Things that irritate me as a fantasy fan

It takes a true fan to really dig into all the terrible details of a thing. And as we’re all true fans of fantasy here, it’s important to talk about the parts of our genre that are just not working for us. So that’s what we’re going to do today.

Most of my issues with fantasy stories relate to one thing. A dramatic lack of diversity. This will kill any genre. But in worlds with such dramatic possibility, it seems particularly heinous.

Everyone has the same jobs

Everyone seems to be a farmer, or a smith, or a warrior or a member of the nobility. Usually, they’re one of the first two but secretly one of the seconds. There are peddlers aplenty and of course the occasional healer.

But people had other jobs! interesting jobs, too. People made candles, taught school, built shoes, ran shops. Can we please talk about some of those people, even if they’re not the main character?

Everyone uses the same sorts of world templates

I’m not the first person to voice this complaint, but I’m going to go ahead and voice it anyway. Most fantasy worlds are based in a very middle ages England or Norse style world. I used a similar set up myself in Woven, with Montelair being based heavily in Russia. Now and again you’ll see something from Asia.

Why not Africa? Why not Native Americans? What about the Middle East like I also did in Woven? It was fascinating enough I’m considering a whole new series just to explore it more. 

Almost all dragons are western dragons

And maybe, just saying, we might see too many dragons in general. Not that I don’t freaking love dragons. But there are these things called drakes, and they are also pretty freaking cool. There are also basilisks and a hundred other mythological creatures that we never see. Brownies! Why aren’t there more books about brownies?

Few if any characters are gay

If someone knows otherwise, please let me know. If you know of any fantasy books besides mine that deal with homosexuality (especially if they’re written by own voice authors) please leave them in the comments below. I want to read them.

It’s rare to see any not straight character in any genre unless that’s what the whole book is about. I would love to see more stories about a person who happens to also be gay or bisexual.

Few if any characters are differently-abled

I have seen more dead characters than differently-abled ones in books.

Why? Do they not have stories to tell? Do they not have adventures or challenges to overcome? Why can’t we see people with more physical issues than the occasional pair of glasses?

So what do you think? What irritates you in the fantasy genre? Let us know in the comments below. 

My top four magic tools

Magical or enchanted items are a mainstay of the fantasy genre. A cloak of invisibility, an amulet that protects its owner, a painting that ages instead of a man. These tools make a character who might have no magical ability powerful. 

At least that’s how it might appear. Most of the tools, like Dumbo’s magic feather, are nothing more than placebos. Some, like Thor’s hammer, can’t just be picked up and used by anybody. But some any old person could use, like a gun or a sword. 

What follows are my four of my favorite magical tools. But I’d love to hear what you think! Leave your favorite magical tool in the comments below.

Sailor Moon’s Magic Pen

Growing up I was a big fan of Sailor Moon. Looking back on it now the show is, let’s just sailor moonsay hard to watch. Like really hard. Don’t judge me, please. 

Setting the cringy points aside, the sailor scouts had some of the coolest magic tools I had ever seen then and I still want them now. My favorite tool was Serina’s Moon Pen of transformation. She used it to transform her appearance and disguise herself. So long as she wanted to disguise herself as a blond woman.

Yes, the moon pen could be used to sneak into places and go unseen in a crowd. I would use it to just get ready before I leave the house. Moon Pen, transform me into a functioning adult!

The Golden Compass

golden compassShiny things are awesome, and I think a lot of people have this cat-like attraction to boxes. Music boxes and watch workings are two of my favorite aesthetics. So the golden compass as a physical thing was attractive to me right away. Then we get into what it does.

The Golden Compass is basically a set of tarot cards, just more compact. It’s a machine that answers questions based on a series of symbols that will likely have a different meaning to everyone who looks at them. And there’s a whole group of people ‘in charge’ who are way overthinking it. I want one.

Wonder Woman’s wrist braces

For those who don’t know, Wonder Woman’s wrist braces do some awesome things. She Wonder womancan deflect attacks with them, and that’s pretty awesome. But it’s the symbolism behind the bracelets that I love so much. 

The braces are worn by all Amazons to remind them never to submit to a man. I mean, how cool is that? It’s a reminder that they were once shackled by men and should never allow themselves to be again. 

The Mirror of Erised

mirror of erisedYeah, we all knew we weren’t going to get through even a short list without talking about Harry Potter. And when it comes to the Harry Potter universe, there’s a ton of magical tools. But my favorite by far is the Mirror of Erised. 

We all think we know what we want in life. But I believe, if we were faced with our true and deepest desire, we’d be surprised. Some of us would be happily surprised. Some would be horrified. Most would have no idea.

What do you think you’d see in it? 

New book release, California Dreamin’

Hey, guys. Just popping in here real quick to let you know about a book launching today from an awesome author, K.C Sprayberry. Check it out. 


Dear Steve, I can’t say this out loud. If I do, I might start crying, and I don’t want your last sight of me for the next thirteen months to be of tears. I also don’t want you to go, but I understand that you must. Keep your head down, darling. Love you always and forever, Tish.


We don’t speak for most of the ride. I can’t help myself. My birthday is coming up soon but I don’t feel happy to be turning eighteen. Instead, I’m ready to cry for the rest of my life, or the thirteen months my guy, Steve Mason, is in Vietnam.

Dear Steve, I miss you so much and promise that I will never give up on you. Love you always and forever, Tish.

Tish Brady embarks on a journey she hopes will give her perspective for her future. During a time of unrest, she connects with young men bound for Vietnam, war protestors, and others with no idea what their future holds during the turbulence of 1967.

The Summer of Love is just the beginning of Tish’s journey…

Click here to get it now.


Yet another post about Covid-19

How are you doing today? I mean really, how are you? Because let’s be real, everyone’s in not a great place right now. People are losing their jobs, worried about getting sick. I’m a little scared to even go to the grocery store, to be honest. And I see this whole thing getting worse before it gets better.

So I’ll ask again, how are you? What do you need to get through this month, this week, today?

We’re doing okay at my house. My day job is allowing me to work from home. I don’t share where I work, but I will say the field I’m in is super busy right now. So I’m working overtime. While also preparing for the launch of my next book.

But the last thing you’ll hear me do right now is complain. There are too many people out of work today who had no idea this was coming last week. I am beyond thankful that I’m not one of them.

This emergency is showing us all what we’re made of. There have been so many people working for good in the face of this that it’s truly inspiring. People have donated time, money and creative energy to help people stuck at home. Today I’m collecting some of the wonderful offers people I love online are providing to help out in these dark times. As I learn about new offers, I’ll update this list. And if you know of anyone helping out, please feel free to put links in the comments below.

The Broke Millennial has a collection of links for people in need to get food and support.

Smashwords authors, like myself, are putting our books on deep discount or for free. All of my books are free on Smashwords.

Juju in Pittsburgh is offering free tarot readings for small business owners impacted by Covid-19.

Doordash is offering free delivery if you order from local restaurants.

Sephora andUlta are waiving all their shipping costs.

Target is providing special times for people in higher-risk categories to shop. So is Giant Eagle if you live in Western PA.

Now is when we need to stick together. Not as a nation, not as a community, but as a whole human race. We need to reach out to each other (metaphorically) and make sure we’re doing okay. I know it’s scary right now, and it feels like there’s nothing we can do.

But there is so much we can do! Start with simple things like staying home as much you can. Wash your hands frequently and keep your hands off your face.

Do not, and I cannot emphasize this enough, buy and wear face masks if you are not sick. Health professionals can’t get them now and it’s an issue. (Though Kudos to Harbor Freight, who donated every single mask they had to hospitals.) 

Please do not hoard things. Buy what you need, leave some for others. Do not be the asshole reselling tp for a profit. 

Don’t fall for any scams. There are no cures for this, and no vaccine yet. Untitled design

Beyond all that, be an inspiration if you can. Put positive messages out on social media. Share a picture of yourself working from home with your pet or kids. If you’re a content creator, put out more content now if you can. 

If you can. Don’t ever forget that you need to take care of yourself first. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take a bubble bath, read a book, Facetime your friends. Take care of yourself, so that you can take care of others.

I do want to hear from you. Let me know how you’re doing in the comments, on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. We’re going to get through this together or not at all.

I just want to leave you with this quote from Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon. 

Life shouldn’t feel normal just now. So if your life still feels entirely normal, ask yourself if you are doing the right things. Or if instead, you might be putting yourself and others at unnecessary risk.

Changing points of view in a series

I’ve been writing Woven books for over six years now. 

Wait, let me just let that sink in for a minute. That’s nuts. I started writing Paper Beats World because I wanted to support myself emotionally while I was writing the novel. So if you’ve been reading the blog from day one, then you’ve been on the journey with me right from the beginning. 

And I still don’t have any respect for stamp collectors. 

Falling From Grace is the latest book, and it’s far different from the others. It shows a point of view that is parallel to Broken Patterns, taking place at the same time. 

That was weird enough. I was writing about Victor and Lenore, my Tommy and Gina like they’re the bad guys. Because they kind of are. But it does get weirder.

In it, you’ll see Calvin Olendae in an entirely new light. From the view of people who love and respect him. From people that he cared for, people who’s lives he saved. 

You’ll also see Grace, who you might remember from Starting Chains as a rather selfish woman who was bitter that she’d lost Victor to Lenore. You’ll see her as a healer, a protector. You’ll see her as a hero. 

When I started writing this, I just wanted to tell Grace’s story. But as I wrote it, I realized I was writing about how a good man becomes a monster. 

Calvin was a killer. He was willing to murder innocent children, even kill his own brother. But he didn’t get that way by chance. He’s a man who’s watched his people be ground under the boot of oppression. He only wants to save his people. 

The weight of that self-imposed burden drives him to horrific acts. And Grace, who loves him, must watch him along that road.

There’s a great quote from the Joker that applies here. Alan Moore wrote it, that makes total sense.

All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That’s how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day.”

I don’t know if a bad day’s ever driven me to blow up people for kicks. But it’s sure driven me to some unhealthy food choices.

In all honesty, though, there is only so much a person can take. Or maybe there are just some people who will break instead of bending. Maybe Calvin was always just rotten from birth. 

If that’s the case, how did so many people love him?

This was an exciting book to write, wrestling from this. It made me realize that no one is ever just good or just bad. 

We’re all shades of grey, all along the spectrum. And sometimes that shade changes over time. 

It’s finally here!

For the last week, you’ve been seeing me count down to today on social media. And, big surprise, I’m announcing the launch of a new book today.

But this book, this book is different. Because it’s a story that just refused not to be told.

It started as the prolog of Starting Chains until it got scrapped. (A good reason as any to save the scenes you cut when you’re editing, by the way.) The scene, and indeed the character, stayed with me. I tried to write her into Starting Chains, and that worked well. She came alive on the page and stole the show. She certainly gave Lenore a run for her money.

But even after Starting Chains was done, this character stayed in the back of my head. She didn’t make it into Missing Stitches, but she hung around. So I thought I would write a short story about her, get her out of my head and give her a voice of her own. 

That short story turned into a novella. Then, a full-blown novel named for its sexy, fiery, fearless leading woman.


For those of you who read the Woven trilogy, Grace was the former lover of Victor, the main character of book two. She wasn’t seen at her best there, as she’s trying to navigate an ever-changing world and deal with the fact that she’s lost the man she loves to a princess.

There’s so much more to her story, though. She was at Calvin’s side as he overthrew the king of Montelair. She helped start a revolution in her country. 

Then, she watched a man she loved to fall into madness and become a monster.

Falling From Grace is a story of class upheaval, magic, and war. And I can’t wait to share it with all of you.

Not to brag, but I think it’s the best book I’ve written yet. 

As soon as I have a launch date you’ll know. In the meantime, get ready to dive deeper than ever into the world of Woven.

I’m now on Patreon

Like almost every other creator online, I’ve joined Patreon. I’m pretty excited/nervous about the whole thing, to be honest. 

Patreon is a site where you pay content creators a certain amount of money every month to support their work and offer certain perks. And I rejected the idea of being on Patreon for a long, long time. I’m anxious about asking for money.

So if I was going to do something on Patreon, I didn’t want to just ask for money without providing something extra. 

I thought long and hard about what to offer on Patreon. Something that I hope you’ll all find value in and something that I can sustainably produce.

 Here’s what I came up with. 

If you’re supporting me at tier one, for just $2 a month you get a shout out on each blog post, and access to PBW posts early. I’ll also probably think of other little treats along the way. You’ll be helping to support this site, too. So, that’s pretty cool.

Tier two is $4 a month. For that, you get everything Tier one does. You also get exclusive short stories once a month, and pictures of my pets. You’ll be helping feed them, after all. You deserve to see the occasional picture of Oliver in a Steelers hat.

Here’s a link if you want to check it out. I’m excited to use this as a way to get more content for you guys.

And if you have any rewards you’d like to see me offer, let me know in the comments. 

Writing Medicine in fantasy books

There is a lot of work that goes into creating a fictional fantasy world. And if the characters are going to do anything interesting at all, they’re probably going to need medical care at some point. I know mine do. Some of my characters are healers themselves. 

I’m not a medical professional any more than I’m a swordswoman, princess, police officer or any of the other exciting things my characters are. That’s sort of the point of fiction. But I need my characters to sound like they know what they’re doing. So, I need to know at least a little bit about medicine in fantasy settings.

Not actual modern medicine, mind you. That’s not what we’re talking about today. No, we’re talking about medicine as it’s understood in a fictional world. Because that’s a whole different creature.

Medicine has evolved and changed just as much as the rest of our technology. What was a miracle in the past is standard procedure now. And the more I learn about old forms of healing, the happier I am about this. Humans spent a whole lot of time just not knowing what the hell we were doing with medicine. (We also spent a whole lot of time having women and men who knew a good deal more than others. But we had a bad habit of hanging them as witches. That’s another topic for another day.)

The point is that if you’re going to write about medicine in fantasy, sometimes you’re going to write wrong things. Your character is, with absolute certainty, going to think they need to do something foolish, outlandish or just wrong to save someone’s life.

Maybe it even works! 

The point is that what’s right for your character is not necessarily what’s factually accurate.

You’re not making a medical journal. You’re writing a fantasy novel. 

That being said, the medicine in fantasy might not even be right for the time, depending on the world you’ve created. A great example of this is Tamora Pierce’s Briar’s Book. This story is about a plague that sweeps through the village the characters live near. (Feel familiar?) There is medicine in this book that is far too advanced for an equivalent time. But, it’s not science, it’s magic. 

pablo(8)Of course, as Arthur C. Clark said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” A good point to keep in mind. You can disguise science and medicine in fantasy books as magic if you make sure it follows the rules of the world you’ve created.

And those are the only rules that you do have to follow. 

This is possibly the hardest and exciting parts of writing a fantasy book. You can make up whatever rules you want, but then you have to stick to those rules.

Water on this planet is poison.

This flower makes people invisible when you drink it as a tea.

The air in this valley makes people drunk.

Dogs in this village can heal leprosy with their kisses.

It doesn’t matter what world you want your characters to live in. Just make sure the rules stay consistent.

And please, don’t ever take medical advice from a fantasy book. Ever!

Friday the 13th, Halloween in March

Happy Friday the 13th! That’s right, I said it. Fight me. 

I love Friday the 13th, and I think it’s largely because there’s such a stigma about it. And I do love things that are misunderstood, strange and unusual. 

It’s kind of a thing with me. 

So if no one’s told you before, screw this bad luck bullshit. In almost every religion, there are positive and negative aspects of the number 13. Let’s take Christianity as an example.

At the last supper, there were thirteen people around the table. The thirteenth person was Judas, who would later betray Jesus. On the other hand, there are at least two saints associated with the number 13. The Virgin of Fatima and St Anthony of Padua, to be specific. 

For me, Friday the 13th has usually been a lucky day. Not like a ‘win the lottery and quit my day job’ lucky. More like a ‘hit all the green lights, two candy bars come out of the machine’ sort of luck. I honestly look forward to these days. 

Putting luck aside, Friday the 13th is a little slice of Halloween in the middle of the year. I mean, we don’t get to dress up in costumes or anything. Well, I guess I’m a damned adult and I could dress up like a zombie any day I please. But that’s beside the point.

We can get some candy and indulge a little. We can watch scary movies and share spooky pictures of black cats on social media. We can make a celebration of it, and we damned well should.

I’m going to be real with you guys. This past week has been hard on me. I was sick at the start of the week and I lost two whole days to napping. Then the elections on Tuesday depressed me. I’m a big supporter of Bernie Sanders and I’m just in knots. So now I’m behind on my work, still recovering from this nasty head cold and anxious about the political situation in my country.

I need some happy is what I’m saying.

So you know what? Screw it. I’m going to make some kettle corn and watch some slasher flicks tonight. I’m going to donate to a worthy charity to thank the universe for my good fortune. And I’m going to hope that my luck turns around. 

What are you doing tonight to celebrate the 13th?


A review of The Middle Finger Project

I know I’ve been talking about this book a lot, and I honestly don’t think it’s going to stop. Not sorry.

If you haven’t been introduced to Ash Ambridge, let me enrich your life by introducing you to her now. She’s probably my favorite person on the internet. Here’s a link to her website if you need proof.

I preordered her book as soon as it came out. And when it arrived, I straight up squeed.

Now, sometimes books I’m that excited about don’t live up to the hype. Not so with this one. It had all the hype. And if you haven’t read it, you need to right now. I shoved it into a friend’s hands as soon as I was done because I truly think that everyone needs to read this book. Because everyone needs the loving, supportive kick in the ass that it gives.

Now, while this book had a lot of greatness in it, I found that some lessons stuck out more than others. Here are the four top things I took away from The Middle Finger Project.

There’s a difference between being successful and being happy. 

Ash did everything right in her early life. She got a good degree, a good job a good house. All the things we are supposed to want, supposed to strive for. 

But all of that is pretty meaningless if we’re not happy with the life we’ve built. And what makes you happy is going to look different than what makes me happy. And that’s okay! Good, even.

When you have to pick between the two, pick happy.

This one is harder than I thought it should be. Because let’s be fair, most of what we do every day is not to make us happy. It’s not to make anyone happy. It’s to survive. We go to work, we cook food, we clean the house. Maybe we have a hobby that we indulge in on the weekends. If we have enough money. If we feel like we can spare the time.

What is the point of surviving if we aren’t doing anything but continuing our survival? Isn’t there more to the world than that? Aren’t there things to create, to experience? Yeah, there are. And I for sure want to do all that, not just survive.

Being scared is okay.

Ash is clear in her book, and I’m going to be clear here too, that choosing to live happily and take risks is scary. You might find yourself, like her, living out of your car.

Or choosing to work as little as possible so you can focus more on your freelance work and art. Showing up day after day for yourself, doing the work you want to be doing before anyone’s willing to pay you for it. Going out and finding people who will pay for it. That’s all scary. And no matter how brave anyone appears to be online, everyone is scared when they’re recreating their own life. 

But being scared doesn’t disqualify you. 

Doing things differently isn’t just okay, it’s essential.

We don’t live in the same world as our parents. And some of us don’t want to be living in the world as it is right now. Most of us just don’t want to continue with our lives as they are right now.

Well, to get different results we’ve got to commit to different actions. So then why are we comparing our actions to people who don’t live how we want to live? 

I don’t want to own a house. I don’t want to have a career in an office. So why would I follow the life choices of someone who has those things? They can’t help me!

These are just four of the hundreds of awesome things I took away from The Middle Finger Project. If you haven’t read it yet, read it now. And when you do, share it with someone you love.

If you want to support this blog, you can! Hit us up on Patreon and get a bonus short story every month. And you’ll have the joy of knowing that you help make Paper Beats World possible. Much love.

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