Posted in publishing, writing advice

Do I Need a Website?

Having a website is an important part of becoming an author, but it’s one most people neglect. I know I’d never considered it before starting my publishing journey. My focus was on writing compelling stories that let people escape reality for a while, not learning to build webpages.

I drug my feet on building my website. It was a frustrating process that had me ready to punt my laptop down the street more than once. I found myself questioning why I was even putting myself through this. The answer was simple.

Because you need it. Having a website gives you key things you need as an author.

Instant credibility

What will happen if somebody googles you and finds a big ol’ goose egg? Maybe you’ll get lucky, and they’ll see social media. That’s great, but anybody can have an Instagram account. Having a website sets you apart as a professional.

Build your newsletter

You have to have a newsletter. Period. It helps build a dedicated audience to drive sales by promoting your novels and events on a more personal level. You can even find beta readers you know want to see you succeed!

Showcase your work

There are only so many times you can post a promo on social media before people stop looking and keep scrolling. It’s an excellent tool for a release. Don’t get me wrong, but a website lets you dive deep into your work with evergreen content. Social media has character limits. When is the last time you saw a website with one?

Now, I do not pretend to be a website design expert. I’m learning something new every day. If you want to learn more about how to build one that will work, check out A Comprehensive Guide to Creating an Effective Author Website. You won’t regret it.

Posted in resources, writing advice

Know Your Genre: Guidelines for Authors

Genre is a little word with big impact. Knowing the right way to categorize your story gives you insight into what it takes to make readers choose it over others on the shelf.

There are dozens of genres out there. Each one has its own standards and guidelines that set it apart. The most popular fiction genres are:

  • Fantasy
  • Sci-fi
  • Mystery
  • Thriller
  • Romance
  • Western
  • Dystopian
  • Contemporary

We can break each one down into countless subgenres. Check the link below for a more detailed list.

The Different Genres of Books (With Descriptions) | BookSummaryClub

Readers have set expectations for each genre’s length, tropes, and story structure. 

The length of a novel can be a deterrent for readers looking for a specific genre. A romance novel, for example, is usually 50 – 75,000 words. An epic fantasy, on the other hand, can easily be 100,000+. Writing a romance novel the length of Lord of the Rings can make readers raise their eyebrows or even pass on the book. While there is no hard and fast word count rule, keeping your story within the standard helps ensure your audience doesn’t turn away from it without at least cracking the spine.

Does anyone else remember the Twilight craze? Please say yes. I don’t want to feel old. This set off a massive trend of vampire and werewolf romance novels in all shapes and sizes. Knowing what is popular in your genre is essential to ensure it sells. If you are writing a shifter romance, but everyone is reading Christmas stories, it may sell poorly. That doesn’t mean you can’t write it. You may want to wait to hit the publish button or submit it to an agent at a different time.

Every genre has elements that define it. Romance novels have to have a happily-ever-after (HEA). If it does not have a HEA, it’s not a romance. End of story. Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy because they (SPOILERS) die at the end. It is a romantic story, but it is not a romance because of how it ends. If I didn’t know that was how it ended going in and snatched it off of a romance shelf at the store, I would be ready to go on the warpath at the end. 

Genre is making a promise to your reader about what they can expect from your story.

6 Current Trends In Popular Fiction Genres in 2023 | Writer’s Relief – Writer’s Relief (

Knowing your genre and understanding how it works will go a long way in crafting a story your readers will love. It identifies your audience and gives you a roadmap to follow along the way. Do your research, and you will make your life that much easier.

Posted in writer life

Self-Care for Authors

The term self-care didn’t exist when I was growing up. At least, nobody ever talked about it. I actually got an “I’m Third” award at a church camp for putting everyone else before myself. While serving others is good, there is a point that it turns into a detriment.

If you don’t care for yourself, you can’t take care of others.

Refilling your creative well is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot in the author community. I’ve touched on it before when discussing getting space from your work and vacationing. There is a reason this theme is preached with such rigor.

An author that is physically and mentally drained cannot create. 

While self-care looks different for everyone, I have found two primary themes prevailing over the landscape.

Simplify your life

Remove as many of the things that cause you stress as possible. That may require planning or purging, but the more “clutter” you can get out of your life, the less there will be to hold you down.

Reward yourself

You work hard. It’s okay to give yourself a little break. Eat some cake. Take a quick nap. Get a massage. Whatever that reward is for you, give yourself something to look forward to at the end of a grueling task.

Having your mind and body in top shape gives you more energy and makes finding motivation easier. When an author finds themself in a bad place in these areas, crafting stories can be nearly impossible.

Take a few minutes to check in with yourself and see if self-care needs to be put back on the menu.

Not sure where to start? Take a look at these articles for a few ideas.

For me, it’s spending time resting. Lying on the couch with a good sheet mask and a cat to snuggle helps me recharge. What practices do you use to keep yourself in a space that is perfect to let your creative juices flow?

Posted in writer life, writing advice

Setback or Comeback

Have you ever noticed that everything seems to go differently than planned? You research, build the most beautiful color-coded spreadsheet, and then an unforeseen variable knocks it out of alignment. Setbacks can stop us dead in our tracks or motivate us to achieve new heights.

According to Psychology Today, less than 20% of people successfully reach a goal on the first try. That’s a pretty low number. So what happens to the other 80%? How do they find the motivation to keep going?

Feel the feels

Missing a goal sucks. You’re allowed to be disappointed. Eat that box of Girl Scout cookies. Binge-watch your favorite TV show for the millionth time. Give yourself one night to indulge in the feelings. It’s how you know it was important to you.

Learn from it

Step back and evaluate what went wrong. What caused you to miss the mark? Did you forget to do something? Underestimate the time it would take? Look at it as a learning opportunity. Find where you misstepped so you can do better next time.

Do it again

If at first you don’t succeed… Just because it didn’t work last time doesn’t mean you can’t do it. It means you need to change your approach. Take the things you learned from the previous attempt and do it again. Success is measured in tiny increments. We may only notice the final result, but the little steps along the way make those big shiny moments of awe possible.

Every setback is a setup for a comeback. Look at it as a learning opportunity to rise above the fray and become better than you were before. This is the start of your comeback story. And who doesn’t love those?

Posted in writer life

Take A Break: Even Writers Need A Vacation

I’m the type of person who gives 110% to everything I do. It’s allowed me to accomplish some amazing things. The downside is that I hardly ever stop to take a break, running from one activity to the next with little time to recharge. That has been my pattern for most of my life. 

 Recently, I took my first vacation. Hold your applause. It’s awesome. I know. My BFF and I set off on a week-long Disney cruise. Sun, sand, food, and more relaxation than my little body could handle. I turned off all my phone notifications and let the world fall away. In a word, heaven.

 I’d been so focused on my goals that I hadn’t realized how burnt out I’d become. Everything was focused on the next benchmark. Accomplishing the next goal. I knew I didn’t feel like writing. The thought of going over editor notes when I got back was paramount to torture. I could only see myself enjoying examining the back of my eyelids. That feeling vanished after I took the time to take care of myself.

 Coming back to the real world, I was ready to tackle it all. I’d written about five pages of brainstorming ideas for my next novel while on the ship. I raced for my inbox to see if my editor had sent my manuscript back yet. I was ready. I went from dreading publication this fall to looking forward to it.

 This brought me to one conclusion. Taking a break is every bit as important as putting in the work.

 I’d heard many things about the importance of self-care and refilling your creative well, but I didn’t get it until now. I knew it was something I needed to do. I just didn’t realize how low the water had gotten.

 If you’re feeling the burn and can barely look at your computer without envisioning setting it ablaze, consider this your invitation to put it all away. Unplug for a few days and let your mind rest. Not switch tasks. Rest. The way you will feel when it is over is beyond any sense of accomplishment you will get from trying to push through with your tank on empty. Believe me. It will be worth it.

Posted in writer life

Word of the Year 2023

As the earth starts another trip around the sun, (yes I forgot to post before going on vacation) people around the world set resolutions for the new year. I am not one of them. Goals are great, but there is something about a resolution that feels more like lip service than an actual goal to me. That’s why I adopted a “word of the year.”

This idea came from the brilliant Brynn Donovan. I ran across her blog five years ago when I began researching writing techniques and the publishing process. I have followed her ever since. One of her posts talked about selecting a single word to highlight her intention and focus for the year, and I loved it!

I’ve been choosing a word for the year for a few years. Writing that word on a notecard and posting it somewhere I will see each day has done wonders. It reminds me of what I want to accomplish and redirects my focus when I drift too far off course. This year, I chose the word imperfection.

Now, before you all race to the comment section and launch into a million and one reasons why that is the worst motivator ever, hear me out.

2023 is going to be a year of major change for me. Those of you that subscribe to my newsletter know what I’m talking about. Things are coming down the pipe that will turn my world upside down. While I’m excited about them, I know they will come with a huge learning curve. Feeling out of control or unprepared drives me nuts. I want to get everything right the first time, no questions asked. In fact, I’m such a perfectionist that my mom once got me a shirt with “Prefectionist” on it. No kidding. People who know me know how much I like my control. All of that will have to go out the window this year.

Choosing imperfection as my word reminds me to let go and let life happen. I don’t have to be the absolute best at everything. The house doesn’t have to be white-glove clean every day. Meals that come from my kitchen don’t have to be Michelin star masterpieces. As long as I and anyone else in my care finish the day on this side of the dirt, it’s a win.

Setting intentions and picking a word to embody them is a powerful exercise. I encourage you to take some time to think about what you want to manifest in your life this year and pick a word to remind you what you’re working toward.

Leave a comment below to let me know what your word is so I can cheer you on. I can’t wait to see what we all accomplish in the new year.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Mother’s Courage: An Advent 2022 Devotional

It was my honor to be asked to write a short devotional for my church’s Advent devotional booklet again this year. The theme for 2022 is “A Child is Born.” The focus is the miraculous births of the Bible, and our pastor wanted us to share our own birth stories and how God revealed himself in those experiences.

My first reaction was to email them back and make sure they sent the email to the right place. I’m not a mother. Sure I’ve been there for some friends when they gave birth, but I don’t have a birth story. I couldn’t begin to offer insight into something like that. Turns out the pastor asked for me specifically to write one again this year. So, I sat down at my computer and tried to figure out what on earth I was going to say.

The lyrics for one of my favorite Christmas songs started playing in my head. “Breath of Heaven” gives the lead up to Christ’s birth from Mary’s point of view. I never stopped to think about what it would have been like for her to be called to such an important mission until I heard this song for the first time. It was with that song ringing in my ear that I pulled out my Bible and began to write.

Becoming a mother is never easy. Stress, pain, and worry builds to a single moment in time when they hold their child in their arms for the first time. While no two women trod the same path, the unconditional love of a mother for her child is universal. 

I’ve often found myself wondering about Mary’s experience. Here is this young woman, most likely a teenager, being told that she will give birth to the most important figure to ever walk the earth. Can you imagine what it must have been like?

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

Luke 1:29

I picture her trembling in fear at the news. The archangel Gabriel tells her not to be afraid, but it’s hard to imagine that a single sentence dissuaded all her fears. She even questions this call on her life. 

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

Luke 1:34

Mary faced far more than the general anxieties of becoming a parent. She faced backlash from not just her family but her entire community. She risked being ostracized and alone, unable to provide for the child that was dependent on her. But through all that, she found the courage to accept her calling.

“I am the Lord’s Servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”

Luke 1:38

I’m thankful she did. The courage of one young woman helped to bring forth the most precious gift the world would ever know. Jesus. May each of us find the courage to answer the call God places on our lives.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

Luke 1: 10-11

Posted in writing advice

Writing at the Holidays: Keeping Momentum Going

The holiday season is here again. Bakers are baking. Shoppers are shopping. And writers, well, we are having an existential crisis.

Writing during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is hard. It’s easy to fall behind. So how do you keep things going when everything else is calling your name? There is no one answer, but here are a few things I’ve tried in the past to keep moving forward without losing what is left of my sanity.

  • Schedule Writing Time

I know I’ve discussed scheduling time before, but it is even more important during the holidays. It doesn’t matter how long it is. Maybe it’s 15 minutes right before bed or 5 minutes while you’re waiting in the school pick-up line. Even if it is only a few minutes, the work you get done adds up. It is better to do a small amount of work than lose all the momentum you worked so hard to gain.

  • Set Smaller Goals

You will not be able to get as much done as you usually do without losing your mind. It’s not going to happen. So, pull back on those lofty goals for a minute and set something a little more reasonable. Try cutting your goals in half, or even a third, until the Season of Giving stops trying to give you a migraine.

  • Give Yourself Permission to Take a Break

Okay. I know this is supposed to be about how to keep writing during the holidays but hear me out. Overly stressed people produce lower-quality work. While being Super Writer may make you feel more accomplished now, future you will pay for it. They will have to do twice as much editing. They may even burn out altogether. Let yourself say enough is enough and stop if you need to. Protecting your mental health and well-being will make you a better writer in the long run. Trust me.  

The holidays are crazy. Don’t be afraid to make some adjustments to take care of yourself and keep what is really important in front of you. . . your loved ones.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Posted in resources, writing advice

It’s All In How You Look At It: A Crash Course in Point of View

Last time, we talked about voice and how we can use it to bring our characters to life. There’s another thing to consider that often gets confused for voice in writing, and that’s point of view or POV.

Point of view deals with the perspective of who is telling the story. There are a lot of subcategories when discussing POV, but to keep things simple, I’m only going to talk about the most basic form for now.

The two most common POVs are first and third person. First-person is telling the story as if you are the main character. It uses predominantly “I” pronouns when giving the main character’s thoughts and actions. “I am doing this.” This can be a bit more immersive for the reader, but it limits you to only being able to focus on one perspective.

Third person uses he/she/they pronouns and puts the narrator outside the action. They are observers looking down on the action and relaying the information to the reader. “She is doing this.” Third person allows you to have more viewpoints and see other parts of the story by involving more characters. Just be careful you aren’t head-hopping, jumping perspective, from one sentence to the next and confusing your readers. 

There is one more POV out there. It’s not seen in many publications, but it can be a fun way for your readers to experience the story as it makes them the main character.

It’s called second person and uses “you” pronouns to make the reader feel like they are the ones doing the action. “You are doing this.” This one can be tough to write in. You have to be careful with descriptions to avoid pulling your reader out of the story. Describing a character that looks completely different from your reader when they are supposed to be the one in the story will break the illusion and ruin the experience for your readers. They need to be as featureless as possible so that the reader can superimpose themselves onto the character.

While POV is not the same as voice, it is just as important. It is the lens through which your reader will experience the story. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different POVs to see which one works best for your style and suits your characters.

Posted in resources, writing advice

What Is Voice?

One of fiction’s biggest trends is having “voicy” characters. But what does that mean, and how does it affect the story?

Voice is not the same as Point of View (POV). Voice makes an author’s writing unique. It conveys attitude and personality. POV refers to who is telling the story. (i.e., 1st and 3rd person)

The two types of voice authors run into most in fiction are character and narrator. Even in 1st person, these are not the same. Character voice will deal with how the character speaks to others. The phrases they use. Favorite words. That kind of thing. Narrator is how they tell a story. While it may be similar, it’s not identical.

Developing both kinds of voice is crucial in developing your overall writing style. Some ways to get into your character voice are to write things as them. Write letters to other characters or journal as your characters. This helps you get into their headspace and understand them better.

Narration has a little more wiggle room. This is where authors can let some of their personality shine a bit more. Keep in mind, some genres have certain expectations. For example, fantasy novels tend to have a lot of descriptions. They have to build a new world in a way contemporary romance doesn’t have to. While world-building is just as important in both, we approach it differently.

One thing you can do to help define your narrator’s voice is to look at popular novels in your genre and see if there are any common themes or traits that pop up. Do they use colloquialisms? Is it shorter one to two-syllable words, or do they like to go for the fifty-cent words with four or more syllables? Whatever the case, your voice is up to you.

The biggest thing to remember with voice is to be yourself. Emulating your favorite authors is great, but if you aren’t true to yourself, it will show, and your writing will suffer.