Friday, March 16, 2018

Tips for Writing Scene Breaks and Transitions in Your Novel

One thing I've always envied about movies is their seamless scene transitions. A clever camera angle, a  change in music, viola! You've entered a new scene and didn't even know it happened.

How can we do that in books?

We can't.

But we don't need to, either.

Scene transitions don't need to be hidden in novels the way they do in movies. You can spot-light them if you want to. Or not. Whatever works for your story. Scene transitions can be used in a plethora of ways: To show off your sense of pacing, to create tension, to change POV and character voice, to further your plot.
Tips for Writing Scene Breaks and Transitions in Your Novel
But before we go into any of that, let's answer the question:

What is a scene break? 

Simple. Scene breaks are any time you change location, time period, or character POV in a story. They often come in the form of a new chapter, but can also be indicated mid-chapter with various symbols like: 

Or any other symbol, really. 

Okay, with that out of the way:

When do I transition from one scene to another? 

That's up to you. Next question? 

Just kidding. 

While it is up to you, let me give you some scenarios in which scene transitions are helpful: 

When a scene would be better shown from a different POV. This only applies if you're writing from multiple POVs, but: If you know a scene will be more powerful from a specific character's POV, switch over to them by using a scene break. You don't have to pick up at the exact point that the other scene left off, either. You can take it up a little bit before, a little bit after, or even a lot before or a lot after. Whatever works best. 

When you need to change locations. You don't have to show characters traveling from one place to another (unless you feel it is important to the story). Scene breaks are a good way to jump past all of those tedious details.

When you need to indicate a time lapse. Again, you don't have to show every moment of your character's life. Feel free to skip over irrelevant parts of their day, week, month, or year(s) using scene transitions.

How can I use them effectively?  

Well, you're already on the right track given that you're getting writing advice from me, Queen of Writing Advice (Princess? Noble? Errrr....Merchant? Maybe I'm a jester? Yeah. That sounds right. Crap. I don't want to be jester. Help!).

1. Use them to cut out the boring parts. Seriously. That boring scene you're writing that bores even you as you type? Nobody wants to read it. Not sure if it's boring? Pretend your reader is Sherlock and then see if the scene holds up (hint: It probably won't).
Unless the scene has some vital piece of information, skip it. Transition into a new scene. Even if it does have a vital piece of information, you can probably transition to a newer, more exciting scene and add that information there.

2. Use them to build tension. You know how authors put cliffhangers at the end of novels? You can use that same principle for scene breaks, but just on a smaller scale. So, retaining-wall-hangers instead of cliffhangers. Yes. That's a completely legitimate name for it. You can transition away just when things are reaching its peak. Keeps people on their toes. However, be sure to read point 4 to make sure you aren't overdoing it.

3. Use them to keep secrets. Does one of your characters know an important plot point you don't want to reveal to your reader until later? Transition into a new scene from a different character's POV. Or even a new scene with the same character, but just in a scenario where they wouldn't be thinking of or acting on the secret. That being said...

4. Don't use them so often that you disorient or frustrate your reader. You don't want to head-hop so often that your reader loses track of which character is doing what. And you don't want to have so many retaining-wall-hangers (stop smirking! It's a totally acceptable name) that your reader loses faith in your ability to tie up loose ends or produce a satisfying climax.

What are the rules? 

Pffft. Please. Have you learned nothing from this blog? There are no writing rules. Just guidelines. And those ones aren't always good or helpful. But I'll humor you here: 

Don't have too many scene breaks too close together. Generally, a standard 10-page chapter has about one or two scene breaks in it (supposing the author uses scene breaks...many don't). But of course there's no reason you can't do more than that. Just make sure it doesn't mess with your story's flow and pacing. 

Be consistent. You want to try to maintain the same number of scene breaks per chapter. Supposedly. Personally? I think this is idiotic. But I generally think that about most writing rules, so...I guess you'll just have to figure out what works best for you. Use your head. 
C'mon. It's not that scary. 

The way you transition does not have to be uniform. You don't have to have the same type of transition style in each scene (some will say you will, know my feelings on writing rules). If you need the scene to end abruptly for pacing or mood reasons, then cut the scene off abruptly. If you want to end the scene with a piece of dialogue, do so. If you feel symbolism is the way to go, dive on in. 

*dusts off hands* I didn't think I could stretch a discussion on scene breaks into a full blog post, but I did. Yay!

Just remember these key points and you'll be fine: 1) Use scene breaks and transitions to be not-boring. 2) Be like Loki. Do what you want. 

Have tips and tricks of your own for writing scene breaks and transitions? Or maybe you have questions? Please leave them in the comment section! 

Have writing, reading, or writer's life questions? Use the hashtag #ChatWithHannah below or on social media to have them answered on my Youtube channel!

Related articles:
How to Effectively Write from Multiple POVs
What To Do When Your Story Bogs Down
8 Ways To Use Movie Watching To Improve Your Writing
Why You Shouldn't Listen to Writing Tips Blogs

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Friday, March 9, 2018

How to Use Youtubing and Podcasting to Build Your Author Platform

What if I told you that there is a place you can find amazing books, blog posts, and podcasts by a group of talented indie authors? Would you be excited?


Get ready to be excited.

Phoenix Fiction Writers is an indie marketing collective. We write weekly blog posts about writing, marketing, and being an indie author. We record monthly podcasts on different writing topics. We write a new chapter of a serial story every month.

Who is "we" you ask? E.B. Dawson. Beth Wangler. J.E. Purrazzi. K.L.+Pierce. Kyle Robert Schultz. And me, myself, and I.

Yep. That's the dream team right there.

Anyway. Today, I'm going to point you towards a blog post I recently wrote for PFW on using Youtube and podcasting to build your author platform. In case you hadn't noticed, these two multimedias are ones I've been starting to dabble in recently....with #ChatWithHannah, #ChatWithIndieAuthor, and hosting the PFW podcast. It has been an amazing and helpful experience so far, so I wanted to share some of the things I've learned along the way.
How to Use Youtubing and Podcasting to Build Your Author Platform
Building an author’s platform can be hard work. It takes time, sweat, creativity, and, sometimes, gallons of caffeine.

Thankfully, the internet is always providing us authors with new, interesting ways to building up our following and market our writing. Currently, two of the new(ish) marketing tools have presented themselves in the form of Youtube and podcasting. These multimedias give us the chance to greatly extend our reach without having to invest a lot of time or money.

How can you get started?

The possibilities are endless. Let’s start with going over ways you can use each platform, what each platform is good for, and what you’d need to get started:

Awesome. If you have any questions or comment about this topic or PFW in general, please leave them on the PFW blog post or on this blog post. Either works. I'd love to hear your thoughts! 

Have writing, reading, or writer's life questions? Use the hashtag #ChatWithHannah below or on social media to have them answered on my Youtube channel!

Related articles: 
11 Tips for Building a Successful Writer's Platform
Building Your Writing Platform: 13 Tips for Winning at Twitter

Enjoy this post? Take a look around. If you like what you see, please don't forget to subscribe by email for a new post every week!

Some links are Amazon affiliate links. Thank you for your support.

Friday, March 2, 2018

9 Tips for Writing Physically Disabled Characters in Fantasy

There are two things I would love to see more of in literature:

1. More Batman comic books. Because...Batman.

2. More fantasy books with physically disabled characters. many reasons. Let's talk about a few of them.

Fantasy is an amazing genre meant to inspire a sense of wonder and courage and hope. Fantasy is capable of being a reflection of our own world, but with unique and wonderful twists.

And, yet, often times it doesn't do these things. It is very rarely a reflection of our world. How can it be? After all, there are a lot of physically disabled people here on earth. But how many are there in the fantasy genre? Barely any. And that's a problem.
9 Tips for Writing Physically Disabled Characters in Fantasy
Sure, sometimes the physically disabled get represented in fiction that delves into what it looks like to be disabled. That's cool. But can we not be depicted in fantasy novels as well? Do you know how uplifting that would be? Think about it. There's a reason people loved Black Panther so much. After years and years of the African and African American community being featured in books and movies about black suffrage, they were finally represented in an action movie that showed them as heroes and people of power with a rich history and culture. They were finally treated as "regular" characters, not "diverse characters." And that's huge.

We can do the same when it comes to the physically disabled: Show them as humans first and disabilities second. It's not hard.

And, yet, there's something about physically disabled characters that seem to be taboo in the fantasy novel writing realm. Authors are skirting around the subject. Why? I can guess at a few reasons:

Authors find it restricting to write characters that are disabled. They're limited in what they can do: Physically disabled characters can't run, fight, or be badass. They'd probably just die immediately. Right?

Authors don't feel they have the right to write disabled characters. If you aren't physically disabled, you can't write a physically disabled character. I mean, sure. You can write characters that are of different genders, different races, different religions, but a different level of able-ness? *gasps* How is that possible?

Do you hear that? That's the sound of me groaning and rolling my eyes.
Let me help you help me stop rolling my eyes. Here are some tips you can use when writing physically disabled characters in fantasy:

1. Broaden your scope. Physical disability is something that prevents a person from normal body movement, function, or control. Do you know how many different types of disabilities fall into that category? Tons. Which is unfortunate, but guess what? That means you can be as creative as you'd like to be. There's MS, crippled, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, various spinal problems, various types of chronic pain, chronic fatigue, and more. On top of that, you are free to make up your own types of physical disabilities.

2. Don't be afraid to make them your main character. Despite what you may think, having a disabled main character isn't impossible. It requires creativity which, surprise surprise, is necessary for any type of novel-writing. So maybe your character has a hard time walking. He can use his cane as a weapon...or perhaps he's can be an expert scholar or magician or equestrian or dragon-rider or griffin-rider or any-type-of-mythical-creature-rider. So maybe your character is in constant pain. Well, she probably has a high pain tolerance, making her a perfect, badass, scary warrior. Don't for one moment think that having a disabled character will limit your fantasy story. Because you know what? One thing your disabled character will certainly have is a unique outlook on life...and also a huge amount of determination. That's perfect material for an amazing character. Go for it.

3. Never lose sight of the disability. Disability shapes a person whether they want it to or not. It determines how they live their day to day life, either because they aren't physically capable of doing things "normally" or because the disability has so influenced their personality that they live differently (either for better or worse). So every time you write about this character, you need to ask yourself: How does their disability enter into the situation? You need to be able to look at things zoomed out: If they have chronic fatigue, how does that play into them being able to captain a ship across an ocean? You also need to see things zoomed in: If they have a crippled arm, would they be able to easily roll underneath a fence to escape a pursuer or would their arm get in the way? Always, always, always pause to think about how your character's disability enters into everything from plot to character development to dialogue to individual scenes.

4. Don't define your character by their disability. While you shouldn't ever lose sight of the disability, you shouldn't get lost in it, either. A helpful tip? Change the way you view your character: As a being (elf, dwarf, human, etc) first and a disability second. This will allow you to create a well-rounded character. Also, understand that their story doesn't need to revolve around their disability. In fact, it probably should not (harken back to my Black Panther commentary above). Give your character hopes, dreams, skills, personality traits, and background outside of their disability. Develop them as you would any other character.

5. Do your research. What, you thought writing fantasy means you don't have to research anything? Ha. That's funny.
Though your disabled character does live in a made-up world, you still have to research to make sure that you are accurately portraying the life of a disabled person. If you are basing their disability after a real one, you need to look into the real disability. Even if you've made up a disability, you'll want to pull symptoms from various illnesses/disabilities to add realness to your character. AND you'll absolutely need to talk with disabled people (either online or in person) to learn about the daily struggles their lives hold. As mentioned above, disability changes everything in a person's life. If you don't do your research, you'll overlook important facts and your character will fall flat.

6. Take world-building into account. Seriously. Skipping this step would be the equivalent of the 2015 Fantastic Four movie. Translation: It would be really, really bad. This is a fantasy novel, isn't it? World building is important, isn't it? Don't think for one moment that disability shouldn't in some way connect with multiple aspects of your world. A few examples:
  • Religion. In our world, often times physical disability was (and still is, in some areas) seen as a curse by a specific deity. This may be the same in your world. OR it may be the opposite. It depends. But put some thought into it. 
  • Magic. Can magic cause, fix, alleviate, or worsen a disability? Why or why not? 
  • Survival. Is your world a place where people with disabilities can easily survive? Are there specific jobs they can have? Or will they be cast aside, shunned, unable to obtain work or food? How disability friendly are various cities and races? 
  • Healing. Can your disabled character go somewhere for treatment? A healer? Shaman? Apothecary? 
  • Social status. Are the disabled frowned upon or looked up to? Why? 
  • Transportation. If a character can't walk, how do they get from place to place? A wheelchair? What is it made of and is it powered by magic? Can they travel by dragon? What about palanquin? A flying carpet? How expensive are each of these modes of transportation? Are some only accessible to the rich? 
Think long and hard about how disability ties into your world building. This will strengthen character, plot, and world.

7. Don't use the Magical Healing trope. The what? The "Yeah, my character was disabled, but there's a magical cure and he's all better now" trope. That's incredibly unhelpful. I'm not saying that you should never, ever do this, but....You probably shouldn't. What's the point? If you're going to do this, you may as well write an able-bodied character.

8. Don't kill them off. PLEASE. I know this is completely new, shocking information, but it is discouraging for disabled people to read fantasy novels where the disabled character dies just to provide development for another character.

9. Don't worry about not being physically disabled yourself. To answer the question that I know a lot of you are wondering: No, you don't need to be physically disabled to write a physically disabled character. I plan to write an entire post explaining why, but for now: Just write. Write the character you want to write. Bring a new, unique character into the fantasy genre. And don't let anybody tell you that you don't have the compassion, skill, or ability to write a character who is different from yourself.

Have tips you'd like to add? Please leave them below, along with any questions you may have. Also, if you know of any fantasy novels that have a well developed physically disabled main character (or, at the very least, a well-done secondary character), please let me know! I'm always looking for new books to read. Thanks!

Have writing, reading, or writer's life questions? Use the hashtag #ChatWithHannah below or on social media to have them answered on my Youtube channel!

Related articles:
7 Tips for Writing a Character with a Chronic Illness
4 Fundamental Errors in the Diverse Books Campaign (And How to Fix Them)
Enjoy this post? Take a look around. If you like what you see, please don't forget to subscribe by email for a new post every week!

Some links are Amazon affiliate links. Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Ep 6 of #ChatWithIndieAuthor: S. Alex Martin

S. Alex Martin writes sci-fi and is the author of the inspiring Recovery series. In this video he discusses using sci-fi to inspire a love for science, realistic character arcs, sci-fi tropes to avoid, and more.

Remember: You can listen to this chat on iTunes!

Are you following S. Alex Martin online? If not, then you’re making a huge mistake. Swing by and say hello:





Find his books by clicking here.

Interested in learning more about the science conference in Finland that he mentioned? Check it out:

When is the next #ChatWithIndieAuthor episode? Excellent query, friend. Wednesday, March 28th will bring us a chat with speculative fiction author M.D. Tolman. Have questions for him? Leave a comment below or on social media using the hashtag!

Like this video and want to support my writing efforts? Subscribe to my channel or buy my short stories ( Or both!

Related articles:
Ep 5 of #ChatWithIndieAuthor: J.E. Purrazzi
Episode 3 of #ChatWithIndieAuthor: Kyle Robert Shultz

Enjoy this post? Take a look around. If you like what you see, please don't forget to subscribe by email for a new post every Friday!

Some links are Amazon affiliate. Thank you for your support!

Friday, February 23, 2018

8 Ways To Use Movie Watching To Improve Your Writing

As I'm sure nobody has noticed, I'm a huge movie fan. Particularly superhero movies. Especially The Dark Knight. I am also, according to various reviews of various stories (Colors of Fear and Skies of Dripping Gold), a good writer. Coincidence? I think not!

I'm kidding. Could this be a huge coincidence? Yep.

But, in my case, I do know that watching movies thoughtfully and passionately has taught me many, many different writing tips and tricks. How can you use movie watching as a way to improve your writing? Pull up a chair (or a couch, given that this post will probably end up inspiring you to become a couch potato). Let's talk movies.
8 Ways To Use Movie Watching To Improve Your Writing
1. Pay attention to what's shown on screen. Movies are very intentional about what's shown on screen (the good ones, anyway). It's called Mise-en-scène: Everything that's shown in a scene, encompassing actors, props, lighting, space, etc. Apply this to your descriptive writing. Just as movies are (or at least should be) intentional about what is shown, how it's shown, and when it's shown, so should your descriptive writing follow similar rules.

2. Study the pacing in movies. You can do this for books, but it's easiest to apply to movies because movies can be consumed in around 2 hours and often have fewer subplots than novels. When watching movies, pay attention and ask yourself: When did we first meet the main character? When did the inciting incident happen? When did the climax take place? How did the movie avoid the "middle section lag"? Where there any times I lost interest in the film? Make mental (or physical) notes. This can give you a good idea of how pacing is used to move a story along. You can then take what you've learned and apply it to your story.

3. Study the camera usage in different scenes. This may seem useless to you. After all, you're a writer. Cameras don't enter into the equation. Pffft. That's what you think. Are you ready to learn something cool? Sentence structure can be directly related to camera usage. For instance: Shaky hand-held camerawork (think The Bourne Supremacy) is the film equivalent of using fragmented sentences: They're used in tense, action-packed situations. Long shots (a camera shot that is zoomed way out to show surroundings) is similar to a descriptive paragraph. Close-ups (it's what it sounds like, dummy) would closely match written scenes that convey strong character emotion. If you take note of when and how these different techniques are used, you can apply them to your writing. For instance: Long shots are often used when there's a change in scenery, which would translate to you writing in some description with each scene change. Oh, and speaking of scene changes....

4. Notice when and how movies change scenes. I'm always surprised when I get questions like: How do I jump from one scene to another? Do I have to show everything a character does in a day or only parts? How can I show a passage of time? My answer: Watch movies.
Movies are excellent at changing scenes smoothly, so take note of when and why a scene ends. Look at all of the different ways a passage of time is indicated: Description, dialogue, character demeanor. Use that to guide you through how and when to change scenes in your own story.

5. Watch movies in and outside of your genre. Sure, you can get lots of character, plot, and worldbuilding ideas by watching movies that are your same genre. But you can get even more from watching those outside of your genre. It shakes things up and allows you to see new storytelling techniques that you might not otherwise encounter.

6. Watch terrible movies. Terrible movies are incredibly educational because it helps you quickly find what it is that placed that movie in the Cone of Shame. Are the characters horrible? What made them that way and how could it have been avoided? Is it too slow? How could they have corrected the pacing? Is the world-building confusing (*cough* Looking at you, Netflix's Bright *cough* *cough*)? What caused the confusion and where could it have been corrected? You can do this exact same study with books, sure. But it's a lot easier to sit through a terrible movie in one day than it is to trudge your way through a terrible book in one week.

7. Watch movies from the 40s and 50s and pay attention to the dialogue.
Yes, this tip is incredibly specific. Why 40s and 50s? Because the writing in those movies is unparalleled. And the dialogue, specifically in RomComs, is unmatched. If you've ever seen one, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't seen one, start with these: The Thin Man, Bringing Up Baby, Arsenic and Old Lace, Double Wedding, Holiday, Desk Set. Note how dialogue is used: Character's don't often say what they mean, and the dialogue is directly tied to pacing, character development, and mood. Also notice how characters move when they talk: Are they sitting, standing, performing an action? What expression is plastered on their face? If you take what you've learned from these movies and try to follow their dialogue rules in your own writing, you can't go wrong.

8. Notice how many people it takes to make a film. Seriously. Watch the credits. Do you see the crazy amount of people it takes to make a movie? The head creator wasn't on their own. You shouldn't be, either. Just as directors and writers have people to talk to about costume design, lighting, character arcs, set design, etc, you should have people you can talk to about: "Is this a stupid idea?" and "How's this character arc?" and "Is this culturally accurate?" and more. And, just like as a movie set is full of people, you should be able to get outside every once in a while and *gasps of horror* be in the near vicinity of other humans. It's a good way to get ideas and, you know, not ruin your health by staring at a computer screen for hours on end.

And those are just a few ways you can use movies to improve your writing. Know of any others? Please let me know in the comment section! I'm always looking for new reasons to see movies. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch The Dark Knight. For the 42nd time.

Related articles:
9 Ways to Use Reading to Improve Your Writing
6 Easy Ways to Gain Writing Inspiration

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

#ChatWithHannah Ep 8: On World Building, Book-to-Movie Adaptations, and More

Today we talk about world-building, book-to-movie adaptations, how to lead the writer's life when you’re tired and have a lot on your plate, and how to stay focused on a story you’ve been writing for a long time. I also discuss my new found love for attempting digital artwork, as well as what drove me to become a writer.

Posts mentioned in the video: 

How to properly read a manga (I'm not sure why I had such a hard time explaining this concept...It's not that difficult. *sheepish grin*) 

Recommended drama manga: 
The next #ChatWithHannah video is coming out on March 21st, so leave a question below or use the hashtag on social media to get answers. 

The #ChatWithIndieAuthor interview with S. Alex Martin will be up on February 28th, so keep an eye out because it is a great chat. 

Like this video and want to support my writing efforts? Subscribe to my channel or buy my short stories. Or both!

Related articles:
#ChatWithHannah Episode 4: NaNoWriMo Tips, Favorite Movies, and Overcoming Writer's Block
#ChatWithHannah Ep 7: Batman, Large Character Casts, and Concise Short Stories

Enjoy this post? Take a look around. If you like what you see, don't forget to subscribe by email for a new post every Friday!

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

How to Write A Blog Post When You Have Zero Time or Ideas (A Guide by A Busy, Exhausted Blogger)

Despite what you see on Instagram, the blogger's life is far from glamorous. It's not #fab. Nor is it #flawless or #BloggersofInstagram. It's messy desks, an even messier whiteboard, dirty mugs, half-eaten chocolate bars, and blog post ideas scribbled on random pieces of paper sticking out from underneath the bed, protruding from desk drawers, and smushed between books and dust bunnies.

At least that's what my blogging life looks like. Yes, it is entirely possible that I'm the one blogger who just can't get her act together. This occurs to me as I sit on my bed and ponder my current situation:

It's Thursday and I know I have a blog due to publish tomorrow. I also know that I have to leave for work (#AdultingProbs) and school (#CollegeStudentLife) in about an hour and won't be back until 6:15 PM, at which point I will be too tired and annoyed to write anything (#SoDone). By glancing at my whiteboard, I realize that I have used up all my blog post ideas, so I can't just pull one from there and get to work. This means that I have to formulate a blog post idea and execute it in less than an hour.

Can I do it?

Yes. Absolutely.

How do I know this? Because I've been in this situation about a million times (#NeverLearn).

If you're reading this post, it probably means that you have, too. OR it means that you're here looking to be entertained by my psychotic blogging methods. Either way, you're in for a treat:

Let's talk about how to write a blog post when you have no ideas or time:
How to Write A Blog Post When You Have Zero Time or Ideas (A Guide by A Busy, Exhausted Blogger)
Step 1: Don't panic. Seriously. Your computer can smell fear. Do not give it the upper hand. Approach your computer slowly and calmly. Look it directly in the webcam and let it know who's boss: You. That mess, rumpled, behind-on-everything, blogger.

Step 2: Check your list of ideas. What list? Well, ideally you have a list on your whiteboard or computer (or both) that you add to anytime you get a blog post idea. Though, if you're like me, you've probably forgotten to update it...or nothing on the list is suitable for your current situation, which is: Don't-think-just-write-full-speed-ahead-oh-gosh-I'm-going-to-be-late-to-work-help. If this is the case, then:

Step 3: Think about the quickest, simplest topic possible. The one you know inside and out. It could be a list of comic books and manga you enjoy or twists writers should put on the chosen one trope. It could be a rant on romance in YA novels or maybe you can catch up on one of those blog tag challenges. Something. Anything. If you're still stuck, send out an SOS on twitter like this one:

Step 4: Don't worry about whether people will think it's a cop-out post. This is your blog. If they don't like it, you can show them the door (#IfYouDon'tHaveSomethingNiceToSay). Besides, nobody is reading your blog consistently to try and catch you doing something wrong. Either they read your blog each week because they like your writing or they just pick and choose which posts of yours appeal to them. Either of these reader types will be fine with what you decide to post because one type will love it unconditionally and the other type won't be interested this week, but will try again next week.

Step 5: Write the thing. Now. Right now. Fast and furious. Play some Twenty One Pilots or EDM and get to it. Don't pause. Don't edit. Right down the words as they come to you. If they don't come to you, then chase them down by gulping some tea or scrolling through your Pinterest nerd-references board really quickly (set a timer for 2-minutes). Does what you just wrote suck? Yeah, probably. But keep going anyway (#GoBigOrGoHome).

Step 6: Edit the thing. No macro edits. Don't change entire paragraphs or anything like that. Ain't nobody got time for that. Just edit for typos and sentences that make zero sense (Hint: there will be a lot of them).

Step 7: Throw in some gifs. Because people are visual and it may distract them from all of your typos. And also make your post seem not so incredibly long. Maybe. Probably not. But whatever.

Step 8: Do all those annoying blogger things you have to do. Like creating a cover image, adding labels to your post, customizing the permalink, embedding social media sharing buttons, and making sure that all links open into a new window. Pause and try to recall the other annoying details you always forget.
Oh. Right. Type up an alt text to your cover image so that it looks nice on Pinterest (though they'll probably change the algorithm again, so who knows if this is even worth it?). Add the "related articles" section that you're pretty sure nobody ever pays attention to. Next, add the "subscribe" text at the bottom of the post that you're absolutely sure nobody ever pays attention to. And don't forget your Amazon affiliate disclaimer. You're not sure what exactly the point of it is, but you read somewhere that you could get sued if you didn't, so in it goes. Just in case.

Step 9: Realize that your post will have mistakes. A lot. The number of typos may be unparalleled....In fact, you probably broke some kind of Guinness World Record. But you don't have time to edit it again, sooo....¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Step 10: Freak out because your post will have mistakes. Just a little bit. Though, if you're feeling super tired or super proud of yourself for having pounded out an entire post in 45-minutes flat, you can feel free to skip this step.

Step 11: Congratulate yourself. Who just averted the catastrophe of breaking your "A New Post Every Friday" streak? You. Be proud.

Step 11: Be worried that people will realize that you are a fraud. Panic because what if they find out that you're blogging methods are so erratic? What if they can tell that you just wrote the thing in 45-minutes? What if they put you in Blogger Jail (#Fail)?

Step 13: Shrug it off. Who are they to judge, anyway? Nobody. Can they write a post in 45-minutes? No? Well then. Any criticism isn't really relevent, then, is it?

Step 14: Publish the thing. Slam the "publish" button. Do it. Do it now.

Step 15: Repeat again in a few weeks. Because #LivingOnTheEdge and #Procrastinator and #IDoWhatIWant.

Aaand there you have it. That's how you write a blog post when you have no ideas and zero time. You're welcome.

What does your panicked, procrastinating blogging method look like? Let me know if the comment section below!

Also, I'm curious: Now that I have revealed my writing secrets: How many of you were actually aware of the fact that about 70% of my blog posts are written by the seat of my pants? And that 99% of them are written the day before I publish them? Let's have a show of hands! I must know.

Related articles:
7 Tips for Balancing Your Writing with the Rest of Life
Why You Need to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Writers (And How to Do It)
Enjoy this post? Take a look around. If you like what you see, don't forget to subscribe by email for a new post every Friday (and the occasional Monday and Wednesday)!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Using Real-Life People to Inspire an Original Cast of Characters - A Guest Post by Hope Pennington

You may be wondering: What? A guest post? What's going on? 

Let me explain.

Hope Pennington is awesome. She, in her awesomeness, has stepped up to cover for me this Friday as I do my event coordinating for WriteOnCon (If you don't know what WriteOnCon is, go watch this video, then register and jump on in! It's not too late!). In this post she talks about how we often overlook some of the best pieces of inspiration for creating a fascinating cast of characters: Our next door neighbors. So hunker down and read this post to learn about all the ways you can use people in your own life to enrich your characters and bring your story to life: 


It's a fact.

Most books have the same 4 characters as every other.
  • The strong young white male hero 
  • The psychopathic young white male villain 
  • The less powerful more charming young white male friend 
  • The young white pretty female friend 
Some people change up one part of the stereotype to be different.

A popular one right now is switching the hero to a strong young white female.

But is being different really the problem here?

Not only are these characters carbon copies of each other which gets old and boring but they are only one story. A story and cast I have personally never seen in my real life.

Are writers so busy watching TV and reading books that show these same 4 characters that they forget the most exciting character of all?...

Their next door neighbors.
Using Real-Life People to Inspire an Original Cast of Characters - A Guest Post by Hope Pennington
If you asked me to write a book using only the people I saw for one day of my everyday life these are the characters I'd have to choose from.
  • A curvy middle aged black lady who's all puns and jokes and works at HEB 
  • Her sister just as curvy who laughs too hard at her sister's jokes, who buys all of her clothes at WallMart and smiles every day of her life
  • A heavy twelve year old boy with a Mohawk, a love of sweets and the most mature, respectful, and confident kindness I've seen on anyone
  • A middle-aged businesswoman who talks fast, frowns, and is always in a rush 
  • A young white couple with a man who bosses around his pregnant, giggling wife until she snaps and barks back, getting her way 
  • A pretty young Hispanic girl, small and laid back who's quite down to earth and comfortable 
  • A young black man with long stylish hair and a new elaborate new thrift store outfit every day with a voice of silk that could put anyone to sleep, a pretty face, who speaks deep proverbs 
  • A middle-aged Hispanic lady who speaks in broken English and thanks everyone for everything every two seconds 
  • A trans woman with the highest IQ on the block, beautiful eyes, and an Australian accent 
  • An Asian dad who wears a sweater even on a hot day and makes passive-aggressive jokes 
  • His quite teen daughter who never talks 
  • His seven-year-old boy who never stops and can't make up his mind 
  • A middle-aged black man with the kindest heart of anyone who's a computer science genius but runs a candy shop as well and loves to make wood crafts 
These are just a few of the people I meet in a day of being me. Imagine if I wrote a book with them as the characters instead of the cliche paper cutouts used and overused by most people?

Not only would my book have a unique and diverse cast, but I didn't even have to make them up. They are more complicated than I ever could've imagined because they are actually real.

You don't have to look far to create an original cast.

And for the people saying I'm trying to force diversity in: These are just the people I meet in everyday life. It seems more like I'd have to force them out if I wrote a mostly male, mostly white, mostly young cast of characters.

And not only that but the stories of the real people around you are more exciting than you could've ever imagined.

I challenge you. For just one day in your life write down a brief profile of everyone you meet and use them (or someone like them) in your next story. Also start taking note of the TV and books you take in and how much their cast and reality align with each other.

You may be surprised at how boring these stories become in light of real characters.

There's just one more group of people that I think you're overlooking when putting together your book who could be of immeasurable inspiration. Your family. You have a people group of diverse personalities who you've spent your whole life with. Ask them how they think. How they process things. Incorporate that into your character construction.

Prepare to see your characters come to life in a way you never thought possible because, as odd as it may seem: 

Truth is stranger than fiction.

And there are so many stories waiting to be told.


Like Hope's writing thoughts? Yeah, I do, too. If you want to obtain more of her awesomeness, you can follow her here: 

Her WebsiteHer InstagramHer Youtube

Related articles: 

8 Different Kinds of Strengths to Give Your Characters
Writing a Compelling Hero: 7 Tips With Examples
Enjoy this post? Take a look around. If you like what you see, don't forget to subscribe by email for a new post every Friday (and the occasional Monday and Wednesday)!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

All About WriteOnCon: An Epic Online Writing Conference You Should Attend

WritOnCon is an amazing and affordable online writing conference happening from 02/09-02/11. In this video, I tell you all about it: How it works, why you should attend, where you can register, and how to get the most out of the event. I'm the Live Events Coordinator for WriteOnCon, so I know what I'm talking about (which is very rare, so you'll want to watch this video just for that): 
Sound like something you'd like to attend? Awesome instinct! You can register here
And don't forget to spread the news about WriteOnCon so all your writer friends can get in on the action! 

Here are all the promised links mentioned in the above video: 

Going to attend this event? Comment below so I can look for you in the forums and comments sections to say hello! 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Colors of Fear Is Out Now! Join the Release Party Fun!

Colors of Fear is officially out!


*throws confetti*

*runs around in circles*

*falls over* *gets back up* *jumps up and down*

Who's excited? MEEEEE!

You can now grab yourself a copy on Amazon (click here for Kindle and here for paperback) or Barnes & Noble (the paperback version is coming soon to B&N). Pick up an ebook or paperback. Whichever catches your fancy....Though the paperbacks are pretty darn awesome looking, if I do say so myself.
Now, I know it's hard to contain your excitement, but let's focus for just a second so I can announce one special thing:

Live streams! 

That's right. I'm going to do some live streams today and tomorrow as fun little release parties. Want to join in? Awesome! Here's the schedule. Be sure to subscribe to/follow all of the below links so you get a notification when I go live:

Friday, 02/02 at 9:30 AM PST on Youtube
Saturday, 02/03 at 12 noon PST on Twitter
Saturday, 02/03 at 5 PM PST on Facebook

These streams will be roughly 10 minutes long, though they may run a bit longer. They're a place where we can all gather (me in a video and you in the comment section) and throw around questions and comments about Colors of Fear and The Terebinth Tree Chronicles in general. So get ready to read up so you can be prepared for the live streams! Of course, you're also more than welcome to join if you haven't read the story. 

Mark your calendars, follow me on the above social networks, and leave a comment below to let me know that you're coming! I can't wait to chat with you. I've never done a live stream like this before, so it'll be an adventure. 

Okay. Before you all head off, I'd like to mention: I would LOVE your help with marketing this story. Here are some things you can do to help me, Hannah, Your Favorite Blogger, The 
Bestest Youtuber, The World's Most Amazing Author (okay, maybe some of those are a bit of a stretch): 
  • Buy Colors of Fear. Duh. That probably goes without saying, but I thought I'd mention it just in case. 
  • Leave a review. Seriously. It doesn't have to be long, but it will make a HUGE difference. Leave it on Amazon, on Barnes & Noble, and on Goodreads. And no, you don't have to give me 5-stars. Be honest. I promise not to call up my friend Batman and have him beat you up. 
  • Share the book online by sharing the Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and website pages on any and all social media networks.
  • Recommend Colors of Fear on Goodreads. 
  • Tell your family and friends. 
  • Create fanart and post it online. And don't forget to send it to me so I can put it on my website! I LOVE seeing fanart...especially because I can't draw to save my life, so it's fun to see other people's renditions of my characters or worlds. Have questions about character details? Check out the character profile page on my website or leave questions for me below! I'll fill you in on any info you may need. 
  • Blog about it.
  • Youtube about it. 
  • Take pictures of yourself reading Colors of Fear and post it online. This is one of my absolute favorite things, so be sure to tag me in any posts. 
  • Interview me on your blog or Youtube. I'm always up for interviews, so ask away! 
  • Buy a hot air balloon and shower copies down upon all of the peasants. 
  • Test out whatever other fun marketing technique you can think of. 
    Okay, got it? Good. Let's make some noise! 

    But, most importantly: Have fun reading Colors of Fear. I am beyond excited to finally let you into a world that I have been crafting for years. I hope you enjoy!

    Related articles:
    Colors of Fear: Now Available for Pre-Order! 
    Colors of Fear: Cover Reveal and Q&A

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