5 Things You Absolutely Need To Know Before You Start Writing

[This blog was originally published in Night Owl Reviews]

Ah sweet Jughead – bearer of the dumbest hat and stupidest name in all of Riverdale – will you ever finish your terribly pretentious book so the world may finally understand your misunderstood genius??

In my last article, I discussed how authors often fall into the trap of obsessing over irrelevant character details at the expense of info that matters. You don’t need to know everything about a character, only certain critical details: desires, strengths, and weaknesses. The same holds true for starting a story: you don’t need to know everything, only certain things…but you NEED to know those key things.

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3 Reasons Why You Should Never Skip The Inciting Incident

[This blog was originally published in Night Owl Reviews]

“Hmmm…I need to start my story off with a bang because I’m told your average reader is a narcoleptic millennial with ADD…I’m just gonna start it in the middle I guess…Dammit, why is writing so hard??”

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.

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Forget Your Protagonist’s Favorite Color: The Only Thing You Really Need To Know About Your Characters

[This blog was originally published in Night Owl Reviews]

“But what should my hero’s favorite color be? Dammit, writing is so hard!”

Please don’t tell me you’ve got a binder or notebook stuffed with pictures you found on the Internet of what your main characters look like, along with facts about them like their favorite color, the first song they danced to, their ideal vacation spot, etc. I mean, you can do that if you’re bored…okay I did that on my website as part of a promotion for my book Reckoning. But don’t mistake this for character development, because it’s not.

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How To Create “Real” Characters

[This blog was originally published in Night Owl Reviews]

Another terrible Hemingway quote. Why was this guy popular again?

Characters in your head are not real people, no matter what a platitude typed in Corsiva font scrolled across a picture of a quill tells you. They are not people, and they don’t do anything you don’t make them do. To think otherwise is to have a fundamental break with reality, and please see your doctor to adjust your medication dosage accordingly.

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Please Excuse The Mess

This little guy is working super hard over here!

Greetings all my One True Fans! (it’s like being the One True King from King Arthur, but with better benefits like free books and not being killed in a holy war)

I had to change my website theme recently due to my previous theme becoming obsolete and unsupported with the latest WordPress update, so now the formatting is a bit screwed up. So I apologize to all you poor souls who might click on a link and be despondent to find it goes nowhere, or be confused by a strange color scheme or weirdly formatted or outdated text. I promise I’m fixing it! …Specifically, I’m harassing my IT department – aka my husband – to please fix it asap. Thanks for your patience!

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Why the Ban on Trans People in the Military is Bad for National Security – From Someone in the Military

I can say with 100% certainty these soldiers don’t care about each other’s junk or lack thereof.

I remember back in 2008 or so when repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell became imminent. I was a captain at the time, and more than a few of my civilian friends asked me, “How do you feel about serving with someone who’s gay? How do other military people feel about it?”

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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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A How-To Writing Website for My Mom – and You