Friday, May 5, 2023

Embrace the Boredom

I am visiting the PNW this week. We're in Port Townsend for a day or two before moving on to our next spot so you get a glimpse of the Victorian history that makes the town famous before we talk about staving off boredom while writing long books.

Some people naturally write short books - this can be anywhere from 55k words up to 75k. These people are good at getting to the point and at diving right into conflict. Then there are those of us who revel in complication. Our books are long, usually 100k. Possibly more. Possibly much, much more. We wouldn't know simple if it started chewing on our faces. I feel it's important to acknowledge that neither is superior to the other. Stories are still the result and there is no perfect length for a book. So before we dive into how not to bore yourself to tears whilst writing a longer book, let's acknowledge that not everyone is cut out to write long books. Just like I am not cut out to write short. No. That's wrong. I can write short. I have done. What I cannot do is write simple. I'm allergic to straightforward plots without dozens of other threads woven through. The one time I forced myself to do so the plot was - well - weak. So don't feel badly if you start a long book and it just doesn't work. It may not be your strength. Don't volunteer to be the fish who tries to climb a tree. With that painful metaphor etched in your brain, let's talk long books.

Long books need a lot of plot. They need extra conflict. They need bigger stakes and bigger problems to be solved. You probably won't find many stories about saving the world or all life on earth that run about 55k words long. It just usually takes a little longer to get to there. Longer books are where you bring in secondary story lines involving secondary and tertiary characters - so long as it all contrasts or reinforces the main story. In longer books, complications breed complications, raising tensions and obstacles for characters to overcome. This also means that your characters have a lot to conquer in themselves. Whatever their flaws or weaknesses that keep them from solving all the problems right now, they need to be either deep seated enough or the character obstinate enough to need extra time (and extra pain) to bring about real change in the character. It's a lot to juggle and it's what you'll need to keep yourself tuned into the rise and fall of conflict across the long expanse of words you have to write. So how do you keep from getting bored? You don't. Sorry to break it to you but when you write longer books, you get bored. It's just part of the process. You've been in the story for so long, mucking around in the workings, solving problems, working out the bumps and stops, there's simply no human way to not get sick to death of it. You will. So your only hope is to plan for it and to push through it. Unless. Unless you can take a pause and look for a twist even you didn't see coming until you go to this 'wow, I hate this story' spot. Sometimes it works and you'll plow on with renewed energy and a mental note to rewrite your synopsis. The rest of the time, you just have to embrace the pain of 'story doesn't care how you feel, hush up and put the words in'. The good news is that your boredom will rarely last past the ramp to the 3/4 crisis. The other good news is that just because you're bored, it doesn't necessarily follow that readers will be. You're bored because familiarity breeds contempt. You're too close. Knowing that won't dispel boredom, but it might be enough assurance to get a few thousand more words out of you. The only other advice I can offer is to remember to turn into conflict. Your characters might not like pain, but you need to love it for them. Think of a long book as your villain origin story - learn to enjoy torturing your characters (and thereby your readers) for fun and profit. That makes the long slog a bit more entertaining.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Advice for Writers: Combatting Boredom

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is somewhat cryptic, at least how it's noted on our calendar: Long books - how not to get bored.

It's not entirely clear to me who's attempting to avoid boredom here. The writer? The reader? 

Hopefully not the reader! Most of us readers who love to read long books are totally in it for the long, for the full immersion into another world, living other lives. I suspect the principles for writing a long book that won't bore readers are the same as writing *anything* at all. We never want to bore readers.

So, I'm going to assume we're asking about getting bored writing long books. How to avoid that?

You can't.

Sorry, but... sometimes writing is boring. Sometimes it's fun. Sometimes it's agonizing. Writing novels, especially very long ones, requires a particular skill set of paying attention to, and working incrementally on, a work that takes a very long time to complete. 

The whole point is not to try to avoid boredom with the process. The point is to revise your expectations. 

Writing is work. This is why there are so many people who SAY they always wanted to write a novel and such a vanishingly smaller percentage who have. An even smaller percentage of that subset ever write more than six books. It's hard work and there's a reason we distinguish work from fun. Writing may be occasionally fun, but it's always work.

What's important to keep in mind is that the experience of writing is not the experience of reading. Don't conflate the two. One of my least favorite pieces of "writing advice" is the saw that "if the writer is bored writing it, the reader will be bored reading it."


Writing takes vastly longer than reading. Every one of us who has spent months writing a book that releases at midnight and then wakes up to comments from readers who read it overnight understands this truth viscerally. Writing a novel, especially a long novel, requires patience and attention over a long span of time. 

So: don't worry about finding ways to not get bored while writing long works. Accept that boredom is part of the process. It's part of the price we pay. 


Tuesday, May 2, 2023

The Long Yawn, Erm, Yarn (Push)

 This Week's Topic: Long Books -- How Not To Get Bored


Push the reader.

Push the reader into the next chapter.

Push the reader into the next chapter by making them hungry.

Push the reader into the next chapter by making them hungry for the answer.

Push the reader into the next chapter by making them hungry for the answer to What happens next?


Push your characters.

Push your characters into the next chapter.

Push your characters into the next chapter by making them hungry.

Push your characters into the next chapter by making them hungry for the answer.

Push your characters into the next chapter by making them hungry for the answer to What happens next?

Saturday, April 29, 2023

One Piece of Advice


When I look back on my journey as an author, many hard-fought lessons come to mind. But there's one bit of knowledge I wish I had taken to heart much earlier: 

You don't have to do everything, and it most certainly doesn't have to be done perfectly. 

Maybe that's cheating because it's two pieces of advice, I suppose. But the reason I put this advice as a single piece is because almost inevitably whenever I sat down and tried to limit what was on my plate, I immediately fell even more into perfectionism. It was as if saying no to doing some things (like building a following on every single social media platform or reading all of the newsletters in my genre or reading every report on trends and marketing) suddenly meant that what I did do had to be perfect.

The reality is that true perfection in our line of work does not exist. Not when you're starting out. Not in the middle. And not at the end. 

Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't proof your work or put in your best effort or that you shouldn't revise. 

You absolutely should. 

But there comes a point when you have to let go. If you wait until you think it's perfect or has no more room for improvement, you're going to accomplish precious little. And when I look back over my time as an author and writer, I realize how much I learned in the failures and mistakes. 

Trust me. There has been a lot of them. I can't say I enjoyed either the failures or mistakes (though some did give me funny stories for later recountings). But they taught me so much. Both in what I should do and shouldn't do. 

Not to mention that if you're doing things properly, you're constantly learning. Especially about your craft as a storyteller. You, as a person, are changing and continuously developing your voice. Especially when you're starting out. If you get swept away in trying to learn all the newest tricks for everything while also keeping up on trends within your genre or learning about all the different writing techniques and processes, you will get bogged down. 

In this hustle culture, it's important to remember too that you physically cannot do everything that an author could do. Not even if you sacrifice all of your mental health and physical wellness (and it wouldn't be worth it even if you could). You have to be selective. But sometimes the only way to determine what works best for you is to leap out into the mass of opportunities and test out different ideas, concepts, and possibilities. You get through them, reassess, and then try again. 

Once I accepted that picking something, focusing on it, failing and getting better was just a part of the learning curve, I found the whole process became so much easier. That was true in the first stories I released as well as in running the business end. 

Any author who has been around for a while has a host of mistakes and hard-learned lessons in all areas of the storytelling and publishing process. It's a rite of passage. Many of the most successful are the ones who seize those opportunities, narrow down what they're doing, and keep chugging along at the pace best suited to them.

So don't let the pressure to do everything get you down. No one does everything alone. And you don't have to do everything to succeed. It doesn't even have to be perfect. So long as you keep pressing ahead and don't count yourself out, you're still in. 

We are all constantly learning and growing, no matter what stage we are at as authors. No one who succeeds does all the things. And thank goodness for that. You pick what works for you. Learn that as best you can and let go. Then you learn from that and repeat. And that's something any of us can do. 

Jessica M. Butler is a USA Today bestselling romantic fantasy author who never outgrew her love for telling stories and playing in imaginary worlds. She lives with her husband and law partner, James Fry, in rural Indiana where they are quite happy with their two cats and all of the wildlife and trees.
You can find her at

Friday, April 28, 2023

For the Aspiring Author


Remember why you do what you do. Hang on to it and don't let go. You started writing for a reason - because it was fun, because you wanted the story you couldn't find elsewhere, because it kept you sane, because insert your reason here. Writing and publishing comprise a long, challenging journey. You'll climb to amazing vistas. You'll descend into fetid swamps that you think will never end. In between you'll trudge through impenetrable jungles and endless plains where the scenery never changes and you'll wonder if that's all there is. And the fact is that yes. That is all there is. The journey. Footstep after footstep. Story after story.

Your why will be your map through the wilderness. It will lead you through the droughts, the storms, and the darkest nights. Create the scenery you wish you could see in the books your write. Become the people you wish you could be in the characters you create.

Remember why you do what you do. Remember who and what you are. You're a writer. You create what hadn't existed in the world until you dreamed and toiled it into being. The power to create is the greatest power on earth. The history of humanity is told in stories. Humans make sense of the world and of existence through stories. Your stories are necessary. So remember why you do what you do. It matters.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Writing Advice

black and white Siberian husky, Ullr, asleep on the light blue cushions of the patio chair

There’s so much to tell an aspiring writer, to those fresh-eyed hopefuls all jacked up on the excitement of putting those first words to paper. But alas, I have to narrow it down to one piece of advice.

You’re worth more than your writing. 

That’s it. That’s my most valuable piece of advice for any writer at any stage. Writing is a personal endeavor. You pour your heart and soul into it, you sacrifice time and sleep and sanity, you put pieces of yourself into each work. And you’re worth more than what you write. 

It’s too easy, one might even say natural, to connect yourself to your books. It’s easy to view them as your babies and an extension of yourself. And that’s why it can hurt when people don’t fall in love with them. That’s why low book sales can devastate your frame of mind. 

And that’s why I’m telling you that you’re worth more than your writing. If you’re able to disconnect your self-worth from your writing, you’ll be able to find greater happiness in the small things and have less stress over writerly things you can’t control. You get to pick your goals and celebrate them—they’re not dependent on the general public’s assumption of what makes a successful writer. 

What’s the most valuable writing advice you’ve received? Jeffe’s is a good one, too. Make sure to check it out! I hope your weekend is filled with good books and good writing! 

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

One Piece of Advice for Aspiring Authors

Figure out what your process is and own it.
See, the point is that every single creator has the0ir own creative process. It's as individual as retinal patterns. While it can be helpful to take classes on writing processes and techniques, to learn from other authors, in the end we all find that our process is unique to us. I've seen SO MANY writers struggle to change their process and try to "make it be" something or other, to no avail. The whole point of learning various techniques is to triangulate on what works for you. It can be a long and iterative process, but that's the "magic formula." Figure out what your process is and own it. Don't try to make your process be something other than what it is, even if you are occasionally frustrated by it. (I often am by mine!)

Like learning to love yourself, learn to embrace your process. Own it. It's yours. 


Tuesday, April 25, 2023

3 New Releases for Fans of Fantasy Romance

Whooo this has been a busy week for my fellow bloggers! They're bringing new books into the world with all the beauty and thrills of quixotic spring. Get your shopping carts ready, these books are bound to leave you...breathless.

BOUND IN MAGIC (A Fantasy Romance Anthology)
by the ladies of FaRoFeb

Let us enchant you with our mythical tales of fated mates, witches, fae, mermaids, and much more!
Bound in Magic features 8 short stories by authors from countries all over the world.


ROGUE FAMILIAR (Renegades of Magic, Bk 2)
by Jeffe Kennedy

He left to save her from herself… But who will save him from her?

When Lady Seliah Phel wakes from a drugged sleep to find herself abandoned by her newly bonded wizard, she vows revenge—and to hunt him down. Tracking him through the familiar wilds of the marshlands of her home is the easy part; learning to use her nascent magical skills is something else entirely. So is facing the vast, uncaring society of the Convocation in a time of brewing war.

Jadren El-Adrel is not known for doing the right thing, but getting as far away from Seliah as possible before he drains her dry will be his one noble gesture. So what if she weeps a few tears. Better than her dying in his service—or enabling him to become the ravenous beast that crawls beneath his skin. Unfortunately, in his self-imposed exile, and without the power of his familiar, Jadren quickly runs afoul of the enemy.

As her vengeful quest for recapture becomes a rescue mission, Selly faces all she still doesn’t know about the greater world of wizards and familiars. And Jadren, once determined to walk his own path and stay far, far away from the idealistic fools of House Phel, finds himself aligning with them against the house of his birth. War is coming to the Convocation, which means a clever wizard should pick the side most likely to win.

Sadly, Jadren has never been all that clever…


by Laura Buckheit

Eighteen-year-old princess, Valeria Breault, is sure of three things. One, she was exiled from Empyrean because her father didn't want the hassle of raising her. Two, her perfect realm would be better off without a mortal-raised smart-ass with a foul mouth and penchant for trouble. And three, neither of those things matter when a horde of demons crashes prom.

Forced to fight for her life, Valeria narrowly escapes being captured by the Realm of the Forsaken, only to be dragged back to Empyrean before she is meant to return. Instead of the beautiful utopia from her bedtime stories, Val finds herself thrown into a hellish nightmare where the poor are dying, the rich are thriving, and her claim to the throne is in jeopardy. But not if Valeria can help it. The overwhelming desire to belong and a craving for power has her making choices that make it harder and harder to guard her heart against the man who's bound to protect her, the god she's vowed to hate, and the darkness that's growing inside her.

Only time will tell if the secrets she unravels and the alliances she makes will lead to the throne or the pyre.