Three Great Places to Draw Inspiration for Creativity

I have to admit, sometimes it’s hard for me to find inspiration for blog posts. And honestly, sometimes that extends to larger projects, like books, art pieces, or DND campaigns. This is a sentiment a lot of creatives often share, and people can find their inspiration in a lot of different places. So where can we look for ideas when we’re feeling blocked? Where can we search from the comfort of our armchairs or couches or desks? Let’s take a look at three places online we can search for ideas.

Real life

Honestly, is there anything stranger than real life sometimes? *gestures vaguely*

But current events aside, you may find that you can be inspired by the things going on around you. As an exercise, try setting a timer for 5, 10, even 30 minutes (and believe me, a timer is important if you don’t want to lose the rest of the day). Then, scroll through the home page of a news site or even Facebook. Write down as many ideas as you see pop up…don’t worry about if you’ll use them or what you’d use them for. The idea is to pick out things you might not have noticed otherwise, things that can be used for character or world development, maybe even the basis of a plot.

Other media

Another way to come up with ideas is to see what other people are doing. In order to refill your own creative well, you may find that consuming other stories is key. So watch Netflix for a couple hours a couple times a week. Read a few books (and you should probably be reading books anyway as research for yourself). Take time to see what you enjoy in stories or what interests you in documentaries and let yourself dwell on those things. Then, when you’ve done some research into things you like to consume, see if you can figure out how to incorporate those ideas and tropes in your next piece.

Internet

There is an abundance of inspiration to be found online as well, some of which can count as real life or media. But I want to draw your attention to a few particular places online.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a great place to find photos and artwork to inspire you and to create digital mood boards. I do this for just about every story I write! I’ve also talked a bit about how to use Pinterest for your writing in a previous post, so I’ll leave it here for now. 🙂

Photo sites

I won’t list specific ones, but sometimes all you need to shake an idea loose is the right photo. Take some time to scroll through stock photo sites or photography communities.

Tumblr and other blogs

You may also find ideas in blogs across the internet. See what other people are discussing that strikes a chord with you. Maybe it’s a single thought that’s the theme for a new piece. Do you agree with what you’re reading? Disagree? Have more thoughts? Expand on that.

Wikipedia

Finally, Wikipedia is a wealth of information. And it’s so easy to go down the rabbit hole. Follow a link trail and learn new things about a topic that interests you. But, much like with the news or social media searching, you may want to set yourself a timer.

Final Thoughts

Before I close for the week, I want to be clear that what I’m talking about today is simply finding inspiration – a single idea that you can develop on your own. This does not mean taking whole ideas and stories (no plagiarism, copyright infringement, or other illegal activities!). It simply means looking at something that interests you and seeing how you can make it your own story.

But I do want to emphasize that we are surrounded by stories all day every day. With practice, you’ll be able to pick them up and set them aside for later. I don’t know about you, but I keep a file on my computer of random ideas I may eventually use. Maybe it’s time to start your own file, too!

Keep your eyes open, and let your mind wander. You never know where you’ll find your next idea.

Awesome Books for Writers

Looking for some great books for writers? Look no further!

If you’re anything like me, you’re always on the lookout for a good craft or business book to grow your knowledge. This week I took a look over all the writing and art books I’ve consumed since I started seriously writing, and I figured why not share my up-to-date favorites list with all of you?

So without further ado, let’s dive in!

Writing Craft, Business, and Life

The first category is my favorite books on writing craft, books that teach elements of writing itself or what’s involved in the writing life and business. And boy do I have some excellent (and classic) favorites!

On Writing by Stephen King

This one is, of course, one of the biggest classics! King tells it like it is, in a relateable, down-to-earth voice. In fact, I might be due for a reread!

Bird by Bird by Anne lamott

This is an encouraging and entertaining look at how to write a book. Definitely one of my favorites, and it’s so quotable!

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

This is another classic, a collection of essays by classic writer Ray Bradbury. Definitely some interesting food for thought here!

Wired for STory by Lisa Cron

As a neuroscientist and a writer, I’ve loved this particular book. It delves into the neuroscience and psychology behind elements of a story and why certain things work so well…and how to improve your own writing with those ideas in mind!

THe Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman

This is an excellent overview and must-read for any author looking to make a career from their writing. Friedman goes through things like how publishing works, your publishing and career options, platforms, and more resources for delving deeper.

For Christian Writers

This section is specific to Christian writers, but the books are packed with so much to think about regarding spirituality, mental health, and art and creativity.

Walking on Water by Madeline L’Engle

This is another collection of essays by a classic author. It discusses what it means to be a Christian artist and how faith and art are related.

Unlocking the Heart of the Artist by Matt Tommey

This is an incredible look at how to deal with your issues to become the artist God created and to help you create as best you can. It also does some work to dispel the myth of the starving artist. It’s such a powerful read!

For Encouragement

There are also a couple short reads that do such an uplifting job of encouraging writers to keep going and dream about how what they do affects readers. If you need a lift, pick one (or both) of these up! It won’t take long, and you’ll end up feeling validated, appreciated, and, hopefully, excited to keep writing!

Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl by Laura A. Grace

This book is a collection of letters from a hypothetical fan to you, the author. It covers a range of scenarios and is so heartwarming!

For the love of a word Ed. by Annie Louise Twitchell

Disclaimer: I have a couple pieces in this anthology. But it’s such an encouraging and motivating collection of essays, poetry, and art. Definitely give this one a read if you need a bit of a pick-me-up.

My Upcoming Reads

Finally, I can’t complete this list without addressing a bunch of books on my list that I’m either currently reading or excited to dive into next. I won’t have too much info here, but feel free to follow the links to learn more!

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction

Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making

Romance Your Brand: Building a Marketable Genre Fiction Series

Become a Successful Indie Author: Work Toward Your Writing Dream

Writing the Other

The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults

The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write with Emotional Power, Develop Achingly Real Characters, Move Your Readers, and Create Riveting Moral Stakes

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel

Closing Thoughts

There are so many good resources out there for craft, business, and life of a writer! I’m always on the hunt for new, good titles to consume. If you know of some not on my list, feel free to drop them in the comments.

Or, if you’ve read any of these, what are your own thoughts? Did you find them helpful? Let’s chat about it!

See you in the comments. 🙂

The Value of Finding Your Writing Community

Do you know why community is so important for writers?

It’s been said that writing is a solitary pursuit, and for the actual act of writing, usually that’s true. But just because writing is solitary doesn’t mean it has to be lonely. The online writing community is one of the most positive and friendly communities I’ve run into online (of course with exceptions). There is a lot to be said for finding a tribe of fellow writers to share your writing life with, and there is a special value in having like-minded individuals to talk to and learn from.

The Value of Community

There are a lot of benefits to finding a writing community to participate in, ranging from professional and creative development to fostering networks and friendships. Let’s look closer at three benefits to writing community: mentorship, fellowship, and growth.

Mentorship

One good reason to find community is mentorship. Especially as a new writer, there are going to be questions…and lots of them. And even writers who have been writing or publishing for years may have questions that more experienced writers can answer.

A good writing community can provide help to writers for writing craft, marketing, publishing industry, moral support, and/or the process of publishing. Just bear in mind that some communities will focus on specific aspects and will ask members not to post about unrelated topics. But that’s just another reason to join a variety of groups focused on different things!

Fellowship

Besides mentorship, online communities can provide places for writers to commiserate about the challenges of writing or just chat about craft and story. It’s awesome to have these kinds of connections, and they can be inspiring and uplifting conversations! You may find not only friends but colleagues with whom you can produce work together (be it co-writing, beta reading, editing, or any other act of creation and revision).

Regardless of what you find or the friends you make or don’t make, just having a place to go to chat with like-minded individuals can reduce that loneliness that can come with being a writer. These people know what you’re going through, and more likely than not, they want to help. Writers, more often than not, are some of the most generous people I know.

Growth

And finally, similar to mentorship, online communities can help you to grow. They can provide you with valuable tools, resources, and information to grow your writing and your business, and they can also help expand your thinking. By finding diverse communities, you can begin to find people who may not think exactly like you and who encourage you to try new things or to come at a story from a different perspective.

Finding communities can help you grow academically, professionally, and personally, and it is a great joy to both to be the one learning and to work with others to learn together.

Where to Find Communities

There are a lot of places online where you can find communities, but I’m going to stick with Facebook for today, as there are lots of groups on there that can get you started. I encourage you to look into a few that are relevant to you and join them to try it out…and if it doesn’t work for you, just leave and move on! Eventually you will find your people. 🙂

I highly recommend that those interested in indie publishing (or in finding new communities) check out 20booksto50k(R) on Facebook. This is a large business-focused group, but they have an abundance of “units” where they share the collective knowledge of their almost 40,000 members. They also have units dedicated to finding writers in your genre, which is a great stepping stone for new authors to network. They do strictly monitor posting, though, so be sure you read the rules carefully so you don’t get kicked out!

Another kind, positive group I recently found is Create If Writing, run by indie author Kirsten Oliphant. She is such a kind, knowledgeable person and maintains a wonderful safe community for authors to chat and learn. She also has a podcast that has excellent info for authors on marketing and branding.

Finally, I am also part of the Clean Indie Fantasy (Discussion) group, which also has an indie book club run by Fellowship of Fantasy. This is a great place for clean and Christian authors to connect, and it is an active, supportive group of authors who all help each other out.

In general, just search around and ask other writers what groups they’re in that they like. Sure, you may find some you don’t like, but you will get the chance to find the groups that are right for you, the groups that will encourage you, grow you, and make you new friends.

But most of all, don’t give up the search. Keep looking for your community, and let them support you as you support them in turn. Sometimes you don’t realize what you needed until you stumble on it.

Keep writing, my friends, and keep growing. 🙂

The Therapeutic Power of Writing

Did you know writing can be a powerful tool…for anyone?

In case you’ve been living under a rock, life is super crazy right now. There’s a pandemic outside our doors, the media is telling us the world is ending, and we still have to deal with life along with social isolation (though as an introvert, I really don’t mind that last part so much).

But it does get to be a lot to cope with, especially with all the hype about the risks and the constant updates. And the memes. And the people hoarding supplies (please don’t do that).

So how can we deal with these uncertain and anxious times? There are a lot of good coping options out there (and I encourage you to find what works for you, either through internet searches, therapy, or trial and error), but today I want to talk about the therapeutic power of writing.

Hint: writing isn’t just for “writers.”

So how can writing help us cope with difficult situations?

Writing is a way that we can truly examine our thoughts and feelings, to put them clearly down on paper in a way that we can understand things that weren’t clear to us before. It can help us think through difficult times and work out problems we struggle with, to better understand ourselves. We can think in complete thoughts and sentences by writing it out, and we can avoid censoring ourselves when we write just for us and give ourselves permission to examine our deeper thoughts and feelings.

Writing can also be a type of catharsis, especially in fiction or memoir writing. A chance to say something that happened. To find the resolution we wish we’d had. To finally say the thing we thought of days later. This is one reason I love first drafts. With a first draft, I can say whatever I want to the person who yelled at me at the grocery store! (that didn’t happen…at least not to me) And then, after I’ve gotten it out of my system, I can erase it from my next draft.

But what kinds of ways can we write? How do we apply these ideas?

  • As I mentioned above, you can write an experience out as fiction. This can distance yourself a bit while still leaving some of yourself in the story. Plus, it can always be erased in a later draft.
  • You can journal it out. I used to do this all the time, and just the process of putting my thoughts down let me get them out of my head so I stopped cycling through them over and over. This is also a way you can think to yourself without censoring yourself. Just letting you be honest with you.
  • You can write a letter. You don’t have to send it, but writing a letter to someone and saying what you’re thinking and feeling can help you articulate yourself better and figure out what needs to be said to them versus what you just needed to express and understand for yourself. I do this, too, so I can process how I’m feeling about something that happened with another person…and why. And how to fix it.
  • You can put it down into poetry. I’m still learning this one, but when I was younger, I found that I dealt best with really strong pain or other emotion by putting it into poetry. Now, mind you, they weren’t good poems. But they were only for me.

So if you find yourself getting overwhelmed in these strange times, maybe try picking up a pen. At the very least, you’ve tried something new. And at best, you’ve found something you enjoy that helps you process difficult things.

Either way, I hope you find the thing that works for you.

Keep writing friends. Or whatever it is you do. Stay safe, and stay healthy. ❤

Five Ways my Reading Changed (After I Published)

Ever since I started seriously writing, my reading has transformed. Before, I could sit and read just for enjoyment, but when you start aiming for a career as an author, you begin to also read for your job. And sometimes that means reading things that you wouldn’t just pick up for fun…but it also means you read things you wouldn’t read if you weren’t a writer, such as nonfiction books on craft. It expands your understanding, your knowledge, and your capacity for new stories (at least for me).

But you know what else? There are also attitudes that change when you start reading as a writer. In fact, for me, there are five big attitude shifts I had after I began publishing my own work. Let’s break them down.

Writers are people, not figures

Yeah, I know this one sounds weird, but as a reader with no connections to the publishing world, it’s really easy to forget that there is a person behind that author name on the cover. They’re real people with real emotions and feelings who may even read your reviews.

But once you are one of those names yourself, you remember everything that goes into a book and the struggles of the people writing them. It becomes more human, beyond the humanity you might see in the pages themselves.

The writing world is small

I know this doesn’t sound like an attitude, but let me dig a little deeper.

The writing world is small. Especially within your genre. You are likely to meet many of these people at least once in your life, particularly if you attend conferences or spend a lot of time on social media.

And people will see what you say about other writers or even agents. Both writers and agents talk to each other, so your comments and interactions will not be forgotten easily and may spread throughout the community.

Before I published, as a reader I felt entitled to say whatever I wanted about a book (not attacking the author, of course). But now, I know that my reviews can potentially damage my relationship with other authors, depending on what I say.

Before, I had no problem posting a one-star review on Goodreads. Now, if I don’t like I book, I mark it read and do not review or rate it.

I even went back and edited old bad reviews so that, while I was still being truthful, I wasn’t being mean. Because…now I remember that authors are people too, and my obligations are not ONLY to the readers.

They’re to all of us book nerds.

You see all the errors more

I was a grammar fiend before, and I’m an even bigger one now. I notice when the writing style is poor, when the plot is lacking, when the characters are flat, when a book has too many problems. I can pick out ways the writing could be improved. I find books more predictable than I used to.

But a lot of people still like those books with the problems (including mine). Every book has its audience. And now I understand that not every book is for me.

And that’s okay.

But you’re more understanding when they happen

Now that I know all the work (and money) that goes into publishing a book, especially independently, I am a lot more forgiving of editing errors than I used to be. It’s easy, even in trad books, for typos and inconsistencies to fall through the cracks. Just like every other job, publishing is performed by humans, and humans can make mistakes.

And you know what? Those mistakes are okay. I have learned that stories can be less than perfect and still be wonderful.

I read more…both for pleasure and for education

One of the features I love on Goodreads is the Reading Challenge. I love setting goals and being able to see how my reading habits have changed over the years.

And guess what? I may have less time, but I read more than ever before (at least in my recorded history).

The first year I did the Goodreads Challenge, I had a goal of 45 books and read 65. Last year, I set a goal of 70 and read 92. This year, I set my goal at 80 and expect to clear it easily (I’m already 6 books in).

But the volume isn’t the only thing that’s changed. So has the variety.

You see, where I used to read exclusively novels, now I listen to audiobooks, read short stories and novellas, read more nonfiction, read manga and graphic novels, and read both indie and traditionally published works.

My reading horizons have grown, and with it, my dreams.

And honestly, what more could I ask for?

~~~

Writer friends, what things have you noticed about your reading since you began writing? Readers, do you have any opinions on these attitudes? Let’s chat in the comments! ❤

A New Writing Year: 2020

Wow. 2020. I can’t believe it’s already 20 years after Y2K! XD

In all seriousness, I’m so excited for a new year and new goals. I learned a lot last year, and this year I hope to learn and do even more.

But I’m not going to focus on personal goals this year; I’ll save that for the yearly wrap-up in December. Instead, I’ll focus on all the writing work I hope to accomplish in 2020, as well as update you all on where I’m at creatively.

As always, each of these goals has a number of smaller milestones and goals, so I’ll stick to bigger ideas. Otherwise, it’d get too big too fast! So here we go.

  • Finish This Cursed Shadow. Yup, that’s right. I’m still working on it, guys. I apologize for taking so long, but I want to make sure I can give you a quality piece of writing. When I have it close enough to ready, I’ll select a release date and hand over more info!
  • Publish “Freeze Thaw” and the spring, summer, and fall Seasons of Magic for the year. Freeze Thaw is currently with editors, and I’m beginning the spring story already!
  • Begin the newest project, to be released either during the release of the This Curse series or after that one is finished…depends how quickly I can get them done. But since you’re here and reading so patiently…let’s just say fox shifter urban fantasy! Be sure to subscribe to the newsletter for updates.
  • Land an agent! Yes, this one is less in my control, but I have high hopes for Sea of Broken Glass! I got a revise & resubmit in October, and I’m hoping to do the resubmit part by the end of January. And if that agent still passes, I know the book will be even better to keep looking for that perfect agent!
  • Improve my formatting skills. Right now, I can do basic formatting of my stories, but I’d love to improve that skillset to be able to make fancier interior spreads for you guys. I’m an artist, and I love making everything as pretty as I can!
  • Learn how to make book covers. This one is ambitious and will require that I take an online typography course and do some self study, but I’m hoping to be able to cover some of my own books in the future. I know not every author recommends making your own covers, but again, I’m an artist, and I’d like to at least learn how!

So that’s that! All the writing goals I hope to accomplish this year! I’m very excited for everything that’s to come and for all the projects going on, and I can’t wait to share it with you. 🙂

Thanks for a wonderful 2019, friends, and here’s to an even better 2020! Happy New Year!!!

~~~

Do you have any personal or writing/reading resolutions this year? What are they? Let’s chat in the comments!

Some Bookish Gratitude

The holidays are all about gratitude, at least to me. We get a time specifically set aside to reflect on the good that has been given to us in our lives, the people we surround ourselves with, the things we have been blessed with. And with Christmas just around the corner, we also get to feel the warmth of blessing others.

Today, I’d like to take a few moments to show some bookish gratitude. So here are my book- and writing-related blessings from the year.

A supportive husband

Yeah, yeah. Sappy, I know. But seriously, my husband is my muse and my biggest cheerleader. When I’m stuck on a plot or need to work through a story element, he’s right there to help me come up with ideas. And when I release something new or share some writing, he’s one of the first people to share it, yell in the streets (ok, Facebook), and invite everyone he knows to read it.

I couldn’t have been blessed with a better partner for my life.

Family and Friends who like my work

I have to also include this, because I know many writers don’t have family that supports their passions like I do. My parents buy everything I release and share it with everyone they know. My siblings and siblings-in-law have an interest in what I do. And my sister is one of my first, best, and favorite beta readers. What a blessing, to have family who supports my passion even when they don’t understand it all.

Good stories

This may seem a bit odd, but I am grateful for all the good books I’ve read this year. You’ll have to come back in a couple weeks to hear about them, but I truly found some gems this year, and it makes me happy to have read them.

Audiobooks

Another weird one, right? I didn’t used to be so into audiobooks, but ever since my grad school thesis, when I had to sit in the lab and do mindless work for hours on end, audiobooks have been my boredom killers and reading boosters. I get to hear awesome performances of good books, I get to read more books than I would be able to otherwise, and I get something fun to pass my commute times and mindless lab work.

Courage to share

I had enough courage to finally hit that publish button, with the support of my wonderful husband. It had originally been my dream to publish This Cursed Flame indie, but so much happened between when I finished it and this year, so many things changed, that I went back and forth for seven years.

I finally did it.

And I published two more.

I’m proud of what I accomplished, and I’m happy to share my work with you guys. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

You

That’s right, my final bookish gratitude is for you, my readers. Whether you’ve read my blog for only one or two posts, followed from the beginning, or have gotten your hands on all my books, I appreciate that you take time out of your day to come visit with me. Readers are the lifeblood of books, as I’ve said before. Without you, none of what I do would have life.

So thank you, so much. ❤

My wishes for you

In this holiday season, I sincerely hope you will find the people to support you, to build you up, to cheer you on and shout about your passions to everyone who will listen. I hope you have wonderful writing sessions. I hope you read wonderful books. I hope you find joy and warmth and love.

Keep writing, my friends. And please, share the bookish things you’re grateful for this year in the comments below!

3 Ways Food is Worldbuilding

I love food.

No, really. I know that a lot of people love food, but really. I. Love. Food. I love the cultural identity that comes with it, the bonding experiences with people over meals, and of course the delicious flavors. I love food in cartoons, I love it in books, I love it in movies.

But did you know that food can also be part of worldbuilding? And that how you use and present food can help to define your world and character relationships better to readers?

And what better topic to discuss right before the US’s Thanksgiving holiday? So let’s dig right in!

Food lends an idea of place and time.

One of the beautiful things about food is that it’s incredibly diverse. A simple meal can tell a reader what kinds of crops are grown, what foods are accepted, what cultures may be involved, and the cooking capabilities of the time and place.

For example, many fantasy authors like to include feasts (more of a discussion on this can be found on the podcast Writing Excuses, season 14 episode 30, “Eating Your Way to Better Worldbuilding”). The foods are often what we see in medieval works like Lord of the Rings, including breads, meats (maybe even a whole stuffed pig), and cheeses.

But utilizing cultural foods, like saurkraut and bratwurst for example, can help the reader ground your world in a culture they may recognize. With a simple inclusion of one of these dishes, you can set a tone for what the reader can expect without overexplaining the culture.

Likewise, if you’re writing contemporary, think of what things you eat on a regular basis. Do you go to a taco truck? The cupcake stand on the corner? The fancy Asian Fusion restaurant on the other side of town?

The types of foods, and their preparation and presentation, can help readers picture your world more completely and set a tone for your world in a way that is unique to food culture.

Food can indicate a character’s condition and status.

In the same vein as the points above, the types and presentation of foods can help to solidify the conditions and status of your character. If they feast, they are in a time of plenty or they are rich and/or generous. If they’re scraping through the garbage to find a few potato peels, they’re in a pretty dire situation. How the character sustains themselves tells a lot to the reader about them.

As an example, I have a section in my first chapter of the R&R story where the younger sister is smelling what the older sister is cooking: a stew with a healthy portion of meat. The younger sister can’t help but feel angry and bitter, as the older sister is preparing meat for no reason other than to impress her peers, and they have limited amounts until the rainy season ends, not to mention how expensive it has become to purchase. She comments that they should be saving it for a feast day.

Just by this exchange, I am showing that the family has limited supplies, as does the village, and that some foods are precious and reserved for important days. It helps me establish the status of the sisters (scraping to impress the rest of the village) and the setting, as in the first point (the rainy season, a season of famine, restricted access to expensive foods).

Food can be used to strengthen a relationship.

Just like setting the tone, setting, and character status, food can also be used for building relationships. Do your characters often cook together? Is it bonding time? Do they eat out together often? Is one of them responsible for the cooking? Do they eat alone in the living room or as a family in a formal dining room?

Here’s another example from my R&R book. In a tense time, when the younger sister suddenly has expanded magic, she worries that her sister has reported her to the village officials (magic is not okay to them). When her sister gets home, they cook together in a way that is natural, indicating they’ve worked together to keep the house for years, but is full of unspoken tension masked by everyday tasks. It’s a way to show the older sister’s real actions…and reveal that she also has magic. It builds on their normal by throwing in something unexpected, something they have to discuss.

Think of a romance. How many movies and books have scenes of the male love interest cooking the woman a meal or vice versa? Or of them cooking together? It shows the amount of care they have for being together and for each other, and it can be used as a cute moment to give readers all the feels.

Food is such a handy tool for relationships!

A final word of caution

As I mentioned above, I love food. And because of this, I tend to have a lot of comfort eating scenes or cooking etc. in my stories. IT IS POSSIBLE TO OVERUSE THIS TOOL. Instead of focusing just on food or having an overabundance, make sure that each scene involving food serves a purpose. Know what that purpose is, and consider if there are any better ways to show it. Ask your beta readers for input. Be intentional.

But also don’t be afraid to pig out now and then on this powerful worldbuilding element. 😉

And of course, keep writing. (And Happy Thanksgiving, friends!)

The Lore of a Story

So I recently got a revise and resubmit request from an agent (woo!), and she was kind enough to provide incredibly detailed edit notes. I mean, like wow. Of course she is right on her criticisms, and I’m so excited that the story will be stronger for it.

But one note tripped me up: she wanted to see more lore about one aspect of the story.

Lore? Like, folk tales and writings and all that? But this book has excerpts from books and stories at the beginning of every chapter! What does it mean?!

And so I delved deeper.

Lore is, basically, the backstory , cultures, and history of your characters and world. It’s not the current story, but it can be how the circumstances led to the current story. Think of it as part of worldbuilding.

What kinds of things can we develop as lore?

  1. As mentioned above, it may be writings from the world, such as religious texts, science books, folk tales (or fairy tales), fliers, etc. Pieces of literature from the world itself. Also, if these are used in the book and placed as small excerpts at the beginning of a chapter or the book itself, it’s called an epigraph.
  2. The history of your world is also key lore. For example, in my R&R book, the history of the people is violent against magic wielders, particularly on a specific day 1000 years ago, and that shaped the way magic wielders are viewed now as well as changed the economy and independence of the country as a whole. History, or even the history that is written versus the truth of an event, can shape the very lives and circumstances of both the characters and the plot.
  3. The religion and mythology of the world. Religion plays a huge part in a lot of cultures, and these background beliefs will often dictate the way individuals and governments respond to events. Even a lack of religion will have its own effect.
  4. Character backstory may also be part of the lore, just focused in to a specific person. Knowing and understanding what your characters have faced can truly help you create realistic reactions to events in the plot and their interactions with other characters.
  5. The stories people tell can also be lore, such as local legends (or not-so-local legends), superstitions, folk tales, and fairy tales. Unlike the epigraphs or actual writings I referenced above, here I simply mean the information that people talk about and know in their day to day lives but may not necessarily be established by traditional religion or government (like a religious text would). What led to the development of these stories and superstitions? Are they grounded in truth? What happens if someone deviates from what they’re told to do through these stories?

Lore can refer to a wide range of worldbuilding, and it can be overwhelming. Some writers even get stuck in loops of just creating the background information and never quite getting around to actually writing the story. But if you focus in on which aspects are important for your story to progress and your characters to develop, you’ll find you have a richer sense of the world and more interesting writing.

Personally, I love creating the stories the people believe and sometimes how they view their worlds through a religious lens, both of which are major lore focuses in my R&R novel.

Do you have any bits of lore you love to read and/or write about? What are your favorites? Which ones bore you? Let’s chat in the comments!

And until next week, keep writing. 🙂

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If you want a little extra reading on lore and story, check out this article on the Odyssey!

3 Things to Consider When Writing Seasonal Stories

You may have noticed that I recently began releasing seasonally-themed novellas (if not, scroll to the bottom for the latest news!). I have plenty of reasons for creating these books, but have you ever considered what exactly goes in to preparing a book for a seasonal release? Let’s talk about three things to consider before releasing your own seasonal stories!

You probably have to start off season

Yup, I started writing my summer story actually way back last winter. And my next release, a treat filled with all things fall, I had to start in July.

Now, I’ll admit that you can technically start during that time of year when you want to release (or even one year prior to release), and if you’re fast enough, you can release the same year. But if you’re like me, you take some time to write and revise, then you spend extra time finding beta readers, hiring developmental editing, and picking phenomenal proofreaders, not to mention finding someone to design the cover!

There’s a lot to do, and publishing something start to finish within a short timeframe is not easy.

So, for me, I have to start writing 3-4 months in advance, putting me squarely one season too early.

Planning out the release dates is important

As you might expect, picking the right release date is incredibly important when you have a story that is associated with a particular time of year. I chose October 31 to release Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks because my main character is a pie witch and the story is heavily influenced by Hansel and Gretel (aka CANDY)…perfect for Halloween!

But honestly, it still would have worked if I released in November.

But consider a Christmas story. It may make the most sense to release it just after Thanksgiving, when a lot of people are gearing up for Christmas and super excited about it! But you only get about one month to get people to read the story before they move on until the next year. You have a little bit less of a window for that kind of release than you would for a simple summer release, which gives you a much larger window, probably from about May to August.

Keep seasonal themes and tropes in mind

Remember that if someone is reading your story, it’s likely because they want to dive into the feelings and sparkle of the season. So play it up!

Summer? Have that beach. Go to the state fair. Jump into the jungle.

Fall? All the pumpkin spice. All the leaves. All the spooky ghosts and cozy fires.

Winter? Dance on the twinkling Christmas lights. Traverse the blustery tundra. Build snowmen!

Spring? All about renewal! Have those rainstorms. Let the flowers grow.

Don’t shy away from embracing all the things people love about the season, and put your reader into those feelings!

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of things that you may consider when writing for specific seasons and times of year, but today I talked about three you can start with and build from. Remember to give yourself time to create it, pick a date people will associate with the story, and give yourself permission to embrace all the wonderful things about that season!

Do you have any advice or thoughts for people who want to write seasonal stories? Share it in the comments and let’s talk!

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News!

Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks has a release date! Expect it at all major retailers on October 31st. Until then, you can find it on Goodreads or preorder through the Universal Link (please be patient if not everything is there yet…each retailer has its own turnaround from submission to available).