Behind the Scenes With a Busy Writer

Behind the Scenes With a Busy Writer

I don't like to show rough drafts.
I don’t like to show rough drafts.

So I have been crazy busy as of late, most of that being with social media because blog posts and websites aren’t just going to sell themselves, unfortunately. I am just a few followers away from 200, and then I’ll start with some giveaways I’ve got planned. Nothing crazy, but just some cool trinkets and book gifta. Once I make more money at work I’ll probably get some gift cards.

What exactly have I been busy with? The author checklist to your right.

Screenshot (3)

I worked on it all day yesterday, and the only things I need to get done are the author headshot, character sheet, and elevator pitch. The headshot I have decided to do myself because I don’t want to spend a lot of money for an entire session when I don’t need one. It also doesn’t hurt that I have the skills and equipment to be able to do it myself. Unfortunately, my lovely ballet photo won’t cut it, but, hey, it’ll stay on my website because I am The Dancing Writer, and that won’t change.

Now that I’m wrapping up on my authorly things, I pretty much just have to wait for edits and have a phone call with my contract manager, which I am very excited about. For now, I am going to continue work on Stolentime and continue doing social media, as usual. I will also try to get some reading in.

Tomorrow, however, will be another social media day off for me. I’m going to spend that time writing, reading, hopefully doing a beta read, playing Luigi’s Mansion (it’s fun!), and possibly doing more writing. During this time, there will hopefully be a giveaway going on, in which I will start with the book giveaway first. I will give away two different books by two different authors.

In the meantime, I should stop procrastinating at my part-time job.


The Madness of…Authors’ Checklists!

The Madness of…Authors’ Checklists!

It’s only a matter of time.

My contract manager sent lists of things to me last night that I am to start working on in order to make this book successful. It is a lot, and I have three different lists to go through. I plan to get some of it done today because, unfortunately, I can’t get all of it done due to the nature of what is being asked.

First there is my Beginning Author’s Checklist. This is a basic list asking me for long and short book descriptions, dedications, early reviewers, and who I think might buy it. Doesn’t sound time consuming, but, oh, I know it will be. The synopsis itself took hours, so imagine the long book description, which isn’t a synopsis, but still, that isn’t the point. I luckily already have a good short book description. As for the reviewers, I have people in mind as well as potential customers. This small list alone could take me hours, but this is what I want, and it is completely worth it for me.

Then there is my Book Information. This one asks for all things book-related: setting, conflict, point-of-view, other works, marketing, ect. I MAY start with this list first since I know it can be completed today. It shouldn’t be as time-consuming as the first list, but still, it will take some time to get done. I’m just glad I’m not in class this semester. Then again, the semester is almost over. Still, exams…*shudders*

Then, last, there is my Author Information, which is basically about me and my book. What made me start writing this book, challenges I have faced, what I hope people will get from the book, hobbies, interests, future products, ect. I think I’ll actually do this one first. This one sounds more fun because, hey, it doesn’t require intense thinking on my part.

Other things that I have to get done too are getting a headshot of me, which I can do myself since I have the equipment–I just don’t have a wireless clicker, but my fiancé will suffice. I also hope the new book cover I have will be approved. Once it is, it will be the first thing I reveal to you guys. I also still have social media I’ve got to get done today. After all, I’ll probably start doing giveaways Thursday because I’m very close to 200 followers. And I want to try and write in Stolentime if there is time to do it.

So I’m in for a busy day and week.

The Dancing Writer’s Pointe Shoes and Awards

The Dancing Writer’s Pointe Shoes and Awards

I love my Capezio Glisse.

This is a compilation of all my best posts, and then at the end, I will be giving away three awards to three different bloggers for each one!

What Depression Feels Like for a Writer Like Me

Braving the Stigma of Mental Illness

My Defense of Self-Publishing

The Maddening Choice of Publication

The Different Ways to Outline a Novel

This Is My Surprise: I Have a Publisher!

Blogging Tips for Fellow Writers

Inner Turmoil Equals My Best Ideas

The Misuse of Twitter

The Madness of Writer’s Block

Now for the awards!

This goes to Legends of Windmere by Charles Yallowitz

The parasite guy

And Random Acts of Writing!







Next award!

Dorian Dawes

disregard the prologue

And When I Became An Author










Last award!



And Missing Zero!

Follow all these awesome blogs and keep an eye out on their posts! I very much appreciate them! I don’t have time to comment on all of them, but rest assured these are quality bloggers.

The Madness of Social Media

The Madness of Social Media

Social media is like chasing the White Rabbit.
Social media is a necessary evil for all writers. If you are serious about driving sales to your book, you’ll know that social media is the hard work and that writing your book was the easy part. I spend a few hours a day on social media, socializing on Twitter, trying to drive traffic to this website. I need to start working on my Goodreads account and thinking of things for my FB author page. This social media is planned work, not something I do during my leisure time. In fact, my leisure time is reading and being with my fiancé.

How do you navigate this maddening world of social media? I can only give you my experiences, but hopefully they’ll be of some service to those drowning in the social media cesspool.

For one thing, a blog is a great thing to have, especially on your website. I use WordPress as my website because there are more templates available, they have a cleaner, professional look than BlogSpot, and it is so easy to follow others and leave comments without having to go through the annoying captcha crap because BlogSpot doesn’t have a good spam filter. Eventually I’ll buy the domain and change it, but I’m saving up my money. Having a blog on your website helps drive traffic to your other pages: your about me, your writerly works, and so on and so forth because it’s all right there. No need to have your website and blog separated. Heck, WordPress allows you to create your own template if you or someone you know is HTML efficient.

You can use your blog to update on you, your life, your writing life, you in general. You can do guest blog posts, interviews, book reviews, and giveaways. I’ll be doing a giveaway once I hit 200 followers. I’d like 1000+ by the time my book releases, but we’ll see. You’ll also want to give back. Comment on people’s replies to your blog posts. If you don’t have time, please mention this as a courtesy to your followers. If time allows, comment on their blogs. Go to the Reader and find blog posts there. Make Followers. Don’t expect anyone to follow back or read your stuff.

Get a Twitter account and use it correctly. I have been having genuine conversations with people on Twitter and have been gaining more followers as a result. Link your Twitter account to your blog so you can get more from there. Share links to your blog on your Twitter account, but only after you’ve conversed with people. Don’t spam your Twitter feed with links.

Get accounts on other popular social media sites, like Instagram and so forth. Keep blogging. Blog as often as you want and/or can and/or what works for you. Be persistent. People don’t build a following by sitting back and waiting for people to come. You will have to do some serious leg work to build a following. Quality blogging/Tweeting/whatever is first and foremost. Create something your gut tells you people will want to look at. Also, join writing forums to get you and your book out and around. While I’m not wild about AbsoluteWrite, it’s a great forum to converse with other writers and talk about your book without being branded as someone tooting one’s own horn.

Do whatever you can think of in the social media sphere. You and your book will thank you.

Writing Through a Reader’s Eyes

Writing Through a Reader’s Eyes

As a writer, I do know how to separate my writer’s side from my reader’s side. I mean, I will analyze the book and how it goes about telling the story, but I don’t let myself get hung up on the little stuff because the average reader doesn’t care, so why should I? In my own writing I get hung up on the little stuff, but I feel like we writers get so hung up on the little stuff that I often wonder why that is. Is it because it’s been pounded into our heads to obsess over the little stuff, or are we trying to appease the experts, wanting them to say we’re great writers because passive voice is nonexistent in our books (or something else readers really don’t care about)?

I’m here to say your average reader doesn’t care about that one time you used passive voice. Or even the five other times. They’re only going to start caring when it becomes obvious you’ve used it too much. You might have your reader who is also a writer or a reader who is a grammar Nazi, but I’ve never respected the latter and the former is probably why we obsess so much over the small stuff.

Readers also don’t care about ‘said bookisms’ or adverbs as much as we think they do. They only care if it’s used too much. But if you have one instance where you use an adverb instead of a stronger verb, your reader isn’t going to care. Only you will. And perhaps your editor. I just got back into AbsoluteWrite, and it kind of reminded me why I stopped: Because these writers are downright snobs, so obsessed with pounding out every grammatical detail that we forget the story is so much more important. It’s probably why I retreated to YALITCHAT, because we’re more concerned with the story and the reader than we are with the small stuff. If you’re on AbsoluteWrite, don’t take my above statement to mean you. It’s just my general experience. I feel like you can’t mention that you got published without some of these users scrutinizing you and the company who accepted you. That hasn’t happened to me, but I’ve seen it.

I feel like many writers don’t look at their manuscripts with readers in mind. I feel like they think about the writers who are readers when going through and polishing everything. “Will this reader get on to me about this adverbs, or this passive voice, or this split infinitive (which, by the way, has no strong basis for why it can be used)?” We forget that when we go through, we have to think about the pure reader. The reader who only wants a good story, not a book that showcases examples of flawless grammar.

Does this mean we should eschew some of the small stuff? No way! That would be an insult to our readers. It’s like ballet dancers eschewing their technique because the average audience knows nothing on ballet. They might not care if you bend your knee on a pirouette, but we know a straightened knee is far more beautiful, and we want to give that type if beauty to audience members who shelled out a fortune on the tickets. You want to give your audience the best performance possible, and the best performance does include a highly-polished manuscript. But don’t be upset if you find you missed a piece of passive voice you meant to be active. Or that you even found a typo. The fact is, if the errors aren’t too much, your average reader will look at the story and nothing more–unless they are writers who are readers. These guys will tear apart self-published books for little reason other than being petty and trying to prove why the stigma exists. But they are not true reviewers in my mind.

How Many Drafts Do I Write?

How Many Drafts Do I Write?

So I am very sick as I am writing this. Out of nowhere a cold decided to hit me in the face at work, and now I have chills, body aches (which fibro intensifies), a sore throat, and an aching head. But I’m determined to get this post out. I have no idea when I’ll slow down on the blogging. Probably once I run out of ideas or something. Or once I really hunker down with When Stars Die revisions.

In any case, I hate writing first drafts. Because I hate them, I just make the first draft a glorified detailed outline, writing whatever spews forth from my mind. I’ll put major revision notes in the margins, but I’ll just get the skeleton of the story down and reserve the second draft for putting some meat and skin on that skeleton.

Back in my younger years, I would have to do lots and lots of drafts because I was never satisfied with my writing, and for good reason: My gut was trying to tell me I just wasn’t mature enough, but I wanted to plow through to prove you don’t need age to have stellar writing. Well, generally you do. Even teens who become published have immature aspects in their novels, but they’re marketable enough that it doesn’t seem to matter.

When Stars Die took five drafts to get it to this point because I did start it as a fifteen-year-old. I suppose that isn’t a whole lot compared to how many it could have been, but I did shelve it for several years before finally deciding to bring it back out. I am on the seventh read-through of When Stars Die (the last two were proofreading, so no re-writes). Surprisingly I’m not tired of it yet.

When Stars Die is my first, truly complete novel (before AEC Stellar starts hacking it apart). My hope is that with Stolentime, I can revise on the second draft, have someone read it, and have the third draft be strong enough to send out and hopefully get contracted by AEC Stellar. Or another company is fine too. Whatever happens, right?

Truth is, now that I am more mature with my writing, I have no idea how many drafts Stolentime will have to go through. Of course I can improve with my writing; we can always improve with everything. But I’m hoping for three. Seriously. Fingers crossed.

So how many drafts do you average?

The Madness of the First Chapter

The Madness of the First Chapter

This picture won’t cooperate with me.

I don’t know about you, but I find the first chapter something I have to re-do every time I start a revision. For Stolentime, I already know I’m going to have to write a brand new chapter one and make the current chapter one chapter two. Too much occurs in chapter one for readers to really care yet, so I’m going to have to make a chapter that shows what led up to the current chapter one. I had to do the same for When Stars Die. Chapter one was originally Amelia in her first trial to become a nun, but then I realized I needed to introduce a certain element at the beginning and her best friend so readers could care more about what happens to her best friend. I also needed readers to know a little bit about Amelia before she got to the trial–so that way they can better understand why she even bothers to put up with it.

The first chapter of any book can be very tricky, especially because it is so subjective from book to book. You will have a different reason for having to re-do your chapter one than I will, but one thing for certain is that I always keep a few things in mind when doing the chapter one.

The best way to hook your readers is to make the chapter one character-centered so that way readers can begin to learn about your MC, his/her goals, who he/she is, and why the reader should care. This may not be so in a plot-driven novel, but I myself prefer character-driven novels, which is probably why I love to read YA. You’ll also want to avoid too much action. Stolentime currently starts with Gene contemplating suicide, with no real background, so I know I need to back it up and show what pushed Gene over the edge so people will care that he wants to kill himself, and understand a little bit about what led him to such a dangerous decision.

Your first two or three sentences too can really grip readers and make them not want to put the book down. Now I don’t like the rabid obsession with the hook because it’s a novel and I don’t think readers care as much as writers do, but it’s still awesome to be brought in by exciting first sentences. Here is mine from When Stars Die:

The sound is a dagger scraping crosshatches on a frosted windowpane, its echoes loud in this lifeless room I’ve been locked in for the past few days.

Now keep in mind this first sentence is subject to change, but it manages to accomplish a few things: sets the atmosphere as something eerie, lets readers know where the MC is, and sets intrigue because she’s been locked in this room and readers will want to know why.

Last, you don’t want to resolve your chapter one. I will read chapter ones where the writer seems to tie up everything, and even with my knowing the summary, I don’t want to read on because why? Everything was neatly resolved. The person stalking her went away and her best friend found her. She was paranoid about the stalker because she had been harmed by someone in the past, but it wasn’t the stalker, so everything is resolved because she wasn’t hurt. I love chapter ones that end messy because that makes me want to read on. My chapter one in When Stars Die ends with Amelia being brought to her first trial–with some shadowy beings stalking her and Amelia fearing for her life.

So these are a few tips on that pesky chapter one. It can be daunting to do, but I personally love it.

The Inspiration Behind When Stars Die

The Inspiration Behind When Stars Die

In my younger years, I had a crazed fascination with the Salem Witch Trials. It was interesting to me how one village in all of America became struck by witch hysteria, so much so that they wanted to burn anyone they thought was a witch. I did intense research into the subject, trying to find out the origins of burning, who started the burnings, because I wanted When Stars Die to touch upon what started everything in its sequel.

Of course, I never found the origins, but over time, I did evolve and mold the idea of why one became a witch in the first place. Were they witches through sin? Were they demons spawned by God? No one ever chastised the parents who gave birth to them because clearly they came from “pious” wombs. That is when I began to fashion the idea that they were born of the Seven Deadly Sins. A parent who committed a deadly sin for a prolonged period of time would give birth to a witch. Of course, the parents aren’t aware at first. Sometimes the parents are never made aware. Just as in the Salem Trials, it is the witch who must bear the burden alone. But the existence of witches does punish those who are non-witches; however, that is only answered in the sequel.

I was also fascinated with convents and the 16th century. But When Stars Die doesn’t even take place in the 16th century because I wanted to move Amelia to the 19th century to push her closer to the sequel. I was just reading so many Tudor books then, with some 19th century flavors throw in the mix.

I can’t even tell you where the fascination with convents came from. I just like the idea of a girl who bears a dark secret becoming a nun that must purge her soul of sin. I think the idea also may have come from watching a documentary on one modern day convent. But modern day convents are different from one you’d fine in the 19th century. However, because each convent does its own thing, so, too, could my convent–within reason.

But, really, When Star Die doesn’t have a simple point of inspiration. The idea just evolved over the years as I matured as a person and writer. The direction I wanted the book to go was always the same, but how I ended up there had to be changed and fleshed out over time as my writing and storytelling skills evolved.

That’s what’s difficult about being a teen writer. Perhaps I could have cashed in on the whole teen writer thing, but my gut was also churning, telling me the writing isn’t ready, you still have maturing to do. And luckily I listened to it, because When Stars Die wouldn’t be what it is now and who knows if it would have sold well in the condition it had been back when I was younger.

In any case, I leave you with a small summary of When Stars Die:


Amelia Gareth’s brother is a witch and the only way to save her family from the taint in his blood is to become a professed nun at Cathedral Reims in the city of Malva. However, in order to become professed, she must endure trials that all nuns must face.

Surviving these trials is not easy, especially for Amelia, who is being stalked by shadowy beings only she can see. They’re searching for people they can physically touch, because only those they can touch can see them. Amelia soon learns why she is being stalked when she accidentally harms her best friend with fire during the third trial. Fire is a witch’s signature. The shadows are after witches.

Currently it is with AEC Stellar Publishing. Look out for more news!

Why I Am Not a Creative Writing Major

Why I Am Not a Creative Writing Major

My therapist thinks I should be a creative writing major so I can go for my PhD and teach college since I’m already going for an English with middle education degree. Not only do I refuse to sank myself into debt, but I’ve never felt the need to do a creative writing degree because I’m a self-taught writer. Yeah, there’s the whole thing of being able to have groups in class and the teacher looking at it, but so what? That’s what my writer’s group is for. Beta readers. My freelance editor was practically my teacher. I had books on writing. I analyzed the fiction novels I read. Plus, I have tried other forms of writing, and I am a novelist through and through. I would hate to take a class on screenplay writing knowing I don’t like writing screenplays.

I took one class in creative writing and hated it. It was mostly the professor that drove me mad. He was not very effective at critiquing, especially poetry. His most common criticism? “This is a stone,” meaning I can turn it over and do something more with it. But he never specified how. I wasn’t even impressed with his critiques on my short stories. In fact, I never agreed with them, and this was the time when I had my freelance editor critiquing my novel. His criticism was just so shoddy compared to hers.

He isn’t the reason I didn’t pursue one though. Part of it is there isn’t much you can do with a creative writing degree, unless you want to go to grad school and teach. Another reason is that they teach you nothing on the business of writing. At least my university doesn’t. Even with indie or independent presses, you need to have some knowledge of the business, and many of the students I spoke with knew next to nothing. No idea how to do a query letter, synopsis, none of it. They only knew how to write, and even then there was some debate because critiques in class can be very shoddy since you don’t get to choose who you critique. Most don’t care to critique well either. How can I develop from that? I prefer to choose who critiques my stuff, and they are in the form of beta readers or an editor or something.

But mostly, I just don’t think I need to waste my time taking a creative writing class when I’ve effectively self-taught for years and learned from those already published. I have more control over who I critique and over who critiques me. And since I have a choice, criticism is often going to be a bit stronger–even though no one can compare to the freelance editor I learned from. At least, not now.

Perhaps there are creative writing programs out there that are great, but where I’m at, no thanks. I don’t know if I want to do teaching anymore, but I’ll give my apprenticeship a chance, and I’ll let the future surprise me.

Interview With When Stars Die’s Oliver Cromwell

Interview With When Stars Die’s Oliver Cromwell

I actually created new cover art that I think is much better than this.
I actually created new cover art that I think is much better than this.

Link to Amelia Gareth’s interview here.

I am happy to announce that I was able to bring in Oliver Cromwell to do an interview with me. He is generally so busy with his duties as a priest at Cathedral Reims that trying to get him to sit down for five minutes is almost impossible. But he is Amelia Gareth’s confidant and best friend.

Me: Tell me about your relationship with Amelia.

Oliver: We’re best friends and nothing more. We can’t be any more because I have taken my vows and Amelia will take hers when she is professed. To break these vows would mean more trouble for me than Amelia because she is a woman.

Me: Why does being a woman matter?

Oliver: It just does. It’s 1880, so ideals are very old-fashioned. Amelia would be exiled if she broke her vows. I would simply be suspended.

Me: I understand now. Tell me why you became a priest?

Oliver: My little sister Ella is a witch, and so being a priest means serving Deus, and I hope to cleanse Ella’s soul, similar to what Amelia wants to do for he brother. We both have very similar goals at Cathedral Reims.

Me: Be honest: what do you think about Cathedral Reims?

Oliver: I honestly hate it. I hate that Amelia must endure suffering to become a nun. I hate that everyone at the cathedral must suffer to take vows. We are all the children of Deus, and not once in the Vulgate does it mention we must suffer to be accepted by Deus. We just can’t be witches. So all the torture we go through is so unnecessary.

Me: What do you think you should go through then to become professed?

Oliver: A good understanding of the Vulgate is one thing, as well as Liturgy of the Hours and the inner workings of Cathedral Reims: illuminating manuscripts, caring for the plants in the green house, things of that sort. And your loyalty too through essays or prayers, but not torture.

Me: Sounds like you should be head of the Professed Order. What does a priest at Cathedral Reims do?

Oliver: Well, we can lead sermons, teach more classes, work out in the community more, hold more leadership roles, and be involved in more decision making processes than the nuns, such as creating more disciplinary actions for novitiates and things of that nature.

Me: I hear you’re actually rather persistent with Amelia. Tell us about that.

Oliver: Well, we exchange the occasional daring affection from time to time, but we will not go beyond that. No kissing either. We will never have a relationship because that is forbidden. It is Amelia’s dream to be professed, and I share in that dream with her. I want what Amelia wants.

Me: But that sounds dreadful. Isn’t it teasing?

Oliver: We’ve kept it in control for a while, and we can keep doing it. Once Amelia becomes professed, our contact will become limited, so we know our lots in life.

Me: Anything else you’d like to say?

Oliver: Nothing that won’t reveal spoilers. But I will say this: there are more witches out there than anyone can imagine. Even your best friend could be a witch.

Me: Thank you for those final words. Well, that wraps up this interview. Stay tuned next time when I speak with Nathaniel Gareth, Amelia’s younger brother!