What writers can learn from dark fantasies

Have you ever seen Coraline? I’m sure you know it’s one of my favorite movies. I even did a full breaking apart post about it. It’s really good.

I also really enjoy Hunger Games, Divergent, Number The Stars, and my favorite book, The Giver. I’m sure you might have noticed a theme. These are all horribly dark books written for young adults.

Like, really really dark! I’ve never read a book for adults that is half as dark as the books people write for kids. I think that’s part of why I keep reading young adult fiction.

But why do we do this? Why do we write these dark, horrible things for young adults who are generally emotionally crazy to start with? I’ve given this some thought, and I realized it’s for one really simple reason.

It sells. It sells like crazy, man.

While I don’t think that you should ever write something because it sells well, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to take a look at why so much of this dark work is selling to young adults. Because there are a lot of good reasons why they do sell well.

Kids are actually smarter than we treat them. By ‘we’ I mean parents and teachers. I’m a parent myself, and I can totally tell you that I do this all the time. I assume that my daughter can’t grasp large things, deep things all the time. I assume that I have to slow down and take a knee to explain the world to her. But I’m wrong. She’s fourteen years old, and she surprises me all the time with her incites. She watches the news with me, you understand. And she gets what’s going on in the world a lot better than some adults I know.

But, because we who are responsible for these little fledgling humans tend to treat them like they’re still nine, they will, of course, gravitate towards the things that treat them like they’re smarter than that. Like a dark fantasy book that isn’t afraid to talk about serious topics.

Dark work can also be distracting when you’re dealing with your own emotions. And, to be fair, teenagers are a huge ball of emotions. Greasy, angry, sad, whiny emotions. Okay, I know I sound flippant, and I’m only half joking. Teenagers have never experienced most of the bad issues in life before. We, as adults, are used to being burned. Kids aren’t, so all pain is new. When all of that pain is too much, a good dark fantasy can be distracting.

But here’s the thing, it’s not just kids that love young adult dark fantasy. As I’ve already pointed out, I love dark fantasy. And I’m happy to tell you why.

  • I love dark fantasy characters because they have realistic reactions to life. No one’s ever as happy as a Disney Princess all the damn time. Wednesday Adams is a far more relatable character.
  • The dark fantasy is often good at showing the good part of a bad day. Think about Series of Unfortunate Events. Think about the first book, where they show the Baudelaire siblings reading in their room in the evening. It’s a reminder that even in the darkest time, we can make moments of light for ourselves.
  • Dark fantasies are unpredictable. In other books, you can generally assume that we’ll have a happy ending. Not so with a dark fantasy. Anyone might die.

I think that these are definitely things that writers can learn about any genre. What do you think? Do you like dark fantasies? If so, why?

cropped-daysand-other-stories.jpgSeven pieces of short and flash fiction, showcasing the days of seven very different people. You will find a busy librarian, a lonely man with a guitar and a woman who finds a dream crashing in her brain. And guess what? It’s totally free! Get it here now.

How I’m using Pinterest to dramatically increase my blog views

I’ve been writing Paper Beats World for a few years now. I won’t lie to you, I’ve never had millions of followers or views. I had enough, no complaints. But I’m always trying to find new ways to lead people to PBW. Why?

About a month ago I stopped paying attention to Twitter. I still post there, but it’s just a byproduct of what I’m doing on other social media sites. I did this because I did an inventory of my social media followers and realized two things.

A. More people followed me on Twitter than anywhere else.

B. It doesn’t matter a damn bit, because no one who followed me on Twitter clicks back to PBW.

I also saw the site that sent the most people to PBW; Pinterest. So I did what anyone would do. I started focusing more attention on it.

And do you know what happened? My page views took off! I mean, April was one of the most viewed months on PBW ever! So I want to share with you what I’m doing. If you have a blog, maybe these things will help you too.

Let me also say that Pinterest is my favorite social media platform. It’s how I relax, get inspiration and learn new things. If you don’t know how to use it, here’s a link to my post about how Pinterest works. That was a brief overview. What follows is what I’ve started doing since my blog views have started taking off.

Post a couple times a day with other people’s stuff

This one’s easy for me, because I genuinely like being on Pinterest. I scroll through and find things that inspire me, and I share them. Good advice, funny comics. All of that goes on the Paper Beats World board. The business advice goes to the Business Hat board. Info about a new book that looks fascinating goes on my Books board. I try to make sure that something new is on each of those boards every day so that new people follow them.

Create cool looking graphics

Your blog post images mean more than you think. They show up on blog feeds, social media and of course, can be used to make a pin on Pinterest. So, you should make nice graphics a priority. I wrote a blog post here, to help you with the graphics.

Post something every day

Obviously, I don’t post every day. But I do post something of mine on Pinterest every day. I go back a year or two years on the blog and post something from there. That’s actually what I started doing that has made the most difference. One post that I shared, called Cross Training Your Writing, got very little love when I posted it originally. When I reposted it, it got shared. Then it got shared a lot. Last month that one post was read 70 times. Is it break the internet worthy? No, not really. But it’s still a lot more views than I normally get.

So what do you think? Are you using Pinterest to its full advantage? Do you feel like there’s another social media site that isn’t getting enough attention or that you’d like to learn more about? Let us know in the comments below.

Station 86 is shocked when a Khloe assassin begins killing members of the all powerfulff9a8a_d364e70623f041a199d588b5124fcc3c-mv2 council. Officer Sennett Montgomery and Councilman Godfrey Anders swear to find the assassin after Godfrey’s wife is falsely accused. But the killer, and the council itself, are not what they seem. Neither, as it turns out, is Sennett’s daughter.

Check it out here


Writing from a place of pain

My life has not been an easy one. Yeah, I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Hell, your own life probably isn’t an easy one. We all have our challenges, we all have our burdens. We all have something in our past or our current life that causes us pain.

But we, as writers, are artists. And as such, we have a built-in way to express our pain. We can write, and let all of that out.

Releasing my pain onto the page has been a coping mechanism for most of my life. It’s one that I rely heavily upon. Often I’m not comfortable talking about my emotions. That’s just not the person that I am. I think I must amuse my friends and family. When we’re talking face to face I’m more likely to dissemble bad emotions. I’ll talk about the positives, more so than the negatives. But if we’re chatting online, I’m far more likely to be honest about how I really feel. In the most flowery way possible, usually. I’m not the sort to hide who I am and what I feel. But it’s easier to get it out when I’m not face to face.

When you’re writing from a place of pain, you will write your truest words. Especially when you’re practicing free writing. This is actually strange because pain lies. Or, at least, we are usually really good at lying to ourselves about pain. We mask the pain with anger because it’s easier to feel. We pretend that we’re not really hurting, or that the thing that’s causing our pain is something different from what it really is.

That’s why writing from your pain is helpful because it lets you get past all of the lies. You can be totally honest on the page. And once you get into that, once the honesty is out there, it will really come out.

If you don’t get to that point, you might find that your writing speaks your honesty for you. For instance, there was a long time that I wasn’t talking to my mother. I thought that I was alright with that. I thought that I was going through my life pretty much okay without her.

I was totally wrong about that. Mothers kept coming out in my writing and stories. In my free writing, I kept coming back to this one image of a tree with shallow roots. My writing knew I wasn’t okay, long before I was ready to admit it.

One reason why this sort of writing can be so honest is that we don’t feel like we’re going to share it. We can be honest with the blank page more than we can with literally anyone else. So long as you don’t leave it lying about, it won’t tell anyone anything. You can even destroy it after you’ve spilled your guts if you want. The blank page will never judge you. What it will do is give you a space to ask yourself the questions you know needs to be asked.

Of course, If you do share your writing, it can help others who are feeling what you’re feeling. Knowing that others have gone through what you’re going through it can make you feel less alone. Sharing what you write from your place of pain can help others. And they, in turn, may reach out with their own words of comfort for you.


Are you subscribed to the PBW Update? Here’s why you should be. You’ll get an extra post from me about writing or publishing. You’ll get a round up of the most recent PBW posts. You’ll learn about a new indie writer in every issue. And, you’ll be the first to learn about promotional offers and events for Station 86 and Woven. PBW Update issues come out every other Monday.
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The Starting Chains Launch Party is tonight!

Here’s a schedule of the other awesome authors that will be attending.

6:00- Mercedes Prunty51L0pD93rdL

Here is a link to her book.

Here is a link to her Facebook page




6:30- Me

7:00- Author Gibson51KbIC1rkYL._UY250_

Here is a link to his website.

Here’s a link to his Facebook page.

And of course, a link to his Author page on Amazon.



7:30- CJ Warrent51blQIdC4PL._UY250_

Here’s a link to her author’s page on Amazon




8:00- Richard H. Stephens

Here’s a link to his blog, Facebook page, and author’s page on Amazon.51bhnnL5TjL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_









8:30 Kayla Matt41OPuVvmc+L._UY250_

Here’s a link to her Book Bub page

Here’s a link to her Facebook page

Here is a link to her Goodreads Account

Here is her Amazon page



Click here to join the party

Broken Patterns is free for the next three days.

Hey, everyone! For the first time ever, Broken Patterns is totally free to download for the next three days! If you’ve always been interested in reading it, and you’ve just not committed to it, now is the time to act.

In Devon’s world, magical work is as common as turning a pot or fletching an arrow. What broken-patterns-001isn’t common is a man with thread magic. When Devon finds that he is a seer, weaving prophetic tapestries, his family tries to keep it a secret.

But the family can’t hide Devon’s visions after he predicts a devastating plague in the dragon lands of Coveline. He travels there to help the dragon queen save her people.

Meanwhile, Devon’s sister Lenore joins the Church of Singular Light. As Lenore learns to serve, and falls in love with her city, she discovers a dark underbelly to the church.

Lenore fights for her city, and Devon rushes to find a cure to the plague, while an unseen enemy raises an army to destroy Septa from within.


Get it here now!

Being the boss of your own life

I’m turning 32 next month. I know, it’s kind of crazy. I don’t know how I feel about it, to be honest.

Sometime next month, I’ll probably do a list of things I’ve learned in my 32 years. It’s sure to be long, and rather weepy.

But I wanted to share with you today the biggest, most important thing I’ve learned in my 32 years.

You have got to be the boss of your own life.

It’s just that simple, and just that hard. If you’re a legal adult, whatever age that is where you live, you are totally responsible for your life.

When I first turned eighteen and moved out on my own, I was so not the boss of my own life. I let my mom pick out my first apartment. I listened to her when it came to raising my infant daughter. I let my ex walk all over me, and tell me how we were going to live our lives. I did what I was raised to do, and taught to do. I kept a home and took care of my daughter.

That all stopped when I realized something profound: I knew better than them, and I was still listening to them! They were running their own lives poorly, and I was letting them run mine, too. I stopped listening to them, then, and started listening to myself.

Over the years, I’ve realized that being the boss of my own life means so much more than just standing up for myself. It’s also about taking care of myself, the people who depend on me, and my future.

Taking care of yourself

Just in case this is the first PBW post you’ve ever read, I stand by one policy before any other. Fill your own cup first. Way too often, I see people who look after others neglect themselves. I’m someone with mild depression, in a home with a husband and child with serious depression. Sometimes I feel selfish when I say I’m feeling depressed because they’re way worse.

That’s dumb. Just because they’re worse doesn’t mean I’m not bad. It’s like having a cold when everyone else in the house is down with the flu. I sometimes need to remember that I can get worse.

Even if you’re not dealing with emotional issues, you still need to take care of yourself first.

Now, maybe that’s not you. Maybe you’re one of those people who are being taken care of. I’ve known full adults who don’t make their own doctor’s appointments, for instance. Really, that’s not acceptable. If you’re living on your own, you should be doing all of the following things.

  • Paying your bills. Or, at least participating in making a budget with your partner.
  • Making your doctor’s appointments.
  • Cooking your own meals, or at least take turns with someone you live with to cook meals.
  • Sew a seam, and sew a button on.
  • Shop for clothing that is comfortable, fits you well and is a good color for you.

Even if you have a partner that does some of these things for you, you need to learn to do them for yourself. Because there’s no guarantee they’ll be there forever. And you don’t want to be the forty-three-year-old eating macaroni and cheese and microwaved hot dogs because you never learned how to cook.

Taking care of your surroundings

Taking care of my home is something I’ve struggled with a lot over the years. I never really learned how to take care of my home until recently. I talk about the FlyLady all the time, and it’s for a good reason. The biggest lesson I learned from her was that my home is my own, and I don’t have to keep it to my mother’s standards.

I have my level of clean, and it’s okay. I’m happy to keep my home to my level of clean, which is comfortable for me and my family.

My husband and I have also learned to make minor repairs around the house. If we don’t know how to do something, we learn how to do it. I’m not saying we can rewire a house. But we did replace all the pipes under our sink.

Knowing how to do small repairs means we’re more comfortable owning our own home. It means that if something breaks now, while we’re renters, we can take ownership of the situation. Rather than having to call our landlady and asking her to please have someone come by, when it’s convenient, we can call and tell her there was an issue, and we fixed it. That’s a far better conversation to have on both sides.

Taking care of our surroundings has also meant having a real and honest conversation about owning a home. Most American’s consider homeownership to be a worthy goal for everyone. A piece of property can be something worthwhile. Something you can pass down to your kids. And renting is like throwing money away, right?

Wrong. Sometimes it makes more sense to buy a house than rent. Sometimes it really doesn’t. We’re still, honestly, on the fence. It can be financially draining if you’re not careful. I’m not a financial advisor, so I can’t go into too much detail responsibly. What I can say is make the decision based on what’s best for your family and lifestyle. Don’t buy a house because you think that’s what people are supposed to do.

Taking care of your future

That brings us nicely into our next topic. As soon as you’re on your own, you need to be thinking about your own future.

I know that for some of my readers my age or younger, retirement seems like a lifetime away. And you’re right, it is. But a lifetime isn’t as long as you think it is.

I advise using the Dave Ramsey baby steps. Get your emergency fund, your debt paid down, and make sure you’re never in a situation where you have to depend on others to take care of you in your old age.

Of course, it’ll be a lot easier to save for the future if you know what you really want from your life. I mean, what you really want?

Personally, I want to quit my day job after my kid moves out of the house. I want to write full time, supporting myself and my husband. We want to buy an RV, live in it, and travel everywhere. That’s my life’s goal. I’m not there yet. But as the boss of my own life, I’m going to get there.

Finally, if you’re going to be the boss of your own life, you need to get comfortable asking questions. I learned quickly that no one is going to show up with the answers to everything you’re wondering. No one was going to teach me how to self-publish my book if I didn’t go out and ask the question.

We aren’t taught everything we need to know in school, and our parents don’t always get around to it. But there’s never been a better time to learn things. Ask Google, check Wikipedia, watch a YouTube video. Learn about whatever it is you need to know. Because knowing what you’re doing, and not having to rely on someone else to do things for you, is what gives you the real power to be the boss of your life.

broken-patterns-001In Devon’s world, magical work is as common as turning a pot or fletching an arrow. What isn’t common is a man with thread magic. When Devon finds that he is a seer, weaving prophetic tapestries, his family tries to keep it a secret.

But the family can’t hide Devon’s visions after he predicts a devastating plague in the dragon lands of Coveline. He travels there to help the dragon queen save her people.

Meanwhile, Devon’s sister Lenore joins the Church of Singular Light. As Lenore learns to serve, and falls in love with her city, she discovers a dark underbelly to the church.

Lenore fights for her city, and Devon rushes to find a cure to the plague, while an unseen enemy raises an army to destroy Septa from within. Click here to get it now.


Pricing your books without selling yourself short or gouging people

If you’re an indie writer, you are totally responsible for every single thing involved in creating your book. From the creation to editing, to the cover, to the pricing.

Ah yes, the pricing. That, um, well it’s a touchy subject. On the one hand, lots of people are hurting for cash, and it can feel like shit to price a book too high. On the other hand, we writers need to eat. Then, of course, the question becomes how high can a book be priced before people think you’re money grubbing? How cheap can it be priced before people think you’re desperate?

Well, I’m here today to help you price your work so that your fans can afford it, and you still get paid. We’re going to go through a step by step guide to figuring out how your books should be priced.

A lot of things go into the price of a book or e-book. The genre will have an impact, as well as the length. I always start by checking out online stores. I’ll start with Amazon because it’s the place my book will most likely be sold. I’ll search for the top ten best selling novels or novellas in my genre, and track them. From there, I have a baseline of what people are willing to pay for a book of that length in that genre.

From those numbers, I come up with an average price. I may or may not use that price, but it’s good to have an average.

Now, I really take a look at this data, and I get realistic. I ask myself the following question.

  • Would I be able to buy this book?
  • Would I have been able to afford it when I was a broke ass single mom?
  • What did I pay for the last book I bought? Generally, I don’t think someone should pay more for my book than they pay for the most recent Neil Gaiman book.

So, let’s break this down into a simple math problem.

Average of top ten books in your genre and length + realism = price of your book.

Now that we’ve talked about your book’s basic price, let’s talk about special pricing.

I only give books promotional prices when there’s a good reason to. When I’m doing an event, when a new book is coming out, or during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Promotional prices are supposed to do two things. It should make it easier for people to give your work a try. It should also give fans who might be strapped for cash a chance to grab your book for less money than normal.

Finally, under what circumstances should your book be free? I have two times when I make a book free.

One, when I already have two or so books out, and a third book is coming out. I will make the first book free for a few days, to give people a chance to start off from scratch.

Two, when I’ve written a book that I intended to be free. I have two short story collections that I put together to promote myself. They’re a good place to start, for people who have never read me.

What do you think about book pricing? Do you think we pay too much for books?

Sennett, Godfrey and the rest of Station 86 are trying to put their society back in order after the Core attack. Then a mysterious ship from a dying station arrives, bringing artificially scn_0047intelligent robotic, murderous dogs.

Godfrey, Mason and April must get to the hospital safely, while Sennett is trying to protect Marshal’s Joy and Howard. But the AI dogs are nothing compared to the terrors they left behind on their own station.

Get it here now.

Starting Chains is now available!

Hey, guys. I’m posting a little early this week, because I am just so excited!

Starting Chains, book 2 of Woven is now available!

After years of war between Montelair and Septa, the two thrones are united by family. Victor’s nephew, Morgan, is sharing the throne with the last heir of the royal line, Jacob. He and Lenore decide to travel to starting chains-001Montelair with their newborn daughters to help broker peace.

But peace among their own people is harder to achieve. The city is tormented by a terrorist who calls himself The Tinker. He and his group of anarchists plant bombs through the city and call for the death of the new kings from every street corner.

Meanwhile in Calistar, Sultiana and Devon are marching to war with Kussier. The ancient hatred between the two countries is sprung anew when Sultiana is declared heir to the Calistar throne.

Waiting at the border, though, is a much darker enemy. A force from legend threatens to consume both countries, and possibly the world.

Get it here now!

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