Tagged: My Writing Journey

I was tagged by Lisa Stapleton to write these three things:

1. Where are you at in your writing journey?

I have a novella and a full-length novel published, and a published anthology piece! I have three more books I’m working on that are done and just need edits. Plus, the new Marjorie Diaz book should come out sometime earlier 2019.

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2. What advice would you give to young writers?   

Don’t be discouraged if you can’t write every day or if you can only write 100 or 500 words a day at first.

Eventually, you’re going to sit down at your computer and be able to write without thinking about it. And eventually, the more you do it, you’ll be able to crank out 1,000 or 10,000 a day!

But it is not without hard work. Writing sometimes feels like a chore or like pulling teeth and you will be stressed out and upset and angry A LOT. But it is so rewarding to put your story out into the world at the end of all that anger and resentment.

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3. Things you need daily in order to function as a writer: 

-headphones
-a snack
-video game break
-my cats

That’s 4 things, but I think I’ve earned them.

Teasers: Marjorie Diaz Book 1

Marjorie Diaz has no idea who this guy, Patrick Watkins, is. When he saunters into her senior seminar class during her last semester of college, the last thing she expected was to fall in love with him.

Fall in love with them today!

More about Marjorie Diaz

Girl meets boy. Girl falls in love with boy. Boy hunts girl for sport.

Marjorie Diaz has no idea who Patrick Watkins is. When he saunters into her senior seminar class during her last semester of college, the last thing she expects is to fall in love with him.

She’s swept up into a whirlwind—and often times fairytale-esque—romance. That is, until his family kidnaps her and sends her to a place she never thought she would go again.

Now, with the help of her best friend Lucian Maravalle, she has to run for her life, and try not to think too hard about the fact that everyone she loves has been keeping a dangerous secret. A secret that could cost Marjorie her life.

Book one in the Marjorie Diaz series.

Cover art by Ariel LeAnn of Cat’s Paw Media

**THIS TITLE IS LGBT WITH A FULL LGBT AND POC CAST**

Get your copy here

How to Review Books

Recently I published a tweet talking about how important it is to review the works you read. Every single book your reading deserves a review, whether it’s good, bad, or ugly. You owe it to the author to tell them what you thought. 

Another thing I get is “How do I review a book?” or “How do I make my review sound good?” 

And honestly, that isn’t something you should worry about. How did the book make you feel? What were things you personally liked or disliked about it?

Reviews are your way of telling the author that you enjoyed something they wrote or to criticize them constructively on things you didn’t like. Or even both at the same time. 

It is absolutely 100% okay to write a review that simply says “I really liked this story! I can’t wait to read more from you in the future!”

You don’t have to write a novel. All you have to do is give the author the praise and recognition they deserve.

Now that I’m in the writing industry, THIS is my biggest pet peeve

I’ve made a lot of wonderful friends now that I’ve broken into the writing industry, but there’s one thing that bothers me.

I’ve been doing author takeovers and that’s when you promote your book and do giveaways on someone else’s book release or whatever. Anyways, I won 29 books in the past few days. I love book freebies. I just do. I spend more of my meager paycheck on books as it is. If I can get them for free I will eventually read them.

However, most of these books are romance. Which is fine, I like romance, especially gay romance or romantic comedy. Did I receive any of these in my freebies? No.

Out of the 24 authors that signed up to do this author takeover, I was the one one who wrote gay lit.

Let me repeat that for emphasis: Out of the 24 authors that signed up to do this author takeover, I was the one one who wrote gay lit.

This upsets me because I became a writer to provide representation for the LGBT community without all that nasty fetish bullshit. Now that I’m here there are almost no LGBT authors I know personally who don’t write fetish.

I don’t understand why it’s so hard to find a wlw book that’s well-written and isn’t thinly guised erotica to pleasure men.

When I wrote Bloom: A Monster Love Novella, the plan was to write a book where I had well thought out female characters with real personalities and wants and needs. Now I’m losing out and being crushed by erotica. Straight erotica.

There’s sex in Bloom: A Monster Love Novella if that’s what you want. It isn’t the kind of sex erotica has. It’s awkward and sweet and they talk about it before they have sex because that’s what sex is. Awkward.

Recently, Malinda Lo posted a twitter thread about how hard it is to write for a marginalized audience. Malinda Lo writes books for lesbians and I absolutely adore most of her titles. I own every book she’s ever written and she is a huge influence for me. I wish there were more people like her.

I’m going to keep trying and keep pushing despite this. I don’t want to live in a world where there aren’t books to represent people who deserve representation.

That’s why I write books with:

  • POC characters (despite a lot of my white friends thinking it’s weird that, despite being white myself, I crave diversity in TV shows and books)
  • Lesbians
  • Transgenderwomen
  • Transgender men
  • Women in general (There are not enough women in books and that is a shame. And the women that are in books seem to only want to serve their male love interest. WHY?)
  • Gay men
  • Asexual men and women
  • People with mental illness
  • Agendered people
  • Bisexual and pansexual people
  • Demisexual people
  • Intersex people
  • Gays who aren’t tragic
  • Books where LGBTQIA+ is normalized and no one bats an eye about people being trans or gay or bi or anything.
  • Stories where my characters aren’t defined by their genitals or who they decide to fall in love with (or not fall in love with), but are instead defined my their actions.

I could go on guys. I really could.

And I’m not going to stop writing books like this. I won’t do it. Not for all the money in the world. Representation is important and I will fight for that until my dying breath.

It is a shame more people aren’t on my side.

How to Format Books for Self-Publishing

Formatting might actually be worse than writing and editing and cover design. I mean that with everything in me.

Pro-tip: Before we start, you’re going to definitely want to have all your images at 300 DPI. If you don’t know how to do that, check out this tutorial.

Right now I’m gonna tell you guys a secret. I literally am only releasing my book on Kindle or on Amazon because Amazon makes it a whole hell of a lot easier to format and publish books than anything else.

Before my friend Jay showed me “de way” I was trying to use scrivener which is probably one of the most confusing programs ever. Let’s be real here, it’s a nightmare.

I personally, couldn’t figure out how to

  1. Fix my chapter headings
  2. Fix my page numbers
  3. How to get my front matter to not show up as an actually chapter
  4. How to fix my table of contents

I promise you guys, if you’re new to formatting scrivener isn’t the way to go.

Some authors swear by Vellum, but since Vellum is only for Mac users and since I’m a die-hard PC user with a custom built machine, I probably won’t be using that.

So here’s what my good bro Jay told me.

Format everything in Google Docs, download it as a docx, upload it to KDP and Amazon takes care of the rest. Literally. Amazon will format that shit for you and I 1000% recommend using Google Docs for everything.

My print book was a little more difficult, however. Since in print books you’re required to have page numbers, Google Docs won’t work for that.

See, in book writing, your page numbers should not appear on any front matter pages (things like the table of contents, title page, dedication, and copyright page).Google Docs, in its infinite wisdom will not allow you to have custom page numbers. There used to be an add-on for it, but it was taken down.

So, for print, you’re going to have to use Microsoft Word to get those page numbers right.

Also, a real quick tutorial on print. It is so much different than formatting for Kindle.

With Kindle all you need are:

  1. A front cover
  2. Your manuscript
  3. Any graphics you want to put in your manuscript
  4. Your front matter

With print, you’re going to need:

  1. A front and back cover.
  2. Your pages need to be set to the book size you chose.
  3. You can do this in word by going to Page Layout and Selecting Size, Custom Size, and setting your page size.
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  1. A whole hell of a lot of patience.

You will have to re-upload your book more than once to both KDP and Amazon Print. I promise you, there will be glaring formatting errors that you absolutely need to fix.

Pro-Tip: I’m going to save you guys a ton of time too, for Kindle DO NOT make your chapter fonts, or headings, or any of your font period larger that 18pt.

People can and will resize shit and it’ll make your formatting look like trash. So Keep it simple!

Don’t forget to buy Bloom RIGHT NOW on Amazon. It’s also available to read FOR FREE on Kindle Unlimited.

The Making of Bloom: Part 1

I’ve written a piece on my personal writing process, but here’s what it was like to write Bloom: A Monster Love Novella from start to finish.

Sometimes shit got real stressful, so if you’re thinking about writing a book, know this: it is not easy, you will cry real tears, and formatting is an absolute pain in the ass..

It all started with an idea.

Like most of my ideas, it was half-baked and sort of uttered once to one of my friends as a joke. We were talking about Chuck Tingle and how I should write a weird teratophilia (aka monster love) book about lesbian trees with a bunch of tree puns.

Then, like all of my ideas do, shit got serious real fast.

It’s impossible for me to write crack once I get a good idea for a character. And in Holly’s case, I wanted to make her trans.

There aren’t a lot of books out there normalizing trans people, and I wanted to do that with Bloom. I wanted Holly to be a character people could connect to. Especially people who don’t have a lot of representation.

So I couldn’t have Holly be a crack character. She needed to be this really cool likable bro who likes science and bees and is really sweet and that’s what she became.

It actually took me around a year of puttering around to write this. I started it in February of 2017, but got distracted by working on a different series called Wixen.

Wixen is a looot longer than Bloom. The first book is roughly 500 pages and it’s called Poisons, Potions, & Propositions. The second book just hit 550 pages and it is still in heavy edits. There’s also a novella for that too, but I digress.

I knew I wanted to self-publish Bloom. I wanted to do it as a birthday present for one of my friends. So this year when I finally got fed up with writing Wixen, I set to work on finishing Bloom.

I did all of the writing, editing, graphic design, social media, and grammar editing myself. I don’t recommend doing this. I have a background in professional editing, graphic design, and social media because I went into integrated marketing instead of english.

This doesn’t mean that people with an english degree can’t also do this, but I have professional experience with doing all of this so I mean. I know my work is at least decent. The point is, unless you have prior professional experience I’d go ahead and outsource.

You can get some people who do great work for real cheap on Fiverr. For your first book, I would definitely start there editing and cover design wise. You will have to pay extra per book length.

Writing the first chapters of Bloom weren’t hard. Writing isn’t the hard part. It’s stressful and it sucks, but once you hit a point where you realize you need to get the words out and edit later, you’ll start pumping out 2000-3000 words a day.

I wrote roughly 4500 words a day for Bloom, with the most words being 10,000 in one 24 hour period. You have to be vigilant and you have to absolutely want this because you can pull some long ass hours trying to meet a deadline.

The hard part is editing, and I love editing.

Once the words are all out and the story is finished, you can breathe for a few days. Then take editing page by page.

As a general rule, I usually do at least 10 passes over a chapter, depending on how bad it is when I rewrite it. For Bloom I was on a very quick deadline, so I only did 4 and one Google Translate edit.

If you guys don’t know what a Google Translate edit it, it’s when you copy and paste your writing page by page into Google Translate and have it read the story aloud to you. It is an absolute lifesaver for grammar and spelling and tense.

After I did a Google Translate edit, I moved on to ProWritingAid, which helps with grammar editing and overuse of words. I have a tendency to overuse adverbs, and “just”, and “that”, so I need a tool that helps me pinpoint all of that tomfoolery.

All in all, it took me two months to finish writing, edit, and format a novella.

Pro tip: Give yourself more time. Four to five months would be much better and less stressful, especially if you’ve never formatted before.

Then, just like that, I was finished. Which is a huge relief because of all the work that went into it.

For the sake of my sanity, and yours, I’ll do a separate blog about formatting. I know how difficult it is and finding a blog to help is a pain, but I’ll walk you through it lickity split!

Stay tuned for that monstrosity.

DON’T FORGET TO BUY BLOOM RIGHT NOW ON AMAZON. IT’S ALSO AVAILABLE TO READ FOR FREE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED