Posted in General

Stay At Home.

As of writing this post (around 10:30, Thursday morning) Arizona has 508 confirmed cases of COVID-19. On Wednesday we were at 401 cases. 251 of those cases are in the county where I work: Maricopa county. While Maricopa is a big county, the explosive growth of cases is alarming.

UPDATE: As of March 28, 10:15, Arizona has 773 confirmed cases and 15 deaths.

I know you all are sick of hearing this. I know, staying at home is hard to do and it’s boring but please, stay at home. Some of you cannot, and I understand that. Your jobs have not been closed down (and for some of us, they likely won’t be). If you can, make sure you’re protecting yourself and anyone you come into contact with. Sanitize and disinfect your work surfaces as often as possible. Wash your hands as often as necessary (and don’t forget to use some lotion so your skin doesn’t dry out).

To those of you who are already doing these things, thank you. Thank you so much for following advice and doing what you can to try and limit the community spread. This is an incredibly difficult situation to be in and your efforts are noticed and appreciated.

I understand staying at home is boring and can get tiresome. If you have any sort of outdoor yard (especially one that is fenced in), now is a good time to use that space. Grab a blanket and have a picnic in your backyard. Play a game of tag with your kids if possible. Use a spare pillowcase for capture-the-flag. Make a scavenger hunt out of items like holiday decorations you have in storage. These can also be hidden around your house, not unlike an Easter Egg Hunt.

Try to avoid community outdoor spaces like pools and open barbecues. Hiking trails have become crowded as people try to find some way to both social distance and entertain themselves, don’t make the community spaces around your neighborhood into a danger zone for spread as well.

If you don’t have a reserved space outdoors or your weather makes the outdoors unusable, take your activities inside. Build a pillow fort. If you have kids or old children’s toys, go ahead and play with them: no one will judge you and you’ll entertain yourself. You can try clearing out a space to do an at-home workout, plenty of which you can find online.

Alternately, create something! I’m running a challenge this April if you’d like to get in on it. This also coincides with Camp NaNoWriMo. If writing isn’t your style, grab some paper and doodle, sketch or draw. I find artprompts.org a great place for inspiration. Alternately, I use the app What to Draw (on Android). You can also find hundreds of free coloring pages online. A quick search through your preferred platform can find you lots more.

You can also take this as a great time to expand skills or learn something you’ve been considering for a while. Duolingo is a good place to learn languages. You can also find  free courses through Alison and a rotating handful through CreativeLive. YouTube is another great place to find instructional videos, and a web search for free online classes will turn up even more.

While you’re at home with nothing else to do, go ahead and binge watch something (just remember to take a break and stretch every once in a while). Many streaming services have free-trial periods you can utilize. If you’re looking for something to read, there is a free Kindle app for both computers and smartphones–no e-reader necessary. Many books can be found for free (or check in with the authors you favor, they may know when their books are scheduled to be free or have other options for reading material. For instance, you can check out all of my free short stories and the links on my short stories page.) I also highly recommend The Drabble.

UPDATE: April 4th. Crimson and Gold is free today! Aurarin’s Song will be available for free from the 4th to the 6th.

If the lack of socializing is bothering you, hop onto Skype or Discord. Skype is great for video calling and sharing what you’re doing with others, while Discord can be used to set up groups like an online book club or DnD game, as well as stream between friends. You can also join up with friends in lots of online games, many of which can be found through the free-to-play section in Steam.

I know it’s hard because this is such a drastic change in lifestyle and routine, but please do what you can. Stay at home. And again, if you already are doing these things, thank you.

Posted in books

Reasons for a DNF

If you’re not familiar with the term DNF it’s short for Did Not Finish. I’ve seen it a lot in the book community, and even some posts on specific books as to why they ended up being on the DNF list. After looking over my own DNF list, I realized there were a few key things that ended up causing me to put the book aside.

Too Many PoVs This one is very subjective, however for me, there’s a limit of how many characters are needed to tell the story. If you’re introducing a new point of view in almost every chapter, there’s too many views to follow along. I don’t need to know every character and their side of the story, I want to know why I should care about the main character.

A variation on that is also late introduction to PoV characters. I’ve had two separate stories where I got halfway or better into the story only to be blindsided by an entirely new PoV character.

Dumb Characters I really wanted to put it some other way besides ‘dumb’ because that feels harsh but that’s what it came down to. In both of my most recent DNF additions, the lack of basic thought on part of the main characters heavily contributed to the book being put aside.

This isn’t just a case of a character who isn’t academically smart or who simply doesn’t think very quickly. This has been a case of characters following questionably sound logic, or outright ignoring the very obvious signs that they are the Chosen One, their friend is a vampire or anything else that might be painfully obvious to the reader. It’s also a case of characters not asking the obvious and important questions–like how everyone knows they’re the Chosen One, or how everyone knows their friend is a vampire.

Lack of Plot This one is a really minor complaint. I’m personally much more drawn to character driven stories, but when the progress on solving the main conflict is largely characters rehashing what they know or going about their day-to-day lives doing their jobs while the side characters around them are off doing important plot-worthy things, it’s frustrating and it’s boring.

Inaccuracy Again, this is a very minor thing. Getting every detail about a place you’ve never been or a food you’ve never tasted is hard. Even getting every detail about an experience you’ve had can be hard. And the only reason this ended up on the list is because it ended up being the entire reason for a DNF within the first chapter.

Inaccuracy in facts does happen–but when it happens across almost every fact, it makes me feel like you haven’t done your job as a writer. And trust me, I know that’s a hard job (it’s one I pursue myself). It doesn’t take long to google how large an animals is, what kind of fish can be found in an area, that tigers can swim and which plants are actually poisonous.

These are all reasons for my personal DNF’s. They’re not a guarantee that every book out there with these things will be a DNF, it’s just some of the more common or stronger reasons for certain books to be put aside.

What are some of your reasons for a DNF?

Posted in books, writing

The (Almost) Launch Post

Back in September when I first started looking at publishing Crimson and Gold, there was an entire list of questions to answer. From the cover to the formatting, did I have everything I needed? There were also questions about whether or not I should do pre-orders, blog tours, ARCs and so many other little things it felt almost like I could easily drown in all the uncertainty.

Writing books is hard. Editing them is harder. Publishing is harder still.

I am however, incredibly happy to announce that all of the pre-launch chaos is almost over. Crimson and Gold officially releases on January 15. I know I’m not the only one wading through posts on how to do a book launch or how to create buzz for a story, so I’m hoping my experiences here will help anyone else with questions.

Building the Plan
The first place I started was figuring out what I needed to do to get ready to launch. That involved digging around on the internet and finding out what others had done for their launch plans. There were a few things I noted were key components.

  1. Time.
  2. Marketing
  3. Preparation

All three of these are things I knew I had to put into my own plan, which is why for something decided on in September of 2019, the end goal wasn’t feasible until at least January 2020.

Preparation was the biggest factor for how much time I needed. I needed time to make any final edits and to format the text. Additionally, I needed time to write any posts related to the launch. There were also several weeks of work to go into creating the cover.

Because Crimson and Gold is just over thirteen thousand words, I opted for fairly light marketing, utilizing just my twitter and the blog. I went back and forth on whether or not to open pre-orders (more on that a little bit below). Although that certainly reduced the amount of time I needed between deciding to publish and actually clicking the button, there was still a lot of work to go into it.

Behind the Scenes
A lot of the work going into launch day was technical work and learning as I went. Cover creation required not only editing and processing an image but also adding a few new skills to my repertoire of digital art. Learning those skills added several hours to an already lengthy process.

There was also formatting. Once the final edits were made, I needed to add in an appropriate table of contents and make sure it would properly transfer over to an e-book. That was likely the easiest portion of the entire process to complete.

I also had to upload both the manuscript and cover files, check those for errors and make any necessary corrections. Namely my initial cover wasn’t saved at the proper size, making it too small to upload.

All of that took up the months of October through November. Because I wanted the cover reveal done in December, I had to make sure that was completed and ready to go and became the primary reason the cover wasn’t revealed until the 30th. Before I could reveal anything I needed the cover and I needed a description.

The countless hours already put into writing and editing the story had to shift from checking word choice and grammar rules to trying to talk about the story and manipulating photos.

What’s Next
Officially, Crimson and Gold is launching on January 15th. I spent a lot of time debating about opening pre-orders. Ultimately, I decided on yes. It made things a little easier since it meant I could set the date and forget it, not needing to worry that anyone looking for the book wouldn’t be able to get it right away.

Beyond the 15th however, things get a little murkier. I’ll still need to do promotion and marketing. There’s plenty more to learn ahead.


CRIMSONANDGOLDREVEALCOVERCrimson and Gold available January 15th, 2020. Pre-order it here! You can also check out my other works here.

Twelve years ago, a wolf attacked Scarlett. Twelve years ago, Grandmother Rose chased off the man behind that attack.

Now, Ethan is back and Scarlett is the one responsible for defending Fairvale.  Doing that means finding the fairy spring and the only person who knows how to find it is the woodcutter, Carter. Carter has is own reasons for not getting involved with fairies and wolves. If Scarlett can’t find the fairy spring, Ethan gains control over some of the most dangerous creatures in the entire First Kingdom.

The same creatures he used to attack her twelve years ago.

Posted in Exercises

Reading Challenges

I mentioned when I posted about the goals I was setting for 2020 that one of the places I’d taken the hardest hit on was my reading. I had several months after May where I didn’t read anything outside of nonfiction articles, and only a couple of short fiction stories for the most part of the end of the year.

To fix that, I want to give myself a reading challenge this year. Normally I don’t track how much or what I’m reading, but I’m hoping that tracking it will let me get back on track and reading more.

Because I know part of the trouble has been on having time to read, I’m keeping it fairly low. The aim for this year is to read a total of 24 books.

  • 12 newly published books
  • 3 in genres I don’t normally read
  • 6 from indie authors
  • 3 digital books

I’m planning on keeping track of this in my planner, though I know a lot of people use places like Goodreads. I may also check out some of the book subscription boxes as a sort of blind date with a book.

What are you challenging yourself to read this year?

Posted in books

Crimson and Gold: Descriptions and Teasers

I’m so excited for January when I’ll be releasing Crimson and Gold. Although it’s only a short, it’s still taken a lot of work to get to this point, and now that I have my cover (and the above teaser) officially set and ready to go, it’s even more real now than before.

There are still a few small things to take care of before January rolls in. For me, the hardest part of any story has been writing a back description for it. I’ve redone my current one twice in the last week. It’s hard to distill an entire a story down into just a paragraph or two, even if that story clocks in at 13k.

To that end, I’ve spent a lot of time reading the back summaries of other fairy tale retellings (especially other red riding hood retellings).

Officially, I’m showing off the entire cover on December 30th, and Crimson and Gold will be released on January 15th. For now, enjoy the teaser and the summary:

Crimson and Gold

Twelve years ago, a wolf attacked Scarlett. Twelve years ago, Grandmother Rose chased off the man behind that attack.

TeaserNow, Ethan is back and Scarlett is the one responsible for defending Fairvale.  Doing that means finding the fairy spring and the only person who knows how to find it is the woodcutter, Carter. Carter has is own reasons for not getting involved with fairies and wolves. If Scarlett can’t find the fairy spring, Ethan gains control over some of the most dangerous creatures in the entire First Kingdom.

The same creatures he used to attack her twelve years ago.