Baking Literary Bread, Part 1: The Basic Ingredients Every Story Must Have To Succeed

[This blog was originally published in Night Owl Reviews]

Everybody who’s ever attempted to bake a delicious loaf of bread from scratch knows firsthand the endeavor is part art, part science. The delicate balance of flavors and textures—that’s art. Ensuring the loaf doesn’t dissolve into a puddle of goo—that’s science. There are an infinite number of different kinds of bread you can bake—banana, zucchini, raisin nut, marble wheat, etc.—but they all have certain ingredients in common—flour, yeast, baking soda, salt, water—and require a certain order of preparation—mix ingredients, bake, let cool. Without the right ingredients in specific quantities and in the proper order, you end up with the aforementioned inedible goo.

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New Year’s Resolution

“The beautiful people wish you a Happy New Year once again! Last year we lost our jobs, had to move back in with our parents, and currently share a room with Skittles the pug – who my parents refer to as their “real” baby – but at least we’re still good-looking! Thank God beauty lasts forever.”

Happy New Year! It’s time once again to put away all your Christmas crap, cringe as you step on the scale for the first time in forever, steel yourself for the real winter, and consider changing something about your life. Yep—it’s resolutions time!

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Amazing Oreo Bonbons Recipe

Can’t wait to eat all of these myself! All of them…Don’t judge me.

Are YOU looking for a simple yet mind-blowing Christmas/New Year’s/Anytime Really dessert to shame your relatives with this year? Then look no further than THIS fool-proof epic deliciousness that anyone can make – Oreo Bonbons!

Usually when I make them, people look at me and say “You made these?!?” I nod, and their eyes roll back in their heads as they’re gripped in taste ecstasy.

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Do You Need A Professional Editor?

Say you’ve finished writing a book—congrats! You’ve made a few editing passes through it, roped a few of your friends and relatives into reading it, gotten their feedback, and tweaked it into what you think is an acceptable form to show to the world at large. Maybe you’ve even queried a handful of literary agents and received either “Thanks but no thanks” rejections or (more likely) radio silence.

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Where Have All The Blogs Gone?

Someone asked me recently why I haven’t blogged in a while, to which I replied, “You read my blog???”

…Which is why I don’t blog more.

A few years ago, while I was investigating other author’s websites to emulate, I was surprised to see very few regularly blogged, and most only did so in conjunction with a new release or event promo. I remember thinking this was lame.

But now I know why. You see, there are only so many hours in the day. When you work a full-time job, are contractually obligated to stay ingood shape, need to spend time with the kids/spouse so they don’t leave you cats-in-the-cradle-style, plus friends, plus eating/sleeping/hygiene, etc. …you get the picture…then you need to be ruthless about how you spend that tiny sliver of writing time. So every day I ask myself—what’s value-added? What’s a positive return-on-investment of my time, and what’s not?

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Good Books To Read If You Wanna Be A (Better) Writer

[This article first appeared in Night Owl Reviews]


Writers are always giving out advice on how to write, assuming for some reason that people care. I mean, you don’t see doctors prattling on to whoever will listen about the best ways to reset a bone or writing blog posts about identifying infectious diseases.

Maybe writing is unique in the sense it seems like something everyone should be capable of doing. With some sad exceptions, everybody is literate, everybody’s got “What if…?” story ideas, and everybody can
tell a good story from a bad one. And yet only a tiny handful of people can sit down and complete a coherent story; even fewer a GOOD coherent story. So there’s a certain mystique around writing, as if people capable of doing it have some kind of magical power that transcends schooling and is divinely revealed ala God’s proclamation of the ten commandments. Continue reading Good Books To Read If You Wanna Be A (Better) Writer

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The Most Misunderstood “Rules” of Writing, Part 2 – Grammatical Correctness

[This article first appeared in Night Owl Reviews]

Got some bad news about pet peeve #3…see newly-added definition #4 at Dictionary.com. And this is why “grammar” rules aren’t really rules.

I used to wonder what was more important—wordsmithing or storytelling. This was when I was on my O. Henry Prize kick, reading dozens of beautifully written short stories that received high praise despite lacking plots or any deep meaning (to me, anyway). As a result, for a while I believed wordsmithing was more important and focused a lot on improving my prose. Then I realized short stories were a career dead end and began focusing on novels, where I came to the opposite conclusion, and the one I believe today: ideally you want to be good at both wordsmithing and storytelling, but storytelling should always take precedence. Beautifully constructed sentences and imagery are great and all, but if they don’t coalesce into anything meaningful it becomes tiresome after a while, like the O. Henry stories did for me; it’s the literary equivalent of navel-gazing.

In the end, words are tools you use to tell your story. Continue reading The Most Misunderstood “Rules” of Writing, Part 2 – Grammatical Correctness

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The Most Misunderstood “Rules” of Writing, Part 1 – Show, Don’t Tell

[This article first appeared in Night Owl Reviews]

See? Even Hemingway said stupid crap sometimes!

I’m generally of a mind that rules are lame. You don’t know how much trouble I’ve ended up in because of this attitude, being a military member and all. Example:

Me: Why can’t I put my hands in the pockets of my uniform? It’s winter and it’s cold.

Severe-Looking Instructor: Because it’s unprofessional.

Me: Frostbite is also unprofessional.

Severe-Looking Instructor: Drop and give me twenty. Continue reading The Most Misunderstood “Rules” of Writing, Part 1 – Show, Don’t Tell

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Getting Ready to Publish, Trying Not To Claw Face Off (Allergies)

Greetings my legion of fans! (…I know you’re out there playing hard to get, you coy little minxes…)

I know I said I would post more, and then didn’t because I forgot there are only 24 hours in a day and a lot of that time is unfortunately taken up by lame stuff like sleep and hygiene and working at a paying job and spending time with the family, etc.

Truth be told, trying to legitimately self-publish my first book (Battlefield High) is pretty freaking hard. Sure, I technically self-published Spice of Love back in 2015, but I knew nothing back then…

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…so I just dropped it on Amazon with little to no marketing, and three people and my mom bought it.

BUT I’m doing it right this time, with a self-pub plan and checklist and everything! I’m totes legit now. Maybe I’ll flop, maybe I’ll be the next Wool, who knows!

When reading up on how to self-pub the right way, however, it can be super-overwhelming. You need to do about a million things yourself, such as making/buying a cover, all the editing, all the formatting (“Why do extra blank pages appear out of nowhere when I convert my epub file into a MOBI file in Calibre? WHY GODDAMMIT??”), reviewer requests, marketing, etc…OH YEAH and all the other stuff to spit-shine my adjacent products like my newsletter and website. For instance, I eventually need to update my newsletter format, change my FREE BOOKS page, update Spice of Love and try to market that again to maybe people who care this time, pay attention to analytics and start tracking shit like clicks and impressions and buys and………AND………AND…..

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But you know what? It’s still almost certain to be better than the traditional publishing route.

Now I’m not gonna go into a “WHY ME??” pity party rant about how much trad-pub sucks balls for everyone except a tiny sliver of successful authors at the top or whatever, because nobody wants to hear that. I did learn a lot going the trad-pub route, so in that respect it was worth it just to experience both options first-hand and be able to weigh the pros and cons of each.

I will say this, tho – I was shocked at how little value went back to the authors via the trad-pub route (again, excepting the sliver of big authors at the top). In fact, most of the publishing world is geared toward making money off authors rather than with authors. Since most new authors will get little to no marketing help from their publisher, they’ll often suggest hiring a PR firm or paying for your own ads. Personally, I ended up spending a lot more money trying to market my previous trad-pub books than I will probably ever earn back off sales, and I don’t think my experience is unique.

Which is unfortunate. So thank goodness for the rise of self-publishing! It’s a lot more work, but you have a lot more control and can own your potential failure rather than bitching about how trad-pub is so unfair………like some other losers I know……WHO ARE NOT ME…………………

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ANYWAY, also making things about a thousand times harder are the worst allergies I’ve had in my entire life. I seriously want to claw my face off right now, or cut off my nose with a butter knife just to allow air back into my nasal passages. Sorry if you now have disturbing images in your head. One of the dangers of being a writer!

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3 Reasons Why You Should Never Skip The Inciting Incident

[This article first appeared in Night Owl Reviews]

“Nope, this is not rising to the quality I have come to expect from this author. Why did they skip the inciting incident? Why?”

Maybe I’ve been cursed by the book gods and need to sacrifice another virgin at the secret blood altar they keep in my local library’s basement (all the best libraries have one), but I’ve had crap luck with books lately. I’ve DNF’d the last four out of five books I’ve read, primarily for story mechanics issues. They’ve either dragged or didn’t establish a solid foundation before jumping into the action, or just weren’t very compelling stories. I’m a slow-as-shit reader, so slogging through a book I’m not that into can take weeks to reach the payoff of a “meh” experience. If a book doesn’t hook me within the first ~30%, I peace out and move on. Continue reading 3 Reasons Why You Should Never Skip The Inciting Incident

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Words with Weight