Friday, September 30, 2022

I Need to Erase a Few Images, Thanks

 This week we're supposed to talk about an iconic scene from a book or movie or show that galvanized us and influenced our writing. I'm going to make it easy. It's the fight scene from The Princess Bride. Okay wait. Maybe the Iocaine Powder scene. Okay. Maybe the whole movie. (It really is the fight scene - the fight choreography and the quick quips and one-upsmanship.)

Then I'm going to leave it there to relay the images etched into my brain after Hurricane Ian came ashore yesterday. The family and I are fine. We were incredibly lucky. Ian came over us as a weak Cat 3 and we never got hit with the eye wall where the strongest winds were.  Still, we're shaken. The torrential rain and the wind we had (top gust clocked at 97mph nearby) was more than enough to cast fear into all of us. The worst part was watching the news streams of the monster storm destroying places I know and love - long ago, we declared the key lime pie at RC Otters on Captiva Island the best we'd found in Florida. The Ding Darling Wildlife Reserve on Sanibel Island was unmatched for wildlife spotting hikes. Yesterday, I watched those islands vanish beneath 18' of the Gulf of Mexico in real time. Yesterday, in real time, I watched while water swept into Fort Myers up to the roof line of single story homes. The friend who lives there and I checked in with one another just as Ian was approaching. She and her elderly mother hadn't been able to leave the area. They were at 11' of elevation. Storm surge was 18'. I haven't been able to raise her.

The worst part (for me) is that storm shutters turn homes into dark, blind boxes. It's as if you've taken shelter inside a ready-made tomb. You know weather is going to hell in a hand basket, but you can't see anything. If you can't see anything, you can't begin reacting until it's already far too late. Maybe that would always have been true - that even if you did see something bad coming (storm surge, for example) you aren't likely to be fast enough or have the option to change the situation. This may be one of those 'tell me you're a boater without telling me you're a boater' cases - I'm trained by boating to live with the illusion that if I see a bad situation developing I can mitigate it if I think and act quickly enough. I'm not sure storm surge has gotten a copy of that memo.

I'm privileged.

I slept in a dry bed last night in a house where the power never went out. Entirely. The worst privation we suffered was losing internet and cable TV. That felt bad enough because we couldn't go on keeping tabs on the storm and the people out there in it. But this morning, I could go outside. It was still windy. The rain had stopped. My climbing roses had beaten themselves to shreds. All the leaves are gone. The canes are shreds. A neighbor lost a tree. My oak tree is leaning and will have to be removed. The plants at the front of the house are all laid down to the south. The plants on the south side of the house are all laid down pointing due west. Part of our downspouts ended up in a neighbor's yard. My feral cat (who I desperately tried to catch before the hurricane came ashore) showed up for breakfast this morning. There are bright spots.

Because there was so little damage, I left to salvage what remains of the vacation that Ian nearly preempted. As we drove north out of the swath of Ian's destruction, vast caravans of rescue equipment and supplies passed us, heading south into the heart of the devastation. My chest hurts. I want to help, too, and have no skills to do so. I want to find my friend. And I have no skills to do so. And I'm afraid of what I'd find. It's a very mixed up place to be: Aware that but for the grace of the gods there go I, because if Ian had drifted a few miles north . . .; sad for all that's been lost, guilty for going on vacation, and relieved that my extended family in the area are all safe. There's no good or easy way to make the early part of this week okay. It won't be okay for a very long time. For some people, it will never be okay again.

Three of the four of us in the  house had never been in a hurricane before and the one who had admitted that his previous experience had left him with an offhand attitude about what hurricanes were. Until now. For context, Hurricane Charlie - the last hurricane to take the same path ashore. It hit in 2004. The entirety of Hurricane Charlie fit inside the eye of Hurricane Ian. 

Stu Ostro, a senior meteorologist at The Weather Channel produced this image. He published it to Twitter during that time that everyone was holding their collective breaths about whether or not this Godzilla parked off shore would ever move. Check out the original.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

The Same...Yet Different Scenes

a walnut stained table holding an orange pumpkin and bright pink flowers in a vase all behind the palm of a hand which is holding three beans, one dark-purple nearly black, and two purple-pink ones

Writing inspiration comes from many places—as many as there are people in the world! But does an author have an iconic recurring-scene that inspires their writing?

I had to give this topic some thought. Even though I only have one book (audiobook) out in the world I have a number of complete manuscripts and to add to that, some are science fiction and some are fantasy. Each book was inspired by a different emotion, character, or scene. And they all, save for two of the fantasy ones, take place in different worlds. 

Despite all the differences, they do all share an iconic scene. Inconceivable, you may say. But these pivotal scenes are all rooted in my author purpose, that moral-of-the-story theme that’s at the heart of every tale I weave. 

So, my iconic scene and my author theme are aligned: it’s the moment you face an incredible terror and instead of looking to the side or reaching out for help, you face it head-on and discover the true depth of your own strength.

In The Mars Strain that happens when Jules realizes she knows how to defeat the strain and that, as much as she depends on her team, she knows the key and won’t stop, no matter how much she looses, until she has it. Yes, a little ambiguous, but I can’t spell it out too detailed in case you haven’t listened yet! 

Do you have an iconic scene that keeps showing up? Is it tied to your author theme? 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Jeffe and her Iconic Scene

SHADOW WIZARD releases tomorrow!! Preorder price of $4.99 will be good into tomorrow, then it goes up. (Along with my grocery bill, alas!) The audiobook is being recorded now and should be available in about 2 weeks.

This week at the SFF Seven, we're asking: Do you have an iconic scene that inspires your writing?
I think most of my stories arise from certain pivotal images. For most every book I've written, I can almost certainly identify what the core image was. It's more than visual, however, and feels more like a snippet of a moment: a character in a situation. For a long time I have had an iconic scene. I started drawing it when  was a little girl and it's found its way into any number of stories over the years. I've never quite felt like I fully wrote the story of it, though it's haunted me less recently, so maybe I've come close enough for it to leave me alone.
The scene:
A woman stands on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Waves rise in whitecaps, dashing themselves against the rocks below. A wind off the water blows back her hair and gown. She's waiting...  Perhaps for an enemy to arrive on her shores? That's my usual feeling. Sometimes a large wolfhound is with her. Sometimes I think she's a sorceress, other times a queen.
If you've read a lot of my books, you'll probably recognize ways that this scene appears in various forms. I might've finally worked it out of my system with the Forgotten Empires trilogy, although it still didn't feel precisely like that iconic scene. Maybe I'll wend my way back to it someday!
For the time-being, however, I've been in the marshes and woodlands with the denizens of the Renegades of Magic world. SHADOW WIZARD takes us to a new high house (if you're familiar with the Bonds of Magic trilogy), and increasingly wild adventures. In this book, this snippet of a scene is one of my favorites:

She flung herself against him, embracing him with fierce tenacity, face buried against his neck, her chin digging rather sharply against his collarbone. For a slender, barely-there wraith, Seliah possessed a surprising amount of tensile strength. And she smelled of water in the moonlight, her tough, tense, thin little body vibrating with spiky silver magic, her breasts surprisingly—and distractingly—soft and full pressed against his chest. He couldn’t help a tiny fantasy of how it would feel to be buried inside that intensity, to have that passionate body surging against his, embracing and engulfing.

It's never going to happen, he told himself firmly.

Are you sure? part of him whispered back slyly.

Yes. Ruthlessly banishing the image, he refused to touch her any more than he already had. Holding his hands out, even more awkward than ever, he kind of waved them around as he waited for the hug to end.

It didn’t. Instead she held on, a buzzing bundle of intoxicating magic and tempting woman. Jadren tried patting her back, thinking maybe that would satisfy her enough to encourage her to go away, but she only purred, snuggling closer, like a cat who’d found the one cat-hater in the room and had no greater goal in life than encamping on his lap forever.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

New Fantasy Romance Release: CITY OF RUIN by Charissa Weaks

 πŸŽ‰πŸ“šπŸ’–πŸŽ‰We're celebrating Sunday blogger Charissa's newest book baby today! It's the second in her Witch Walker fantasy romance series. Grab a copy today and get lost in a tale of swords, sizzle, and sorcery! πŸŽ‰πŸ“šπŸ’–πŸŽ‰

Witch Walker, Book 2

The night the Prince of the East razed her village, Raina Bloodgood’s life changed forever. Forced into someone else’s war—and into the arms of the Witch Collector, Alexus Thibault—Raina discovered that everything she believed was wrong, and that she was capable of far more than anyone imagined.

Now, the Prince of the East has taken the Frost King as a pawn in his war against the Summerlands, causing Alexus’s life to hang in the balance. To thwart the prince’s endgame and prevent the Tiressian empire from returning to an age of gods, Raina, Alexus, and a band of Northlanders race against the sands of time to reach a mystical desert land where merciless assassins lurk around every corner.

In the midst of tragedy, Raina and Alexus fight to stay together and alive, all while a nefarious presence follows them straight to the jeweled gates of the Summerland queen’s citadel—the City of Ruin. With much to fear, it’s the terror of a past she shouldn't remember that Raina cannot cast from her dreams.

A past that's determined to find her. One way or another.

BUY IT NOW: Amazon | BN 

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Iconic Scenes and A New Book Release


Happy Sunday, all! 

I've been buried under writerly tasks getting City of Ruin out in the world. It releases this Tuesday, though, 9/27! I kind of can't believe I'm going to have two book babies in the world in the course of less than a year. As a slow writer, I'm utterly amazed by that! Like... who even am I? ;)

Today's topic for the SFF Seven is: Do you have an iconic scene that inspires your writing? 

I can tell you of one main scene (from books and film) that affected me as a writer. 

At the Prancing Pony from The Lord of the Rings, we meet Strider, aka Aragorn.

“a strange-looking weather-beaten man, sitting in the shadows near the wall… He had a tall tankard in front of him, and was smoking a long-stemmed pipe curiously carved. His legs were stretched out before him, showing high boots of supple leather that fitted him well, but had seen much wear and were now caked with mud. A travel-stained cloak of heavy dark-green was drawn close about him, and in spite of the heat of the room he wore a hood that overshadowed his face.

I can't say that this impacted scenes that I write, save for the importance of character introduction and how it can either be memorable or not. But it did impact how I write heroes and how I introduce characters. This moment, for me, was perfect. I saw him, I was curious about him, and I was intrigued. Then I was in love for the rest of my freaking life, but we won't talk about that haha.
But! If you like Aragorn mixed with a little Geralt of Rivia, you might like Alexus Thibault from my book, The Witch Collector. Again, book two, City of Ruin, is out Tuesday, and I'm so excited! Signed copies are available in my Etsy store, and it's in ebook and print everywhere online too.  
I hope you all have a good week! I'm going to watch the new Rings of Power this week and CHILL!
~ Charissa

Saturday, September 24, 2022

My Wacky Senior Project


Like a surprising number of writers, I have a technical background. Or maybe it isn't surprising for those of us with an interest in sci-fi and fantasy stories since the nerd/geek overlap is pretty heavy in those fandoms. In any case, my college degree is in mathematics and I've always had a bit of an analytical bent, which helps me with the business side of writing, but not the creative part so much.

However, I don’t believe I would be a published writer if it weren’t for my college education. Though I’d always been an avid reader, I had written very little fiction before taking a creative writing class in college. That class opened my eyes to the art of writing in ways I had never experienced before. I considered changing my major at that point, but I wasn't excited about adding another year of schooling to my degree. So instead I remained a math major, and simply took every class on creative writing that I could fit into my schedule.

My alma mater also had an interesting senior thesis/senior project format, in that seniors were allowed to choose any "substantial work" as their project as long as they had a professor to guide it. I had friends who made movies or wrote and directed plays for their senior project, so it was not a stretch at all for me to write a novel--especially since I had a great relationship with my creative writing instructor. It was a little out there for a math major to choose a creative project, but technically allowed. (The head of the math department pointed out that it wouldn't help me get into grad school, but since grad school wasn't my goal...*shrug*)

I'm not particularly proud of the novel I wrote that year--it was poorly plotted melodrama, with strangely flat characters. Frankly my writing skills were still in their formative stage, and when I think about my books that will never see the light of day, that one tops the list. Still, writing it--especially under the guidance of a mentor, with regular check-ins on my progress--was an incredible learning experience, and helped me become the writer I am today.

So even though my degree doesn't obviously have anything to do with my writing, I still give my college experience a lot of credit for nurturing my interest in creative writing and literature.

Jaycee Jarvis is an award winning fantasy romance author, who combines heartfelt romance with immersive magical worlds. When not lost in worlds of her own creation, she lives in the Pacific Northwest with her spouse, three children, and a menagerie of pets.

Find her at

Friday, September 23, 2022

Alas, Poor College Degree

I used to say that my college degree was as useless as burnt plastic. While I was working at a major software company that shall remain nameless, it might have been true in the most literal sense. In the less than literal sense, however, I was using the skills I'd learned all the time. Still do. Especially in writing. My degree is a BFA in Acting from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle.

What the heck, you might be asking yourself, does an actor do with an acting degree while writing novels (or working in software)?

Fair question. Think of the acting degree as the most expensive three years of intense therapy you can imagine. It's so intense that of the 20 people who started the acting conservatory the same time I did, only 8 made it to graduation. (Our graduating class was 10 people - we'd picked up a pair of students who'd taken a break and were coming back to finish up their degree work.) Yes, Cornish taught us craft and technique, but above everything, Cornish dumped us face first into the sea called "Acting requires enormous emotional effort." The conservatory's job was to crack each of us like nuts and open us up so we could finally see inside. It wasn't easy and it was often unpleasant. But it was necessary. We had to be able to name every nuance of emotion whether we felt it or believed we saw it in someone else in class.  To do that, we had to rummage around inside our own emotional lives and examine every shadowy don't-want-to-admit-we-feel-that feeling we had. Ask me sometime about the incidence of raging nightmares in students during this work. I'm not trying to make it sound like a torture chamber because if you come to the work with a sense of curiosity, it's a lot of fun finding out what makes you tick and learning to parse yourself into useful bits of a toolkit. 

In regard to using the degree off stage, it turns out that once you've learned what you've learned at Cornish, it doesn't go away. The ability to name emotion or to reach for a part of yourself as if it were a wrench becomes inextricably bound up in the fabric of who you are. That means that in working for corporate America, it's easier to approach public speaking, to convey confidence, and to identify the surface emotions of the people around you. 

It's no stretch of imagination to think of using an acting degree for writing novels. They are both (for me) character-driven work. I suspect if we polled all the writers in the world who were or are also actors, we'd find they're all character-driven. (I'm willing to be proven wrong.) For me, though, it's more than that. Yes. I'm entirely character-driven. The emotional work means better depth and breadth of emotion in my writing. When I'm doing it right. The technique work means I dedicate time to working on each character's unique voice and physicality - how they perceive their world and how they move through it. For me, a scene is a stage. It means I'm responsible for clear, crisp stage directions in my work. I will always mess this up a little - this is why editors are so important - having that objective audience who can say 'whoa what just happened there?' I came away from Cornish with a stage combat certification that I put to work for every single fight scene in a book.

If pressed to pick the one thing that has had the single biggest impact on me, I'd say the emotional work. Hands down. It's also the work that has had the biggest impact on the people around me. Certainly I wrote before and during school, but I do feel like being published would have been far less likely without the work.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

How My Education Levels Up My Writing

white, lab, plastic tray holding a line of 13 filled blood tubes with red caps

It can seem as if all writers have degrees in writing or literature. Professionals who knew they wanted to author books and have the certificates to say they are legit. But that’s not the only way into this industry. 

My formal education was in Clinical Laboratory Science and yes, it comes into play when I write! How fun is that?! Absolutely geek out fun, for me! Especially since I don’t lab it up any more.

So, what parts of my lab degree do I actually use as a writer? In The Mars Strain it’s pretty obvious. I wrote that story about a lab girl who saves the day. I used real technology, lab lingo, and testing—sometimes with a dash of imagination thrown in. But I actually use my medical background in all my writing. 

My current WIP is another sci-fi thriller about a biologically engineered drug. Even though my main characters aren’t lab people, they live in a society that has been genetically altered and are dealing with an attacker that is exploiting those traits. Once again I’m balancing the line between giving enough real-life medical detail and suspending belief in the futuristic. 

Wait, don’t I write sci-fi and fantasy? Why yes, yes I do. And I have to be careful with my anatomy descriptions when I’m crafting fantasy. But what magical tale is complete without a healer? Healers know a lot about the body: how they work, how to mend them, and how they break. 

I still love the medical field and find it fascinating. And I’m grateful that I chose my lab background because it has given me a great base for me to spin my tales from. But degree or no, I wouldn’t have any books written without an imagination. 

If you have stories to tell, it doesn’t matter what educational background you have. It may mean you’ll need to self educate on the technical aspects of writing, but stories come out of living. And only you have your perspective. 

How have you used your background in your writing?

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Yo, Author, You Using That Higher Ed?

This Week's Topic:
What aspects of my formal education do I actually use as a writer?

Does daydreaming during lectures count? No? Well then, believe it or not, I use more of my Master's of International Commerce & Policy than I do my Bachelor's of English with a focus in Creative Writing.

Wait, wut? Yup, you read that correctly. If you're a regular reader of the blog, you've endured my opinions on the uselessness of higher ed in creative writing and being a novelist.  

How do my studies in International Commerce & Policy (MAICP) show up in my work? World-building and political intrigue. Wanna know how to knee-cap a neighboring government without using an army? MAICP. Want to understand how an international governing body makes laws to satisfy the masses but can neither implement nor enforce those laws? MAICP. Baking loopholes into trade contracts to exploit them and ruin an industry/economy/gov't party? MAICP. Need to implement an external conflict of man-made famine? MAICP supplies cause and cure! Want organizations bullying each other into submission? MAICP for the blueprint! How about creating a villain who uses the tactics of US lobbyists to screw over the protags? Say it with me, everyone, MAICP!

When it comes to the economics and policies of running or destroying an empire, MAICP is there for me. 

Quite possibly not the endorsement expected by the Alumni Association. πŸ˜‡

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Circles of Community - How Writer Friends Keep Me Going


A gratifying milestone for me - DARK WIZARD has passed 500 ratings on Amazon! And with a 4.3 overall average, too. I'm so thrilled by all the love this book and series has received. 

I've been busy writing SHADOW WIZARD, the next book in this world (coming 9/29! available for preorder now), and so missed my usual Wednesday blog post. I'm making that up today, because I really did want to address this week's topic at the SFF Seven. We're talking about Writing Community and asking: do you have a writing community and if so (online, phone calls, zoom, in person) how do your interactions refill your creative well?

I'm so deeply grateful for my writing community! I have many different ones, from one-on-one friendships to large, professional organizations. Here's a smattering of them and how they refill that well.


Just yesterday I had one of my monthly hour+ phone calls with writer bestie Grace Draven. We've been doing this for a couple of years now. Aside from our other messaging via text and FB messenger, and quick calls, we set aside time to have longer conversations about our business strategy. These talks help us both clarify our priorities.

 I get on Zoom daily with another writer bestie, Darynda Jones. We typically do three one-hour writing sprints with some chatting in between. Having that company while writing (even though we mute while actually working) gives me a sense of companionship, and the daily discussions of our writing keep us invigorated. We can also bounce ideas off of each other, from "what's the word I'm trying to think of?" to "Help me solve this plot problem!"

I also have other writer besties I communicate with via email or social media, people I can call upon for insight or emergency beta reads. We don't necessarily talk on a regular schedule, but knowing they're out there is priceless.

Small Groups

I'm part of various smaller communities, from a private author group on Facebook, to a Fantasy Romance Discord, to the much larger Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) Discord. I love to dip in and out of these groups, answering questions and asking them, too. They're fun and fantastic resources.

Professional Organizations

I already mentioned SFWA. As the current president of the organization, I get to interact with all kinds of creators, from newbie writers to names on the spines of books on my shelf. Getting to email with Neil Gaiman, have coffee with Catherine Asaro, or chat for a few hours with Jane Yolen are thrills I never quite get over. Feeling like a part of that larger community is validating for me on a critical level. I believe more in myself and in my work for having those associations.


I just returned from WorldCon in Chicago - my first big conference since the COVID pandemic - and it brought home to me how wonderful these gatherings are. Conferences bring in so many different members of the reading, writing, and creating community that the cross-section of conversation is incredibly stimulating. More than the programming, just getting to be around other people who love the same stuff and sharing that excitement refills my creative well like nothing else. One of the great revelations of the pandemic for me was how much social stimulation I gain from conferences. I value them like never before.

I value all of my writing communities, and am so grateful for each and every one of you!

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Writing in Community


Writing as a practice

Although I have been writing all my life, I began writing fiction seriously in the last five years. It began as a creative practice, like my crochet and baking. Still is–it helps me stay balanced and maintain a positive outlook. As I gained confidence and started sharing my work, I found kindred spirits online and joined discord groups for writers. In this way, I share my practice with others who are engaged in the same activities. Online interaction has been a necessity in the last few years, given that we were often in lockdown, but it would have been my choice as a neurodivergent individual who can struggle in social situations (especially with strangers). 

Emerging from the Cave

I relish the time I spend alone writing. But the myth that writing is a solitary activity is just that … a myth. 

The writing part–thinking and typing–can be solitary (although online writing sprints with your pals is a fantastic way to work on a first draft). Yet, the many parts of being an author involve interacting with others: writers, editors, agents, cover artists, PAs, publishers or fellow indie authors, bloggers, bookstagrammers, and on and on. And even writing your drafts is better with encouragement and feedback: there are alpha and beta readers, ARC readers and street teams–as well as writing critique groups, Facebook groups, and discord communities. 

You may think the time you spend on these interactions will take away from your writing time, but it is a necessary part of being an author. And the experiences can enrich your skills and lead to opportunities.

Finding Groups

Small groups work better for me, but I enjoy being in a couple of larger interest groups. There are any number of online classes, writing experts, and coaches who can set you up with a critique group. It is harder to find affordable or free options, but you can search for writers' groups on Facebook and Discord, many of which don't need a paid subscription. Those options, instead, require more of a DIY approach that can achieve good results. They are great for baby authors and those who don't have a lot of disposable income to throw around (that is, most of us).

For my purposes, there’s a supportive Facebook group for writers who are moms where they understand the challenges mom-writers face. It's a great place to lurk and share in my peers’ successes and setbacks. I also joined the FaRoFeb Facebook group and discord server for authors–one of the best decisions I made. It’s not a giant group, but big enough that some of the discord channels move very fast. However, I can poke along at my speed and keep up with a wonderful group of talented and dedicated authors who embrace all of our quirky Fantasy Romance interests and tangents. 

These groups form communities that lift up their members and make us all better. The more you participate, the better experience you will have, but it's all right to start out slow.

Learning and Growing

I treasure the interactions I have with my writer friends. We have learned the importance of open communication and we strive to balance support with critique. It's not easy, but we keep working at it, giving ourselves and each other grace when we don't live up to our high ideals. This small but mighty group is my ride-and-die. And I’m a better person, friend, and writer because of them.

I’ve learned a few things along the way. I’ll share them here, with the understanding that your journey may be very different.

  • I’ve learned to pay attention to my needs and abilities. Smaller groups and opportunities are more rewarding for me. You may be different - I have a friend who went to a large writers’ convention and loved every minute of it.  Work within your social battery settings and consider what helps you recharge.
  • I’ve learned that setting boundaries and making rules (or simply some agreed-upon ideas for how to be together) can make the community experience better. Authors are a prickly breed and misunderstandings and hurt feelings can happen. But we can also be the most supportive and loyal creatures in the world!
  • I’ve learned that sharing my work isn’t scary. It has increased my confidence and allowed me to see my stories more objectively, which has improved my revision skills. It’s been a mindset shift. I’m not killing darlings or offering up my babies; I’m working on projects that are shaped with feedback and advice to make them the best they can be. 
  • I’ve learned what I can contribute in providing feedback to my writer friends. I’m a teacher by training and am a pretty good copy editor. I also love to be a cheerleader by looking for ways that someone’s story bones could be improved. It makes me so happy!
  • I’ve learned to be more selective in my writing critique partners. I made a couple mistakes in the beginning by offering to provide feedback on projects that weren’t a good fit. Now that I understand better what I like, I can ask up front about the work so I can make an informed decision.

I didn't realize when I started this journey how much I would learn about myself--both the good and the bad. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone, challenging myself to do better happens most effectively when I have supports who will cheer me on and pick me up when I fall. 

Feeling blessed

As you saw in Kristine’s post this week, the FaRoFeb group released an exciting anthology on Tuesday! I am grateful to have a story in the collection–alongside this wonderful group of authors (and don't forget to read Grace Draven and Jeffe Kennedy’s introduction). The community exemplifies the magical possibilities of collaboration, support, and good humour that can make a good experience great.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Filling the Creative Well with Writing Communities

Writing communities tend to proliferate like rabbits. You think you don’t have any, then you turn around and you have six. I’m not any different. I thought I was out here all on my own until I began counting things up and yes, I have writing communities. A lot of them. They fall into a few categories:

  •  Organizations
  •  Publisher
  •  Educational
  •  Committed

Organizations are professional groups like RWA, SFWA, local chapters, and any other regional writing groups we might be members of. Pre-pandemic, these communities functioned both in-person and online. Now, they’re mostly online with a few tentative in-person events starting. The power of professional organizations is in the numbers – a wide range of knowledge and experience is available. The disadvantage of professional organizations is in the numbers – that wide range of points of view can and does stir drama. Regional or focused-interest groups (thriller, mystery or PNR groups) are a good energizer because you’re in a community of writers who understand your genre and presumably your interests. It creates synergy. Local chapters are the smallest of the professional organizations but that often translates into more frequent in-person interactions and more detailed sharing around your specific writing needs because you know the smaller group and they know you.

I derive energy from professional orgs because I never feel quite so valid as a writer as when I’m soaking up business advice from people who’ve already been where I am.

Publisher/publishing house – Many publishers have started author communities as a means of leveraging cross-marketing. These communities work under the premise that a rising tide lifts all boats. Occasionally, a publisher takes community to the next level and does a conference in an exotic location and then the virtual turns into an in-person excursion to Ireland. It’s a chance to put faces to the names you routinely see asking for newsletter spots and retweets.

I derive energy from my publishing community because my publisher is run by a committed group of people who really do give a darn about everyone who writes for them and who are passionate about the business.

Educational communities/co-ops/etc – Writing classes tend to engender community, if only for the length of the class. Don’t underestimate those class-length connections, though. Critique partners are often found through classes. Author co-ops are longer term associations focused on promotional/educational synergy. These communities fill my ‘always learning’ well. They are currently all virtual and online.

I derive energy from education and learning. Almost always. There are exceptions and in those exceptional cases, I’ve learned to walk away and go find a different class.

Committed communities – These are the long-term relationships we build with other writers. Critique groups. Our personal author circles. For me these are the communities that cross over the line between ‘writer community’ to friends. Well, okay. Friends who also write and who can dispense writing advice from time to time. These are the people who can, and do, apply a much-needed swift kick when the situation calls for it.  They bolster confidence and make suggestions for fixing that scene the mean old editor hated. Almost all my communities are virtual, including this one. I had in-person, then I moved across a continent. Critique still happens once a week, it’s just on Zoom. At the end of the month, I’ll have a quick, in-person visit when I take a short road trip. And I’ll get all kinds of energy from that.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Release Day: Fantast Romance Anthology ONCE UPON A FORBIDDEN DESIRE

We're super excited to announce our Saturday FaRoFeb bloggers' new anthology of fairy tales retold with steam and sizzle. This limited edition release includes a foreword by our own award-winning Wednesday blogger Jeffe. Get it now while it's a mere $0.99!

Once Upon a Forbidden Desire

When it comes to true love, rules are meant to be broken …

Dark forests and locked doors, poisoned apples and forbidden lovers ... Bold heroines and swoon-worthy heroes break all the rules in this enchanting anthology of the fairy tales you thought you knew.

Once Upon A Forbidden Desire features 20 enticing fairy tale retellings by a diverse selection of fantasy romance authors. From sweet true love’s kisses to sizzling passion, from the streets of Seattle to enchanted forests, and from poor scullery maids to a winged Prince Charming ...

If you enjoy spellbinding romance, enthralling new worlds, and stories with a taste of the forbidden, these happily ever afters will leave you spellbound. Give in to the temptation and grab your copy of Once Upon a Forbidden Desire now.

With a foreword by Grace Draven and Jeffe Kennedy, this limited edition anthology celebrates the variety of the fantasy romance genre. It contains stories ranging from sweet to steamy and is recommended for an adult audience.

BUY IT NOW: Amazon

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Top 5 Worldbuilding Tips


Worldbuilding has the power to captivate a reader. To transport them from their everyday life to somewhere surprising and unique. It’s why I love reading and writing fantasy, because the worlds are rich, enticing, and dramatic, intriguing, brutal, and romantic. And for me, when it comes to worldbuilding, it’s both the big picture and the little details that count. 

Here are five worldbuilding tips I’ve picked up along the way:

  1. Take inspiration from everywhere, everything, and everyone. Absolutely, read in your genre, that’s a given, but also watch and listen to media outside your usual sphere of influence. Podcasts, documentaries, history programs, mythology, fairy tales, the news … be a sponge, and seek out things that will force you to see the world from a different perspective. Check out science YouTube (or in my case, find someone else who has, and pick their brain!), watch people you do and don’t know, and notice what drives them and how they interact. Anything can spark an idea to enrich your world, from quantum computing, to crypto currencies, to the social hierarchies of indigenous tribes in the Amazon. Walk, watch films, look out the window on car journeys, listen to music, and don’t forget to write things down!
  2. In Lean Management, there’s a concept call The Five Whys, and it works well for worldbuilding too. The basic method is to ask why five times, and within five whys, you’ve probably got to the root cause of why something is the way it is. Why does your world trade in the way it does? Why do they use certain materials? Why are the roads paved with gold? If you don't know why (at least roughly speaking), you might have holes in your world, or it might even be blocking you. You don't need to have EVERYTHING mapped out, but you do need to know the bones of how things work and play together: politics, infrastructure, magic, religion, education, employment, the economy, healthcare … you get the drift.
  3. I had an amazing sociology teacher who told my class that the quest for power, wealth, and status drives a huge amount of human behavior (along with reproduction, of course). Think about how people get each of these things in your world. Is there something unique about how power, wealth, or status is derived? Who has these things now, and how do they pass from one person to another? Understanding that will help with character motivations too (especially for the bad guys).
  4. Pay attention to the details, and remember consistency is key. Keep a wiki or spreadsheet to help you keep track (or a big piece of paper with all the important information. If low tech works best for you, it works best for you). Draw diagrams and maps, and experiment with what helps you most, along with what best sparks your creativity. To make sure the details work across your world, ask yourself questions from the perspective of all. You might be writing about the nobles, but does it make sense for a peasant, or a merchant, or a teacher, or a medic? Or better yet, have someone else ask you. Conversations often flush out holes.
  5. Be playful, explore, be curious, and be open to “failure”. Worldbuilding should be fun, and nobody can limit your imagination. If you find yourself down a rabbit hole that doesn’t pan out, so what? You probably had a wild time exploring in your mind. Not every idea has to yield fruit, but push yourself to go further, think bigger, and be bolder, knowing that some ideas will “fail”. That’s fine. It’s part of the process. And a failure might spark an even better idea. But keep going, for a lush, alluring world will be your reward.

HR Moore writes escapist fantasy with dangerous politics and swoon-worthy romance. She’s known for pacy writing, plot twists, and heroines who take no prisoners. HR also started FaRoFeb (Fantasy Romance February), a community for readers and authors to elevate and celebrate the fantasy romance genre. 
You can connect with HR Moore (and get a free story) here: