On the Dilemma of Genre Hopping

In the past week, I’ve worked on writing a literary fantasy romance and editing a literary sci-fi fantasy epic, thought of ways to advertise my recently released literary thriller romance, and came up with ideas for a sci-fi novel and a literary zombie apocalypse romance.

So, to say that I hop genres might be an understatement.

Now, every big marketing expert whose classes I’ve taken said that hopping genres is a bad idea.

Truthfully, it does make marketing a great deal harder.

But.

I can’t imagine sitting down to force myself to write something I hate just because it’s in the same genre as something else I wrote. The idea of spending months with a story or world or plot or character that I just couldn’t sink myself into seems exhausting, and I’m pretty sure it would ruin writing for me.

So I refuse to settle into one genre.

And I don’t have the energy to maintain a social media platform for pen names for every genre.

Which means that it does make marketing harder.

But it isn’t impossible.

You just have to find the unifying theme in all your books and really lean into that. In blurbs, in ads, in social media posts, everywhere you talk about your books, lean into that unifying theme.

For me, it’s the grit and psychology, the character development and the fact that these characters go through real shit (even if the world they’re in is far from real).

That, and my writing style. Lyrical, full of sentence fragments and short paragraphs for the sake of flow, providing only necessary details, first person/present tense.

Those things all together mean that my books, even when they’re fantasy or sci-fi or a thriller, are literary fiction.

So, I need to lean into that.

Character profiles and details about their struggles, their traumas, their strife.

Things like that.

So if you’re debating on whether to hop genres, you need to make a decision.

Which is more important, writing what you want or having a more straightforward marketing path?

If you plan to hop genres, going wherever your heart wants with your books, then you need either multiple pen names or you need to find that thing that unifies your books.

Maybe it’s that all your books have a love triangle. Maybe it’s that they all contain a clean romance tucked within the larger plot. Maybe it’s that you prioritize world building.

Lean into that in your marketing efforts so you can attract the right readers, people who’ll want to read all your books, regardless of the genre the story is contained within.

(My main problem so far, if I’m being completely honest, is that I tend to prioritize every other aspect of the writing and publishing process over marketing/advertising.)

But if you really lean into that unifying theme across your books (and actually market and advertise), you can hop to your heart’s content and still build a fan base that will follow you through the genres.


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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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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).

How to Write like a Reader

Sometimes, as writers, we ignore one of the greatest resources at our disposal: our own experiences as readers.

A vast well of knowledge resides within us, but sometimes we get caught up trying to figure out the rules and completely forget about that.

Our pet peeves as readers should guide us as writers.

Examples from my own personal pet peeves (and thus, my personal guides for my own books):

Blurb vs Review Quotes

I can’t stand a back cover full of review quotes. I want to see the blurb when I turn a book over, not some quote calling it “derisive” or “nebulous.”

Kindly fuck off with that shit.

I want to turn the book over and see what it’s about.

So when I publish, I put the blurb on the back cover. I might have a pull quote somewhere on there, but the blurb is front and center. (Well, back and center because it’s the back of the book.)

Series Numbers

I don’t typically write series (my current, almost completed wip being the exception), but from my experience as a reader, I will have Book One or Book Two or Book Whatever Number The Series Reaches on the cover and spine. There have been so many times that I’ve picked up a book and learned after reaching the end of it that there are 4 or 7 more books.

It’s infuriating.

So as a writer, I won’t do that to my readers.

Inconsistent Characters for Convenience

I hate when characters make stupid decisions that don’t line up with their personalities but are convenient for the plot. So as a writer, I won’t do that.

Head Hopping

I love books with multiple POVs, so I often write them. But I hate when the point of view changes without warning/within the same scene or chapter. Even worse… within the same paragraph.

So for the sake of my readers, when I change POV in a book, I start a new chapter and put the characters name below the chapter number, because that’s how I prefer to read it.

There are so many little things that we’ve learned as readers that can make us better writers or improve the reading experience as a whole for our readers.

So, next time you’re faced with a decision about your cover or your formatting or whatever, switch from writer brain to reader brain.

Do whatever wouldn’t piss you off as a reader.


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).

Why are we comparing short stories to novels?

Hi, guys!

Recently, in one of the many writing groups that I’m a part of, someone asked if people write short stories when they give up on writing a novel. As if writing a short story were something that could just be done with no thought or skill, whatsoever, because supposedly, it’s the easiest thing to write.

And that kinda stuck with me.

I was just flabbergasted.

That level of prejudice toward a type of story just… hadn’t occurred to me before then. I write stories of all lengths, flash fiction, short stories, novellas, novels, and now, series. So, I know that each one poses its own unique challenges.

No single one of these defines a writer’s skill.

None of them denote having given up.

Series require the solution to some problems, but the tension of certain things left undone for the next book. The characters have to develop and grow (or fall apart). They have to encounter one stumbling block after another, without it reading as if you’re literally just trying to draw the story out to make money on a second book. Or a third. Or a seventeenth.

Novels require all the loose ends to be tidied up by the end of the book, and hopefully enough intrigue to carry the reader to that point. Throwing in just enough obstacles to carry the characters (and the readers) through 70,000 to 110,000 words is a difficult balance to strike.

Novellas and novelettes have to operate on a smaller scale or go out with one hell of a bang. You have to choose your words carefully to get the exact right meaning across, which should be done regardless of book length, but especially so when you don’t have the word count to spare. And you have so much less space to truly develop your characters. It can be done, but it can be a challenge.

And then, there’s short stories and flash fiction.

Building a world, developing characters, and putting together a plot (then wrapping it up) in less than 7,500 words for a short story or less than 1,000 words for flash fiction is not an easy feat.

You have to grab people so quick. You have to make them give a shit about the character immediately.

Because there aren’t enough words not to.

So to say that failed novel writers become short story writers is a load of bullshit.

Writing short stories instead of novels has nothing to do with whether an author is successful or creative or smart. What it truly comes down to is the number of words it takes to successfully express a given story.

That’s it.

Some stories are meant to be a series that keeps you hanging on from one book to another. Some are meant to come in, punch you in the face with 700 words, and leave you reeling.

That’s just how it goes.

The stories should decide what length they are.

The writer’s skill or work ethic has nothing to do with it.

So, if you write short stories or flash fiction, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Your work poses it’s own unique set of difficulties.

Overcome them and show those judgmental jerks who’s boss.

Now, as far as my own work is concerned, I’ve been forging ahead on projects of varying lengths over this past week.

I did a full round of edits on a short story called Born of Heathen Gods. I’m torn between releasing it on its own or saving it back for an anthology, down the road.

I made some progress on this round of edits on Where Darkness Leads, cutting out over 1,000 words of info dumps/repetition so far.

And I’ve written over 5,000 words in The Regonia Chronicles. Some pieces are falling into place within book two, and I’m pretty excited to keep moving ahead.

Just not tonight.

Today’s 12 hour shift in the sweaty ass tire factory really took it out of me.

So for now…

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.

Writing self-sabotaging characters

Hi, guys!

Last week, I talked about writing believable romance and compelling chemistry, exploring the things that might draw two people together.

But if one of the people involved tends toward self-sabotage, the normal conventions no longer apply and relationships tend toward… dysfunctional.

If you’re writing a self-sabotaging character, it isn’t enough to just put them in a bad relationship. You need to understand why they’re there, so you can write them, and the ensuing relationship, accurately.

There are several types of people who do this. People who fear change and sabotage opportunities to prevent change. People who want to make others feel better about themselves.

And the most common, which is the one we’ll be talking about today, people with catastrophically low self-esteem.

People who genuinely hate themselves or feel intrinsically broken, perhaps due to trauma or a broken home or depression/anxiety, aren’t likely to look for someone who would be good for them. There’s a reason so many people end up in shitty, abusive relationships.

They don’t value themselves worth the effort of improvement or worth taking a good person off the market. They probably don’t even realize what they’re doing to themselves, but they’re seeking the shitty treatment they think they deserve.

At such a low point, something small might be enough to draw them in. Attention of any kind from someone who has even one quality they like, even something small like an outgoing nature, a cool tattoo, or good fashion sense, might be enough to draw them in.

Why?

Because they’re surprised they got attention or compassion from anyone.

And since they’re getting attention from someone, which is more than they think they deserve to begin with, they overlook glaring faults (drug abuse, cheating, domestic abuse, etc.) with ease. There’s a good chance they’ll internalize all of that, blaming themselves for their partner’s philandering or the abuse.

They’re likely to push good people away and seek out shitheads. Meeting someone good isn’t going to magically fix them or show them that they deserve happiness.

Until they learn to value themselves (which takes a hell of a lot of time and work), they won’t seek a functional relationship.

And that may very well be their downfall.

These characters can be absolutely heartbreaking to write, partly because it’s all too real. Far too many people destroy their own chances at happiness simply because they don’t believe themselves worthy of it.

So, if you decide to write one of these characters, keep these things in mind. It will be one hell of a journey, with a lot of time spent in darkness.

Now, on to the progress report. I’ve come to realize that Second to None may end up being a novella. I tend to write far shorter than the average length, regardless of genre. I write very punchy stories, sparing very little time for fluff.

I use my characters to build my world and vice versa, something I explained in a previous blog, which I’ll link below. (Ignore the progress report at the end of that one, because so much has happened since then that it’s irrelevant.)

Now, fantasy tends toward an average of 110,000 words (roughly), but mine lean toward an average of 70,000 or 80,000. Thrillers tend to be about 70,000 words.

So, with my writing style, I expect Second to None to total around 40,000 words. I’m currently sitting at about 7,500 words.

I’ve also made some strides toward releasing A Heart of Salt & Silver, and I’ve been reveling in the recent release of World for the Broken. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, it’s available wherever books are sold. (Amazon link: mybook.to/WorldForTheBroken )

For now, I’m going to keep working away on editing Allmother Rising and writing Second to None.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

P.S.- Here’s the link for the blog explaining the concept of using your world to build your characters and using characters to build the world.

Self-Editing: How to do it well

Hi, guys!

If there’s one writing rule that I believe applies to every piece of writing, it’s that you NEED to edit. Don’t publish a rough draft.

That’s just bad juju.

But editors are expensive (for good reason). Editing is work.

It takes a long time and a lot of effort.

Many people say never ever publish without a professional edit.

But sometimes, that isn’t feasible financially.

That is NOT an excuse for publishing poor quality content, though.

It just means you have to do even work yourself.

So, if you’re a broke bitch from way back (*raises hand*) and have to rely on self editing, here’s the process I put my work through.

It isn’t fool proof. Some typos hang on, fighting tooth and nail, to make sure they make it into the final draft. That’s why there’s an industry standard of allowed typos. (1 for every 10,000 words, I think? Don’t quote me on that, I may very well be wrong.)

But this process helps me to feel better about the standard to which my work is edited.

For starters, study grammar. Learn that shit. If you struggle with commas, study comma usage. (I overuse them, so I’ve been writing with Grammarly open, letting it yell at me to break the extra comma use.)

If you struggle with showing possession on a noun that ends in an “s,” fucking study it. This is a personal pet peeve of mine. I once read a traditionally published book wherein the author gave the MC a last name that ended in an “s.”

(I’m going to say Childers, though that’s not the name from the book.) The possessive form ranged throughout the book from the correct Childers’ to Childers’s to Childerses, and even Childerseses.

My brain melted when I read that last one.

Please, if you’re going to self-edit, study grammar.

Now, the actual editing routine.

I do something a lot of people say not to do (in addition to self-editing, because apparently I’m a rule breaker). I edit as I write.

Any obviously misspelled words are fixed immediately. Like, before I type another word. I keep flow and pacing in mind as I write and adjust accordingly. My style uses sentence fragments, so I make sure the only ones in there are 100% intentional.

Since I’m a pantser, sometimes I come up with new things or realize I have a plot hole. That means I have to go back and fix stuff.

And I do. Right then.

Most would say to include a note somewhere and do it in edits. But I don’t. I fix it then, adjusting what needs adjusted before continuing to write.

So by the time I finish my “first draft,” it’s more like a second draft.

If you have trouble finishing manuscripts, I don’t recommend this. Just do another round of edits later.

Now, there’s some debate as to whether you should do a round of edits immediately after finishing writing (with it still fresh in your mind) or put it away and come back with fresh eyes.

I say, do both.

If you’re self-editing, you need to be thorough as fuck, anyway.

Now, there are several types of editing. Proofreading, checking for continuity errors, making sure it flows, looking for grammar and syntax errors, etc.

You can do each one separately, but I do all of them, every single time I edit.

After a few rounds, it’s time for beta readers. Because you need someone else’s eyes on your work. After a while, your brain is likely going to fill in details or skipped words because you know what’s supposed to be on the page.

But beta readers don’t. They can tell you when something doesn’t make as much sense as you think it does. They can tell you whether it works or fits in the genre you’re aiming for.

You can also find critique partners in writing groups. You read and critique their work, and they do the same for yours.
That allows for another perspective, i.e. someone who knows about formatting and marketing and flow and all that stuff.

Now. Please. For the love of all that is good, take their opinions into consideration. If they point out a blatant mistake, don’t get defensive. Just fix it.

If they have a valid point about a potential plot hole.

Fill the plot hole.

If they point out a style choice that they don’t like, consider it. Give it some thought. Decide whether it’s a flaw in your story or personal preference. (Books are, after all, very subjective.) But if all your beta readers have a problem with the exact same thing, chances are, it needs fixed.

Now, implement all the beta reader/critique partner feedback.

After that, you guessed it…another full round of edits.

After that?

I recommend getting Grammarly or some sort of computer editing program. There are a lot of them out there. I use Grammarly because it came highly recommended and it’s super easy to use. It plugs right into Word and pops up in the task bar, ready for use.

Whichever program you choose, go through your manuscript with it. I usually do that during another round of edits, fixing the things Grammarly finds when I get to them.

It might be alarming how many errors it finds, especially if you write fantasy and have a bunch of made up words/place names/species names. When I first opened Grammarly on Soul Bearer, it had something like 1500 errors.

Then, I added Aurisye’s name to the dictionary and knocked off a few hundred errors. Lol. Then, I added Rafnor’s name to the dictionary. Knocked off another few hundred. Each name (or place name) made a huge difference.

So did cutting all my extra commas.

And Grammarly fucking hates characters with accents. Be prepared to add a lot to the dictionary.

So don’t panic if it’s a huge number.

Then comes the “read aloud” round. No, you don’t have to read the whole thing out loud, yourself, chugging water to moisten your parched throat.

Word has a feature that will read whatever’s on the page to you. It mispronounced a lot of things, but it also shows you when a sentence doesn’t flow. Each word is highlighted when it’s read, so follow along looking for typos.

Plug in some headphones and listen to that emotionless voice coldly stabbing you with every sentence that needs shortened.

Then, maybe do one more round of normal edits.

And then, after all those rounds of edits (what was that, 8 rounds? 9?), your book should be good to go. As long as you did that first step and studied grammar. It doesn’t do any good to look for errors if you don’t know what to look for.

Anyway, this has been an incredibly long blog, so I’ll keep the update part short. I’m now 96 pages shy of finishing the final round of edits on World for the Broken, and an absolute fuck ton of handwritten stuff to add to the 17,721 words that I already have typed for my new WIP.

Don’t forget, the ebook version of my novella, Annabelle, will be on sale in the Amazon US and UK marketplaces the entire last week of January. Just 0.99 (dollars and pounds).

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

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.

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.