Dreaming

Hey, guys!

Progress report first.

So, I got like…20 pages edited since my last blog post. :/

But I also got a potential cover for Soul Bearer knocked out, with a second option currently on the works. And I designed some swag for the release!

All of which…believe it or not…took a long ass fucking time. Lol. There’s a reason graphic designers charge as much as they do. It’s hard work, and takes time.

The biggest part of my days off this week was spent driving and/or riding back home from Texas. Thanks to traffic and shitty drive thru wait times, the 15 hour drive turned into 17.5 hours…

So that sucked.

But oh well. I’m back home now, and have my work week behind me. I’ll be able to put in some real editing time this week (hopefully), and get the final potential cover mocked up so I can pick one, and start moving forward there.

Now, the main event…Lol.

Today, I’m sort of continuing last week’s topic, but not really. Last week, I talked about making time to write. This week, I want to talk to you guys about making time for what’s important to you.

Now, I didn’t have the best childhood. I’ve talked about a few of the reasons for that in previous blogs, and I’m not going to rehash them today. That’s not the point here.

The point is that…it screwed me up. A lot.

All the trauma, the social anxiety, the depression, and the crippling OCD combined to make me feel…worthless.

Worse than worthless.

So, I didn’t really have any real dreams for myself. I wanted to be financially stable and have a stable relationship. That was about it.

I did all my school work and got good grades so no one would be concerned about me (because, for whatever reason, good grades equates to good mental health in the eyes of our school systems. To me it meant a way to keep people from asking questions). I followed the rules for the same reason.

I didn’t want anyone’s attention, be it positive (I didn’t feel like I deserved it) or negative (I couldn’t stand the thought of being a bigger disappointment than I already thought I was).

After high school, I went to college because any kid with good grades (or, in my generation, almost any kid) is expected to go. And I couldn’t be a disappointment.

I liked english and art, but I couldn’t bear the thought of having to explain what I would possibly use the degree for. The criticism would be too much.

I also liked psychology. I didn’t realize at the time how much of that was a need to understand myself and my own childhood, but it didn’t matter.

Because no one questions a psych major. No one asks, “What will you possibly use that degree for?” Instead, they say, “Let me know when you’re out of school. I know some people who need to come see you.”

A cheesy laugh follows, and the conversation moves to a different topic.

Basically, it was the perfect major for keeping people happy.

But…then I had some health problems senior year, and the doctors couldn’t figure it out. They were tossing around the big ones…cancer, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis…

And I thought about what I wanted out of life.

And it wasn’t the life of a therapist. I didn’t (still don’t) want to listen to the aftermath of traumatic events, day in and day out. I didn’t want to lie awake in bed wondering if something I said or didn’t say would be the breaking point, the straw that broke the camel’s back…the thing gone wrong that made a client kill themself. I didn’t want to spend every second outside of the office writing up notes on the day’s sessions.

So I didn’t. The doctors found a bunch of little manageable shit, rather than one big problem, and I stopped applying to graduate schools.

Even then, I didn’t dare dream of writing for a living. I just wanted to get a job, marry my then-boyfriend/now-husband, get a house, and live my life.

It took a couple more years of steadily working on myself to realize that…I deserved to have a dream, to have something to work toward.

Even then, I never thought of writing for a living as being attainable. It was just a pipe dream that I thought about occasionally, but didn’t put any faith in.

I thought myself worth having a dream, but not worth attaining it. So I didn’t really…try.

But if you don’t try to attain your dream, it’s guaranteed not to happen. If I never wrote a word, never edited a single page, I wouldn’t just wake up one day, a stay-at-home writer. That isn’t how it works.

But now, I’m trying. I’m working toward it. When I’m at home, I devote chunks of time to writing/editing. When my husband drives us to work, I post to my author pages. When I drive, I post on break. On my other breaks, I work on designs for book merch book or cover ideas. I stay up late to work on my blog, even after getting off of a 12 hour shift in steel toes on concrete floors…

Because I want this.

And I finally feel like…maybe I deserve it. Not because I’m special. But because I’m a person, and people deserve to be happy, and writing makes me happy.

So, anyone reading this, please, just know that you deserve to be happy. You deserve to have a dream, and you deserve to have something to work toward.

Whether it’s writing, or running a kickass book review blog, or becoming a therapist, or working a job that allows you to go home and actually be present at home…Whatever it is, you deserve to do what makes you happy.

You’ll probably have to work for it, especially if it’s writing. This isn’t the easiest field to go into, that’s for sure. (Hence, me keeping my day job indefinitely, because mortgage companies expect to be paid whether you’re living your dream, or not. Lol.)

Now, go out there, and be yourself. Live for you. You’re not going to be happy hiding who you are, or pretending that what you want doesn’t matter as long as everyone else is happy.

There are limits here, obviously. Still pay your bills. I don’t want anyone saying, “I took your advice, and my house got repossessed.” You still have to work to pay your bills. Lmao.

But it’s okay to have a goal beyond that.

Anyway.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Character like a Coloring Book

Hello, all!

So, first I want to tell you to get your butts over to my social platforms! I’m talking about my (soon to be released) fantasy romance, Soul Bearer, in a July challenge for the next couple weeks, and you should check it out. 🙂 Also, check out World Indie Warriors (the group hosting the challenge) if you want to participate. There will be a giveaway at the end.

Now, with the plug behind me, I want to talk about the work that goes into building a character. Because there’s a lot of work involved.

You don’t just come up with a name, their appearance and favorite color, and then that’s it. That would make for some shitty characters, and an even shittier book.

So, here we go. Because no one wants to read a half ass book full of characters as vivid as the pages of a brand new coloring book.

Okay, first (and most obvious thing) is their personality. Snippy? Compassionate? Ice queen?

Pick one per character, and fucking stick to it. Unless a plot point catalyzes a personality change. If someone is super kind and sweet and optimistic and soft spoken, and they have everything ripped away from them, don’t fucking tell me they won’t ever question the point of caring.

Life changes us. Why wouldn’t it change the characters? We need to see how they develop, what they learn, what they struggle with…

Now, you have to figure out why they’re that way. You don’t get to just say, “Because I want them to be that way.”

Nah. That’s some bullshit.

So, this is where their past comes into play. Some people are naturally shy, yes, but has their life intensified that? Or maybe it taught them to come out of their shell.

Or maybe they pushed through all sorts of hardship, through sheer force of will, because they don’t see any option but to keep going.

You have to plot out a past that helps to shape them into the person they are, and makes sense.

Keep in mind, it has to make sense. Unlike real life, people expect fiction to be believable. If I threw every shitty experience I’ve ever had at one character, people would throw the book away.

“Oh, of course she walks out on the front porch, first thing in the fucking morning, and finds a dead kitten, in pieces. Of fucking course.”

(Side story, but yeah, that actually happened. One mama cat had her baby, her first litter, and it didn’t make it. My husband and I couldn’t get to it to bury it, because we’re not cat size. Another mama wanted the spot a couple weeks later, got the dead kitten out, and promptly deposited it on the front porch for us to see. Not a good day.)

So, you have to meter the trauma. Spread it out a bit, make it believable. Look at statistics. Study psychology to see how shit affects people. Make it believable.

Give them quirks and habits and odd behaviors to make them real and relatable.

Now, there’s the issue of friends. If your MC likes who they are, they’ll probably seek out people with at least some similarities. If they dislike themselves, they might have friends who are their opposite.

People seek out friends and significant others who embody traits they find desirable. That’s why there are so many books and movies where shy girls befriend super outgoing party girls, and vice versa.

Or, maybe they want to be around people like themselves for the sake of common ground, even if they don’t like their own personality. Because then they can be miserable together.

My point is, there needs to be a reason (aside from convenience for your plot) for them to willingly surround themselves with these people.

And then there’s family life to consider. Good childhood vs. bad, and what made it that way. What influenced their thinking as they grew and developed?

Chances are, since they’re your MC, their childhood was probably shit. Or maybe it was fantastic, until they reached adulthood, and then everything went to shit, making them the equivalent of a 90s kid. A bitter, nostalgic adult wishing the world looked like the one they were promised as a child.

Oof. That may have been too real.

We’re talking about fiction here…lmao.

Anyway…Making people is incredibly complicated.

Read up on psychology. It helps. This wasn’t what I intended to use my bachelor’s degree for (I planned to go to grad school, and become a therapist), but I like this use of it better. This career path is for me.

Becoming a therapist was just so people wouldn’t question my career choice. Because no one questions that. They just say they know a few people who need to come see you, and offer to send you clients. Lol.

Though…it is ironic. I didn’t want to spend hour after hour hunched over a desk or worrying about whether people would hurt themselves or others because of something I said wrong. Now, I’m trying to make a career out of spending hour after hour…working away at my computer…worrying over which people will hurt others or themselves…because of things I say…Lmao.

But it’s fictional people. And that makes it okay. Lol.

Alright. I’ve rambled long enough.

I’m more than halfway through this round of edits for The Gem of Meruna, with a possible cover. I’m a quarter of the way through the final edits of Soul Bearer, and am introducing it on IG and FB.

Forward progress. 🙂

I’m pretty excited.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Wish Fulfillment…and why you probably shouldn’t write it…

Hello, all!

So, fiction is supposed to be about living different lives, looking through different eyes, sometimes at different worlds or different versions of our world, right?

Right.

There’s this tendency when writing fiction, though, where a lot of authors write themselves directly into their book. Not just bits and pieces of themselves, but their whole self in one character.

And, unless it’s fan fiction, that’s bad. For a lot of reasons.

Now, don’t get me wrong, use parts of your life, parts of yourself. have at it. I do it, all the time. I give one character my favorite color, and another drives a car like mine. One gets my anger, and another feels my guilt. Some get an experience that I’ve gone through, though I always tweak them (either amping them up or cooling them to a simmer) to make it fit the story and/or world.

Basically, you want one of your characters to have dealt with a certain bad experience from your past because you went through it, and thus understand it?

Cool. That character has a good chance of seeming genuine, because you know the emotions they would experience, to a degree (They may have a different personality, and thus may cope differently.).

But don’t also make that character look just like you, and act just like you, and think like you…and have a name that’s a thinly veiled variation of your name (or middle name).

When you’re writing for the sake of wish fulfillment, a lot of times, the story is sacrificed for the sake of…getting what you want. Things get twisted, and moved around, and massaged into place, all for the sake of getting the personal satisfaction that the author wants.

That isn’t what writing is about, necessarily. Yes, there is satisfaction in a good story, but…the story comes first. The story should always come first.

And fiction has to make sense. It has to be believable, and relatable…to more than one person.

Another problem with wish fulfillment in writing (because fuck smooth topic segues) is that it breeds a lack of diversity. If all your main characters are exactly like you…well, that’s pretty much the exact opposite of diversity.

If you always write about a short white girl because you’re a short white girl, or always write about a tall black man because you’re a tall black man…you’re not really stretching yourself. If you always write straight characters, or always write gay characters, because that’s what you are…then you’re not looking at the world through different eyes.

If you do that, over and over, your stuff is going to be boring as fuck. You don’t want that. Your readers don’t want that.

Side note…not all of your characters are going to logically be the same race/gender/sexuality as your main character. Mix that shit up. Common sense. There are a lot of different types of people.

Those differences lead to conflict and (eventual) resolution. You know, that thing that’s essential to a good story.

Anyway, back to wish fulfillment. Where was I?

Ah, yes.

The clapback…

When you write stuff that obviously falls into this category, you’ll probably get some crap for it. “Oh, he wrote about a character that looks just like him, and sounds just like him, and the character just went around hooking up with all these girls who were just hovering on the brink of being legal…God, he’s a perv…”

Do you really want that? (The backlash, not the hook up thing.)

No. No one wants their book to be mocked. We want our books to be well-received. (Perhaps even loved.)

And what if people don’t realize it’s wish fulfillment, and bash on your character? What if they call him/her boring or weak? Or worse, an over-inflated side character? It’s going to hurt. You’re going to be super attached, and get your feelings hurt, because…that’s you.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure you’re all awesome in your own way. But blatant wish fulfillment tends to…not always be well thought out. But I don’t want every book I read to have the exact same main character…

Sometimes, this beast takes the form of a super character. An idealized, perfect person, with no flaws and no problems. Which instantly loses all relatability.

And then, that brings us back to the whole…boring thing. If the character has no flaws or problems, then what’s the point of the story? They’re not struggling with any major problem.

It just becomes the tedious march toward death that we all live every single day.

And, let me tell you, I ain’t about to read four hundred pages of some perfect bitch living a perfect life.

Now, I’m not going to lie to you. I have tropes that I enjoy writing and reading. Outcasts/underdogs. Strong female leads. Battle-worn and downtrodden, but rising to the occasion. Self-sacrificing hero types (even better if they realize what they’re doing, and see the shit they bring upon themselves by always playing hero).

And, yeah, I refuse to write a damsel in distress (unless she were to rise to the occasion later on), or a slutty brat, or a stereotypical jock as my main character.

But avoiding/preferring certain tropes is different. If you like your leading ladies to be delicate, wilting-flower types, write the shit out of them!

But don’t write yourself as them.

Give them a trait or two that you possess, then make up the rest of their lives and personalities from scratch.

Get creative with it, and have some fun.

Now, I’ll step off my soap box…Lol.

So, anyway…I’m about halfway through my edit of The Gem of Meruna. At work, after building out (a.k.a. I built the amount of tires I’m supposed to build in the entire shift before the end of the shift, and thus could sit in the cafeteria), I started editing Soul Bearer.

That one will be the next release! I’m so fucking excited to get it out for you guys to read.

I’ll be doing a challenge on IG and FB (challenge set forth by World Indie Warriors) in July, wherein I’ll begin talking about the story, introducing characters, sharing a couple scenes, etc.

So, if you’re curious about my upcoming fantasy romance novel, or want writing memes (I’ve been posting a lot of those lately for some reason), follow me on IG or FB. Links below.

If you’re a fellow indie writer, check out World Indie Warriors. It’s still new, but there are a lot of plans in the works. You can participate in the July challenge with us, and, by doing so, be entered to win a box of goodies, including some signed books!

Anyway, I’ve talked your ears off (or typed your eyes out) long enough.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Making Up Words

Hello, all!

Today, we’re talking about world building! Specifically, language creation.

Over on Facebook, I’m part of a very large (89,000 members) writing group called Fiction Writing. (If you’re a writer, regardless of experience level, seeking to learn about writing fiction or just looking for a writing community, go join.) Members can post questions or helpful advice, and basically drink from the knowledge of the group.

Here lately, I’ve seen several posts asking for advice on creating a language.

They get responses ranging anywhere from “study linguistics” to “don’t” to all manner of genuinely helpful tips.

Now, I’ve only created a language for one of my WIPs (sci-fi series), but I do have some tips. If you’re going to tackle this beast, keep these in mind.

1. Identify the sounds you want them to use, and formulate an alphabet based on that.

Not every species is going to use the same convoluted alphabet we do. I think only 4 letters in the English alphabet make one sound, no matter what letters are next to them, or what word they’re in, or whether they want to be silent that day, or whatever.

English is a bit of a monstrosity like that.

Since I got to decide, Regonian is phonetic. Their letters have one sound each. They always make that sound, and they’re never silent.

2. Numbers! How do they count?

Please, for the love of God, don’t have them count like the French. Or do. It’s up to you.

But…that shit’s a mess. (I’ll put a link at the bottom for a video about French numbers.)

3. Come up with grammar rules. (Verb tense, showing possession, plural vs. singular nouns, punctuation, etc.)

Again, English is a fucking monstrosity. Your language doesn’t have to be. Mine isn’t. Because I didn’t want to deal with that shit.

4. Figure out how the words interact with/modify each other.

For instance, in Regonian, the word for smile is literally the words “lips” and “wide” smooshed together with a syllable dropped, because that’s how I decided nouns and adjectives interact.

Maybe your verbs join with the noun to illustrate the action framed by the actor. Who fucking knows? You. You know.

5. Decide the word order sentences will follow.

Do you want the noun to be the beginning of the sentence every time? Okay. That’s how it is. Do you want the adjectives to come after the noun (like in Spanish)? Got it.

For mine, for the sake of simplicity in writing the stuff, I stuck with the sentence structure that I’m most familiar with (English). But you don’t have to do that.

6. Identify key elements in their culture, and shape phrases around them.

For the Regonians, sound is a very important, almost religious aspect of their lives. It ties into their views of the afterlife. They’re a very musical people, using a multitude of instruments, singing, and even aspects of beat boxing in all important aspects of their lives. So sound influenced how they reference emotion and how they show their love.

Thus, I centered a lot of phrases around words pertaining to sound.

Do they have any neighbors? Most civilizations don’t develop in a petri dish. (The one in The Gem of Meruna developed without outside influence, but that’s explained in The Regonia Chronicles. Yes, there’s a tie in, which I’m pretty excited about.) How has that other culture shaped them? Because that’ll affect their language. Maybe they borrowed a few phrases or words.

7. Build a word database.

You never know what word you’re going to need. Believe me. Lol.

This part can kinda be done as you go along, just be sure to reference everything you came up with for numbers 1 through 6, so you don’t accidentally contradict yourself.
It’s not easy or quick. Lol. No advice in the world will make it simple. You’re literally trying to do something that took millennia to evolve naturally, in the course of, what, a few months? A year?

And it has to appear to have evolved naturally, changing over time. Certain phrases have to have been abandoned because they were too antiquated. New slang will erupt. Disdain for said slang may or may not be whispered amongst the older members of the community. Maybe your new race embraces the fluidity of language. If so, you’ve got your work cut out for you, because that means a lot more change is going to happen over time.

To a degree, creating a language an exercise in masochism. In all likelihood, only a few tidbits will actually be written in this new language. A quote here, a thought there…maybe a passage that a character sees written out before them.

So, for the most part, the readers will never know that you built a 2,000 words dictionary. But for the sake of doing it right, for the sake of continuity and feeling like a real language…you almost have to.

So, good luck.

I’m glad to have that part behind me. Lol. I have no intention of ever doing it again.

But I wouldn’t take it back, either. It really enriched The Regonia Chronicles.

Anyway, I’m about a fourth of the way through the edit for The Gem of Meruna, but…it may need another round after that. So, I may do the final edits on Soul Bearer or After (pending the feedback from final beta reads), and release one of those, first.

Man…you’d think all this planning would wear me out. Lol. Jk. I barely plan anything. Until I get one fully edited and ready for formatting, I’m pretty much just flying by the seat of my pants, for which…I apologize.

It makes sense, though. That’s how I write, so why wouldn’t it be how I edit?

Once I get one ready for formatting and ARC readers (thus setting in stone which one will be out next), I’ll set dates. Then, I’ll start posting about it, and telling you guys more about the story and the characters.

For now…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

It’s a Trap!

Hello, all!

So, you’re probably going to think I’m being wishy-washy, but I swear, I’m not. I’m going to have to edit The Gem of Meruna.

Now, hear me out.

Last week, I said I would only edit it if I found a lot of grammar errors or problems, and I cannot, in good conscience, rerelease it in its current state.

Not that it’s bad, but I’ve learned so much about the craft of writing over the past five years, and the state this book is in just…falls way short of the mark.

For those of you who’ve read it, don’t worry. The story isn’t changing. It’s just sentence structure and stuff like that. It needs tightened up. Honestly, it could probably stand to lose about 5,000 words, over all, just by fixing the lengthy sentences and losing the few instances of passive voice.

But this is a good thing.

It means that I’m learning more and more about writing as time goes by.

Which, in my opinion, is how you tell a good writer from a bad one. Good writers keep trying to improve.

Bad ones…think they don’t need to. They think their work is the best in existence, a gift to the world, and to edit or tweak it, or change their process at all is tantamount to blasphemy.

But that’s bullshit.

Bad writers can write good stories, and good writers can write bad stories. That’s not what I’m getting at, here.

The day you stop learning and growing as a writer (or as a person) is the day that you become a bad writer. Even if your stuff is gold, there is always room for improvement or experimentation.

And there is always room for editing.

Of course, at some point, you have to pull the trigger, and release your work upon the world, but it needs polished, first. I’ve read several books lately that could have stood to undergo one or two, or five, more rounds of edits. (I won’t name them, because I’m not here to trash talk other writers. My point is…edit your fucking books. Lol.)

Anyway, this will be the last rerelease I do. Any future books will be edited, published, and left the fuck alone.

The first time around for Meruna was a train wreck, though. Lol. (And I need it rereleased under my married name so it’ll be on my Amazon Author page with the rest of my books.)

You see, I went through a vanity press, because I didn’t know better. At that point, I didn’t know what that meant. I assumed it was a normal publisher, and that everything they did was, well, normal.

But…no.

Not at all.

They did no professional edit.

I arranged the cover art myself. (A.K.A. My husband, an incredibly talented artist, did it.) A traditional publisher (what I thought I was doing) would have done editing and had a cover done by their own artists.

They formatted and printed the book, and charged me for their services. Since I didn’t know that isn’t how the publishing industry is supposed to work, I gladly signed and paid.

Then, I regretted it when…nothing happened.

Because, unless I paid them more money, they weren’t about to do any marketing.

All this was in the contract, of course, making it completely legal.

But I didn’t know, at the time, that that wasn’t how it would have happened with a traditional publisher.

The big difference is that traditional publishers and self publishers make their money off sales.

Vanity presses make their money off the authors.

Which is why I still get calls from them, five and a half years later, trying to talk me into paying them for more (subpar) marketing, primarily by talking over me and not letting me get a word in edgewise.

The worst part is that…once I realized my mistake, I was super embarrassed. I didn’t know any better. I was just a noob, trying to get a book published. But I was mortified. I didn’t want to tell anyone. I was terrified that someone would ask how I got published. But I should’ve talked about it.

I’m certainly not the only person who’s done this. I know of others who’ve had much MUCH worse experiences with vanity presses than I had. So, I’m definitely not alone in this. I could have been commiserating with them so much sooner, helping myself to feel less awful about it, and actually dealing with the problem.

Now, this isn’t where I intended to go with this blog, but I think people need to know that vanity presses are not the same as self or traditional publishers. People need to know how/why they’re different. (I’ll talk about what I was going to talk about next week.)

So, learn from my mistake.

If a publisher requires money upfront, run.

They should pay you, not the other way around.

Of course, if you self publish, the cost of editing, cover design, formatting, and a copyright is on you. Some of those things, you can do yourself, but the cost is on you regardless. But the printing and distribution costs come out of the purchase price of the book. Not your pocket.

Keep that in mind.

For now…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

P.S. – Fun fact, for those of you who came here via my IG or FB…The picture I chose for this is especially fitting for me this week. I got bit by either a tick carrying lyme disease or a brown recluse spider…eight goddamn times. Two of the bites did that whole…bullseye thing. Red ring with bruising around the outside (one the size of a fruit can, and the other the size of a half dollar coin). Feels great…

Antibiotics are helping, though. So, yeah.

But yeah, the two things have the same symptoms, apparently, and look pretty similar. The main difference is that tick bites usually have a tick in them, and brown recluse bites usually happen in pairs (at most) and turn necrotic. None of those things happened. I found no tick. There was no necrosis.

So…who fucking knows. All I know is that I want to rip the skin off my legs to stop them from itching. Yay!

Bye.

Lol.

*waves*

Many Much Thanks

Hello, all!

First off, I’ve got some news about the rerelease of The Gem of Meruna. I’m not going to do a full edit, or any extra editing, really. If I do, I’m pretty sure I’ll have to redo the copyright registration. So, unless I find a shit ton of errors as I’m going through it (picking out excerpts for marketing and doing the formatting), I’m going to leave it alone.

It’s already been edited and published in its current state, so it’s fine. I have to keep telling myself that, because I’m sorely tempted to do a major overhaul. You see, for whatever fucking reason, I wrote it in past tense.

Which…isn’t like any of my other stuff.

I don’t know why I did it.

But I did.

And I want so badly to switch it to present tense.

But the idea of redoing the copyright registration is less appealing than leaving it how I intended it from the start.

So, that speeds up the rerelease process. All I have to do is format and pick excerpts. New cover art is under way. Then, I can order proofs, and pick ARC readers. (That’s when I’ll set a release date, btw.)

I just want to do this right.

The first time around was such a mess, and I knew nothing about the publishing industry or what it takes to make it as an author, at the time. Not that I know all the ins and outs of this industry, now, but I know a hell of a lot more than I did five years ago. (I know that if a publisher is going to charge you to print your book, run the other way, as fast as possible.)

And not that I’m “making it” as an author, just yet, either. My day job is still 100% necessary. But one day, I’d like writing to be my job.

So I have to take the steps to do this right. This time, and with all my future book releases.

Of course, it helps that I’ve found a lot of writing friends online. I’ve learned so much from the people in the writing groups I’ve joined recently.

Which brings me to my next subject.

Thank you for reading this.

I start all of my blogs as if I’m addressing a lot of people, and I always assume that to be false. It doesn’t seem real that anyone would want to read my silly little ramblings, and I just assume that maybe three people read these blogs.

But, here lately, people have been mentioning stuff from my blogs in conversations and comments and messages…

I kinda had one of those “Holy shit, maybe I can actually do this” moments when I realized people are actually reading my blogs. I genuinely had no idea. The only comments I get are spam from gambling websites and shit. Lol. Obviously, those get deleted. (You guys know you can comment, right? Ask questions, say things, whatever.)

Anyway, author platforms, including blogs, are super important for connecting with readers and for networking and meeting other writers. I’m not great with technology, or socializing, so it typically feels pretty alien to me, like I’m flailing my arms and shouting at the screen and…not really getting anywhere.

So, to those of you who read these posts, those who comment or message on Instagram or Facebook, who talk to me in person about my books and my blog, and especially those of you who’ve read my books, those who’ve taken the time to leave reviews…Thank you!

Thank you, so freaking much!

I always doubt myself and my ability to get anywhere with my writing, but the support you’ve all shown me makes me think it might be possible. It means the world to me.

To friends and family, to my husband, letting me rant and ramble about books and publishing…Thank you! I need to vent and hear my ideas out loud, sometimes, so thanks for putting up with it all. Lol.

Well, for now, I think I’m going to sign off, and get some sleep. I had another 12 hour shift today, and I really pushed myself. I built 12 hours worth of tires in 9 hours, and it really took it out of me.

I just wanted to get this posted before bed because, well, that’s my routine. Plus, I’ll be out running errands all day when I get up, so there won’t be time.

I’ll be back next Sunday night/Monday morning. I’m on Instagram and Facebook through the week, though. And, I’m trying to get stuff up and going, so my Amazon author page is in the works, as well. Links are down below.

For now…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Then Comes the Crash

Hello, all!

Now, those of you who follow me on social media (thank you!) probably already know this, but I finished the first draft of Salt and Silver!

God, it’s exciting. I can’t even begin to express how much of a high it is to finish writing a book. (Not without taking absolutely forever about it, and, lets face it, that would get pretty boring for you guys.) The feeling of accomplishment is incredibly overwhelming, though.

Of course, now there’s the problem of…the crash.

You see, finishing a book is huge. But I’ve spent the past 4 or 5 months (since the first or second week of January) in the minds of these characters. I’ve lived and breathed their lives and breaths.

Ness, Nolan, and Elias have become so real to me, as do the characters in every book I write. And they have to, really. My writing is deeply psychological and very emotional. I have to flesh the characters out, have to know what drives them. I have to figure out their deepest desires, their coping mechanisms, their humor, the things that make them nervous…

All of it.

And by the time you do that, they’re like real people.

Add to that the fact that I’m a pantser, and it’s basically like the beginning of a friendship (or rivalry, in the case of villains). Every time I sit down with these characters, I learn something new. Every time I think through their lives, I figure out something new in their past that explains the personality they’ve taken on.

Yes, I know. I can practically hear the scoffs and see the eye rolls I’m sure some of you are giving me. I’m perfectly aware that most people who do a lot of outlining and plotting think that all this pantser mumbo jumbo is…well, mumbo jumbo. “You made the characters. You control their personality and their actions.”

Yeah, I do. To a degree.

But for the sake of realism, I have to treat them like people. The only alternative is plotting everything ahead of time, and feeling like I’m suffocating. If they each have their own code, their own personality, then writing them by the seat of my pants is easier. Because there are certain things they would, or would not, do.

Plus, much like real people, fictional people cause all sorts of drama for themselves when left to their own devices.

But treating them like real people has a price. Now, there’s the emptiness left behind by getting their stories out. Because, now, I don’t have to learn more about them. I don’t have to figure out their lives. I don’t have to learn what these friends like to eat, or why they like the sound of the birds in the woods beyond their cottage window, or why they feel guilty all the time.

It’s all done. It’s all figured out.

These friends, in their own way, have moved on. Which makes this “crash” seem a lot lonelier than I intended it to. Lol.

And since I’m going to be editing for a while, rather than starting another story immediately, I’m not building a new world or creating people. It’s honestly…a bit boring. Lol. 12 hours shifts go by so much faster when I have a story spinning through my brain. My mind is desperate to work on something, but…I can’t edit while operating heavy machinery.

Not if I expect to come out the other side of the experience with all my parts attached…I kinda have to watch what I’m doing. Staring at a screen is just a bad idea. Lol.

It’s not like I don’t have ideas, though. I intend to finish The Regonia Chronicles this year, and then there’s Second to None, the thriller that I’m dying to get started on.

But if I don’t do some editing, and get all this other shit done, I’ll never get any of these stories out to be read. Between the rerelease of The Gem of Meruna, Salt and Silver, and the other completed standalone novels (I specify standalone here, because technically book one of Regonia is done, but I’m not far enough with the series to even think about a release for that one yet), I have five books…just…waiting.

And since I’ve decided to self-publish, all they’re waiting on…is me.

We’ll see how stir crazy I get, not writing. It genuinely drives me batty. I may have to do a chapter here and there for Regonia, just to maintain my sanity.

For now, though, I’m about five chapters into the preliminary edits of Salt and Silver. (I have the edits for the next couple chapters handwritten, though, because I worked on it in the cafeteria at work. So…sorta seven chapters into the edit.) This is just the “I put that in to fill a plothole, so don’t forget, take it out, and fuck up the story” edit. It’s also the “Why the fuck did I choose that word?” edit…

Basically, just catching wonky flow and typos while it’s all still fresh in my mind.

I have to tighten it up, basically. Not that my first drafts are absolute monstrosities, or anything, but they certainly need work.

Then, I’ll let it sit while I get The Gem of Meruna ready. Then, back into the minds of Ness, Nolan, and Elias in the world of Salt and SIlver for more edits. Then…drum roll…writing something else. Eventually, some more polishing for Salt and SIlver, and then it’ll be off to beta readers.

So, in case you thought books were quick and easy…They’re not. Lol. There are so many steps involved.

Now, I write fast . The last two books I’ve written took about 4-5 months each, while working full time, with overtime almost every week. Hell, since I started taking my writing seriously in 2014, I’ve written six complete novels, a novella, and a lot of short stories. (RIP the novel I wrote in college, that was lost when the laptop and the external hard drive it was backed up on…fried.)

But there are so many things to do to get a story truly ready for readers. Writing it is only the beginning.

Anyway, though…

That pretty much gets you all up to speed with where I’m at, right now. I’ll set a release date for The Gem of Meruna once I get through some of the updating, and I’ll keep you posted.

For now…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Decisions…

Hello, all!

Since I know the aforementioned announcement is what likely brought most of you here, I will, of course, keep you waiting.

Lol.

After all, what writer in their write (see what I did there?) mind would give away the goods at the beginning?

None. Not a single one.

So, I’ll start with a progress report. The rewrite of the first half of Salt and Silver is done, and I have officially moved forward into writing the rest of the story. This supernatural romance has taken a lot of twists and turns that I did not see coming. But I love it.

When I started the rewrite, I had roughly 40,000 words across 100 pages (ish). Now, I have 49,547 words over the course of 128 pages. 🙂

I’m pretty happy with how it’s going, and I’m super excited to keep pushing forward.

I also managed to do the alchemy photo shoot I mentioned last week. If you haven’t seen it, head over to my Instagram or my Facebook author page, and check it out. (Links for both are at the absolute bottom of any page of my website.)

Anyway, I really like how it turned out. It took so long to do, but that’s okay. The sigils on the necklaces (which I sculpted and painted) took about an hour and a half to make, and turned out awesome. Set up for the shoot took about an hour and a half, maybe two hours, and the shoot itself took maybe an hour?

But it really brought Ness’ potion making livelihood right into my living room (literally). It brought her to life even more than she already was. In doing so, it contributed to Salt and Silver in a more…ambiguous way. Because now, I’ve been in her “home.” Lol.

Now, though, to bring this around almost to the main topic.

Over the past week, I’ve been doing more research into the differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing, as well as the pros and cons of each.

Some of these things are obvious.

Traditional publishing means you have teams of professionals doing some of the work for you, which is nice, especially when it comes to marketing (which I suck at). It also means unbearably long wait times.

The query/submission stage of any book project is maddening. Each agent or publisher has their own list of things they want you to write about the book to send along with the manuscript, and they all have their own formatting requirements.

Some want a one sentence summary, including the ending, of the story you’ve just spent 70,000 to 120,000 words telling (which is incredibly difficult), along with a query letter, and the first three chapters of the manuscript. Another might want a three page synopsis, a cover letter (yes, this is different from a query letter, though in very small ways), and the whole manuscript. Others want all of the above, as well as market research, and five year plans.

And every single submission item, be it a one sentence summary, a query letter, or a synopsis, is both an art and a science, in and of itself.

Needless to say, submitting to one agent or publisher can take hours. And all of this is after you’ve compiled a list of people to submit to who are, at that exact moment in time, accepting unagented submissions in that genre, with no theme or subject matter restrictions which would eliminate your work.

Then, you get to wait.

Anywhere from two weeks to an entire year.

Some of them require that you submit nowhere else while they consider it.

So a manuscript can just be placed on hold in someone’s inbox for a year, and you can’t do a thing with it.

Then, there’s the fact that offers are only made on 1-2% of submissions at any given publisher…

All told, the submission process is riddled with grueling hours in front of a screen and waiting and rejections and waiting and heartache and yes…more waiting.

Then, more rejections…

And, for a while, I thought it would be worth it.

Not for the prestige of being picked up by a traditional publisher. Don’t get me wrong, getting an offer for a book deal would be fantastic. The validation of it would be magnificent.

But I just kind of assumed it would be better. I assumed that my work would do better with a traditional publisher, and that the money would be better, thus I’d be able to be a full time author much faster.

Over the course of my research this week, though…I discovered that this isn’t really the case. I was watching a video on Youtube by Alexa Donne called Traditional Publishing Book Money 101, and learned some rather shocking things about the publishing industry.

Apparently, advances (predicted royalties paid ahead of time in good faith) are paid out over the course of a couple years, not all at once. As of 2017 (when she made the video), the average advance was between $1,000 and $10,000. Sounds good, right?

Except, that it’s then halved by agent fees and taxes (which are 40%, because Uncle Sam treats it as freelance/contractor work). So…$500 to $5,000…over the course of a couple years…

Not quite quit your day job money.

And since it takes so long to get a book deal, often years, there aren’t going to be many of those small checks coming in.

So…it seems…far less worth it to wait out the submission process.

Now, self-publishing can work very well for people who write quality books quickly, and who can market themselves.

I suck at marketing, but I learn fast.

And I write quickly, with high standards.

So, if you haven’t guessed where this is leading, I’ve decided to stop putting time into submissions. Instead, I’ll be focusing on the final rounds of edits, formatting, arranging cover art, and self-publishing.

I’ll be re-releasing The Gem of Meruna (likely first, because it needs updated and I can assign a lower price on kdp than that assigned by the original publisher).

Then, I have three standalone novels to release. Where Darkness Leads is dark fantasy romance. Soul Bearer is sword and sorcery/fantasy romance. After is post-apocalyptic, and a bit of a roller coaster.

By the time all that is done, I hope to have Salt and Silver done, as well as The Regonia Chronicles. And the thriller I got an idea for over the past week, tentatively called Second to None. Plus all the other ideas I have, and the stories I’ve begun, but haven’t had time to finish just yet.

So, long story short, the decision to self-publish is a very exciting one.

After and Soul Bearer are each still submitted to a couple agents and publishers, so, of course, I’ll await their responses before moving forward with this. It wouldn’t make sense to throw away the work of submitting, my time, and the time of the people reading through them.

But, given the 1-2% odds, they’ll likely be self-published. Lol.

Anyway, the future looks rather promising. I’ve got a lot to do, and I can only hope that my day job doesn’t mandate me for too much overtime. :/

But, for now, I’d better be going. I’m off work tomorrow, but I have an unfortunately early morning calling my name.

So…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Writing tips? Who the hell am I to give writing tips?

Hello, all!

I recently got an audio book version of one of my favorite books (I won’t say which, because I’m about to shit on it a bit. Figuratively, of course. Lol.) I put it on my phone, and have been listening to it while at work, and….it’s just stunning. It really is a perfect story, even if the writing could stand a few improvements, at least in the beginning of the book.

It has aliens and futuristic technology, primitive survival and humans on the brink of extinction, other worlds and a new vision of our world, drama and tension. Multiple romances, even a love triangle, though in this case it’s more like a square with one side collapsed so that two corners collide.

In short, the story has nearly everything that I like to read.

But hearing it spoken aloud brings writing flaws to attention. There’s a reason that one very common tip mentioned in writing groups is to read your work aloud.

Which brings me to the topic of discussion today: passive voice and copula spiders.

Basically, they’ll fuck your shit up.

Too many make your story drag on, racking up the word count without adding to the plot, or moving it forward, at all. I know how comforting a higher word count can be, believe me, but if it’s all going to be cut out in editing, it doesn’t help in the end.

Passive voice example:

The apple was eaten by Tom. (passive as hell)
Tom ate the apple. (much better)

The second sentence actually shows someone doing something. It’s active. It’s more interesting, and doesn’t pack your story with useless words. (A tip I saw in a meme recently said that if you can insert “by zombies” after your verb, you’re using passive voice. The apple was eaten…by zombies.)

Now, for copula spiders. Basically, if you search for the word “is,” or some other conjugation of the word “be,” in your manuscript, and can find more than 8 on a page, that’s a copula spider. If it’s printed, circle one, and then circle the others, connecting them all to one in the center. It’ll kinda look like a spider.

Is, am, were, was, be, been.

Look into it. They’re vicious soul suckers, and slow the story down. Don’t believe me? Here you go:

The apple is red. It is shining. The sunlight is bouncing off it.
The red apple shines brilliantly in the sunlight.

Which would you rather read?

Hell, I was able to add another word (“brilliantly”) for impact, and the second version was still shorter. Concise writing vastly improves story quality.

Let’s combine the two flaws, because they tend to go hand in hand. How about we raise the stakes while we’re at it, really drive the point home?

The gun is loaded. It is pointed at me by Tom.
Tom points the loaded gun at me.

Sweet (in theory, not in the practice of pointing guns at people), simple, and to the point (pun intended).

It just flows, so much better.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times where this can be used for emphasis. Perhaps, Tom wants to assure us that the gun is loaded. Perhaps, someone is colorblind, and has confused a fuji apple for a granny smith. They need corrected, lest they put the wrong type of apple in their pie, and someone says, “It is red.”

Similarly, passive voice can be used to emphasize parts of the sentence, and, let’s face it, people love to really drive their points home, any way they can. So, dialogue becomes a free-for-all, to a degree.

In a similar vein, first person-present tense can use these things quite effectively, if the story is written as if it were the character’s thoughts. Even then, it has to be done well.

Not to mention the potential for a troublesome character who tends to over-explain, thus limiting any possibility for concise language.

So, every rule has its exceptions.

But, for the most part, passive voice and copula spiders hinder storytelling. Burdensome and ineffectual, they slow the reader, transforming a potentially page-turning novel into a sluggish read.

That’s not exactly something most writers want.

Some stories are strong enough to pull their weight, regardless of a few extra words. The one I’ve been listening to, for example.

But not every story can bear that kind of burden.

Do yourself, your editor (and thus your wallet), and your readers a favor. Be wary of these things. When you employ them in your story, do them with great purpose, and make sure it’s obvious that you meant to do it.

We can tell when it’s an accident.

*steps down from the soap box*

*prepares to use the hell out of copulas, because at this point, I’m just talking*

On a more personal note, I want to say that rewrites are exhausting. Lol. I worked through about seven chapters of Salt and Silver, and was frustrated the whole time. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I just knew that it wasn’t working.

Then, I realized I was holding on too tightly. To sentences. To phrases. To chapters.

To a character.

So much stuff must be cut to make room for the things I have to work in. I was trying too hard to adjust things, rather than eliminating them. But if a character’s role in the story changes…naturally the amount of time they’re given in the limelight should change, as well.

So, I head into this week’s revisions with a clearer idea of what I must do.

Wish me luck. Lol.

For now, though…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

My Writing Process

Clutter. Crossed wires. Messy. Tangled wires on a telephone pole.

Hello, all!

This was a week of decision making. At least, as far as one of my WIPs (works in progress) is concerned.

Now, I’ just about done editing/reacquainting myself with what I have written of The Regonia Chronicles. Book one is edited (first sweep, I’ll do more later before submissions), and four of the…seven or eight chapters I’ve already written of book two are edited.

As such, I’ll be diving back into writing that one very soon. Which I’m looking forward to. There’s a lot to be written, and I’m pretty pleased with how one of the character arcs is turning out.

Salt and Silver, though…

I finished writing the first novella and even the scene which connects it to the second novella. but I hate this wonky format, and the shift in perspective forced upon me by the ending of the first novella makes the whole story fall flat.

Now, before I say much more on the subject, I should probably tell you a bit about how I write.

Some authors are incredibly organized. Some even use the “snowflake method,” which, I believe, goes as follows:
1. Write a sentence containing the story you wish to tell.
2. Expand that one sentence summary into a paragraph with all main plot points.
3. Come up with basic info for your main characters.
4. Turn that single paragraph mentioned above into a page.
5. Do a thing called character bibles and character synopses, which entails writing a full page about each main character (background, personality traits, appearance, etc.) and half a page per minor character.
6. Use everything from steps 1-5 to make a four page synopsis and scene list (EVERY SCENE!!).

THEN, you start your first draft.

Some people spend YEARS just planning their novel. Which is fine. If it works for you, keep doing it.

But to me, quite frankly, that sounds exhausting, and extremely confining. Such a restrictive, planned method seems…suffocating.

I don’t do any of that stuff from the snowflake method.

At all.

There are a few names for my writing style. Discovery, exploratory, organic. I prefer pantser (flying by the seat of my pants).

I get an idea, and start writing.

Period.

Then, I just figure out the details, and build the world and the characters as I go. Usually, i have a vague idea of how the story will end, with a few scenes I know I want to include, though everything is subject to change, at any point in time.

I keep a separate document for important information, like character or world description, a basic timeline (established/filled in as I go), things like that. But aside from main characters, I rarely know the appearance or background before starting. Sometimes, all I know of my main characters is there appearance and a single defining trait. I just make sure to put details in the other document as I come across them, so I can reference that, and avoid continuity errors.

Basically, I make it all up as I go, letting the characters and the details of the story reveal themselves to me as I write. It’s just more fun for me that way.

Only about 20% is ever really planned before I start writing.

Salt and Silver had about 2% planned. If that.

I had the opening scene, which has been revised several times over to incorporate details which eliminate plot holes later on. I had the aesthetics and names of two main characters, but only because they’re in that scene.

Nothing else.

By far, this has been my least organized WIP to date.

(Side note: My writing style frustrates my husband. Lol. He likes to see the process, and pictures me with a room with notes tacked to the wall with strings tied from one pin to another, making a huge mess. But I keep all that in my head. Lol.)

But now, I’ve hit a snag.

Those of you who follow my blog might remember a little mention of a song which sparked an idea for this story a couple weeks ago. I resisted, stupidly enough, and came up with the janky novella-scene-novella format to “solve” the issues.

I was already almost done with the first novella, and didn’t want to rewrite nearly 40,000 words. But the final scene, the one where the couple finally gets together, was such a chore to write, and I didn’t know why. Usually, I love writing that scene to wrap up a book.

But the story was broken.

And now…I have to rewrite. There’s no way around it.

I thought I was going to have to kill off a couple characters, too. But, a few days of agonizing over it while at work helped me figure out a way to use those characters (alive) to drive the story forward. Monotonous, labor intensive factory work is great for working through writer’s block. Seriously.

They now have the ability to pull their own weight in the story, creating all kinds of extra tension and conflict for a prolonged amount of time, rather than just, “BAM! They’re dead! Everyone’s sad. Ope, time to move on.”

Yay, torture! Lol.

Jk.

But seriously, that’s the best advice I’ve ever heard about writing. Find out what your character wants (sometimes it takes a while to figure it out), and then do everything you can think of to keep them from getting it.

Long story short, I’ve solved the problem. I just have to rewrite/reshape 40,000 words to implement the solution… I’ve already started, though, and it flows so much better.

Since I’ll be doing a major overhaul of Salt and Silver at the same time as writing The Regonia Chronicles, I should probably try to maintain a schedule. Sunday night/Monday afternoon will be blog time. Monday night will be Salt and Silver. Tuesday night will be Regonia. Wednesday night will be submissions and/or whichever story is calling to me.

By the way, if you couldn’t tell, I’m a night time writer.

The rest of the week is all work, though. Actually, Sunday is a 12 hour shift at the factory, but I normally start my blog after work, regardless.

Anyway, though, I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me, but I’m genuinely excited about all of it. Salt and Silver will be so much better for it.

So, for now…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.