Sometimes writing blogs, or writing anything really, feels like writing into the ether. Does anyone ever really read any of this? Everything nowadays is about content, content, content, but what does that really mean?
For me, writing is about creating new worlds and characters that I hope will bring some enjoyment to this world, or even to one person. I’m always amazed when I get great reviews on Amazon for one of my books. It blows my mind that a complete stranger could actually find my book (I’m terrible at marketing), buy my book, read my book, then care enough to review my book. It makes it all worth it. Sure I get bad reviews, like all authors do, but I can’t fault anyone for not liking something I wrote. There are plenty of books I can’t stand. It doesn’t mean I hate the author or anything, I just didn’t like the book. Good reviews, bad reviews; it just makes a novel more rounded.
But sometimes I find myself asking: Is anyone going to care about what I’m writing next? Is this even important? Shouldn’t I be writing for the simple love of writing?
The answer is no.
Yes, I write because I love it. Yes, I write because it is the singular profession that brings me pure joy.
But I love writing because I love sharing stories with other people. It wouldn’t be the same if I wrote only for myself. The process would still be fun, but the pay-off for me is telling a story that entertains. I’m not too terribly deep in my books. Yes, my characters are complex three-dimensional beings, or at least they are to me, but I mainly try and write novels that you could eat a bag of popcorn to while reading. Fun, exciting, adventurous, horror, sci-fi, super powers, mysteries. I get to live the adventures of my characters through my laptop keyboard.
Some days are harder than others though. When I’m on a roll, it’s the easiest thing in the world, but when I’m stuck in a particular moment, it can be paralyzing. This is when I usually back away, percolate, then hit the ground running a day or two later. I try to write every day because it’s the ultimate mood stabilizer for me. Writing = good mood. My friends and family are always happy campers when I’ve had a good writing day because I’m full of smiles and laughter. Writing truly makes me a better person.
And that’s the bottom line, isn’t it? I found something in my life that, just by performing the simple act of writing, makes me truly happy. Not many people can say they found that one thing in life. I’ve been writing since I was seven and have never stopped. It’s so much of who I am, I don’t know who I’d be without it.
I’m proud to be a writer.
It’s who I am.
And I’m pretty happy about that!
I’m one of the millions of people who absolutely loved Wonder Woman. It inspired me, it motivated me, it made me want to be an Amazon! But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was so much more than that. Wonder Woman was a great big healing potion for everything that has happened in the last eight months.
Let me explain:
It wasn’t just that Hilary Clinton lost. Love her or hate her, having a woman elected into the White House would have been monumental. Every girl in America would have grown up knowing that women could be President too. I felt that hope and excitement like a real and living thing leading up to the election. It was intoxicating, it was inspiring, I was so proud to live in a country where we were stepping into the future, where we were evolving into greatness, where it didn’t matter if you were a man or a woman or black or white, you could be anything you wanted to be. I lived and breathed that feeling as I cast my vote and waited to hear the news that the first female president won by a landslide.
But that didn’t happen. Yes, she won the popular vote, but that was little consolation. My next hope was that the electors would change their votes. Pipe dream, I know, but I was desperate for this wrong to be righted. When that didn’t happen and 45 became our president I was numb. Numbness soon turned to outrage, shock, anger and many more emotions as his administration tried (and keeps trying) to take down everything good about this country. Our country is moving so far backward, sometimes I don’t even recognize it anymore. We had such an opportunity to show the planet that we could be the innovators and leaders that we once were. But with every step 45 takes, it’s fifteen steps back into the past of archaic thinking and is making our country irrelevant.
So why is Wonder Woman a giant Band-Aid for everything we’ve gone through since the election?
Simple. It captured that same feeling people like me felt the day of the election and the months leading up to it, and this time we got the outcome we wanted. Watching strong Amazonian women crushing the bad guys, watching Wonder Woman take control and leading, not because she was a woman, but because she was the best person for the job. She was respected and followed by men who initially laughed that a woman was even coming along on the journey let alone taking charge and becoming their leader. It was everything I wanted to see in real life. The good guys won. They defeated their oppressors and saved the world. And all because of Wonder Woman.
All because of a woman.
Let that sink in.
More than just a bass a$$ super hero, Wonder Woman represents so much more than that. She represents the hopes and dreams every little girl feels when they’re figuring out what they want to be when they grow up. And movies like this tell them they can be anything.
Sometimes movies are just movies, and sometimes they can start a new way of thinking. They can change people’s minds. They can open people up to new possibilities. It doesn’t happen over night, but I have faith that it could happen one day.
And this movie helped move that forward. I walked out of the movie feeling the way I had imagined I’d feel after the election. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that satisfaction November 8th, but on June 2nd I got a little taste of it, and for that I will always be grateful!
1. The Mortal Instruments By Cassandra Clare
(And the spin offs: The Infernal Devices & The Dark Artifices!)
This is my number one pick for this genre. Every time one of her books comes out I consume them in a day or two no matter what the length. It’s a testament to her writing style and ability to keep the reader engaged.
The Mortal Instruments is my favorite of the Shadowhunter world, but Infernal Devices and The Dark Artifices are a close second and third.
What makes these books so great is the world building Cassandra Clare has created. She makes you want to be a Shadowhunter! She has strong female leads that can take care of themselves. Sure, there’s a bit of the “help, save me, boyfriend” syndrome, but mostly, the female characters are the ones doing the saving, and that’s something I can get behind.
Freeform airs the TV show version and it’s going into its third season. Personally, I feel like the show went off the rails a bit. It helps to think of it as an alternate universe, not as good, but good enough. The actors are great, anyway!
But I definitely recommend the books!
2. Bloodlines (spin off of The Vampire Academy Series) by Richelle Mead.
Yes, I know Bloodlines is the spin-off of the Vampire Academy series, but I like it better. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Vampire Academy books! Rose is one of the best and baddest characters in the teen/paranormal genre, but Sydney is my girl. And don’t get me started on Adrian! (Though to be fair, his self-loathing can get on my nerves a bit, especially when it endangers other characters!) But I love the guy, I can’t help it. Spirit users have a harder life, right?!
Another amazing world builder, Richelle Mead creates a whole new spin on vampires. Throw in some good teen drama and you have a recipe for a nail-biting-love-story-crazy-ride. I plowed through these books very quickly as well.
The reason I love Bloodlines more than Vampire Academy is that I find the Alchemists so interesting, especially at how they fit into the vampire world. It’s a fascinating dynamic that the Alchemists clean up vampire’s messes, yet they hate all vampires, even the good ones. I’d go into the differences of vampires in this series, but it would take too long. To sum it up briefly: Moroi vampire = good, Strigoi vampire = bad. One has a soul and the other doesn’t. Moroi are mortal and Strigoi are immortal.
I love the fact that Sydney learns magic as well. I’m always a sucker for girls with superpowers and magic is my favorite power. (Willow all the way!)
I highly recommend reading both Vampire Academy and Bloodlines. In fact, Bloodlines wouldn’t be as good if I hadn’t read the Vampire Academy books first, so if you’re going in, you should probably start with the first series. You won’t be disappointed and you can look forward to reading Bloodlines later on.
3. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer.
I know, I know. I get such a hard time for liking the Twilight series! But as much criticism as they get, they’re highly entertaining books! And if you love this genre, chances are pretty high that you’ll love these books too.
Like the others, I read these really fast. In the first couple of books, Bella, definitely gets rescued a lot from the men in her life, but by the fourth book, she kicks some butt. To be fair, in the earlier books she's a human against vampires, and there's not much a normal teenage girl can do to fight a super-being (unless you have superpowers yourself!). But as a vampire, her powers end up saving them all, so it evens out.
Another reason the Twilight Series is in my top three is because this was the first time I had ever read books from this genre before. I was mainly a fantasy/sci-fi kind of girl, but the series was recommended to me by one of my favorite people in the whole world (I’m looking at you, Ruby!), so I gave it a shot. I wasn’t disappointed and the books actually inspired me to write my own series, The Riser Saga. Basically, the Riser books would most likely not exist if I hadn’t read Twilight, so I’m grateful for that!
If you’re a writer, you’ve been in a writing rut at one point or another. Or, let’s be honest, you’ve probably been in A LOT of writing ruts. I know I have and if you like to be consistent and prolific, a rut can be a huge obstacle.
Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do but accept the fact that you’re just not going to write that day. Most of the time, though, you can get back on track and live a guilt-free rest of your day. Not that you should feel guilty for not writing. I, personally, can’t seem to escape that gnawing sensation of self-doubt and massive guilt whenever I’m at a standstill with my writing, but you shouldn’t. I probably beat myself up way more than actual writing time lol.
But let me set the record straight: self-punishment and self-induced anxiety is a complete and total waste of valuable writing time. This I know. I’m actively trying to stop myself of going down the rabbit hole of guilt mongering every day.
So whenever I get in a rut, here are a few of the things that work for me.
1. Stand up and walk away from the computer.
Seems simple, but for me, my biggest problem is Internet surfing. When I get in a writing rut, my first instinct is to pop on FaceBook and see what’s going on with my friends and family. This inevitably leads to me sitting way too long until the day is over and I’ve done nothing (except scroll through post after post of baby pics and political outrage).
By simply standing up and walking away from my computer, prevents me from spending wasted hours of valuable creating time. What do I do when I walk away you ask? Not chores or errands! Don’t get lost in that procrastination method! No. I walk outside, or a balcony if you have it, or across the living room floor. Doesn’t matter. Just get yourself away from the computer.
Sometimes, this is enough for me, sometimes it’s not even close. When it’s a “not even close” moment, I use one of my many meditation apps I have on my phone. I kid you not, these work! There are seven minute meditations that are geared specifically for motivation. “Take a Break” is a good one, they have a mediation called “Work Break” that’s seven minutes long. It gets me energized and ready to get back into work mode. “ThinkUp” is good also. This is an app where you record your own voice. It seems cheesy, but it actually helps hearing my own voice telling me to stay motivated.
2. Read for an hour.
If I can’t write, then I can at least do something productive. One of the hardest parts of breaking out of any kind of rut, is our tendency to punish ourselves mentally to the point of not doing anything at all. If you can’t write because you are stuck, then reading is a good way to jolt out of your mental brain fart.
For me, it helps if I read a book similar in genre and feel to the one I’m writing. So if I’m working on one of my Teen/Paranormal books, I’ll read something in that genre. It helps me get into that frame of mind and usually inspires me to jump out of my chair and get going again.
3. Get up and exercise.
Nooooooooo!!! It’s okay, you can say it: “Exercising is horrible advice, so I should just shut up now.”
But, I swear, it really does work. I have an elliptical and I’ve come up with some of my best ideas while running on that thing. Yoga is an excellent form of exercise as well and like meditation it can clear your mind to help you focus better on your writing.
You’ll not only feel physically better, but mentally as well. And hey, if you’re not going to write, you might as well do something that improves your life, even if it’s small.
Now, sometimes ruts overtake your day and you end up writing nothing. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Like I said earlier, I do that way too much and I have the tummy problems to prove it, but I’m trying every day to eliminate self-punishment from my life! So when I’m in a rut these three things work wonders for me!
There are hundreds of book listing sites out there, and I’ve tried a couple dozen of them, but these are the three that generated the most bang for my buck.
For those of you who don’t know what a book listing site is: it’s a service that will send out an email to all their book subscribers telling them about your free book day. If you’re signed up with KDP then making your book free for a day is really easy. Every ninety days, KDP gives you five days of your choice to make your book free. I usually sign up with the book listing site first since a lot of their days are sold out. That way, once the listing site gives me the date I can then go onto KDP and schedule the free day.
All three of the book listing sites I like the most are paid sites though. There are dozens of sites that will list your book for free, but I’ve never had much luck with those. Too good to be true in my case, but I do know authors that have had great experiences with some of them, so it’s worth a shot!
With that being said, here’s my list:
This site gave me the best numbers by far. I’ve listed five of my books with them and each time I reached 20,000 to 30,000 downloads on the first day! Their downside is that they’re expensive and very picky about which books they choose. Don’t be discouraged by the ‘being picky’ part though. I submitted my books every month per their requirements and eventually they were picked. Sometimes, they have too many books of your same genre in a given month, so just keep submitting!
As for expenses, I always make my money back and then some. Using them is great for exposure, but it can make you a few bucks as well.
Plus, with BookBub, it’s a great feeling watching your book climb the charts on Amazon. Being in the top ten of the entire book store is pretty awesome :-)
I didn’t get the same numbers as BookBub, but FreeBooksy also isn’t as picky or expensive either. My average download count was about 1,000 to 2,000. So far less than BookBub, but still decent numbers.
And lastly, BookGorilla. They’re the least expensive of the three, but also the lowest number of downloads. The reason why they’re number three for me is because even with the lower numbers, it was still better than any other listing site I’ve used. My average was about 500 to 1,000 downloads.
I would love to know about any of your experiences with listing sites! If you have any suggestions, I’m always up for trying a new site! Just comment below and let me know! Thanks!
Writing books is my number one passion in life, writing in general, actually. But sometimes when I’m writing one of my novels the task can be daunting, simply because of length. Don’t get me wrong, I love the process, even if a book takes months to write, or years depending on the project, it’s a rewarding experience.
Sewing is how I keep my inspiration going, whether it’s clothing or making one of my bags, it’s nice having something tangible that I’ve created. With books, even when you’re finished with the first draft, you’re still far from finished, but with sewing I can design and create something in less than a day.
My recent obsession has been making my dragon bags, probably because there seems to be an array of crocodile patterned vinyl in fabric stores and in the Los Angeles fabric district as of late. I pretty much have a different dragon bag for each day of the week at this point lol!
My husband and I are considering turning it into a business, maybe outsourcing the work since I don’t have the time to make them for sale purposes. Writing is my priority, not just in passion, but also as my main source of income. Though it would be nice to make all my little dragons myself, if I want others to share in the fun and joy of owning their very own dragon bag, I have to outsource.
In the meantime, I’m creating to give myself the inspiration I need to finish my final Riser/Atlas book mash-up! Surrounding myself with all my magical creature bags helps me keep my focus and inspires me to keep writing!
I tried out Camp NaNoWriMo this year and I’m so happy I did!
I’ve been wanting to turn my first novel, Riser, into a screenplay for years now, but never seemed to find the time. Admittedly, it was because I was too busy writing fourteen books lol!
So I decided to use Camp NaNoWriMo as my motivator!
It was great! Just what I needed!
The screenplay ended up being 190 pages long though. Waaaaaaaay too long for a script. I had to buckle down and edit until I could get it to 130 pages or less. It was the hardest piece I’ve ever edited. At first I felt like I needed to keep every single scene in, but after a while I was able to force some distance between me and the book.
I tried a new method of editing, which really worked for me.
I broke the script up into three files. One file for each Act. Since I already knew what my plot points were, I was able to easily copy and paste each Act into its corresponding file.
Once that was done it was about cutting down each file to the proper page count. My ideal page count number was 120 so Act I would need to come down to 30 pages, Act II would need to come down to 60 pages, and Act III would need to come down to 30 pages.
This helped me organize and structure the screenplay. Act II and III were the hardest since I had so many extra pages and scenes. But after a lot of hours and hard work, I finally cut out 60 pages from the script! Crazy!
But it’s done! I gave it out to all my beta readers and now I’m just waiting for notes!
Okay! Time to get back to writing my Riser/Atlas mash-up book! Woohoo!
I’m not sure how long this is going to take me, but I’m determined to read every last book on my book shelf!
In the last ten years I’ve switched to reading on my Kindle, so I haven’t bought a lot of hard copy books in a while.
This last bookcase represents all of the books my husband wanted to keep and all of the books that I bought but never read.
Don’t get me wrong, I read A LOT lol. I just tend to read sci-fi/fantasy and YA. But I’ve been wanting to broaden my horizons for a while. Plus, my husband is always a trooper and reads my favorite books, so it’s time to return the favor! I can’t wait to read some of his favorites as well!
I have no idea how long this is going to take me, there’s over three hundred books here. The second row consists of entirely of graphic novels, which I’m really excited about! (I’ve been eyeing those for years!)
The first book on shelf number one is Watership Down by Richard Adams. My husband always talks about how much he loves this book, so I’m going to delve in!
Here’s a list of shelf # 1:
‘Bad guys’ make any piece of fiction great. Without a ‘bad guy’ there’s no conflict. Now don’t get me wrong, the ‘bad guy’ could be your main character and anti-hero, but either way they need to be interesting. And they need to be someone that people can connect to.
Here are three things to keep in mind when developing your antagonist:
1. Make them relatable.
Making your antagonist human is probably the best thing you can do for your story. If the audience can relate to your ‘bad guy’ and even gain an understanding of ‘why’ they’re doing what they’re doing, then you’ve succeeded.
Think of all the movies, TV shows and books that you’ve ever loved and I guarantee that a part of that love comes from the fact that the antagonist was relatable. It’s usually when a character is so far extreme with no reasoning behind their bad behavior that a story falls apart.
2. Give them some meat.
Sometimes it’s easy to get so wrapped up in your hero’s story that the ‘bad guy’ ends up being a two-dimensional shell. Give them a meaty past and backstory, put as much time in developing your antagonist as you do in your protagonist. I guarantee just by digging in deep and truly figuring out your ‘bad guy’s’ motivations will lead to great things not just in your plot, but in the interactions between your characters as well.
This one might be a bit controversial and, I admit, it’s a personal pet peeve of mine, so please excuse my ranting!
3. Be sparing with the vices.
This goes for ‘good guys’ too! Why oh why does anyone think that by giving a character some kind of addiction this constitutes depth? I hate to break it to you, but not all characters with personal demons have addictive personalities! It’s a writing crutch. And it’s cliché! I cringe every time I read a book, or watch a TV show or see a movie where the character is addicted to drugs, or smokes, or has a gambling habit. OMG! Just stop! It’s not interesting, it’s not new, it’s tired and over-played. If you want to give a ‘bad guy’ or even a ‘good guy’ personal demons, then give them depth in their back story, or in their actions, not in a writing device. It’s lazy, so stop it!
Unless your story is actually about addiction, or people with vices, it has no place in any other kind of story.
Hope this helps! And here’s to making good ‘bad guys’ great! (Like Mayor Wilkins!)
I'm a writer of YA fiction, fiction, comics, television and movies. I try to make all my stories full of jumbly goodness :-)