Blog Post #32: Best Books on Writing, Screenwriting Tricks for Authors and How to Steal Hollywood



Alexandra Sokoloff’s Stealing Hollywood: Screenwriting Tricks for Authors is easily one of the best plotting books I have ever purchased. It is a vital tool I use for every plot I’ve written since purchasing the book.

Now, Alexandra Sokoloff is notoriously protective of the contents of this book, and because of that I will be disclosing no direct information including quotes, techniques, or really anything. I’m sorry for that, but ask Sarra Cannon of HeartBreathings on YouTube about it…

What I can say about it is that it’s the THICKEST, LARGEST plotting book I own, and it is chock FULL of crucial information, such as popular scene additions and where they go in the first, second, or third act.

She also includes movie/story break downs, examples, and chapters on dialogue, stakes, love stories, fairy tales, villains, creating suspense, plot twists, and so much more!

I heavily suggest this book to any writer. Even for pantsers the information is vital, especially when you are stuck in a writer’s block and don’t know where to head.

You can find this book on Amazon!

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Blog Post #31: Where Did I Go?

Hey guys!

Life has been a whirlwind these past three weeks, and I’m sorry for not giving you all a head’s up on what I was doing.

To cut straight to the chase: I had neck surgery and I started freelance ghostwriting romances! I am no longer unemployed, I am SELF EMPLOYED!

Like I said, it’s been wild!

I am recovering well from surgery and I have three clients who I am regularly turning pages into for cash. I am finally a paid writer! All three of them are looking to be long term clients and I am so happy and grateful for them!

I started an LLC for my ghostwriting/editing business, and as soon as I have the official declaration of my business, I’ll be promoting it on this blog ūüôā

You can still look forward to my short stories and blog posts (Nightshade and Pomegranate is still getting written, no worries), I’ve just been having a hell of a time juggling everything with three clients who I am trying to impress with my work and consistency!

I am very thankful for my surgery, it was to correct a genetic condition inherited from my grandmother, and it should be the answer to me becoming a mother. Once my calcium regulates naturally, I will be able to start trying again with my husband. I am thrilled and terrified. Losing our first pregnancy last year still chokes me up with tears, and I’m petrified that I’ll experience that loss again. However, I can’t let that fear swallow my life whole.

Fear is the mind killer, after all.

Blog Post #29: Facing Burnout while Writing Submissions and Entering Short Stories for Cash in between Writing/Editing Novels

When I began this blog my goal was always to “soft publish” my short stories here and then submit them for publication before compiling them into a short story compilation. Finding where to submit, how to submit, and when not to submit has become a whirlwind of quick learning. Keeping my muse from burning out has also become quite burdensome.

Submissions is a new realm. When I was in community college there were student journals and papers that were published where students could submit work. My best friend got a work of hers published in it while she was pursuing her AA in English. At the time I was working full time and burning myself out, causing myself to lose financial aid and nix my ability to continue college at that school. Bummer. Due to that burn out I never got the chance to attempt to write anything, let alone submit it.

Currently (but not in the future), my short story titled Dejavu is on this blog in five parts. I will be taking these down soon to polish it up and submit it for publication to Silver Blade Magazine. Fingers crossed, I will get chosen and receive a small cash prize. In the works I just plotted a new short story I will be posting, in parts, on this blog titled Nightshade’s Fate, a retelling of the story of Persephone, the Goddess of the Underworld and the night Hades takes her away. I will be submitting this to Quill & Crow Publishing for their The Damned and the Divine submission call. I’m extremely excited to write this short story.

However, I also feel the siren call of burn out on the horizon. I just finished the first draft of Silver Blood in September, then I finished Dejavu, a short story I started two years ago (and something that had been on my mind for two freaking years!). Now I’m jumping into a new short story. Short stories are, admittedly and obviously, easier than full novels. Short stories can move faster where a full book requires more pacing. Short stories are where clever prose matters most, where every word counts in a tale.

Short stories, like novels, are still work, nonetheless.

My next steps with Silver Blood are to add a B plot to thicken the word count and add more to the world. I’ve wanted to step away from the manuscript for a few weeks to a month (or two, even), so I can come back with fresh eyes and fresh ideas. The short stories I’ve been writing are entirely different than the storyline of Silver Blood, so I’m hoping not to succumb to burnout for too long.

Even if I do burn out, I’ll still be here to tell you about it. Not every part of writing is easy, and now that I’ve been pursuing writing stories as a part-time job to full-time hobby, I recognize that burnouts are cyclical, not a reflection of my inability to become a great writer who has an awesome following. My burnout does not reflect my inability to write well, or to craft stories. My burnout is just a result of pushing myself hard, and when I let my mind rest I allow myself the space to let my muse ponder and give me some ideas.

See you all next week! I will be starting Nightshade’s Fate Wednesday morning!

Blog Post #23: My Daily Schedule as Someone Who Rarely Leaves the House

Juggling work, housework, and leisure is essential to all workers, but especially those working from home or managing a business launch.


I rarely leave the house, it is the reality of my life now that I don’t have a job to go to everyday.

My days as a housewife consist of three main duties: cooking, cleaning, and writing. Once I have a baby life will be thrown into the utter chaos of love, baby feet, and poop, but for now it’s simpler. My husband and I have always had the goal of me being a stay at home wife and once Covid hit I’ll be honest, I wasn’t exactly hitting the pavement trying to get a job in the middle of a pandemic. My husband, through his hard work and conscientiousness received a very big promotion, and he began working overtime weekly as an IT manager, requiring me to manage the house.

This means that all meals and cleaning falls on me, something that I enjoy. I had many jobs as a housekeeper at hotels in my young adult years, and thus I know how to clean a house rather quickly. It’s just getting the motivation to do it, heh. In turn, I try to plan the meals out for the day, as my husband and I are working on getting in better shape before we try for a baby again. Once I have my surgery, I’ll have to wait a month or two for my hormones to stabilize and then I’ll be able to get pregnant and carry a full term baby.

My medical conditions, as well as various other experiences that happened during the year has depleted our emergency savings, and now we’re working to stash it back again. That’s achievable by me cooking basically everything.

My mornings start with coffee and fasting. I fast a lot. Generally, I fast between 16-20 hours a day, only drinking coffee, tea, and water in that time. I avoid carbonated drinks, but I have a soft spot for Truly’s on the weekends. Generally, I’ll bring my husband breakfast between ten and eleven, lunch around two to three, and dinner at six to seven. Then I do the dishes and shower for the night. Twice a week my friends come over to workout the makeshift gym in my basement. We’ll be going on a bachelorette weekend getaway in a month and we plan to look as good as possible!

As for writing, from approximately 9AM to 5PM I’m at the computer trying to write. According to my writing tracker spreadsheet (which I will be uploading for download here at some point) I have averaged 2500 words a day during this manuscript. My highest day was 5600. I hope to hit 10K at some point, but I doubt that will be consistent on a daily basis. Maybe one day. Hopefully. In the early morning I’ll check my social medial pages (as of today I only have a twitter) and post some positive and feel-good content. My goal is to never talk about politics or anything negative; I imagine people are readying dark fantasy romance to ESCAPE reality and to ESCAPE the negativity of the world.

My average writing sprints are 25-55 minutes but I don’t keep a timer, I just try to get myself into flow and don’t stop until I am done with the scene or I get stumped at what should happen. I have a few tricks in my back pocket now if I get stumped, including backing up the previous interaction and sending it into a different, more interesting direction.

I hope in the following weeks to get more a stable schedule with everything in my life. At the very least, I have begun to write and schedule my blog posts, so that I do not just blip off the map for a two year stint again.

Also, I finished my first draft (YAY!) at 45K words. I am working on brainstorming scenes to bring that up to 65K. Then it’s editing and completed! I will keep you all posted on my plotting and editing systems.

See you all Monday!

picture credit: “person holding yellow plastic spray bottle photo” by JESHOOTS, published on unsplash.com

Blog Post #22: Under Pressure

Caught between plans and executions. Also details about my current manuscript.

I’ve been re-reading Jewel Allen’s Rapid Release (attempted to link below) and it’s been inspiring, yet intimidating.

In the writing-craft book, Allen explains how she pens 50,000 words in the span of a week, allowing her to push out romance books on a monthly basis. She writes escapism romance, a niche that is both in demand and fairly simple to write (in terms of research, concepts, etc). She explains how marketing plans will still need to be devised by authors as rapid releasing is only one marketing strategy.

If I were to say my goal, it would be to take dark fantasy/sci fi romance and mimic what Allen is doing with escapism romance. I want to launch long series consisting of books which are about 70,000 words. I am not able to write 50,000 words in a month yet, but on my current manuscript Silver Blood I’ve written over 17,000 words in August alone. That manuscript is at just over 40,000 now.

17,000 isn’t enough, though. Even with this last remaining week in August I’ll need to push myself to write as much as possible to finish my draft before September.

Silver Blood, the working title of my current manuscript, is about a new kind of vampire. Today I will, hopefully, be powering through 5k words to finish the final chapter. Then the rest of the week I will add additional content needed to calm the fast pace of the story in its rawest form. It is a fantasy concept based on an old roleplaying forum board my best friend and I made back in 2002 on a website called avidgamers.com which doesn’t exist anymore. (Back in the heyday of free website hosting for no explicable reason, where I, and many other people, cut teeth on HTML.)

Ultimately, my end of year goal is to:
1) Finish Silver Blood first draft and editing
2) Finish Americana Wasted first draft and editing
3) Finish Americana Wasted 2 first draft and editing
4) Finish Dark Requiem editing

Successfully completing these goals will give me four completed books and set me up with 2 continuing dark fiction series and 1 stand alone series of horror/thriller books which will be released annually in October.

I forgot to mention, I have another manuscript I wrote in the summer of last year. It’s a fantasy about a demon hunter who’s possessed by a grim reaper in exchange for help in executing revenge against the entity that killed his family. It is VERY rough, and at this point I’m holding back on it because this character is going to tie into Silver Blood, just not yet. In my mind they are two protagonists, and their story will begin with Silver Blood and end with the other series. They just haven’t met yet.

That’s about it for today. I have more thoughts about potentially having a second pen name for straight up feel good romances that write easy and sell easier. I just don’t know when I’ll have time for that. If I can juggle two writing projects at once, though them being entirely different (outside of the romance subplot) may actually allow me to pursue something like that. And then, what kind of romances? Contemporary? Regency? Western? Historical? All of them?

I don’t have a real job anymore, so how much can I write until I burn out?

Also, enjoy the rebrand. This blog is gonna be looking different as I decide how to design it. I need to figure out how to get dark fantasy romance across in my site design. So for now you’re getting Mucha flowers!

Jewel Allen’s Rapid Release:

(I tried to link the book from amazon but wordpress blocked it so…. search it on Amazon, it’s definitely worth a read if you’re looking into self-publishing.)


Blog Post #21: I’m Back

Hey, it’s been a while. A lot has happened. A lot is still happening.


I haven’t returned to work; at this time I am a homemaker and an avid gardener.

My husband and I were working on creating a family. That didn’t go as planned, and unfortunately I was diagnosed with a disease affecting my endocrine system which will require surgery. That surgery is being held up by genetic testing which I can’t get into any earlier than November. I was pregnant the very end of last year, and unfortunately I lost that baby.

When I lost that baby, I lost a very real piece of myself. I lost my ability to be carefree and believe that everything was going to work out. I spiraled into a deep depression, of which I’ve crawled out only recently. Even typing this out now I’m still reduced to a mess of tears; it’s just that I can pull myself back together in a matter of minutes rather than experiencing a revolving panic attack.

That depression had completely wiped my creativity. My muse wasn’t gone, she was just drowning in sorrow with me. Everything felt like it was halted: my dreams of being a mother and my dreams of being an independent author.

Time doesn’t heal, it just numbs, and as of now I’m numb enough to return back to what I was doing before.

I’m currently working on my fourth manuscript, a fantasy romance. I was hesitant to write romance, I am not a rom-com type of gal. I always preferred dramas, horrors, or suspense to romance. However, almost every story has a romance component to it, and I decided that I needed to strengthen my skills. It doesn’t hurt that romance sells the best as well.

The post-apocalypse western is still happening, it’s just that two years later I realize that I need to pull the story down the middle and make two books by changing the climax and making large fundamental changes to the world. Less sci-fi, more western.

The horror story that I believe I had mentioned is also still happening. I just need to revisit the manuscript and polish it up. It is coherent, I just remember feeling as if the story wasn’t actually fleshed out the entire way.

Oh, yeah. I also earned a certification in copywriting from Poynter University. It felt really good to earn that cert.

My big goal is still to stash back 12 books to publish my first year, I’m just now playing with the idea of having two pen names: one for dark/fantasy/horror novels and the other for historical/western/contemporary romance.

I will be consistent. I know that was the mantra of my previous posts but I’m serious. I’m beginning to write a lot faster and I need to amass an audience before I can publish. I need to have people ready to review!

Thank you anyone still here. I did not forget about you. The pangs of guilt from leaving you hanging the last 2.5 years was not lost on me, and I hope that you all made it out of the pandemic.

Blog Post #20: Through the Fire and Flames: Going from Full-Time Admin & Part-Time Author to Job Hunter and Author

Becoming a full-time author is a lot of people’s dream, but I don’t think this was part of the plan.

Unfortunately, on St. Patty’s Day and during the CoronaVirus outbreak, my job let me go. I have no hard feelings, I have many reasons to see this as a blessing, but while this has opened up¬†a lot of opportunity for writing, finding a new job ASAP is a must now.

Currently I’m making lists of goals, and getting back to work on a short story this morning as well, but not going to lie, it feels a little overwhelming, and maybe I’m just suffering from the emotional whiplash, but I’m trying to fight the mental urge to mull over getting fired. Mulling, sulking, any of that is essentially a waste of time, I know this, Dune¬†reinforces it with it’s infamous quote “Fear is the mind killer, it is the little death that brings total obliteration”. Mulling, sulking, forcing yourself to wallow in the misery of the unknown is just self-sabotage bred out of fear.

So, instead, my goal is to use all of this free time to finish my copy-editing certification and begin posting this short story I’m working on. I’ll post episodic chunks every few days, first one will go up today. I’m still working on my full sized novels, but I want to start putting content out without worrying about how much is going to change once it’s published. Short stories will be easier in that regard.

Please stay safe everyone during this outbreak, if you’re able to stay home and if you aren’t, make sure to keep yourself healthy. Drink water, take some vitamins, get enough sleep, eat as well as you can, and be a hermit (as much as you can).

Blog Post #18: The Power of Believing In Yourself

Pushing through insecurity and self-doubt is hard, but believing in yourself is the only way you’ll be able to give all your opportunities and goals 100% of your effort.

I doubt myself when it comes to pursuing self-publishing and writing as a career. It is a field based in talent, and naturally it is highly competitive. Looking at the success of other self-publishing authors doesn’t rile jealousy or envy from me, it just fills me with dread that I won’t have the dedication necessary to fulfill my own dreams.

Yet, it’s always the tiny voice in the back of my mind, the small fire in my belly that says “but why can’t you?”

When you hear that small voice, don’t snuff it out, stoke it with a little hope and determination. When you ditch the plan, when you fall behind, don’t continue to sabotage yourself, try to make the changes you know you need to. Someone might fail over and over again, but it’s that one time that they succeed which makes all the difference in their life.

This is something I always have to remind myself of, that I can always work better to hone my craft when I feel like my writing is terrible and I should just quit, that I can always change the aspects around me to better fit my goals and actually work to help myself achieve what I want.

Everything is within our grasp, we only have to reach out and grab it.

Blog Post #10: Indie Publishing, Staying Focused on the Original Goal, and Preserving the Integrity of your Piece

Facing all of the avenues of success as an entrepreneur¬†and independent author can be overwhelming, but the trick to achieving your own success is focusing on what you’re passionate about and not pushing yourselves into spending all your creative energies on side projects.¬†¬†

Hey guys, I know it’s been awhile — approximately an entire month and then some — since my last blog post.¬† To sum it up, I needed to focus solely on my manuscript, which resulted in June being my most productive month so far!¬† As of now, I am working on chapters 17/18 and I’ve reached just under 65,000 words on my first draft.¬† I am estimating this book to be 25 chapters in total, so my completed, super rough first draft should land around 90,000, and my brain/plotting notebook is already filled with small editing notes on what to add in my first rounds of developmental edits.¬† My goal is to do all my own developmental and line edits (multiple rounds each), and hiring a freelance proof reader before publication.¬† I have friends who are readers, writers, and artists who are very interested in the concepts of my story and who have told me they will review chapters and leave ARC reviews for me once I’m ready.

This brings me to the point of this post today: No, this isn’t me telling you I’m done with my blog, I’m telling you it’s gonna be randomly published on, at least for now.¬† My hope is to do one or two, maybe up to four posts a month, but as of now they won’t be on a set schedule, they’ll be written whenever I think of them.¬† I need to dedicate this time to my book, this story that I’m falling in love with writing and these characters I have very roughly developed arcs for that need fleshed out.

My initial intention for this blog was to pound out two posts a week for you beautiful people, but what I realized was I was exhausting myself and exerting my creative energies on a side project, not the real project.¬† I love this blog, it’s a great space to clear my head and get some advice about following creative passions as an adult, but stepping back from it for a few weeks revealed that my rigid schedule was going to turn this blog into a recycled piece of garbage, the same posts you’ve seen done countless times by other people.

Let me explain: I don’t want this blog to be another mouthpiece of a writer-working-to-author just trying to peddle books out to any readers who come across it.¬† I don’t want this to be another blog that doles out contrived, try-hard posts about a craft I’m still developing my own skills in.¬† The direction and intention of this blog is to be a place for me to organize and collect my thoughts, to give my two cents on how to juggle following your passions and keeping a roof over your head; not a direct piece of my marketing strategy, where I create a false persona of myself for “fans” to falsely idolize and I write blog posts that everyone has already read (or watched on a YT/vlog channel) somewhere else. Frankly, I’m not that person, and I never want to be that person, and running my creative energy into the ground to write articles about topics I either don’t care to write about or aren’t really qualified to do so, to hit an imaginary quota I put on myself makes me not want to do it.

There is a big push on independent authors to do EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE.¬† Going through the videos on Author Tube (YouTube’s author community), you get told that in order to cultivate the amount of people necessary to succeed at sales you need to juggle email lists for newsletters, pump out blog posts or vlogs on YT, start a patreon, join a bunch of social media groups with other authors and start critiquing each other’s work, consider putting out classes that people pay for, and other innumerable ways to push yourself out there.¬†It is a lot, especially when you as an author plan to write books for the rest of your life to support an income and live your dream.¬†The expectation is to start doing most, if not all, of this¬†before¬†your publication (while you’re still working for most people) in order to use it as a marketing hub, which is a perfect strategy, but you run the risk of flying too close to the sun and melting your wings.¬† Putting all of your time and energy in managing an empire of side gigs when what you really started for was to write stories you love isn’t rewarding.

Self reflection says it could just be me whining about what’s par for the course.¬† I could just be feeling the impending stress of needing to begin true marketing prior to a book publication and be getting overwhelmed.¬† Every publishing house hypes the launch of a book prior to release, that’s how you get the most people to buy it.¬† I guess the bone I’m picking at more is the struggle with keeping your sincerity and integrity while pushing out so much work and getting noticed, ensuring to not create a facade of a glossy, perfect person and putting that out into the world as the real thing.¬†That’s ultimately what social media is, the best of everything projected as if that’s your real life, the visage of what you wish to share.¬†It’s about the management of true quality control, ensuring everything you put out isn’t a rushed piece of shit that doesn’t give fans true value.¬† It’s about ensuring you have enough energy to keep writing your work, the real reason why you’re doing all of this in the first place.

As an aspiring independent author looking at the long game prospect, I am reflecting on what my true goal in this game is.¬† I feel like the story I’m wrestling with is very high concept, it requires a lot of world building and character arc development and it’s very taxing to weave these character developments into the overall pacing of the rest of the story.¬† It’s something that I will be working on for years to come, before starting other series I have notes written for stashed away.¬† TAW is my baby right now, with all of the different long game ideas and weaving in an entire flashback arc at the end about society before WW3 and the atomic decimation of the globe, it could be eight, ten, twelve books total.¬† Considering possibly weaving my other book ideas into the same¬†universe,¬†like the fantasy series being a comic book in my dystopian world, a horror series set in the pre-dystopian reality. Just different ideas that I have to keep somewhat fresh, yet preserved long enough to dedicate myself to TAW.¬† I brainstormed TAW: WRP for five years before it came out to be an idea I could divulge myself into (and before I stopped telling myself I could never do this and stopped doubting myself); I can hold on to these ideas too.

Shout-out to Sarra Cannon, I’ll link her website and YouTube, Heart Breathings, below.¬† I haven’t read any of her books but I love her web series, she’s a great example of a writer who turned her creative passions and entrepreneurial spirit into an empire; writing what she wants and supporting her family by following her heart.¬† I hope to do the same; writing from home while homeschooling my future children until I can afford to get them into private school.¬† ¬†She also provides classes to purchase, and I would argue her experience of writing 20+ books in multiple series for the past ten years puts her in a different echelon of mentor than others in the AuthorTube community who also offer classes.¬† I eat, sleep, and breathe her Anchor Series and when I begin editing I’ll eat, sleep, and breathe her Editing Series, both linked below.¬† I love her message of writing what you love, always studying the craft of writing to be a better writer, and focusing on high concept story ideas to make sagas that fans adore.

So, artists, remember to stay true to what you want, and don’t get caught up in your side games while focusing on crafting the true product. Grow and accept needed change, but always remember your original goals.¬† Think about what you want to pursue, and manage how much creative energy you spend.

Also, please feel free to message/comment any topics you want me to write about in the future.

Sarra Cannon / Heart Breathings:

Website: https://sarracannon.com/
Heart Breathings YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCasYwEzMc7tjKuAS-
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Elements of a Best Selling (or Anchor) Series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyDruOi1q9A&list=PLg6zjsQP4PwcpMEj3Uo2b1sPFWrcule9
How To Edit Your Novel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLg6zjsQP4PwejATdBaHiF_lyrV9Pw585u