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#WW Help! My Female Character Is Flat

14 Sep

I’m guilty! Oh, so guilty.

While writing my latest manuscript for my publisher, I hit a snag 38,000 words in, and could not—for the life of me—figure out what was wrong with it. Then, I realized what happened.

My female protagonist was flat.

Allow me to back track for a little bit.

I never used to have this problem. When I first set out to write books, I honestly feel like I was a better writer than I am now. At least, in regards to the first draft. I would simply let my work be what it needed to be. Now, I’m bombarded with so many rules and expectations (some awesome, some not-so-awesome) that I end up worrying about what I should be writing instead of worrying about what my book actually is, who my characters truly are, and how things will happen naturally.

Example? Well, let’s go back to where I started. My flat female character. Why was she flat? Because she wasn’t flawed. So, why wasn’t she flawed? Because I was afraid. I kept thinking about all the things readers want (and don’t want) a female character to be. Tough but not too tough. Girly but not too girly. A good friend, a completely independent lover, a strong-minded leader, a determined dreamer, and someone who never faints from total exhaustion from all that perfect-ness.

I take issue with too much expectation, especially in young adult fiction where characters are coming of age and still trying to figure out who they are, what they want, and how they’re going to achieve it. But I get it. I do. As a reader myself, I know readers are harder on female characters, because the world is harder on females in general. I have my moments, too! It’s ingrained into us, after all. But I hadn’t realized how much it was affecting books until my paranormal romance trilogy released last year. Spoiler warning now, I was shocked that my male protagonist could take a two-ton car, throw a hissy fit, and crash it at 100 mph without so much as a blink of judgment, while my female character was called all kinds of nasty names because she went underage drinking with her friends and got into some trouble. Personally, I think his choice was much more destructive considering how he could’ve killed someone else—or an entire car full of innocent people—while her reckless decision really only put herself in danger. (And she was with friends she should’ve been able to trust.) All that aside, though, only one of them was judged. And she was judged harshly. (Shameless plug: I’m talking about Seconds Before Sunrise.)

As much as I wish I could say this didn’t affect me, I think it did.

Now, when I approach my female characters, I’m hesitant to let them make any mistakes at all. I’m afraid to let them cry (because they’ll be deemed whiny), but I never hesitate to let my male characters cry (because when they cry, they are somehow seen as deep and approachable and need to be comforted).

It’s extremely frustrating, because I am also a female, and I know these judgments extend far beyond the pages of my books. It’s also why I fight my own fears to keep my female characters round. In a world that is constantly trying to flatten female characters, I will fight to keep them round. I will even fight myself—my own misconceptions and…well, flaws.

Before, I held myself back, and therefore, I held my female character back, and I apologize for that.

She is not someone I should hold back. She is strong and weak and happy and sad. She’s dealing with trauma and dreaming about the future and falling in and out of what she thinks might be love (but she isn’t sure), and she is reckless for all kinds of reasons. She also cares deeply about those around her…and sometimes she forgets to care about herself, too. But she will do her best and she will make mistakes, and the combination of both is what matters, because that is who she is.

I will not worry whether or not readers will hate or love or judge her, because she is her, and that is who she is supposed to be. And this is her story to tell, not mine.


#WW Writing Quicksand

7 Sep

Writing quicksand is a term I like to use to describe when writing is doing more damage than good. You know, the more you move, the faster you sink? It can happen in writing, too. Of course, writers should write all time. Whenever they can, really. But sometimes, it’s best to walk away for a little while, too, especially in regards to specific projects.

I found myself in writing quicksand the other day.

While working on a certain sequel, I hit a snag, but I didn’t back down. I pulled out my Sticky Notes. I displayed my plan. I switched it up. I rewrote Chapter One, and then, I edited Chapter Two and Three. From there, I redesigned a few characters…and then, I face-planted.

It was all wrong. Everything was worse. The “issues” I thought I was fixing were only multiplying in numbers.

I tore it all down, and I stubbornly tried again…and again…and again.

And every time, I only sank further into despair.

Writing quicksand.

But sand is so pretty, right? Wrong.

But sand is so pretty, right? Wrong.

It’s a dangerous trap, and when you’re stuck in it, you can start doubting everything you’ve ever written—in the past, in the current, and even in the future. You can start thinking every project is silly or useless or mundane. But then, you tell yourself it’s just writer’s block, and you try to power your way through it…only to hurt the project again.

It’s okay to walk away.

It’s okay to take a break for a little while and clear your head elsewhere.

Personally, when I realize I’m in writing quicksand, I put the laptop away, find an awesome read, and try to write something else completely unrelated to anything else I’ve worked on recently. I listen to a podcast, I research some history, I challenge myself with some ridiculously hard crosswords. (I still need a 10-letter word for Koussevitzky’s wardrobe.) But taking a break lets me enjoy writing without the deadlines or pressure or worries that come along with any writer’s career. And sure enough, within a day or two, I was back on dry land.

My project even continued forward.

One article I LOVE LOVE LOVE is When to Put the Baby (Your Book) to Bed by Stacey Lee on Publishing Crawl. (If you haven’t read Stacey Lee’s YA historical novel, Outrun the Moon, do so now. It’s amazing. Here’s my 5-star review.) But her article about when to walk away from a manuscript is a fantastic, honest read about how to know when to give up. (And why it’s okay.)

For now, I’m continuing forward with the project I sunk into the quicksand with, but there has been numerous books I had to walk away from, too, and that’s okay.

As long as you keep writing—and keep trying—all the adventures are worth it, even the ones with quicksand.




Website Wonders

29 Aug

Every month, I share all of the websites I come across that I find helpful, humorous, or just awesome. Below, you’ll find all of August’s Website Wonders categorized into Writing, Reading, Conspiracies, and Procrastination.

If you enjoy these websites, be sure to follow me on Twitter because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

Favorite Article: Goodbye, Bad Bi: The Lose-Lose Situation of Bisexual YA. This article is SO SO SO important for both readers and writers. Why? Because bisexual characters are often misrepresented and labeled terribly based on who they “choose” in the end, and the trend needs to stop. I loved this thoughtful article, and I definitely think it’s a place to start if you are considering writing about a bisexual character. Whether or not you’re writing though, I think it’s a great, educational article to consider no matter what.


Final Editing Checklist: This was SUPER popular during #PitchWars, and I think this list is awesome.

Is This Any Good? “So let me ask you the question that matters. And it has nothing to do with if it’s any good. The real question is this: Are you willing to work at it? Because if you are, then whether it’s any good or not today doesn’t really matter.”

9 Authors Who Regretted the Success of Their Work: It’s not all rainbows and butterflies in the success field. Just a little glimpse at some of the more famous moments.😉


I need this coffee T-shirt

I need this coffee T-shirt

7 Bookstores Too Beautiful For Words: Books are beautiful enough, but come on! This is perfection.

The 10 Most Influential Poets in History: Sent to me by the writer! I love these articles!


10 Strange Mysteries Around the World That Are Still Unsolved: Put on your tin foil hat with me, and enjoy some good ol’ mystery.

Top Ten Places You Can’t Go: Can’t you tell I spent way too much time reading conspiracy theories this month?

The 6 Creepiest Unexplained Phone Calls: I…can’t…stop…reading…creepy…stories.


Procatinator: Procrastinate with cats!

Little Alchemy: I’m playing it like crazy…and you should, too.

18+ Pictures of Fairy Tale Architecture From Norway:  So pretty.

Lost in a Whimsical World: These drawings are beautiful and eerie and wonderful.

Wonderfully Witty Animal Comics by Liz Climo: These are too cute and funny for words.

I hope you love these articles as much as I do!

See you next month,


Wattpad Bad Bloods Steven Short

Wattpad Bad Bloods Steven Short

For those of you who are reading the Bad Blood Prequel on Wattpad for free, Steven’s origin story was posted! Read Steven’s story now. Not going to lie, I totally ship Catelyn and Steven. Here’s a preview:

“You’re gonna die here, boy,” he said, “or you’re gonna leave.”
Valentine’s Day was meant for love, and though my mother had married on such a lovely day, the world worked opposite for bad bloods.
I was no longer welcome.
I was lucky that I’d been welcome for fourteen years, and he knew it.
“Consider yourself lucky,” he said, spitting at my feet. “I’m only lettin’ you leave alive ‘cause your momma.”
I looked over his shoulder, trying to find her eyes, but she had stepped away a long time ago. “Mom—” I started to shout, but a sharp pain snapped my face back.
Heat rushed across my cheek, fire burned beneath my skin, pain etched itself into my bones. I could no longer see. My head spun, but I felt dirt beneath my fingertips. I had fallen down.
“Now get outta here, boy,” he said.
I always imagined he would call me Steven.
You’re gonna have a stepdaddy, she had told me weeks ago. A daddy.
Mine had left long ago. And now, it was my time to leave, too.
That or die.
And I didn’t think I was brave enough to die.

Continue reading on Wattpad, and get the first book in the Bad Bloods series for FREE on all platforms.

Bad Bloods: November Rain

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#WW When You Shouldn’t Write That Book

10 Aug

There comes a time in every writer’s life when they realize they cannot write that book….and I’m not talking about writer’s block. I’m talking about when you want to write a book, but you know you shouldn’t. Maybe not yet. Maybe never.

Of course, I’m not saying a writer CAN’T write that book. Not forever anyway. But just like a construction project, certain books require particular tools, and if you don’t have those tools, building anything might be for naught…or even dangerous.

So here are three questions to ask yourself while deciding if you are ready to write that novel or not.

1. Have You Researched EVERYTHING Properly?

This is particularly true in historical fiction, but research shouldn’t be overlooked for any type of fiction. This means you are researching your setting, your themes, and your characters thoroughly. If you are writing anything outside of your personal experiences—which is more likely than not—it’s best to read articles, watch documentaries, and even talk to those who do have those personal experiences you’re lacking. If you haven’t done this, you most likely don’t know enough to write about certain topics and people from a respectful and knowledgeable place. You might even add to damaging stereotypes or incorrect presumptions. Take the time to get to know your novel’s needs…as well as your audience’s.

2. Have You Read This Genre?

You should be reading in and outside of any genre you want to write in, but you should definitely be familiar with trends in your market. Being able to recognize writers, publishers, and various novels is key to understanding your audience and what purpose your book serves. What does it add to the market? What does it give to your readers? If you’re unsure where your book would be on a shelf, you’re probably not ready yet. But don’t worry! All you have to do is read more. (And who doesn’t love reading?) I went through this myself recently. As someone who mainly reads and writes YA fantasy, I wanted to tackle a contemporary novel when I wasn’t fully equipped to do so. Though I read contemporary still, I knew almost immediately that I wasn’t familiar enough with the current shelf to proceed. I need to collect more tools. I need to read more. And I am.

Who doesn't love an extra excuse to read more?

Who doesn’t love an extra excuse to read more?

3. Why Are YOU The Right Person to Write This Book?

Listen, I’m not here to tell someone if they are the right person to write a book or not. That’s between the author, their book, and the creative process. But I honestly believe we can get to a moment where we realize a book—while it’s good—might be better for someone else to write. This is going to vary from person to person, and it ultimately weighs on how much you are willing to dedicate yourself to a story. If you’re hesitating to research, for instance, you’re probably the wrong person for that book. That doesn’t mean you can’t overcome obstacles or hurdles in your way, but it’s also okay to move on from something you realize isn’t right for you. If you’re on the fence—and you’re unsure how you’re feeling about this topic—one question you can ask yourself is WHY you’re even writing it. Seems obvious enough, but when you take a step back, you might see that you were, in fact, chasing a trend or a surface idea without the will to dive deeper. That’s okay. There are a million stories out there for you to write, and I’m sure you already have plenty more to chase. It’s a matter of figuring out which one feels right to you.

When you should write a book, it will come to you.

Enjoy the adventure,


Read my latest interview on Crazy Beautiful Reads: “Every writer’s life is paved with rejections.” Comment for your chance to win some awesome books!

It’s official! Author Natasha Hanova will be sharing a table with me at Penned Con in St. Louis this September! Check her out, say hi, tell her I sent you, and come visit us in September. We’ll be signing books, talking books, and just having a great ol’ time.


Bad Bloods: November Rain is FREE!

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Bad Bloods: November Rain

Bad Bloods: November Rain

#MondayBlogs Writing Tips: Different Perspectives

8 Aug

I love writing from different perspectives. Both my YA series—The Timely Death Trilogy and Bad Bloods—are written in first POV but from two different speakers. I love using this technique for novel writing, because I enjoy first person, but I dislike how it restricts the storytelling to one character, especially when a scene would be better from a different perspective. So, I have two protagonists, and of course, there are complications that come along with this. What’s the most common question I am asked?

How do you make each voice unique?

I’ll provide a few aspects to keep in mind, but of course, this journey will be different for every writer and every novel. First, know that every character should have its own distinct voice. A reader should be able to open the novel and know who is speaking immediately. This is more difficult than it sounds, but it can get easier over time.

1. Perspective. 

The most obvious change between one voice to another is their unique perspective. What is their background? How do they feel? Where were they educated? Are they affecting the words, or are you? It’s important that characters have their own voice, and that voice will come out in combination with their personalities and backgrounds. For instance, your character who is a fashion designer would definitely use specific colors and fabrics to describe clothes, but your mechanic character might not.

2. Pay Attention to Diction and Syntax

Just like authors have their own “voice,” so do characters. Because of their backgrounds, characters will have different vocabularies. One character may use very flowery language, while another may have less of a need to elaborate. Consider their education, where they come from, and what they might know. The way they speak should differ, whether they are talking out loud or explaining the scene inwardly. Sometimes, syntax can be used to emphasize certain speech patterns, but be careful not to overuse syntax. Too many exclamations or repeated habits/phrases can become tedious and boring rather than unique and fun. Sometimes less is more. Little clues are normally enough.

3. Consider Rhythm

Honestly, I think rhythm is often overlooked, but paying attention to subtle changes in sound and length of sentences is important. One character’s thoughts may drag on, so their sentences are longer, while another might make short lists to contain their thoughts. Like everything making up your character, a person’s rhythm will depend on their personality, background, and goals. It could even change from scene to scene, but consistency is key.

All four of these women would tell a different story about this picture.

All four of these women would tell a different story about this picture.

One of my favorite exercises:

Write a chapter in which the two characters are talking. Write it from POV 1, and then, rewrite the exact same scene from POV 2. Check to make sure the dialogue and the physical actions are the exact same, but then, compare the thought process. How did the scene change? What does this change mean? Do they each bring a unique perspective? And out of those perspectives, which one is best to use?

As an example, two people can be talking and Person A could notice Person B is fidgeting. Person A may assume Person B is nervous, but when you tell it from Person B’s perspective, you learn that they are distracted, not nervous. These little bits can truly morph the way characters interact. I always encourage this exercise when starting out, even if the writer isn’t planning on telling from another’s perspective.

This exercise helps me understand the characters, and I feel more confident when I move onto a new scene. (Sometimes, it even helps me choose which scene to use…and worse case scenario, you have an extra scene to release as an extra for your readers.)

Have fun and good luck! 

Original posted March 31, 2013


Bad Bloods: November Rain is FREE across all eBook platforms right now! (And I’m dutifully working on the next installment, too!) Happy reading.😀

November Rain

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November Snow, 

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Bad Bloods Free Book

Bad Bloods Free Book


#WW Connecting Books Across Genres

3 Aug

I’m a young adult author who writes in various genres. I have contemporary, paranormal romance, fantasy, and science fiction published, but my two main series include a Dark vs. Light paranormal romance that takes place in the small Midwest town of Hayworth—The Timely Death Trilogy—and a science fiction duology—Bad Bloods—about children with hindering abilities fighting against an election that decides if they will continue to be executed or not. While The Timely Death Trilogy takes place in modern Kansas, Bad Bloods takes place in an undisclosed southern city bordered by the ocean and locked in by walls in the year 2089. Despite having different locations, time periods, and genres, these series are connected.

What? How?

Well, let me tell you without spoiling it for you: the characters.

If you read The Timely Death Trilogy and you also read the Bad Bloods Prequel (FREE on Wattpad), you will get to know a little girl named Violet. She is the key to the connection. But that’s all I’ll say for now.

Why did I connect these two, seemingly unrelated stories? Because they ARE related, and they always have been in my mind. I mean, they existed in my mind at the same time, after all. And so do all of my stories. Which, basically means I connect all of my novels in some way or another.

Consider it a wink to all those readers who follow every book by an author.

My books I'm discussing, The Timely Death Trilogy and Bad Bloods

My books I’m discussing, The Timely Death Trilogy and Bad Bloods

But how do I do this?

I’m not sure there’s a method, necessarily. I always tell aspiring writers to follow their gut, and this is often why. For instance, I definitely don’t know every book I will write in my life time, but by keeping my mind and heart open to the characters (and honest), I guarantee they’ll reveal a weird twist of how they got to know each other while hanging out in my mind space.

As an example? Many readers were dying for a continuation of The Timely Death Trilogy (or a happily ever after epilogue), but the truth of it was, whenever I attempted to tackle a shiny, pretty ending, I only saw my characters lives becoming more and more complicated as they grew older. (A reality, really.) And while I wanted to leave everyone on a happy note, Violet’s character in Bad Bloods is so powerful to The Timely Death Trilogy, I couldn’t deny what she wanted to say: the truth. And that truth became the connection, and to me, these connections remind us an important truth to every story.

Connecting books across genres shows that a character’s story never ends, even when the pages do.


I have new author photos! Check out my right side tool bar to see it, and of course, special thanks to Huntress Photography!

My publisher is also hosting an August Back to School Giveaway! You can win a $25 gift card to Amazon, CTP mystery boxes, November Snow, and many other books!

Bad Bloods: November Rain

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Bad Bloods: November Snow! 

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Bad Bloods: November Snow

Bad Bloods: November Snow

#WW How to Manage a Book Launch

20 Jul

Launching a book is chaotic, exciting, and fun, but it can also be daunting. What ads do I take out? How do I get reviews? When should I get reviews? Should I create teasers? WHAT DO I DO?

Simply put, there’s a different answer for everyone, especially when you consider your audience and genre, but I have a few tips to keep in mind when organizing your book’s launch.

1. Start Three Months Ahead

Books might only launch on one day, but launching the book starts three months ahead of the official launch date. Why three months? Because that’s when most retailers allow you to list a book for preorder (and I highly suggest all authors do this). That being said, this means your plan starts now, so you need to have your marketing plan ahead of time. This means you have your teasers, blog posts, blog tours, etc. figured out, so that when it comes to crunch time, you’re not rushing to get things together.

How to Manage a Book Launch

How to Manage a Book Launch

2. Think Visual, Think Virtual

Consider an array of ways to market. You don’t want to only write articles or create book teasers. Different types of marketing will reach different types of readers. Personally, I suggest starting off by creating at least ten book teasers (and releasing five leading up and five after) and writing a few blog posts about your book (why you wrote it, your writing journey, etc.). If you want to know how to create book teasers, read How to Create Book Teasers on a Small Budget. Between these two things—visual and readable—signing up to other marketing opportunities will be easier. If you have a budget, consider hiring a book tour company. They generally share your book for a week before release day across various blogging platforms. Sometimes, you’ll need guest articles and excerpts, so those above materials will come in handy. Other ideas to consider: Release short stories related to your books on Wattpad, send out newsletters on release day, and schedule a time to e-mail book bloggers who read your genre. How did I organize all of this? I released one book teaser a week on #TeaserTuesday, I posted a short story on Wattpad every other Friday, I released two book-related articles every month, sent out one newsletter every month, and I made a point to e-mail 10 book bloggers every week. This way, I knew what I needed to do and I got it done without getting too wrapped up in marketing. All of this material was prepped months in advance.

3. Paid Promos and Giveaways

If you have a budget, there are more opportunities you can take advantage of. Like I stated before, research a few book tour companies to find book bloggers that will feature your work. List a Goodreads Giveaway beforehand. These giveaways often result in readers adding your book to their TBR shelf, so they should get an e-mail on release day saying your book is now available. Take out an Instagram ad or Facebook ad if you want. Anywhere, really (depending on your budget, of course). Host your own giveaway on Rafflecopter or other social media websites. Create a Thunderclap and offer swag to supporters. Whatever type of giveaway you’re doing, be sure there’s a way for your followers to share it. This will attract new readers, and hopefully, spark everyone’s curiosity about your book release.

On the day of the launch, work hard, but also let yourself celebrate! You deserve to enjoy this moment, no matter how much marketing you were able to do. You wrote a book, finished it, and got published! Congrats! If you can schedule a physical tour, fantastic! Call up a couple of local bookstores and ask if you can host a writer’s panel and book signing. If you can’t, create a Facebook event to have a virtual launch. But be sure to party the day away.

You deserve it.


Bad Bloods is now available!

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RELEASE99cBad Bloods: November Rain released, and it’s .99¢ for release week only!

What are the latest readers saying?

“November Rain is very relatable and at the same time very inspiring, breathtaking, and beautiful. It should be read by everyone because I believe everyone will learn at least one valuable lesson from it. I also thought of The Hunger Games and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children while reading it, so if you loved those books, you should definitely check Bad Bloods out!” – Macy Loves Stories

Bad Bloods: November Snow releases next Monday, and readers are raving!

“I bawled like a baby at the end of this book. I highly recommend this story to all to read and enjoy!!” – Black Words, White Pages

“This book was an emotional roller-coaster! So much happened in this book, I couldn’t entirely believe my eyes. Recommend it? Yes!” – Daydreaming Books

I also did a character interview about Serena on Brittany M. Willows! Curious about Serena? She’s the protagonist of Bad Bloods, and we discussed her life, dreams, and what moves her. Here’s a sneak peek:

Where does she live? What’s it like there?

Serena lives in Southern Vendona, which is the countryside of a walled-in coastal town wrecked by a war that happened fifty years ago between bad bloods and the government. She’s living in the aftermath, and as a bad blood up for execution, she’s fighting to live every day. But she loves her flock—a group of 12 bad bloods who hide in a house together—and she strives to help her leader keep everything under control as an election for bad bloods’ rights approaches. Her best friend is Catelyn, and together, they share a nameless cat.

Read the full interview here.

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