elias is barely aware that there’s a problem at all. His impulses drag him into a lot of situations that would have been better off left alone, and through the magic of luck, he hasn’t faced many consequences yet.

Running into vampire territory can change that pretty quickly, though.

And that’s just some of the character-related themes. There are others, and the world has its own themes.

Emotion vs. intellect is a big thing as far as magic and the afterlife are concerned in this book. Not to mention just how diluted and corrupted views of the afterlife can become when humans get involved, organizing it into neat little boxes with hard and fast rules that fit their particular motives.

That may seem like a lot to cover in one book. But life never tries to teach us just one thing at a time, and it never tries just one tactic for breaking us.

Lessons and traumas tangle together, piling one atop the other.

In life and literature.

If you want to watch these themes unfold amidst immortals and mortals in a magical world, if you want to get to know the characters and their lives, check out A Heart of Salt & Silver here:

mybook.to/AHeartOfSaltAndSilver

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Darkness and Grit: Why I Write the Way I Do

It’s no secret that my books play with darker themes and showcase the brutality of humanity.

I don’t mince words. I don’t pull punches. If a scene is meant to hurt, if a book demands a scene that hurts, then it’s going to hurt.

Of course, I do the opposite, as well, writing sweet, tender scenes when the book calls for it.

But I don’t recall ever covering why I write the way I write.

I don’t set out with the intention of writing something so dramatic and dark. It just kinda happens.

But there’s still a reason.

Well, more like several.

I haven’t had the easiest life. I’ve been through a decent amount.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had good times, and I’ve known good people.

But I know what it’s like to hurt.

So characters who’ve had it easy their whole lives are hard for me to relate to.

Pretty princesses whose biggest problem is deciding what to wear to the next ball… just don’t work for me. I can’t connect with them.

And since I’m a very emotional person (not that that’s obvious on the outside thanks to social anxiety, extreme introversion, and resting bitch face), not connecting with a character emotionally pretty much damns the story for me.

Characters who’ve hurt, who’ve hit rock bottom and crashed through (because rock bottom is just a muscovite illusion, because things can always get worse), characters who kept falling until they smashed onto a ledge, breaking into a million pieces with their head over the edge staring into the abyss, only to heal just enough to get up and start climbing because they know, yes, things can always get worse, but things can also always get better.

And they know they’ll never have it better if they give up.

Those are the characters I relate to.

So, those are the characters I write. Those are the characters that keep me writing or reading until after the sun comes up.

Because they’re the ones I can identify with.

Writing them helps me get my shit out onto a page. It helps me see the issue as separate from myself because I fictionalize it, changing the details to fit the story, but the emotions are still there.

And that helps me process them.

And I know that I’m not the only one trying to figure out their shit. And if seeing it on a page helps me, it’s bound to help someone else.

Next week, I’ll be discussing which themes come up in my new release, A Heart of Salt & Silver. There are… several.

But for now, I’ll leave you with a progress report.

I finished this round of edits on Where Darkness Leads a couple weeks ago, and promptly moved into a round of edits on Allmother Rising. This round will be done with special focus on beta reader feedback. So, it’ll be a full round of edits, but I’ll also be watching for a very specific thing to come up in the book to see what needs adjusted.

I’m about an eighth of the way through.

I’ve also been steadily writing on The Regonia Chronicles. It’s definitely going to be three books. Plus prequels. Two books for the main series is not going to be an option.

There are just too many planets, too many necessary POVs, too much ground to cover (or space to travel through). And it’s all plot-relevant. So, no cutting it down.

I’m currently adding chapters throughout book two to lay some groundwork for book three, then I’ll be continuing in book three.

And I got some incredible feedback on Second to None today. I’ll be making some minor adjustments, but I’m ecstatic.

Stick around for some snippets from A Heart of Salt & Silver on my social media platforms this week, as well as guest blogs and interviews throughout the blog tour.

I’m aiming to have the new cover for Soul Bearer officially available this week or next week, so keep an eye out for that, as well.

Thanks for being here.

It means a lot.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

A Pantser’s Guide to Tackling Continuity Errors

So, you don’t plan your books ahead of time. Me either. That doesn’t mean our work has to be riddled with continuity errors or plot-holes.

And avoiding those pesky problems is far easier than you might think.

I have three tried and true tricks to keep things consistent within my books, and today, I’d like to share them with you.

First (and easiest) of all: Take notes.

I don’t mean print it out and highlight key sections. I don’t mean fill notebook after notebook with every detail. At that point, you may as well just plot the book and take out all the fun of discovery that drives us to be pantsers in the first place.

What I mean is this.

When you start a new project, start two documents. One for the story, one for the notes. In the notes document, when your story unveils a new character, jump over into the notes document and jot down their name and whatever information you have about them (hair color, eye color, height, if they’re an asshole, etc.).

Then, jump back into your story and keep on writing.

Don’t stress about their background or what role they’ll play in the story to come. You’ll figure that out later.

This is just so that, when you come across that character later, you have an easy way to refresh your memory. That way, you don’t have a character with blonde hair and freckles show up later with dark hair and a tan.

Whatever develops for the character as you go, feel free to drop it over in the notes document.

You can do the same with world building stuff.

If you come up with a detail you know you’ll need to remember later, put it in your notes. You don’t have to flesh it out right then and there. You can let it marinate until it comes up in the story with more explanation later.

But at the very least, you won’t have to scour your entire WIP looking for what color fur you gave that one animal you made up that your MC’s little brother liked when they were growing up.

Second: Get other people to look at your work BEFORE you publish.

This one is significantly more difficult than the first little trick, because showing your precious to someone is nerve-wracking to say the least. But honestly, you should be doing this anyway.

There are so many things you need a second (or third or fifteenth) set of eyes for.

They come into it without expectation. They don’t know what the world you’ve built is like. They don’t know these characters.

Which means that they’ll see it differently than you do.

They’ll see it how it is.

Not how you meant it to be.

Our brains fill so much in. Words get mixed up or left out, but since we know what’s supposed to be there, our brain fills in the gap.

That also means that sometimes little details get glazed over.

We know what’s supposed to be there, so when a detail comes up that doesn’t quite line up with the previous scenes, our brains just make the correction and keep going.

But other people come into our WIPs with fresh eyes. They haven’t been staring at these pages for weeks/months/years. So when we focus too hard on the big bad evil guy or the incredibly specific personality quirk we want to shine and miss little details…

They stand out to other people.

And wouldn’t you rather fix them before the book is available for the public?

I would.

So, reach out to friends and family, talk to writer friends, get critique partners and beta readers. There are tons of groups specifically for that on Facebook.

Get eyes on your work.

Third: Build REAL people, not just characters. Build REAL worlds, not just words on a page.

This one will potentially require the most effort, but it’s my favorite one.

If your characters feel real to you, they’re more likely to act in real ways. If they feel like old friends, you probably won’t forget what color their hair is. If they move the plot on their own, making choices and doing shit, those actions are a little more likely to be in keeping with their personality and their circumstances.

The same is true of the world. If it feels real, you’re less likely to have a character start a scene on a beach and then magically end the scene in an office building. Unless you’re writing portal fantasy.

So, if you have to go for a walk and daydream about what your characters like to do when they relax to make them feel more realistic? Do it.

If you need to study psychology to get a better grasp on personality development or how people deal with a specific issue or sociology to see how different societies effect the people within them? Do it.

If you need to draw on real emotions from your life to inform your character’s reactions to events in the book? Do it.

Make them real, and their details will be harder to forget.

Now, go forth and write books with undeniable continuity. People will be impressed.

Or, more likely, they won’t notice, which is kinda what you should hope for here because seamless continuity goes unnoticed, whereas continuity issues stand out and jar the reader.

Stay tuned on social media in the coming weeks for the reveal of Soul Bearer’s new cover and a preorder giveaway featuring A Heart of Salt & Silver book swag.

Yeah, I said giveaway. It’s about that time.

Release day is less than a month away, after all.

Preorders available here: mybook.to/AHeartOfSaltAndSilver

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Of Projects and Progress: Where I’m At

I’ve kinda been slacking with telling you where I’m at with my current projects, and it’s time I rectify that. So, buckle up. This may take a minute, because I’m covering them all today.

A Heart of Salt & Silver
Dark Paranormal High Fantasy Romance
Status: Fucking prerelease!

I’ve been hitting the ads hard, though I hate marketing. I’ll be seeking ARC readers soon. Like… this week, if all things go according to plan. *hysterical laughter at the thought of things going according to plan*

The Regonia Chronicles
Dark Science Fiction
Status: Writing

This series is coming along really well. Since the middle of July, I’ve written nearly 50,000 words, bringing the grand total to 128,054 words so far.

And these characters still have a couple planets to travel to, alliances to broker, and a whole ass war to fight.

My previous prediction of this getting split into three books rather than two is pretty damn likely at this point.

And since I’ve stopped and started working on this series between writing other books, learning new stuff all the while, the editing process is going to be interesting. It’ll be like watching my writing skills evolve. I’m dreading it and also looking forward to it.

Where Darkness Leads
Dark Romantic High Fantasy
Status: Neck deep in a rewrite

I’ve already cut 10,000 words, and these bitches aren’t even to the mountain, yet. (For the sake of a reference point that actually means something to you, I’m almost exactly two thirds of the way through.) And this is on top of the 10,000 words I cut in the last round of edits. So basically, I’ve removed a novella from this book.

This is an older manuscript, and I used to be a lot wordier and do a lot of telling rather than showing.

Gotta get this bitch polished.

Allmother Rising
Dark High Fantasy Romance
Status: Beta Readers

I have feedback from most of my beta readers, and I’ve made most of the adjustments.

After I get the feedback from the last betas, I’ll go back to this one for adjustments and then more editing.

Second to None
Thriller Novella
Status: Beta Readers

This baby just started it’s beta reader stage. It’s had two rounds of edits so far, and I’m starting to send it to beta readers.

Thrall
Paranormal Flash Fiction
Status: Beta Readers

This one is also just beginning its beta journey, though I already have fantastic feedback from one.

Soul Bearer
Dark High Fantasy Romance
Status: Released

I’m giving this book a new cover for it’s birthday (later this month). The cover is done, and I fucking love it.

Whew.

There’s a decent amount going on, as you can see. I never have just one project going, though I only ever actively write one project at a time. I’ve attempted to write two side by side, but I always get pulled into one and have to finish the other later.

I have countless ideas for new stories, but as ever, there isn’t enough time in the day. I’ll just have to get to them after I finish The Regonia Chronicles.

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.