What does it really meant to write what you know?

If you’ve breathed air in this world for longer than five minutes, you’ve heard this phrase. 

Write what you know.

This invariably leads every writer to have the same existential crisis when we realize that we don’t know a damned thing. And even if we do know something, it’s boring as hell and no one wants to read it. 

This realization leads many writers to treat this advice as just so much bullshit. Which is a shame, because it’s some of the best writing advice you’ll ever hear.

As I see it, there are three reasons why people get this so wrong. So today let’s talk about those reasons. And let’s talk about how you can use ‘Write what you know to help you write better.

Everyone misinterprets this phrase 

The phrase is write what you know. It is not now, nor has it ever been write only what you know. If that were the case, speculative fiction wouldn’t exist at all. 

Maybe it would help to rephrase this. Write a piece of yourself into your work. This is more honest, but not as catchy. 

As an example, I know a lot about coffee and having a complicated relationship with my hometown. I love animals and handcrafts and Fall. I am endlessly fascinated with the Mandella effect, and all things supernatural. All of that comes up in my writing. 

Everyone underestimates what they know

If you ask anyone what they know about really well, they’re probably going to tell you that there’s one, maybe two things they know about. Most people would swear they don’t know about anything but their favorite tv show. 

The same thing happened to me a few weeks ago! An icebreaker question during a writing event just floored me. “What could you talk about for an hour with no prior warning?”

My first thought was, hell I don’t know. Futurama? 

Then someone mentioned Pittsburgh, and it hit me. I could talk about George Romero and his impact on Steel City for an hour. Hell, they’d probably have to shut me up after an hour.

As I waited my turn, I thought of more and more things I could talk for an hour on. The importance of homemaking in modern times. Why it should be illegal for landlords to refuse their tenets to allow pets. Why we should abolish lawns. 

There are lots of other things that maybe couldn’t take up an hour, but I still know about them.

Here’s an exercise for you. Start making a list of things you know, big or small. Do you still think you don’t know anything? Let me help you get started. 

You know your home town.

You know what it was like to go to your high school.

You know what it was like to grow up in your family home, with your family.

Keep going

Everyone underestimates how interested other people would be in what they know

I don’t think anyone wants to hear about my childhood, but I gobble up autobiographies. I don’t think anyone cares about my hometown, but then I can’t get enough of small towns in horror novels. I don’t think anyone wants to hear about my family, but I love hearing about everyone else’s family. 

Remember your life seems boring to you because you lived it. No one else has done that. No one has the same experiences you have. No one has walked the same path. And your path is fascinating. 

That is really what we mean by writing what you know. Not that you have to have lived a fantasy life to write. But your life is fantastic, and you should share that in your work.

Preptober starts tomorrow. Don’t forget to grab your Preptober planner on my Ko-fi store


Why would Quiet Apocalypse be banned

Including Quiet Apocalypse almost seems like cheating. It’s a horror story, it’s supposed to be offensive. It’s supposed to upset people. But after all, I included all the other books. No reason my youngest should feel left out. 

Brace yourself, folks. This might be the most offensive book I’ve ever written. But then, I never claimed it was for kids. 

Graphic animal death

I know, I wasn’t thrilled about writing it. But it did have the desired effect. Yes, there are a few horrible animal deaths in this book. 

I swear, the story called for it. 

Not as graphic but still child deaths

Some kids die in this book. I don’t go into detail. We didn’t need to read about broken bones and blood when discussing babies. But yeah, some kids die. 

Occult discussions

The main character of Quiet Apocalypse, Sadie, is a witch. I’m a witch myself, so I wrote about actual magic in this book. I even included actual spells I wrote in the book. So if you need to get rid of a ghost in your house, I got you. 


Finally, Quiet Apocalypse is violent. People are ripped apart by snowstorms. People are shredded by a staircase. At one point our heroes are attacked by toys in the attic. This isn’t a kind, friendly book. It is, gasp, a horror book. Horrifying things do happen.

So that’s it, not only for why Quiet Apocalypse would be banned but for Banned Books Week as a whole. I hope you’ve enjoyed this week of extra posts and discussions about censorship. Of course, just because Banned Books Week is over doesn’t mean we should stop reading banned books. Keep reading them, keep recommending them, keep defending them. 

One more time, I want to open the floor up to my fellow authors. Why would your book be banned? 

Banned books week might be over, but Preptober is about a week away. If you haven’t gotten your copy of the Preptober Planner yet, you still have time.

Why would AA be banned

AA is a podcast, not a book. But of course, all mediums are subject to censorship. So even though AA hasn’t been banned, let’s talk about what it would be banned for. 

(You can listen to the whole first season for free right now by the way, on Haunted MTL.)

Substance abuse

The main character, Josey, is a recovering alcoholic. And you know I’m not one to shy away from discussions of mental illness. It’s also, spoiler, how she finds herself involved in a very different AA than she thought she was getting involved in. 

Vulgar language

I don’t use a lot of blue language here, but I sure use it in my everyday life. So of course, when writing lines that are going to be read out loud, my characters are a bit more sweary than normal. 


This doesn’t come up in season one, but I’m talking about AA as a whole. Yes, there are some gay characters. That seems like enough to get it banned right there according to the top ten banned books this year. There is a culture war going on right now between conservatism and liberalism. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that. I’m also sure I don’t have to tell you that art is one of the major battlefields of this war.

Portrayal of police in a poor light

The police are pretty much useless in AA. Just like in real life. But of course, some will take this personally.

And that’s it for AA. So now it’s your turn, fellow writers. Why would your book, or podcast, be banned?

Don’t forget, Preptober is coming! Grab your copy of the Preptober Planner and plan a novel along with me all month. 

Why would Station 86 be banned

I’m excited to bring this post to you today. Even though, sadly, Station 86 is probably the most well-behaved book series I’ve written. I need to ramp things up in the last book.

It depicts police poorly

It doesn’t start right away, but our main character Sennett does begin to realize that her police force doesn’t always have the people’s best interest at heart. It’s heartbreaking to her, and I hope it’s heartbreaking to the readers. It’s a direct example of how I feel, watching the police forces in America betray the people. 

Interracial marriages

I know this one hasn’t been an issue for a while, but it’s been a big issue in the past. 

Vulgar language

Sennett’s a police officer. She has a foul mouth. This made sense for the character. So whether it’s insulting to anyone or not, she swears. We as writers have to be honest when we’re writing our characters. We can’t worry about insulting people and lying to them as a result. 

Explicit scenes

I’m not writing 50 Shades of Grey here, but there are some sex scenes in the last Station 86 book. Again, it’s what the story needed. 

Confusing gender views

In the world of Station 86, gender roles are turned on their heads. This is something that for some reason upsets people. Remember the scene in Pleasantville, when the main antagonist is infuriated by the thought of men staying home and cooking? Yeah, this isn’t as far out of the bounds of reality as we’d like to think.

That’s it for Station 86. So now it’s your turn, my fellow writers. Why would your book be banned? Let us know in the comments. 

I made a Preptober planner! If you’re getting ready to write a novel in November, October is an essential planning time. And my planner can help. You can get it now at my Ko-fi store

Why would Woven be banned?

Books are banned for some pretty ridiculous reasons. But I’m proud to say that all of my books probably could be banned. 

At least, they share many of the same traits and themes seen in commonly banned books. This is something I’m quite proud of. 

(Also, check out the Banned Books website for information and resources.)

Today I want to talk about my first series, Woven. 

No matter how many books I write, this will always be my first baby. So let’s talk about why it would totally be banned.

Homosexual activity

This is one that always trips up books. Especially young adult books. And yes, shockingly, there are gay characters in Woven. There’s even gay marriage in the first book, Broken Patterns.

I didn’t do this because I want Ally points or to be woke. I wrote gay characters, and a battle for gay rights, into my book because it’s something I’ve experienced in my life. The LGBTQ+ struggle is one Millenials have experienced since we were children. Of course, I’m going to write about it. 

Discussion of mental illness

In the second book of Woven, the main character Lenore is struggling with depression. 

I’ve struggled with anxiety. People I love deal with depression. Mental illness is a real problem and we need to be more open about it. So, when I was writing about Lenore, I wanted to write about something I was going through. I wanted to write not just about suffering from depression, but about being the partner of someone who is suffering.

Discussions of rape and abuse

I’m kind of shocked when people are surprised that bad guys in books are, ya know, bad. But Calvin, who’s the antagonist for much of the Woven series, is a bad guy. He raped people. He beat the hell out of people. He is not a good person. 

That’s made most clear, I think, in the prequel book Falling From Grace

We cannot be afraid to write bad guys as bad. Even Magneto, the most understandable bad guy of all time, has done horrific things. 

I’m not saying I wrote a snuff scene here. I’m saying that the antagonist in my books does bad things.

So, my fellow writers, it’s your turn. Why would your book be banned? Let us know in the comments. And please, provide links to your potentially banned books. 

Getting ready for Preptober? I have a planner for you! Check it out now on my Ko-fi store. 

What to do if a book is banned

Books are being banned more and more often. I think it’s just one more step our society is taking toward the past instead of the future.

While it’s easy to feel discouraged in the face of censorship, we are not helpless! There are things we can do to fight against book banning. Here are five examples.

(Please check out the Banned Books website for more bookish fun and tips to fight censorship.)

Read it

This one’s pretty obvious, so let’s get it out of the way first. If you hear that a book has been banned, read it. If you’ve already read it, read it again. I did this when Maus was banned by several schools earlier this year. It’s a hard book to read, even if it is a comic. Read it twice. 

Suggest it to friends

After you read a banned book, especially if you liked it, suggest it to people. Most people pick up books because of word of mouth. It’s still the best marketing tool out there, getting people talking about a book. I know I’m more likely to read something if someone I trust recommends it. 

Buy copies as gifts

Banned books deserve all the attention. So if you can, grab a copy or two for the next gift-giving occasion. The holidays are coming up, and the top ten banned books of 2021 would probably all be great gifts for someone you love.

Donate copies

Another great thing you can do, especially if you already own your copy of a banned book, is to donate a copy to a local library. Or put a few in a mini library, if there are any in your neighborhood.

Talk about the book on social media

Finally, don’t forget to post about banned books. Write a review on Bookbub or Goodreads. Chat about it on Twitter. Post pictures of it on Instagram. The real point here is to blanket the internet with banned books. Help people find out about them. 

What I’m saying is this. People ban books because there’s something in them that makes them uncomfortable. And I would like for people who encourage censorship to be as uncomfortable as possible. So when they try to ban a book, let’s make sure it’s everywhere. Let’s make sure they can’t escape the popularity of these books. Let’s read and celebrate banned books, and help others learn about them.

Because censorship fucking sucks. 

Hey guys, don’t forget that my Preptober planner is available now on my Ko-fi shop. If you’re writing a novel in November, you want to prep in October. And my Preptober planner breaks down your tasks every week and gives you plenty of cute creative space to make it happen. 

The top ten banned books of 2022

It’s Banned Books Week! This is always a good time. Reading books that other people consider offensive or inappropriate just makes me feel good about life, you know? And this year it’s even more important because book banning has been rampant. So it’s up to those of us who care to read out louder than ever. So let’s talk about the ten books that were most banned in 2021. Let’s read them, let’s share them, and let’s make banning books a thing of the past. 

(As always, all of this information is from the Banned Books website. Please check out their site for more information and ways you can battle censorship.)

Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin

This one was banned because of LGBTQ+ content. Spoiler, this is going to be a bit of a theme.

This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson

Want to guess why this book was banned? That’s right, LGBTQ+ content and sexual education. Because why would we want to educate people about sex, one of the fundamental driving forces of our existence as a species? 

The Bluest Eyes by Toni Morrison

Banned for child sexual abuse scene. Maybe stick a content warning on this one. 

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Banned because of sexually explicit content. I wish we protected children from guns the same way we protect them from sex scenes in books.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Banned for profanity, sexual references, and use of a derogatory term. I think this book makes the list every year.

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas

Banned for profanity and violence. Here’s the best part. It was also banned for anti-police indoctrination. No one seems to give a damn about pro-police indoctrination. This might be the one that pisses me off the most this year. It should get a special award for this.

Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez

Banned for depictions of abuse. Again, I get that maybe we want to give a content warning. But don’t ban a book outright. 

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

Banned for LGBTQ+ content. As a side note, this book has one of the prettiest covers I’ve seen all year.

Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison

Banned again for LGBTQ+ content. I don’t see any books getting banned for straight content. 

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

Finally, banned for LGBTQ+ content. If you can read this list and tell me someone doesn’t have an agenda, I don’t know what’s the matter with you. 

This year I’ll be reading A Song Flung Up To Heaven by Maya Angelou. I’d love to hear what you’re reading for Banned Books Week. Let us know in the comments.

I made a planner! If you’re getting ready to write a novel, then you want the Preptober Planner to guide you through a month of planning. 

Six Youtube channels that will make you a better writer

We all spend more time on Youtube than we’d probably like to admit. Honestly, I think I spend more time watching it than any of the streaming services I’m paying for. Which is kind of amazing when you think about it. Here’s a platform where anyone can post their content. Yes, there’s lots of controversy around that, as there is about anything on the internet. But that doesn’t stop the videos on Youtube from being some damn entertaining stuff. Or horrifically cringe worth. 

Today I want to share with you six Youtube channels I watch that help me be a better writer. I’m not going over the channels I watch for pure entertainment or the ones I watch to learn Spanish or witchy stuff. These are just the ones that help me write. And I’ll bet they’re going to help you, too. 

Lofi Girl

Okay, I bet you’ve already heard of this one. But Lofi Girl is my go-to background music when I want to get some writing done without distractions. There are no commercials, the lofi music just goes on and on. The animation moves just a little, not enough to be distracting. It is perfect.


While I’m not a particularly social person, I love going somewhere public to write. Libraries and coffee shops tend to be cluttered with other people doing exactly what I’m doing. Typing away on a keyboard, working on some project or another.

I missed this during the pandemic, this feeling of working around other people in a warm fuzzy sense of companionship. Without actually talking to one another.

The Merve Youtube channel gives you exactly that. Merve is just a college student, working on her studies, while she sits in front of a beautiful view. It’s soothing to hear someone flipping pages, highlighting, and typing while I’m doing the same. 

I also like that there’s a timer on the video, reminding me to take occasional breaks. 

Temi Danso Art

This is a channel dedicated to art, by a fantastic artist named Temi. She gives tips and art advice, does draw-along videos, and talks art shop.

I love this channel from a writing perspective because the advice she gives for visual art applies to writing as well. The advice is sweet, uplifting, and super useful.

Caitlin’s Corner

This is an overall life Youtube channel, not so much writing advice. But it’s got a ton of beneficial advice. I am often humbled by this woman who’s a decade younger than me, but has so much advice to give! I learn about home care, time management, money, and self-employment. None of those things are writing advice, but all of them are writing advice if you want to be a working writer.

Author Level Up

This channel is full of the kind of writing advice I need right now. There’s info about trends, writing styles, and marketing. Listening to Michael talk is like listening to a really smart big brother. I just love it. And I for sure have gotten some awesome writing advice from him.

Writing with Jenna

Finally, there’s Writing with Jenna. It’s also a Youtube channel filled with writing and marketing advice. It just has a lot more swearing and a small dog.

Jenna’s not interested in your feelings. She’s interested in telling you how you’re being dumb with your writing career and how you can fix it. 

I love this because I’m not big on feelings when it comes to writing. I care about actually, you know, having a career that pays more than my Hulu bill. 

So that’s it. Hopefully, if we’re going to spend all our time on Youtube, we can become better writers as we do it. 

What’s your favorite writing Youtube channel? Let us know in the comments. 

I made a Preptober planner! It’s available in my Ko-fi shop right now. Plan along with me so we can successfully write our novels. 

I made a planner for Preptober

It was the fourth of July. Then I blinked, and now it’s halfway through September. 

I love this time of year, and I hate how fast it seems to go. My to-do list right now is packed with tasks and events. Next week is Banned Books Week, the holidays are starting. We’re starting recordings for the next season of AA soon. It’s a busy time when all I want to do is warm up a pot of apple cider and read about cult leaders on my back porch.

And now, Preptober is in two weeks! Clearly, I need a plan if I’m going to get everything done.

So, I made a planner. And I thought you might like it too. So, I put it in my Ko-fi store for a dollar.

Preptober planner

The Preptober planner is six pages plus a cute cover page that will guide you through simple tasks each week. By the end of October, you’ll have a plan in place for how you’re going to write, when you’re going to write, and what you’re going to write. I’ll be printing out one for myself and getting in some planning time in October. 

Probably with some warm apple cider. 

I hope you’ll join me. It’s a great way to ensure you succeed in writing your novel, and it helps support Paper Beats World.

And I hope you’ll be here next week for Banned Books Week. We’ll have extra content galore because the stupidest thing anyone can ever do is ban a book. 

Why The Daughter of Dr. Moreau only half worked

Spoiler warning: While I’m not going to directly spoil the ending of The Daughter of Dr. Moreau, I’m going to say some things that will make certain parts of the ending fairly clear. You’ve been warned. 

I feel dirty even writing this post. Because I’ve read other books by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and I loved them. You can check out my review of Mexican Gothic here, Velvet Was The Night here, or God of Jade and Shadow here. They were great books! 

The Daughter of Dr. Moreau was, at best, okay. 

Let’s discuss.

The book did have a lot to love. Moreno-Garcia has a knack for writing endings that aren’t the anticipated happy ending but are so much more satisfying than that ending would have been. And for sure, this ending fit that bill. 

I fell in love with our main character, Carlota, right away. Just like I always fall in love with the main characters. I devoured the lush description of the jungle, just like I always love the descriptions in Moreno-Garcia’s work. These are the reasons I kept reading. 

My problem with this book is simple. It tried to be two things and didn’t manage either.

The book is supposed to be a sci-fi thriller and a romance. All of Moreno-Garcia’s books have that romantic element. I don’t adore that, not being a huge romance fan, but it fits in so well normally that it’s hard to argue with it.

But the romance genre has certain expectations. One huge expectation is that the love interest is going to end up with the main character. That didn’t happen. Worse, there was a gross age difference between Carlota and the man in love with her. 

This wouldn’t have bothered me that much, since it’s unrequited love if so damn much of the book hadn’t been devoted to Carlota wanting to fall in love!

She does fall for and has a full-on relationship with another man named Eduardo Lizalde. A lot of the book centers around what a bad match this is, how everyone knows it’s a bad match, and how Carlota’s father wants this match to work because Eduardo is rich. How much this is all hurting Langdon, our other MC.

At this point, I’d like to remind you that they are surrounded by hybrid monsters. I do not give a damn if Langdon is drinking himself sick because he doesn’t want Carlota to be hurt by some callous rich boy. At least, I don’t care half so much as I do about the hybrids meeting up with the rebel leaders to overthrow the elite of the area and bring freedom to the land.

That’s the book I want to read! 

But the hybrids and their plight seem like little more than a backdrop. I know we were introduced to more hybrids, but we only really get to know one of them, Lupe. 

This wasn’t enough to make me lose interest in this author. The other books are strong enough to tell me this was a temporary issue. But The Daughter of Dr. Moreau isn’t one I’ll be re-reading anytime soon. 

To sum it up, here’s what you can learn from The Daughter of Dr. Moreau.

-Don’t go halfway in a story. 

-Understand your genre expectations, and either meet or subvert them. 

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