My review of Shut Up And Write The Book

I received an arc of this book in return for a fair and honest review. And that’s exactly what you’re getting today. 

Jenna Moreci’s Youtube channel is one of my favorites for smart, sweary writing advice. So, when she announced that she was publishing a book about writing, I had to get my hands on it. When I found out she was offering arcs to select reviewers, I jumped on that like a rat on a pizza slice. 

Shut Up And Write The Book is essentially a step-by-step manual to, obviously, writing a book. It is specifically tailored for fiction authors, so if you’re writing nonfiction, this one might not be for you. But as I don’t write nonfiction, it was delightful for me.

I will say that, as an experienced author, some of the information was redundant. I did find myself skimming some of the early chapters especially, because of course I’ve read a ton of writing advice books. I’ve also written writing advice for writers since 2014. And watched the vast majority of Jenna’s Youtube videos. 

But if you feel like you know everything in this book, you are wrong. It’s an egotistical fool who dismisses advice because they think they know everything already. So I always do my best to come to every bit of writing education as a novice. I never regret this.

The first thing I loved about Shut Up And Write The Book was that Jenna writes how she talks. I can hear her voice as I’m reading, which is delightful. She has a quick, supportive way of talking about writing that makes it feel more like a small business project instead of an ethereal endeavor that we mere mortals have no sort of control over. 

If you are one of those people who feel like writing a book is overwhelming, this is a book you need. It walks you through every step of the novel writing process. And I mean every single step. If you have nothing but a desire to write a book, but not a single damn idea for that book, that is perfect. The first chapters start with brainstorming in a realistic and accessible way. Then, it continues to walk you through each step of the process.

Now, I did think that the outline and brainstorming section of the book was a bit heavy. I don’t generally go into as much detail as Jenna does with her character creation and world-building. But, to be honest, maybe I should consider trying this out for my next book. It can only help.

Each chapter ends with a summary of the information that the chapter included. At first, I thought this was a little irritating. I mean, I just finished reading all this content. I don’t need a summing up. And yes, while doing a read through there’s not any value in that summary.

However, as I go through the book again and use it as it’s intended, as a workbook, I find that summary to be really helpful. Because I can check in with the summary and see if I need to re-read this chapter, or if I have the basics down.

I found that as I got closer to the end of the book, I found it more and more useful. I certainly have my writing weaknesses, and one of them is finding beta readers. I learned just a ton about that process, which I’m looking forward to utilizing as my current novels come closer and closer to completion.

If you’re a writer, this is a book to grab. It’s full of smart advice that’s easy to use. Here’s a link to pre-order it now. This is not an affiliate link.

My Writing Heroes, Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is one of my personal heroes. She was such an incredibly strong person and absolutely fearless. She was beautiful, body and soul. She is still one of the most influential poets in America, despite leaving us in May 2014.

Ms. Angelou’s life was astounding. Which might be why she wrote so many books about it. She worked with Dr. King, with Malcolm X. She was in LA for the LA riots. She has seen so much history, much of it unpleasant. But through all of it, she spread beauty with her work, her singing, and her life.

I love reading her books. In each of them, I find bits of my own story within hers. I was also a young mother. I was also a child pawned off on relatives during my early life. 

I’ve learned so many lessons from Ms. Angelou. Today, I want to share just three of them that may help you be a better writer. They will almost certainly help you be a better person. 

Fake it, then make it.

I’m astounded by how often in Ms. Angelou’s life she applied for opportunities or was offered projects that she had no qualifications for. As a teenager she applied for a job as a cajun cook, having never cooked cajun food in her life. As a grown woman she calmly said she’d produce a tv series, having never done so before. 

In both cases, Ms. Angelou was calm and assured of herself. Then, she went home and taught herself how to do that thing. 

I wonder how often we assume we can’t do something, so we don’t. I wonder how our lives might change if we started saying yes to things, then putting in the effort to learn. I know that this attitude got me a job at Haunted MTL. And it got me to self-publish my books. Hell, it was that kind of attitude that inspired me to start this blog.

There is so much power in simple language.

When you read Maya Angelou’s work, you’re not going to find yourself tripped up much. Her poetry is in simple terms, and so is her prose. I think a lot of writers are afraid of simple words because it feels like we should be writing with bigger words. We should be using strange words like pejorative, just so people know we know what it means.

Don’t do that. Use simple words. Trust simple words. Because simple words can break someone’s heart. They can speak to a specific moment. They can make someone see exactly what you were seeing in a moment, and feel exactly what you were feeling. 

There is so much power in loving yourself.

One of my favorite Maya Angelou poems is Phenomenal Woman. It’s a glorious hymn of loving yourself. Not accepting yourself as you are. Not telling yourself that God loves us all as He made us. It’s saying that you are fucking beautiful. You are powerful. You are phenomenal. 

So what do you think? Who inspires you to be a better writer or a better person? Let us know in the comments. 

Check out 12 Christmas Tales on Amazon or Smashwords.

Even Pantsers need Preptober

You likely already know that it’s the first week of Preptober for those of us getting ready for Nanowrimo next month. How it got to be this far into October already without me noticing I have no idea. But that’s another conversation for another time. 

Maybe you’re a pantser, though. Meaning, a writer who doesn’t work with outlines and instead writes by the seat of their pants. 

While I’m not a fan of this kind of writing, I get that it’s what works for some people. I’m not going to get anywhere in this life convincing people they’re making art the wrong way. 

But don’t think for a second that just because you’re not writing an outline that you should skip Preptober. Oh no, you still have some planning to do. 

Especially if you’ve never written a novel before. 

You still need to know when you’ll be writing.

This is the biggest mistake I see new Nanowrimo participants make. You go into the month with the desire to put 50,000 words on the page, but not a plan of when that’s going to actually happen. 

When are you planning to write? How much time is it going to take you to write 50,000 words? If you’re used to writing short-form work, you might know how much writing you can get done in an hour already. If you haven’t written anything for a while, try doing some writing prompts this month. See how long it takes you to get a thousand words on the page. Then you’ll know how much time you need to carve out.

You’ll still need to know how you’ll be writing.

Are you writing your novel long hand or are you typing it? If you’re typing it, what format are you using? Do you have enough writing supplied?

Don’t leave these decisions until the last minute. Figure it out now so you’re ready to hit the ground running on November first. 

You still need to know your team.

Who is your support team? Who will be helping you out at home so you can write? Who will be your writing buddies? Are you getting together in real life, or virtually? How are you going to support each other? 

You still need to plan for your life.

Listen life’s going to keep coming at you while you’re writing in November. You know your life better than me, you know what can go wrong.

Are you going to be traveling for the holidays? 

Are you a student? What is your class schedule going to look like that month?

Are you a parent? What are you going to need to do for your family? What’s going to happen in November that will take you away from writing?

For me, that’s a whole lotta cooking on Thanksgiving, and a whole lotta cleaning before and after. 

Remember, that it’s okay for life to get in the way of your writing. It’s to be expected. Not even during Nanowrimo do we want to ignore our lives. 

Remember, what doesn’t get planned doesn’t get done. So if you want to write a novel in November, even if you don’t want to outline the book itself, you still have to outline a plan. 

Don’t forget, I have a Preptober Planner to help you get ready for Nanowrimo. You can grab it right now on my ko-fi shop.

 

Defending True Crime

I’ve loved true crime since I was a little girl. I can’t imagine I’m the only one who got hooked watching Unsolved Mysteries with Robert Stack. My great-grandma and I used to watch it together. I still think of her any time I hear that theme song.

Now True Crime is everywhere. Documentaries, tv shows, podcasts. I even co-host a true-crime podcast.

Recently I’ve found a reason for guilt over my enjoyment, though. The latest Scream movie pointed out that there’s a darker side to these stories. These are real stories. People died. Families were left shattered. The very last thing I’d ever want to do is belittle someone’s loss. The second to last thing I’d want to do is make a killer into a celebrity.

It’s not like mentally ill people need another excuse to kill innocent people. 

Are we just encouraging killers to think of themselves as rock stars? Are we dehumanizing victims for the sake of entertainment?

I’ve spent some time thinking about this. This world’s in a bad enough place right now, I don’t need to make things worse with some insensitive little tale.

And after some consideration, I don’t think True Crime does much harm. Dare I even say it might do some good? If, of course, it’s done right.

The good true crime podcasters don’t glorify the killers

On my podcast, Off The Bone, we don’t glorify killers. We tend to mock them. Most serial killers, by the way, wet the bed way longer than anyone else.

The killer is never the good guy, and the victim is never the punchline. To talk about True Crime in any other way is disrespectful and dangerous. 

We say their names

So many True Crime stories are unsolved. That’s part of the fascination, at least for me. We don’t know who the Somerton Man was, so we can’t let his family know what happened to him. Same for the Lady of The Dunes (Though Stephen King’s son might have helped solve that one.)

We’re all going to die someday. And most of us hope to be remembered by our loved ones. We want friends and family to share stories about us. And we don’t want a bunch of question marks hanging over our coffins. 

When we talk about unsolved murders, there’s a chance that someone might recognize the victim. That maybe, by saying their names, someone who loves them might hear. 

And even if they don’t, we remember them. 

I remember Bella in the witch elm.

I remember the Lady of The Dunes.

I remember the Somerton Man.

And I’ll be you do too.

If you have any information regarding this case.

Remember how each episode of Unsolved Mysteries ended? 

“If you have any information regarding this case, please call us.”

Well, people did call them. And because of that show, at least 260 cold cases were solved. 

Crowdsourcing mysteries gets results. And in the age of the internet, we’re even better at it. 

Because of consistent attention, the Keddie Cabin murder case was reopened. And as I mentioned earlier, Owen King might have helped solve the Lady of The Dunes mystery. He recognized an extra from Jaws who just might be her. 

True Crime done badly isn’t moral. But True Crime done well might actually solve crimes. And even if you’re not one of those who helps solve a cold case, you still enjoyed a damn good story.

And that’s worth something. I hope that when I go, I leave a good story behind.

Want to support Paper Beats World? You can do so on Ko-fi.

Smashwords/ Amazon

We need to talk about abortion

I’m coming to you with an extra post this morning, and I’m sure you can imagine what the topic’s going to be. 

That’s right, I’m discussing the death of Roe V. Wade. 

I didn’t post anything about it over the weekend because honestly, I was just in a down place. I was angry. I’m still angry. I was scared. I’m still scared.

I’m not scared because I think I might have an unwanted pregnancy. I’m scared because a part of my body, that God gave to me, doesn’t belong to me anymore. 

Politicians get to vote on whether or not I get to make a medical decision for myself. And don’t get it twisted, an abortion is a medical decision. 

It’s also a financial decision, a family decision. A personal decision. It’s not, under any circumstances, a community decision. 

I have two messages today. The first is for anyone who wanted Roe V. Wade to be overturned. 

Most of you know that I was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Most of you also know that I’m now a Unitarian Universalist. But many lessons from my LDS upbringing have stuck with me. For instance, young LDS members are taught that when you chose the first step of a road, you also chose the last.

If you chose to force a person to have a baby when they don’t want to, you’re choosing to let people die unnecessarily in childbirth. You’re choosing to force people to bring children into this world that they are unable or unwilling to care for. You’re choosing to put unwanted babies into an already bloated adoption and foster care system. You’re choosing to increase child poverty. You’re choosing to lower women’s ability to attend college. You’re choosing to lower women’s ability to join the workforce. 

But, you might say, they chose to have sex.

So what? So because they made one decision about their bodies, they don’t get to make any more? It is absolutely none of your business. Your life will not be affected by anyone else having an abortion. 

Your life might be affected by someone’s lack of ability to get an abortion.

If you, like me, support abortion rights, here’s what I have to say to you. The fight is not over yet. We can still vote, we can still protest. 

We can still donate to protect local clinics. 

We can, and absolutely should, start getting involved in our local politics right now. Because at least for now, your right to make medical decisions about your body rests in the hands of your local representatives. Get to know who they are, and get involved. 

I’m in Pennsylvania. For now, my rights are safe. But it’s really scary to think that my ability to make medical decisions for myself can be voted on. 

On a personal note, I’m 36 years old. If I were to get pregnant, I’m at a higher risk of complications just because of my age. 36 isn’t old, but it’s old enough to start thinking about things like this. If I were to get pregnant, I would be having some serious discussions with my doctor about any risks involved. I’d be talking with the darling husband, about how a baby would affect us. Whether I could safely carry. 

Those would be hard, heavy talks. And they would be between me, my husband, and my doctor. 

And absolutely not one other person. This time last week, every person in America could say that. Today, maybe half of us can. 

Vote.

Protest.

Speak up.

Donate.

It’s Quiet Apocalypse Launch Day!

Happy Friday the 13th, everybody.

And happy launch day. Quiet Apocalypse has now made its way into the world. If you haven’t yet, you can get your very own virtual copy on Amazon or Smashwords.

I’ll be documenting my whole day on Instagram if you want to follow along on my launch day adventures.

The end of the world began with a winter storm.

Sadie’s quiet life is interrupted when a tree crushes the roof of her attic apartment. She’s forced to move to a smaller apartment in the building. Then, her aunt guilts her into clearing an ouija board of a particularly irritating spirit.

But it wasn’t just the roof that was broken by the tree. There was something trapped within the building, waiting. Waiting to wake and bring about the end of the world.

Not with screams, but with silence.

Some early reviews for Quiet Apocalypse

Here’s some early reviews from some amazing people for Quiet Apocalypse.

Nicole C. Luttrell’s *A Quiet Apocalypse *is a haunting tale about the horrors that lurk within what we think are our safest spaces. Her visceral imagery, witty dialogue and eloquent prose bring the story to life. We are sucked into a world we won’t, can’t look away from. It is a terrifying, exciting story that will haunt you and leave you yearning for more.

-Court Court

Nicole Luttrell’s story of a witch, a house, and a storm carries the primal nature, fury, and bone chilling fear of circumstances beyond the control of humanity and the horrific depths we may all very well succumb to when confronted by them.

-David Davis

From the very first page, “Quiet Apocalypse” weaves a subtly sinister spell, drawing the reader into its many-layered mystery. Fans of atmospheric horror will enjoy the way the tension builds until all hell breaks loose, and the real terror begins.

Kristen Cleaves

You can preorder Quiet Apocalypse now on Amazon and Smashwords!

Sylvermoon Chronicles X is available now!

Hey, guys. Just jumping in here quick today to let you know that Sylvermoon Chronicles X is officially available.

If you’ve missed the last few installments, it’s an anthology series with some incredible authors, including yours truly. And this one’s a little sad, because it’s the final one.

Ten years is a massive amount of time, and I just can’t thank the editor, Madolyn Locke for committing herself to this.

Definitely check out Sylvermoon Chronicles issue X. It’s a really fun read from some amazing writers.

Preptober, Week One

Alright, it’s the first day of October. And this month is dedicated to exactly two things in my house. Celebrating Halloween as hard as possible, and getting ready for Nanowrimo. 

So this year I’m going to take you along for the ride with me, in a four-week course that will let you hit the ground running on November first. I’ve done Nanowrimo or Nanoedmo every year for the last eight years. And I never lose.

Why don’t I ever lose? Because I plan my life and my project in such a way that failure is not possible. 

If you’re with me, we’re starting today. This week, you have two tasks. 

1. Make your plan of action.

2. Get your people together.

Let’s break these down.

Make your plan of action

Especially if you’re new to the whole novel-writing thing, you need to make a plan for how this is going to happen. Because it’s sure as hell not going to happen by accident. Especially if you have other responsibilities. Like, you know, a life.

So you’ll want to ask yourself these questions. 

When am I going to write?

What projects do I need to wrap up before November to make space for this?

Are there any days I know right now I won’t be able to write? What days will I work ahead or catch up?

What are the other obligations that I still need to meet like work, school, finals, or home care?

What I’m saying is this. You are going to have excuses aplenty to not write. Get rid of those excuses by planning for them, not succumbing to them.

Find your people

This is broken down into two groups. Who are you writing with, and who is supporting your writing?

Do you have any friends, online or IRL who want to write with you? Nanowrimo is always better when you have other people participating with you. Start talking to your buddies now, and see who’s going to join you.

More important even than that, though, is your in-person support team.

Who’s going to help you out during November? My support team is my husband, who will help me out with the house and give me space. My best friend, who will be there for emotional support. And my group of friends, always ready for weird questions at random moments. 

Make a list of your support team. Ask them if they’re ready for that. Let them know what you’ll need of them. Do you need your mother-in-law to watch the kids an extra hour a week? Do you need your wife to make dinner on a night that would normally be yours?

You need time to prep. Your support system does too. And if you’ve got to do something extra to support your loved ones in return, best to know that early. 

So that’s it for this time. You’ve got a week for these two tasks. I’ll see you back here next week for a new assignment. 

Like this post? You can buy me a cup of coffee on Ko-fi.

Meet the AA Characters, Jim

Meet Jim

Played by Jim Phonix 

Jim’s everyone’s friend. He teaches the kids of the community, helps out at meetings. He’s quick to led an ear when needed, or pick someone up from the train station. And he’s happy to make friends with Josey. Maybe more than friends. 

A transplant himself, Jim is one of the only members of the community to move to Peach Springs as an adult. But he’s found himself a member of the community anyway. 

You can hear about Jim in the first season of AA, starting on September second. 

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