Saturday, August 18, 2018

It's Flames of Courage Release Day! Join the Fun!


*takes deep breath*

Okay. Let me try to be professional for a second.

Flames of Courage officially releases today! You can grab an ebook copy or a physical copy. The physical copy is especially gorgeous. Just throwing that out there.

I'm so excited to share this story with you. It's the second short story in the Terebinth Tree Chronicles, and is one that features a character that is very dear to me: Jayel. She is the perfect foil to Wanderer (the main character in Colors of Fear) and continually inspires me, even though she's technically my own creation. Badass, justice-seeking, compassionate, a bit awkward, and sarcastic, Jayel is impossible not to love (just try it, I dare you).

Yep. She's amazing.

Just kidding. I have more to say.


The amazing E.B. Dawson is hosting a Flames of Courage livestream on her youtube channel. We'll be going live today (08/18) at 9 AM PST to chat about Flames of Courage, so be sure to stop by and say hello! Ask all of your questions, send in all of your comments, and be sure to bring tea (or coffee, I guess, if you have poor taste). I personally will be bringing iced chai tea and gluten-free brownies. Yep. Try to top that.

Tea or no, I'd love to see you there! We're going to have lots of release day fun. 

If you can't make it to the livestream, no worries! Just leave your questions below and I'll answer them during the stream. 


Want to help me boost Flames of Courage? Well, you should. It's lots of fun. 
  • Buy Flames of Courage. I probably shouldn't have to say that, but I thought I'd lob that out there just in case. 
  • Leave a review. Please don't make me hunt you down and beg for a review. I totally will, but I'd prefer not to. Reviews don't have to be long or eloquent, so don't worry about any of that. Even a few sentences are incredibly helpful. Seriously. Reviews are to indie authors as wands are to wizards: Very, very important and largely necessary for asserting power and taking over the world. So please take a few moments to leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. And no, you don't have to give me 5-stars. Just be honest. I swear I won't hex you.
  • Share the short story online by sharing the Amazon, Goodreads, or website page on any and all social media networks.
  • Recommend Flames of Courage on Goodreads. 
  • Tell your family and friends. Write them an email, a letter, a telegram, whatever. 
  • Create fanart and post it online. And don't forget to send it to me so I can put it on my website! I LOVE seeing fanart. My drawing skills are questionable at best (my stick-figures don't even look like regular stick figures), so it's fun to see other people's renditions of my characters or worlds. Have questions about character details? Just leave questions for me below! I'll fill you in on any info you may need. 
  • Blog about it. Yep. If you were wondering what your next blog post would be: I've got you covered. Just blog about Flames of Courage. So easy. You're welcome.
  • Youtube about it. 
  • Take pictures of your copy of Flame of Courage and post it online. This makes me very, very, very happy, so be sure to tag me in the photos. 
  • Go stand on a street corner and fling copies at the innocent people walking by. Sure, you may injure a few people, but it'll be fine. Probably. Actually....maybe just gently hand a copy to them. That's good, too.
  • Test out whatever other fun marketing technique you can think of.
Okay. Got it? Great. BUT, before doing any of this, go read Flames of Courage and enjoy!

Have fun!

Related articles: 
Flames of Courage: Release Date and Pre-Order Page

Enjoy this post? Take a look around. If you like what you see, don't forget to subscribe by email for a new post every Friday!

Some links are Amazon affiliate. Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Flames of Courage Paperback Now Available for Order!

The title of this post is very spoiler-y, so I feel an introduction is kind of redundant at this point. Let's get right to it:

You can how order the paperback version of Flames of Courage on Amazon!

Flames of Courage cover

Wooohoooooooo! *does happy dance*

Yep. While Flames of Courage doesn't release until 08/18/2018, I decided to make the paperback available to order a few days early so that you don't have sit by your door, waiting for this short story to ship to you while everybody else reads the ebook version. Thoughtful, right?

What are you waiting for? Go ahead and order! If you do it now, you may actually be able to get Flames of Courage on 08/17/2018 and read it before other people. So exclusive. Go on! Let's see who gets their paperback first. I'll race you!

Just kidding. I already ordered mine and Amazon says it's getting here today.  Perks of being the author of the story.

Do you plan on getting the paperback or the ebook? Have you already read Colors of Fear in preparation? Did you check out my interview on Beth Wangler's blog to hear about the expanded universe I'm writing? What about the opening scene of Flames of Courage? Did you read that? Let's talk!

Oh, and don't forget to check out this month's #ChatWithHannah video. I discuss changes coming to the channel and upcoming livestreams while being half awake. It's fun.

Related articles:
Flames of Courage: Release Date and Pre-Order Page

Enjoy this post? Take a look around. If you like what you see, don't forget to subscribe by email for a new post every Friday!

Some links are Amazon affiliate. Thank you for your support!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Tips for Depicting Violence, Swearing, and Sex in Christian Fiction

When other writers learn that I write Christian speculative fiction, one of the most common responses is:

"Wow. That's great. I could never do that. It would be too difficult to work with all the restrictions in Christian fiction."

While I understand and completely respect this point of view, it always makes me chuckle a little bit. Because sure, Christian fiction can be difficult, confusing, and disconcerting, especially when it comes to deciding what type of content to explore. While it does take a lot of prayer and a lot of thought and a lot of guts, Christian fiction doesn't have to be as difficult as people make it out to be. There are a lot of different angles to consider, but let's talk about the three most debated subjects:

Violence. Sex. Swearing.

Yep. We're going to tackle those today. If you aren't a writer of Christian fiction, some of these tips still absolutely apply to you, so stick around. We'll all learn something.

Tips for Depicting Violence, Swearing, and Sex in Christian Fiction

Before I take each of these three topics separately, let's take them all collectively. Here are some questions you should ask yourself when writing Christian fiction:

Question 1: Who is my audience? If you're writing KidLit, your books shouldn't have explicit swearing, sex, or violence in it. This goes for any type of writer, not just Christians. You need to take your audience into account. If you're writing for a mature audience, you can explore more topics that you would otherwise. This is a very simple concept, so I won't bother explaining it further.

Question 2: Am I being honest? Look. People have sex. They swear. And violence of every kind is rampant in our world. If your story doesn't allude to any of this, then you need to be careful. Christian writers have created a massive problem by perpetrating this concept that, if you believe in God, things magically get better for you. This is an incredibly harmful that has led to poor fiction, shallow faith, and feelings of pain and betrayal by those of us who have been faced with the realization that God is not, in fact, a magician who exists to make all of our problems go away. So please, please, please: STOP. Stop lying.

The world is a dark place. Acknowledging this fact does not lessen our God. And you know what? Being honest will help way more people than trying to cover the truth. If you read the Bible, you will see raw honesty in its pages. There are chapters that cover incredibly hard topics, even ones that may be considered indecent by some. They are tackled head-on because to keep hard topics in the dark is to give them more sway.

So, as you write, you need to ask yourself: Are you being honest? If not: Why? Are you skirting around topics because you are afraid of them? If so: That is not any way to write a story. Be honest.

Question 3: What will explicit content add to my story? Okay. First, let's explain what explicit content is. That would include uncensored swearing, realistic depictions of violence (yeah, including blood and varying levels of gore), and on-page sex.

Got it?

Alright. Now. Why are you inclined to add (or not add) these to your story? Maybe it doesn't fit into the context of the book. That's fine. But what if it does fit? What if you're writing a fantasy novel with swords, or your gritty dystopian has a character who would naturally be inclined to swearing and sex? Then you need to ask: Are you adding explicit content to titillate your readers, appear 'hip,' or be lazy? Or are you doing it in an purposeful, thought-provoking manner? Everything you write should be intentional. Explicit content is no different.

Question 4: Am I taking the "stumbling block" verse out of context? Let me answer that question for you: Yes. You probably are. If you were to write a book with a lot of swearing and then gift it to a person who you know is bothered by foul language, then yes, you are being a stumbling block. But if you were to write a book with a lot of swearing and market it as the type of story that will have gritty language, you are not being a stumbling block. You are being upfront about the type of story it is and people are making the decision to spend money on said story. You did what you could (wrote and marketed according to your conscience). If purchasers are then bothered by the content, that is on them. They have a responsibility to themselves to monitor what they buy and consume.

It's not a hard concept, people. Stop abusing that verse.

Question 5: Am I following God's plan for my writing? You need to pray long and hard about the stories that you write. And you need to be reading your Bible, studying earnestly, and holding honest discussions with fellow Christians. If you aren't doing this, your story will stray. As will you.

Okay. Now let's tackle each topic individually:

What about violence? 

Christian fiction does this weird thing where gore and violence is fairly rampant and supposedly totally acceptable. I am 100% convinced that this is because people point at the Bible and say, "Look! Look at how violent some of the passages are! If it's in the Bible, it can be in my book!"


The idiocy, you guys. It's killing me.

Is there violence in the Bible? Yes. Does God like violence? NO. 

So yes, violence can be present in your books. But you absolutely should not be glorifying it. Your characters should feel deep pain upon taking a life....Unless you mean to show that they've become numb to this pain, in which case you should be showing the negative effects this can have. 

With that said, how much violence is too much? Well. Ask yourself: Does this need to be here? What's the point? Do you need to show intestines spilling from somebody's stomach? Or brain matter splattering against a wall?

Maybe. If you are writing for a mature audience and are attempting to show darkness with the intent of magnifying light and salvation, then okay. But remember: The more gore you use, the less of an impact it has. So use it sparingly. And be damn sure that it's necessary and not just there because you're too lazy to write about darkness creatively or thoughtfully.

What about swearing? 

Ah. This one drives me insane. You can have a Christian novel with violence, but your character better not utter an expletive. Ever.

Errrr. What? 

Let's address why people (specifically Christians) believe that swearing is a no in fiction: 

1) It's lazy. Just use other ways to show this emotion. So, I get this one, but it's not always realistic. If you are writing a gritty character, he/she is going to swear. And no, you can't just not write these types of characters because these people do exist and to erase them from fiction falls into the dishonest realm I discussed in Question 2. 

2) The Bible has all those verses about controlling your tongue and only letting wholesome things come out of your mouth, so obviously that means no cursing in fiction. Whoa. That's quite the logic leap you took there. I'd be impressed if I wasn't so annoyed. 

It is true that swearing is often an expression that reveals problems of the heart. However, for a character to have an arc, they are supposed to have problems inside. If a character is the type that would swear, then to write them otherwise is to instantly make your character fake. You are being inauthentic, which drives away some readers and invites others to lead shallow, unexamined lives. 

But how much swearing is too much? Like with gore, the more swearing you use, the less it means. So use it intentionally. 

Are there some words you just shouldn't use? As for words you shouldn't use: Much of this depends on the audience and context. For example, the F word can be used in a lot of different ways: To show surprise, anger, lust, or sexual aggressiveness. The first two instances? Realistic. The last two? Realistic, yes, but also unnecessary and lazy because those are issues that need to be handled much more carefully than something as simple as anger or shock. Examine the context in which you would use profanity to see if you are using it as a way to add authenticity to the story, or as a way to brush over severely problematic character behaviors.

What about sex?

This one's tricky. Or is it? 

Sex is not a bad thing. It is something beautiful, but also something that God intended to take place between one man and one woman who are married to each other. Any sexual acts that fall outside of this specific scenario is in defiance of God's plan. 

However, these acts still happen. And we as Christian writers can't just pretend that they don't. 

What about explicit sex? There is no reason for on-page sex. Sex is a private gift shared between a married couple. To show it on-page serves no purpose to the plot and puts both yourself and your readers in a voyeuristic position. 

This same concept applies to on-page sexual acts that stop short of actual sex. While it may be necessary to show some of this for plot/character purposes, you need to be careful enough to do so in a manner that isn't voyeuristic and that is portraying a healthy relationship (or showing the dangers of an unhealthy one). A tall order, but you took that upon yourself when you decided to write Christian fiction, so step up. 

But what about implied sex? As mentioned before, there's nothing wrong with sex. So if you have specific reason for showing your characters kissing and then heading off to have sex off-page, sure. But do so thoughtfully, and please, please don't make your story: "And then they got married, had sex, and now their relationship is magically perfect and beautiful." ???? No. That's not how this works. Be real. There is more to a relationship than sex. Acknowledge this in your fiction.

What about implied sex between unmarried couples? The same logic for married couples pertains here, too, but with an added caveat: Remember that this act goes against the intended way of things. It does happen, yes, so you can be honest and explore this in your book. But you also need to be all. the. way. honest. Pre-marital sex exists, but at what cost? There are many emotional, physical, and relational problems that can come from this, so you should not be glorifying pre-marital sexual relations. Just as you need to be honest about sex existing in our world, you need to be honest about the ramifications of abusing it. 

Aaaand I think we're done here. I'm can feel all the questions and disagreements coming at me, so let's hear them! What are your thoughts, questions, or concerns on the matter? As always, you are free to disagree with me, but please keep the comment section logical and kind.

Related article:
8 Problems in the Christian Fiction Genre (And How to Fix Them)
Keeping it Classy: When is it OK to Use Profanity in Your Fiction Writing?

Enjoy this post? Take a look around. If you like what you see, don't forget to subscribe by email for a new post every Friday!

Some links are Amazon affiliate. Thank you for your support!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Flames of Courage: Release Date and Pre-Order Page

Yeah, I'm interrupting your Sunday with a blog post. But don't worry. You'll be glad I did.

I mean, I can't guarantee that you'll be glad, because who knows? You may be a soulless, grumpy person who has zero interest in the release of awesome short stories. But that's not really my fault, is it?

For those of you who are not grumpy or soulless, you will be excited to learn that:

Flames of Courage, the second short story in the Terebinth Tree Chronicles, is releasing on 08/18/2018. Behold:
For those of you who don't know (in which case: Wow, I really need to up my marketing game), The Terebinth Tree Chronicles is a planned series of 5 short stories. The first (and currently only published) short story is Colors of Fear and it's really good, so you should read it.

So what's Flames of Courage about? Here. I have a nice little jacket blurb written up just for you:

One sorcerer. Four assassins. Uncover the stories of the warriors who will one day band together to kill the most powerful being in their world.

As a halfblood with a powerful secret, Jayel does not intend to spend the rest of her life hidden away in a desert oasis. She rejects what everyone is telling her: Halfbloods don’t. They don’t become warriors. They don’t become heroes. They don’t make a difference.

One of the last of the Athelan, a line of royal guardians with the ability to control fire, Jayel is ready to take a stand against those that oppress halfbloods. Nobody is willing to join her in this fight, so she’ll take it on all by herself.

But as she leaves her small tribe behind, she finds that justice isn’t always pure and fighting alone isn’t always easy.

Sounds awesome, right? That's because it is. Want to pre-order the ebook version? Well, good! I worked really hard to set up a pre-order page, so here it is. You're welcome. 

For those of you who want a physical copy: Yes, those will exist. You'll be able to buy one on the release day (08/18/2018), which is less than 2 weeks from now. Woohoo!!

Now, just for laughs, I though I'd share with you the original concept art for Flames of Courage (something I did with Colors of Fear, too, in case you want to see). My artistic skills are very limited, yet this cover ended up turning out really well. How did that happen? 

Well, let me tell you: It wasn't an easy or linear process. In fact, the first cover I came up with was truly horrendous. 

I wanted to draw hoodoos on the cover because that's one of the setting in this story. Hoodoos are these really cool formations in Utah and they look like this: 
Pretty awesome-looking, right? I mean, a bit complicated, but how hard could it really be to draw them? So I tried. And, errrr. It did not go well: 
Yep. It looks like a 5-year-old tried to draw flames. Except this particular 5-year-old had never seen flames before. And she was drawing by holding a broken crayon in her mouth.

I wasn't kidding when I told you I have very limited artistic skills. 

Anyway. That's when I moved on to drawing an arch because that seemed easier. And it actually was. So I drew it all in: 

It took me about 8 hours because, like I said, I don't know what I'm doing. But I was still happy with it....Until I realized: I need to put flames beneath the arch. Which will change how I need to do my shading. Which means I basically was going to have to re-draw most of the arch. 


But it ended up okay in the end, sooooo. *shrugs* Yay. 

What I've learned from this is that I should never again attempt to draw hoodoos....Or anything with perspective, really. And I should also not shade anything in until the very end. Plus, it probably might help if I actually took drawing lessons, but I refuse to do that because I'm stubborn and poor. 

Aaaaanyway. That's the story of the cover, in case anybody wanted a good laugh. 

Okay. Like I said, this story releases on 08/18/18. You can pre-order it here. Bonus points if you share this pre-order page online and with friends. Seriously. I will love you forever.

Also remember to add Flames of Courage on Goodreads. It's a good way to get the word out.

There will be more news in the future, so keep an eye out! And by keep an eye out I mean: Subscribe to my newsletter because I'm going to release the first page or so of the story on there and you really, really don't want to miss that.

But if you can't want to wait until then, you can read tiny snippets of the story on my Instagram. You can also read some quotes on K.L.+Pierce's blog (which you should follow, by the way, because her blog is great).

There will also be the occasional blog post about Flames of Courage over the next few weeks. They'll contain things like interviews, Livestream information, Q&As, and more. So if you get an email from me: READ IT. Seriously. Otherwise you'll miss out.

Have any questions or comments about Flames of Courage or The Terebinth Tree Chronicles in general? Let's hear 'em!

Have writing, reading, or writer's life questions? Use the hashtag #ChatWithHannah below or on social media to have them answered on my Youtube channel!

Related articles:
Colors of Fear: Cover Reveal and Q&A
Colors of Fear: Now Available for Pre-Order!
Announcing The Phoenix Fiction Sampler Bundle!

Enjoy this post? Take a look around. If you like what you see, don't forget to subscribe by email for a new post every Friday!

Some links are Amazon affiliate. Thank you for your support!

Friday, August 3, 2018

Certain Commas and Why I Hate Them: A Rant

This is the first official rant post to ever be published on this blog. That's actually really impressive, too, because I am a very rant-y (shush, let me make up words in peace) person and I've been blogging for over 4 years.

Let's all take a moment to appreciate my incredible self-control up until this point....And also take a few seconds to mourn my loss of said self-control.

So what's the topic that is making me break my rant fast? Punctuation rules. More specifically, commas.

Please be warned: If you are a punctuation-lover, this post will probably offend you and/or make you very upset. I'd apologize, except it's people like you that have been offending me and/or making me very upset for years, so hah. It's payback time.
Certain Commas and Why I Hate Them: A Rant
Okay, let me give you a slight history of me and commas. I was born into a long line of English teachers. My grandmother taught English. My mom taught English. My aunt teaches English. And I actually work at the Writing Center at my college, so I technically also teach English.

Now, I grew up in a good, English-respecting household. My Mom did her best to teach me the Ways of the Comma. However, though I was born into of a long line of English teachers, I was also born into a long line of rebels. That would be my Dad's fault, mostly, given that he basically has never seen a rule he didn't want to break, and also given the fact that most of his relatives have, at some point in time or another, been in jail. Sooooo, yeah. Rule-breaking is in my blood.

(I have a weird extended family. It's probably best if we don't speak of them further)

What I'm saying is: I never stood a chance. I was born to want to break rules. In my mind, they are annoying constructs forced on me by people who I don't know and thus have zero respect for. Like, who are these people who decided which commas go where? Who died and made them the Comma Overlords? This is probably some Shakespeare crap where they just made stuff up and now, hundreds of years later, people just kind of go with it because they don't really have the spirit to break free.

But me? I have the spirit. I'm not taking this comma junk lying down. (#FightTheMan)

So what is it, exactly, about commas that I don't like?

Well, if you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you've probably noticed that my punctuation is not perfect. Some of that is because I genuinely messed up and forgot to put a comma somewhere (my bad). But some of it is that I really, really don't see the need for certain types of commas.

Take commas between two independent clauses, for example.

Now, for those of you who don't remember (or, like me, tried to block it from their mind because they really didn't like learning about any of this): An independent clause is basically just a string of words that can stand alone as a sentence. Two independent clauses in one sentence are often connected by coordinating conjunctions, which is just a snooty way to describe words like and, but, yet, for, etc. Behold:

Hannah rants at random people about her hatred of commas between independent clauses, and these random people usually turn and run from her.

See? See that red comma above? It's supposed to be there and I hate it. It's very personal.

Because WHY? Why is that there?? The comma could be abducted by aliens and you would still be able to understand the sentence just fine. In fact, the sentence would look prettier because it wouldn't have some random comma loafing around, begging for attention:

Hannah rants at random people about her hatred of commas between independent clauses and these random people usually turn and run from her.

So yeah. I hate that. It has no functional use and just wastes space. I'm a fairly practical person when it comes to certain things and commas fall into that "certain things" category. So if you've ever noticed that I don't put commas between some of my independent clauses, hear me now:

It's not because I don't understand that there's supposed to be a comma there. I do understand. I understand and I rebel. If there was such a thing as a Comma Assassin, I would be the proud ringleader. (#DownWithTheCommaOverlords)

You wanna know what else? No? Well, too bad. I'm going to tell you anyway:

I have zero problem with commas preceding pretty much any coordinating conjunction that isn't "and." For example, I'm in love with these green commas:

Hannah rants at random people about her hatred of commas between independent clauses, but her blog followers still put up with her. 

Hannah rants at random people about her hatred of commas between independent clauses, yet she hasn't gone to Grammar Jail yet.

Hannah rants at random people about her hatred of commas between independent clauses, for she refuses to give in to the Comma Overlords. 

And I do, in fact, have a logical explanation for this (kind of).

See, when people read they usually pause a little bit when they come up against a comma. In the above sentences, I want my readers to pause a bit at the green commas. It gives the sentence a nice flow. However, the hated red comma? I don't want my readers pausing at "and" in the above sentence. I want my "and" to be like a bridge, letting one clause effortlessly run into another.

And that's how I use my commas. I use them to dictate how my readers read a sentence. And I know, I know. "That's not what commas are for. There are rules." (And yes, I know "for" was not supposed to go at the end of that sentence. We'll talk about that in another post)

Yes. Well. I don't like those rules. They're stupid. If a comma has no functional use and if its removal (or addition) doesn't change how a reader understands the sentence, then why does it need to be there? If I'm going to implement something, I need it to have a clear purpose beyond, "Because our society has randomly agreed to this." Because you know what? Our society is wrong about a lot of things and comma placement is one of those things.

*takes deep breath*

Okay. So that's one of the many things I hate about commas. While it is specifically the "put a comma between independent clauses, Hannah" rule that I dislike, there are others.

Like that time people decided the Oxford comma wasn't actually important.
C'mon, people! Are there some sentences that technically don't need this comma? Sure. But there are others that will be severely damaged by not using it, so use. the. Oxford. comma. Don't try to argue with me on this because you are just really, really wrong and you're bringing dishonor on you, your family, and your cow.


I think I'm done now.

Oh, wait. I'm not.

This is usually where you'd expect me to say something like, "So just go put commas wherever you want and don't learn any of the rules!"

Well, you'd expect wrong because, though I do come from a line of rebels, I also come from a line of English teachers. So I'll tell you this:

Learn the rules. Seriously. It's easier to make fun of something when you know a lot about it.

Which is why I know a lot about a lot of random topics. Not because I particularly care about being super smart or well-rounded. I just like mocking things (that's why I read and watched Twilight). I realize this isn't healthy, though, so maybe don't follow in my footsteps.

So the bottom line is this: Learn where commas do and don't go. And then put them where you want to.

Unless you're sending a business email or publishing a book, in which case: Follow the rules. Yes, I do this and yes, it crushes my soul. But my anarchist spirit would go haywire if I had to read a bad review of a book or somehow lost a job because The Man didn't like my comma placement.
  • Fun fact: I literally don't add these commas into my manuscripts until right before publication because I hate looking at them and don't want to see them every time I read through a draft.

It's hard being me.

What about you? Are there any commas that you have a (totally rational) hatred or love for? Let's hear 'em! Unless you hate Oxford commas, in which case: No. You're wrong. Get out.

Have writing, reading, or writer's life questions? Use the hashtag #ChatWithHannah below or on social media to have them answered on my Youtube channel!

Related articles:
I mean...this is my first straight-up rant post, but here are a few where I rant in an instructional tone:
Writing Strong Female Characters: What You're Doing Wrong
Writing Teenage Characters: What You're Doing Wrong
Why You Shouldn't Listen to Writing Tips Blogs

Enjoy this post? Take a look around. If you like what you see, don't forget to subscribe by email for a new post every Friday!

Some links are Amazon Affiliate. Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Announcing The Phoenix Fiction Sampler Bundle!

How often have you found yourself thinking, "I really want to read this, this, and that, but I don't have enough money"?

Pretty often, right? It's okay. We've all been there. In fact, I'm basically always there.

Well, today is your lucky day because I have some awesome news for you.

We Phoenix Fiction Writers are selling a digital bundle of 11 of our stories for $5.99. Yep. That's 7 books, 2 novellas, and 2 short stories by indie authors E.B. Dawson, Kyle Robert Shultz, Beth Wangler, Nate Philbrick, J.E. Purrazzi, K.L. + Pierce, and me.
If you were to buy all of these ebooks separately, it would cost $39.89. Yep. I did math. I almost died. But I wanted you to know what an incredible deal this is, so there you have it. You're welcome.

Aside from the great value, this sampler bundle contains some of my absolute favorite stories. Here's a breakdown:
  • Original Fairytales: Beth Wangler's The Weavers’ Blessing
  • Imaginative Retellings: Kyle Robert Shultz's The Beast of Talesend, Horseman, The Janus Elixir
  • Fantasy Adventures: Hannah Heath's (that's me!) "Colors of Fear," Nate Philbrick's Where the Woods Grow Wild
  • Heart Pounding Science Fiction: J.E. Purrazzi's Malfunction, E.B. Dawson's Out of Darkness
  • Adventurous Sci-Fi Fantasy Crossovers: E.B. Dawson's The Traveler
  • Allegorical Fantasy: Hannah Heath's (that's me again!) “Skies of Dripping Gold”
  • Allegorical Science Fiction: K.L. + Pierce's Two Lives Three Choices
For those of you who haven’t been paying attention (yeah, I’m looking at you), PFW is an indie author collective that I’m part of. We are a group of authors who write speculative fiction, record podcasts, publish blog posts, and just run around being generally awesome. I have never read any story by any of these authors that I didn't absolutely adore.

The above bundle is an excellent sample of all of our writing and I am so pleased to get to tell you about it.

That being said, this bundle ends on 08/11, so go download your copy now! Seriously. Right now. It's not like we have a limited number of digital files to sell, but I don't know why you'd wait. I mean: You can read some of these amazing stories right this very moment. Why pass that up?

Also: Make sure to tweet this info, email it to your friends, and just generally spread it around. This is an incredibly good deal.

Have any questions about the bundle? Let's hear them! Have you read any of the books/stories in this bundle? Which ones have you not read yet, but really want to? I've read everything in this bundle except for Horseman and The Janus Elixir (I can't keep up with all of Shultz's writing, okay? Don't judge), but am going to correct that soon.

Random side-note: No, you didn't randomly and horrifyingly lose 2 days of your life. Yes, I am posting on a Wednesday. Yes, the usual writing-tips blog post will be available on Friday. Everything is fine. Calm down.

Related articles: 
A List of Great Self-Published Books You Should Read (Part 1)

Enjoy this post? Take a look around. If you like what you see, don't forget to subscribe by email for a new post every Friday!

Some links are Amazon affiliate. Thank you for your support!

Friday, July 27, 2018

24 Personality Flaws to Give Depth to Your Characters

There's not much worse than a boring character. A boring plot? A boring world? A boring writing style? These can all be made up for (more or less) by fascinating characters.

But if your characters are uninteresting? Your story is doomed.

A lot goes into making a well-rounded character, but an important part of character creation is flaws. Nobody's perfect and characters without flaws are characters that cannot grow. They have no arc, no relatability, and don't give your readers anything to cheer for.

Fortunately for us writers (and sadly for us humans), there are a LOT of different types of flaws, which means that its pretty easy to make your characters interesting. Let's dive into some main ones:
24 Personality Flaws to Give Depth to Your Characters
1. Arrogance. A flaw that is made even more interesting if the character actually has a legitimate reason for being arrogant. Arrogance can show itself in sheer pride, snobbery, isolation, over-burdening him/herself, and more.

2. Immaturity. A trait that can be found in people of all ages.

3. Anxiety. Keep in mind that even the "strongest" characters can suffer from anxiety. And anxiety shows itself in many ways.

4. Fickle. Which can be a defense mechanism or just part of their nature.

5. Judgemental. They are quick to judge others, form their opinions too fast, and make poor decisions because of it. They can also be overly judgmental of themselves, or completely oblivious of their own shortcomings.

6. Selflish. Like fickleness, this can be part of their personality or a way of protecting themselves. Keep in mind that a character doesn't have to be selfish for just themselves...They can have such a strong desire to shield family, friends, or subjects from harm that it ends up being selfish.

7. Obsessive. They get so focused on one thing that they can't step back and look at the big picture, leading to harming themselves and those around them.

8. Anger. This can come in the form of a bad-temper, poor communication, narrow-mindedness, and more. And, as we all know:
9. Narrow-minded. They can't bring themselves to see things from a new point of view, leading to arrogance, obsessiveness, and selfishness. Funnily enough, a character may think they are open-minded, but are in fact narrow-minded when it comes to specific topics.

10. Laziness. Something that can often stem from fear.

11. Cowardice. Remember that this can come in the form of being overly courageous in some areas, enabling the character to hide or run from their fears in others.

12. Weak-willed. They can't make their own decisions, freeze up in difficult situation, and burden those around them.

13. Hypocrisy. Most people don't mean to be a hypocrite, but it's very common. In fact, basically all of your characters should be hypocritical in a least one instance.

14. Strong-willed. Yeah, this can be a flaw. Being overly strong-willed is a form of stubbornness that carries all sorts of other fun flaws like narrow-mindedness, selfishness, cowardice, arrogance, and more.

15. Show-off. Fun (?) fact: This is often a result of low self-esteem.

16. Distant. They are incapable (or afraid of) connecting with others...or even themselves.

17. Two-faced.
This one is especially interesting if the character doesn't mean to be this way. It is often paired with cowardice or untrustworthiness.

18. Low self-esteem. This can lead to lashing out, withdrawing, the inability to make decisions (or making very poor ones), and a dislike for themselves and others (especially others that do have self-esteem).

19. Skepticism. Can lead to damaged relationships and a general soullessness/adrift-ness (apparently that isn't a word, but it should be) due to not being able to have faith in anything.

20. Greed. It comes in a lot of different forms: selfishness, lust, cowardice, fear.

21. Overly-trusting. Which is exactly what it sounds like. It leads to poor decisions and bad relationships.

22. Thoughtless. This can be as shallow as acting flippantly and as complex as living an unexamined life out of callousness, fear, or sloth.

23. Manipulation. Which can stem from a fear of rejection, or can just be a calculated type of (very slimy) cunning.

24. Idealistic. To the point of being selfish, hypocritical, or blinded by reality.

You'll notice that most of these have upsides to them, or are just quirks if they aren't particularly severe. That's because people are very complex. Flaws can be turned into strengths and strengths can become flaws. Because of this, your character's flaws should shift and change as their arc continues.

And remember: Many authors are tempted to give their characters low-key flaws. Ones that aren't particularly unlikeable or serious. Think twice before doing this. By watching characters fight and overcome their flaws, readers are given strength to do the same. By seeing the good sides of very flawed characters, readers learn to love the difficult people in their lives.

It's not the perfect characters that readers cheer for. It's the imperfect ones trying to do right. It's not the unflawed that readers learn from. It's the messed up and suffering. The characters with no room to grow aren't the ones that drive a plot. It's the ones that have a million battles still left to fight.

So please think carefully about the flaws that you give your characters. They're more important than you may think.

Have any other flaws you'd like to discuss? Let's hear them in the comments below! And tell me all about your favorite flawed characters while you're at it!

Have writing, reading, or writer's life questions? Use the hashtag #ChatWithHannah below or on social media to have them answered on my Youtube channel!

Related articles:

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Some links are Amazon Affiliate. Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Ep 11 of #ChatWithIndieAuthor: K.L.+Pierce

K.L.+Pierce writes Christian speculative fiction, is a fellow Phoenix Fiction Writer, and also hosts some amazing hashtags on twitter. In this video she discusses writing Christian fiction, crafting anti-villains, re-writing and re-launching her novel, and more.

Remember: You can listen to this chat on iTunes.

You can find Kirsten’s amazing novel, Two Lives, Three Choices, here.

Check out her PFW page here.

Did the hashtag games we mentioned sound awesome? That's because they are. Check out #AuthorBookClub and #WIPFinds on twitter!

You will be pleased to hear that Kirsten did, in fact, write that blog post about anti-villains. Yay! It’s full of great tips, so check it out here.

Are you following K.L.+ Pierce online? Well? Are you?? If not, go fix this mistake immediately:
When is the next #ChatWithIndieAuthor episode? I’m glad you asked! August 22nd will bring us a new video with another epic indie author, so keep your eyes peeled!

Like this video and want to support my writing efforts? Subscribe to my channel or buy my short stories. Or both!

Have writing, reading, or writer's life questions? Use the hashtag #ChatWithHannah below or on social media to have them answered on my Youtube channel!

Friday, July 20, 2018

8 Easy Details You Can Include To Add Depth to Your World-Building

Look. I'm tired. I don't want to write an intro to this post, so I'm not going to.

World-building is the topic of the day. "Easy" is the operative word. Let's get to it.
8 Easy Details You Can Include To Add Depth to Your World-Building
1. Touch on subcultures. So you've got your nature-loving elves. Your grumpy dwarves. Okay. But what about the elves that want to build machines and live in houses instead of trees? Or the dwarves that believe in laughter and making daisy chains? You don't have to write a lot about them, but mentioning that they exist can instantly add incredible depth to your world. After all, no society is homogenous. There are always those who live differently. Don't forget about them.

2. Mind the POV. Your human may think nothing of dragons because he grew up on a dragon farm. But if you're writing deep POV, why are you describing the dragons in-depth as if he's never seen a dragon before? You just sucked the believability out of your world. Likewise, if you're writing distant POV, why on earth are you spending a paragraph describing what a tree looks like when there is a dragon farm on the property? Your readers want to know about that, not the tree. When world-building, keep your description tied to your POV...and keep the description interesting and relevant to the story.

3. Mention the food. If your book is set in another world or another planet, your characters aren't going to be eating the same type of food. So what do they eat? What do they drink? Making up one or two new foods will lend some reality to your world. It doesn't have to be complicated. If you can't think of any, pick a random country (or a country that inspired the world/society you've created) and look up traditional food and drink. You're bound to come up with some cool ideas.

4. Don't forget about holidays. Every culture has holidays. So why doesn't your story have any? Wellll? Why doesn't it?

5. Throw in some superstitions. Just like holidays and subcultures, superstitions are a staple of most societies. They are either very believed in, humored, or made fun of. Add some here or there if it fits the plot. And be sure to show how each of your characters react to it.

6. Remember the animals. Again, if this is a different planet or world, the animals will. not. look. the. same. Seriously. Do your horses have to come in neutral colors? Why aren't there whale-like creatures flying through the sky? Is there a reason you have not once mentioned how annoying bugs are during your entire adventure-romp-across-the-fantasy-land story? Yeah. Well. Those are things you should have thought about, you dollop-head.

7. Include hierarchy and family structure. Who is seen as having the most value to society? The rich? The skilled? The learned? The children? The men? The women? Why? And what about the families? Are large or small families common? Are grandparents and uncles and aunts and other blood kin treated as an important part of the family? These are all important parts of every society, but often they don't make it into world-building. Which is a shame because it can really help shape your characters and add tension and reality to the story.

8. Don't underestimate the importance of body language. Ursula knows what's up. We rely a lot on body language, yet it differs from country to country (and culture to culture). Some hand gestures are positive in one region, but rude in another. Touching non-family members or people of a different social status means nothing in one place, but is punishable by death in others. Body language means a lot and it's very easy to write into a story. Take advantage of that.

Now, there are a lot of things to think about in this post. I know you're excited. But here's the thing: Not all of these need to make it into your story. In fact, it may be a bit too confusing if you attempt this. So pick a few and weave them into your story....But only where they fit. These are meant to be seasonings, so use carefully and intentionally. Don't just dump all of them in at once and hope for the best.

Do you have any cool things you think should be included into world-building? Let's hear them!

Have writing, reading, or writer's life questions? Use the hashtag #ChatWithHannah below or on social media to have them answered on my Youtube channel!

Related articles:
10 Points to Think About When World-Building
Tips for Writing Stunning Science-Fiction: A Guest Post by Author S. Alex Martin

Enjoy this post? Take a look around. If you like what you see, don't forget to subscribe by email for a new post every Friday!

Some links are Amazon Affiliate. Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

#ChatWithHannah Ep 13: Speculative Fiction, La Llorona, Fan Art, and More

Today we talk about favorite myths, the difference between Speculative Fiction and Sci-fi/Fantasy, character art, blogging, and twenty one pilots. A sneak peek for those who aren't familiar: the La Llorona myth is about a woman who gets confused, drowns her children (???), and haunts riverbeds. Yep. You don’t want to miss this.
It should be noted that I (surprise, surprise) made a major mistake in this video. When talking about SFF in relation to SpecFic, I *meant* to say: "SFF is SpecFic, but SpecFic is not SFF." Instead, I said the reverse and probably confused people. My bad.

Blog posts referenced:

Character profiles for Colors of Fear

Character profiles for Skies of Dripping Gold

J.R.R. Tolkien stories recommended:
The #ChatWithIndieAuthor interview withK.L.+Pierce releases on July 25th. Have questions for that video? Leave them below and we’ll discuss them on July 25th! Don’t forget to check out her website.

The next #ChatWithHannah is on August 14th. Leave questions/comments below, ask questions on social media using the hashtag, or email me on my website.

Like this video and want to support my writing efforts? Subscribe to my channel or buy my short stories. Or both!

Have writing, reading, or writer's life questions? Use the hashtag #ChatWithHannah below or on social media to have them answered on my Youtube channel!

Related articles:
#ChatWithHannah Ep 6: Taking Writing Advice, Blogging Tips, and More
#ChatWithHannah Episode 4: NaNoWriMo Tips, Favorite Movies, and Overcoming Writer's Block

Enjoy this post? Take a look around. If you like what you see, don't forget to subscribe by email for a new post every Friday!

Some links are Amazon Affiliate. Thank you for your support!
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