Monday, January 22, 2018

Colors of Fear: Cover Reveal and Q&A

For those of you who haven't been paying attention: Colors of Fear is a YA Christian Fantasy short story I'm indie publishing on 02/02. It's the beginning of a short story series titled The Terebinth Tree Chronicles that will include 5 stories. You can read more about it here.

For those of you who have been paying attention: I've been slowly leaking information about Colors of Fear for the past few months. So what information are you getting today? 

Today, friends, you get to behold the glory that is the Colors of Fear cover: 
Okay, so maybe it's not glory on par with a Van Gogh, but considering I made it myself without harming my ears? It's pretty good. Especially if you take into account the images I created leading up to it. Want to see? Okay. You're allowed to laugh. 

I drew my first piece using my laptop touchpad, resulting in a blob of colors that would only be considered art if a six-year-old drew it and then showed it to her very compassionate mother: 

I moved onto a drawing tablet and got this: 
Eh. A bit better, but I wanted it to match the cover style of Skies of Dripping Gold, so I progressed to the official cover. 

You can now add Colors of Fear and its cool cover to your Goodreads list, so head on over and mark it as "Want to Read." You know it's true. 

Now I'm going to smoothly transition to my Q&A. I asked online if anyone had questions about Colors of Fear or The Terebinth Tree Chronicles in general and got a few, so let's get to it: 

Question by multiple people: Where will it be available to purchase? 

Colors of Fear (and the next 4 stories in the series) will be available as a Kindle ebook for the majority, a Nook ebook for the Amazon haters, and an iBooks ebook for the hipsters. It will also be available as a paperback on Amazon...and possibly Barnes & Noble (but that one isn't for sure). 

Question from Emelie: 1) Do any of the good guys have magical abilities? 2) What kind of weapons do they carry? 3) Does the villain work solo, or have a sidekick? 4) Do any of the 5 main characters die?  Don't answer if you can't yet!! 

1) Yes, some of the good guys have magical abilities and some of them have powers. Some of you may now be thinking: "Hannah, magical abilities and powers are the same thing." Well, not in the Terebinth Tree Chronicles universe. 

2) Wanderer, the main character in Colors of Fear, carries a dagger that is practically falling apart, along with a bow and stone-headed arrows. The desert where he lives is very low on steel (and supplies in general), so he doesn't have access to a lot of weaponry. Jayel, the main character in story #2, carries a dagger and steel-tipped arrows. The two humans in story #3 and #4 wield swords and throwing knives. And anti-villain in story #5 uses a sword. 

3) The anti-villain in story #5 is, technically, a sidekick. But she doesn't plan to remain one for long. 

4) Ha. I'm not answering that. Sorry-not-sorry. 

Question from Elza Kinde: 1) What were some "spark" ideas that got you started on this story? 2) Do you enjoy world-building? What make yours unique? 3) Why four assassins?

1) This is something I discuss in the Author's Note for Colors of Fear, but I'll answer it briefly here: My family and I watch a lot of fantasy much so that we noticed a common trend of these short prologue-like clips that play before the movie actually begins. These clips establish the world, the plot, and sometimes the characters (a prime example being the Last Alliance of Men and Elves shown at the start of the Fellowship of the Ring). We dubbed these the Movie Before the Movie and I've always love the concept. So I found myself wondering: What if I did Stories before the Story for The Stump of the Terebinth Tree? And thus this Terebinth Tree Chronicles were born. 

2) YES, world building is one of my favorite parts of writing. Not to sound pretentious, but: There are a lot of things that make my world-building unique. For one: There are multiple different types of elves (desert elves, wood elves, and a few other kinds I won't mention because of spoilers), rather than the stereotypical tall, beautiful, vegan wood elves. The Terebinth Tree Chronicles also contains multiple religions and sects, which is fairly unusual for fantasy novels...let alone Christian fantasy. The magic and power system is based off of scientific concepts (such as entropy), but with a twist of my weird imagination. Aside from that, there's a smattering of other pieces of uniqueness that you'll discover in Colors of Fear and the following stories. 

3) The answer to this is weird, so bear with me: I didn't want my group of assassins to get along. I wanted to show what it would look like to have a team of people supposedly fighting for the same thing, but all with ulterior motives, all with different backgrounds, of different races, and of different religious beliefs. So I needed there to be in-fighting, but I also wanted each assassin to have a partner (after all, even assassins need friends). Doing the math resulted in four assassins: Two human siblings and two desert elves. Hopefully that makes sense.

Question from Beth Wangler: 1) How did you decide to have a main character ruled by fear? 2) What were some challenges of writing an MC with this struggle?

1) So many reasons. One reason was that I was getting a little tired of the brave, reckless hero. I love that character type, but I wanted to change things up. A more personal reason is that, as somebody with Lyme disease, I make it a point for each of my stories to have at least one ill and/or disabled character. Wanderer isn't disabled in the traditional sense, but he does have some issues going on that I won't go into because of spoilers. On top of that, his younger brother is sick and dying. Because he's in the middle of such a stressful situation, a natural part of his character ended up being that he lives in fear: Fear of the unknown, fear of losing his brother, fear of not being able to make a difference, fear of his own mind. I chose to highlight that fear for all the people out there who are struggling with similar issues. Fear is, sadly, something that most people battle with on a daily basis and I wanted my readers to know that they aren't alone.

2) Wanderer deals with his fears in ways that I don't necessarily approve of...and definitely in ways that are opposite of how I would handle them. The story is told from a deep POV, so I found that it would take me several minutes to get into his mindset...I couldn't simply slip into it easily and start writing like I can with other characters. He took more work because he's so different from myself. Another struggle was that, because Wanderer is controlled by fear, he doesn't really know who he is.  I know who he is, but he doesn't, so it was interesting to try and balance that while telling the story from his eyes. Unreliable narrators can be tricky like that. 

Question from K.L.+Pierce: 1) Where did you get the idea of an elf assassin? 2) Also, will the fact that the elf is from a desert setting (rather than the forest) play into how they go about their mission (weapons, skills, attitude towards life, etc.)?

1) As much as I wish I had a deep answer for this: I don't. I've always enjoyed writing fantasy and darker characters, so I naturally gravitated towards the concept of writing an assassin. As for why he's an elf? I like elves. And that is my incredibly shallow answer. 

2) Yes. Yes it will. I can't really answer anything beyond that, though. Not this early into the series.
Aaaand those are all the questions. Have more? Leave them below and I'll answer them! 

Remember: Colors of Fear release on 02/02. I'll be doling out more information next Monday (as well as randomly on social media), so keep your eyes peeled. Until then: Check out the short story on Goodreads! 

Related articles: 
Announcing The Terebinth Tree Chronicles Publication Date of 02/02/2018SaveSave

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Friday, January 19, 2018

9 Tips for Crafting A Large (And Well-Developed) Cast of Characters

On the last #ChatWithHannah video, I was asked about creating a large cast of characters. I found myself wanting to really delve into the topic because it's one that has always fascinated me.

As somebody who struggles to remember the names of classmates or differentiate between people I meet randomly throughout the week (yes, I am a terrible person and I'm sorry), it's always been funny to me that I can create and maintain large casts of characters without much issue. How is this possible?

Well, apparently my brain has come up with all sorts of tips and tricks that I didn't realize existed until I started thinking about it. What are these tips and how can you use them? I'm glad you asked:
1. Decide on main characters or POV characters. Can you have a book with 20+ characters? Yes. Can you have a book with 20+ main characters or POV characters? Maybe if you wanted to explode your brain, sure. To avoid damage to your neurons, ask yourself: Who's story is this? Figure out which of your characters is the main character. If you're telling the story from one POV or multiple, decide which characters get to be POV characters. These are the ones that will get the most on-page development throughout the story. They are the focus. That being said...

2. Feel free to develop and give backstories to all of your characters. Yep. All of them. Figure out where they came from, what drives them, who they like, who they don't like, what their habits and quirks are. However, keep in mind that not all of this information will go into the book. It's just for you. It will help you differentiate between all of your characters and also give them a richness that wouldn't be there if you didn't have any information on them at all.

3. Decide what info goes into the book and what just stays in your brain. Obviously, you can't include every character's backstory. Heck, you probably won't be able to spill all the details of your main characters, either. So ask yourself: Of all of this backstory and development, how much of it matters to the main character(s)? How much of it matters to the plot? If the information isn't necessary to developing the main characters or the plot, it probably shouldn't go in. Unless it helps with world building. But even then: If the world building doesn't connect to the plot or characters in any constructive way, then it may not need to be there.

4. Keep character profiles. Yep. For each character keep a page that includes things like: Their fears, their strengths, their goals, their connection to the main character, and their connection to the plot. You can also include MBTI personality types and the like if that kind of thing helps you. Pinterest boards are good, too. This is something that I use for select characters. Because I have four POV characters (and because they're all very different), I kept track of them using character profiling so that when I needed to slip into their mindset, I could simply look through their document and Pinterest board to remember who exactly they are. After writing from their POVs enough times, this became unnecessary, but it was very helpful for starting out (and will be helpful when I go back to edit).

5. Check for extraneous characters. Having a large cast of characters is fine, but there is such a thing as too large. There's no set number that, when surpassed, is too large (don't ever let somebody tell you that there is). Rather than a number, it's a symptom. This symptom shows itself in shallow characters or characters that don't serve a purpose in the story (or serve the same purpose as another character). So go over your cast and ask: Do all of these characters have a unique purpose and perspective on the story? Or are they just ill-disguised duplicates of each other? If the answer is no to the first question and yes to the second, well, you'll have to send somebody packing.
OR you could merge a few extraneous characters into a single necessary character (yes, this does happen...I know one writer who merged 3 characters into one upon realizing that 2 of the characters were largely unnecessary).

6. Remember that villains are part of the cast, too. Often writers spend a lot of time developing the protagonists and their friends, but not the villain. Why would you do this? The villain is important to the story (just as much so as the hero), so make sure that you develop him/her as much as you develop the others.

7. Don't forget the character arcs. For all of them? Yes. But remember: There are different types of character arcs. Positive character arcs (where the characters triumph or change for the better), negative character arcs (where the characters lose or change for the worse), and flat character arcs. Okay, I made that last term up, but I'm referring to the writing of a flat character. Flat characters are not, in fact, always a bad thing...they're just characters that don't change over the course of the story. Think Indiana Jones, Lady Catherine de Burgh (if you didn't read that in Mr. Collin's voice then you're failing at life), Argus Filch, a lot of side characters in Shakespeare's work, etc. The larger your cast, the more necessary it is to have a mix of all of these character arcs. Your main and secondary characters will have the largest arcs while tertiary characters (no, I actually didn't make that term's a real thing. Look it up) will have smaller arcs.

8. Take notes as you write. The larger your cast, the harder it is to keep track of everyone. Even if you have character profiles, your characters will change slightly (or hugely) throughout the story due to character arcs. So at the end of each scene where a change happens to a character: Take note of what's happened. That way the next time you go back to write that character you can remember where he/she is plot-wise, emotion-wise, and even health-wish. There's nothing more embarrassing that having a character stabbed in the leg in chapter 8 only to have her miraculously healthy in chapter 10. Yes, I've done that before. Spare yourself the pain.

9. Give them tags. This is for your own sanity as well as your readers. Give each of your characters at least one tag that differentiates him/her from the others. It can be a word they use all the time, a hand gesture, an article clothing, eye color. Check out this post on character tags, then apply it to your characters to help you keep all your characters separate in your own mind as well as your readers.

Oh, and bonus tip: Read books and watch movies with huge casts of characters: Harry Potter, LOTR, The Prydain Chronicles, PandoraHearts, Star Wars, the Avengers. There are tons, so study how each character is unique and how each is portrayed. This is super helpful and also gives you an excuse to have a Star Wars marathon....Not that you ever need an excuse, but still.

How large is your current cast of characters? The Stump of the Terebinth Tree has a grand total of 4 main(ish) characters, 4 secondary characters, 10 tertiary characters, and 5 quaternary characters (okay, you caught me...I did make up that last one). Sooo I have...*scrunches up face* *does math* *almost dies* 23 characters. Decent sized cast, but not nearly as big as some.

I'd love to hear about the tips that you have for keeping track of your large cast of characters!

Related articles:
Character Tags: What They Are and How to Use Them

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

#ChatWithHannah Ep 7: Batman, Large Character Casts, and Concise Short Stories

Today we talk about favorite blog posts, writing large casts of characters, selling books at conventions, writer’s block, and how to stay concise with short story writing. On top of that, I also get to discuss nerdy topics such as which Batman comic I’d like to adapt into a movie.
Blog posts mentioned:
Are you going to Comic Con Revolution? Come by the Constant Collectible booth and say hello! Stay tuned for more info.

Looking for an amazing (and affordable) online writing conference? Check out WriteOnCon! Seriously. It's awesome.

Oh, and don't forget to subscribe to the Phoenix Fiction Writers youtube channel to hear our podcast!

Recommended children’s books:
The next #ChatWithHannah video is coming out on February 21st, so leave a question below or use the hashtag on social media to get answers.

The #ChatWithIndieAuthor interview with J.E. Purrazzi will be up on January 24th, so keep an eye out because its a really neat chat.

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

Related articles:
#ChatWithHannah Ep 6: Taking Writing Advice, Blogging Tips, and More

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Monday, January 15, 2018

The Terebinth Tree Chronicles #1: Jacket Blurb and Title Reveal

About a month ago I announced my new indie-published short story series. I gave you a little bit of information, but not much. Partly because I like to keep my writing shrouded in mystery, but mostly because writing book blurbs stresses me out and I couldn't quite come up with a title for short story #1.

Well, I've finally gotten my life together ( least this tiny portion of it, anyway) and now am ready to give out more details on the first short story in this series. Ready for it? You sure you can handle all the awesomeness heading your way? Okay. Here we go:
The first short story in this series, Colors of Fear, will release on 02/02/2018.

Colors of Fear is roughly 9,000 words. That's about 30-35 pages (double-spaced, using the standard 8.5" by 11" page size) for all you non-writers out there. Yes, that is significantly longer than Skies of Dripping Gold. You can thank me in the comment section. The story is as follows:

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.

Fear. It is all around him. Wanderer sees it in the eyes of his fellow desert elves as they set out to fight a war that consumes countless lives. Hears it in his brother’s coughs as black magic slowly kills him. Feels it as strange colors appear in midair, seeking to suffocate him.

No matter how he twists it, he can only see two choices: Leave his sick brother and join a war where he will surely perish, or face his brother’s dying days and let his world be destroyed without putting up a fight.

To face one fear is to flee from another. Whichever path he chooses brands him a coward, but he cannot run any longer. Wanderer must make a choice: Will he allow fear to control him? Or will he find a way to reclaim his life?

There will be five stories total in the Terebinth Tree Chronicles short story series, each to be released roughly every two months. Yes, that means that you have an entire year's worth of stories to look forward to. You're welcome. 

As to your next question: Yes, I do have a cover for Colors of Fear. No, I'm not going to show it to you until next Monday. You'll just have to be patient. 

Have questions about Colors of Fear or the other short stories in the Terebinth Tree Chronicles? I'll answer them in a special video to be released alongside the cover reveal, so leave them below or ask them online using the hashtag #ChatWithHannah. 

What do you think? Does the jacket blurb catch your fancy? If so, please feel free to comment or share this article on social media! Or both. Both is good.

Related articles:
Announcing The Terebinth Tree Chronicles Publication Date of 02/02/2018

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 (and the occasional Monday and Wednesday)!

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

Friday, January 12, 2018

Writing Homeschooled Characters: 10 Things You're Doing Wrong (And How to Fix Them)

Glasses. Awkward (or non-existent) social skills. Hand-me-down clothes. No TV (unless its to watch educational documentaries...only the PG ones, of course). Weird, gangly creatures who are best friends with their siblings and never go past their own front yard.

What does paint a picture of?

Homeschoolers, you may say.

Buzzzzz. Wrong! Try again.

I've read book after book featuring so-called homeschoolers. They almost all get the character type horribly incorrect. Let's talk about how to fix this, shall we? Here are 10 things you're doing wrong when writing homeschool characters, along with ways to correct the problem. As a homeschool graduate, I'm quite excited to have the chance to hash this out once and for all.
Writing Homeschooled Characters: 10 Things You're Doing Wrong (And How to Fix Them)
Note: This post is dealing with modern homeschoolers....Not "I'm writing historical fiction set in the 1800s and my characters for some reason can't go to a public school" type homeschoolers. Sorry. If you're looking for help in that area, I recommend reading Little House on the Prairie or Little Women or the like.

1. They're incredibly socially awkward. They don't know how to talk to other human beings because, of course, they spend all of their time at home. Right? Wrong. Allow me to let you in on a little secret: Some homeschoolers are awkward. Some aren't. Just like public schoolers. I've known a lot of outgoing, completely functioning homeschoolers. Weird, I know. Please keep this in mind when crafting your homeschooled character. He/she can be awkward, but that isn't the default setting, so feel free to get creative.

2. All homeschool parents were teachers/professors at some point. You know the plot. The intellectual former professor who is now homeschooling their child to be the next Albert Einstein. While there are some kids who are homeschooled by parents with teaching credentials, not all are. It varies from family to family. Some parents have college degrees, some don't. Some families have a sole teacher, some families split teaching subjects between parents or grandparents or aunt or uncles. This gives you a lot of room for some interesting family dynamics. Use it.

3. Homeschool familes come in two sizes: Mini or Super-Sized. AKA: one child or, you know, Duggar-sized. Nope. Your homeschooled character can have as many or as few siblings as you want them to have. There's no set number.

4. They have no friends. Because how are they supposed to meet anybody if they're inside all the time? So they must be super lonely and deprived, right? *sigh* Are you still thinking that way? Okay. I'm so done with you right now.
Seriously. Stop talking. You lower the IQ of the entire street. Homeschoolers do have friend outside of their family. Really. I promise. And yes, they even have friends outside of the homeschool community. Speaking of which:

5. They don't have a homeschool community. It's just your homeschool character and that's it. They're not plugged into any co-op or group of fellow homeschoolers. While this may happen (perhaps as a result of living in a small town where homeschooling is uncommon), it is fairly rare. Homeschoolers often have fellow homeschool families that they hang out with. Or do homework with. Or take online or college classes with. Homeschoolers aren't loners (see point 1 and 4).

6. You're missing extracurricular activities. You know that those aren't just for public schoolers, right? Homeschoolers do them, too. They can be anything: Martial arts, robotics, surfing, woodworking, underwater bilingual basketweaving. Whatever. You decide. The point is: Homeschoolers do participate in extracurriculars. That's one of the ways they accumulate friends (see point 5).

7. They're not nerdy enough. Now, no, I don't mean the socially awkward nerdy (though they can be). Or even the pop quiz I-know-everything nerdy (though they can be). See, homeschoolers are a bit like Liam Neeson. We have a very specific set of skills. We get interested in very specific things and then set out to learn everything about that one thing. LOTR. Physics. Architectural design. Cooking. Computers. Sewing. Logic. 17th Century Icelandic Fiction. Batman. You name it, it's been obsessively studied by some homeschooler somewhere. Because of flexible schedules, homeschoolers have the capability to do deep dives into a subject (or multiple subjects, as is often the case) that other people may not be able to do. The level of knowledge can be quirky, useful, weird, funny, "normal," etc. Now that you know this, go forth and create a fun, nerdy character.

8. They live like pioneers. Or stereotypical Amish people. You know: Jean skirts, no TV, raising chickens, baking their own bread. Ummmm. No? Homeschoolers wear ankle-length jean skirts plus head coverings, don't use electricity at all, raise their own chickens and their own goats for milk, and are gluten-free, so they don't bake bread.

Kidding. Do some homeschoolers do some of these things? Yeah, sure (though they'd be in the minority). Do all? No. So stop writing your characters like that. Seriously. Stop. I'm begging you.

9. You're missing the nuances of the community. And thus nobody is buying that your character is homeschooled...or that you know anything about homeschoolers. So go talk to one. Or pull a few tips from below here: Homeschoolers often like Princess Bride. And Veggie Tales. And LOTR. And these guys:
Siblings are often great friends, but also argue a lot. Grades are pretty much non-existent: A homeschooler can be in 6th grade math, 8th grade science, and 7th grade English all in the same year. Siblings often study the same subjects together, even if they are different ages. Healthy eating is very common (think chia seeds and free range, cage free vegetables). They don't watch a lot of modern TV. Homeschoolers are often very self-disciplined. Sometimes they do school over summer (either because they want to or because they didn't quiiiiiite finish that one boring textbook). They often (but not always) graduate early or go to college while in high school (or both). There are days when some parents count going to the Zoo as science...or shopping as economics. They almost always call adults Mr. or Mrs. [insert last name here]. There's always at least one relative or friend who doesn't approve of homeschooling and yes, it's uncomfortable. Typically, homeschoolers love learning. And those are just a few of the nuances. Not all of them apply all the time, though. Which is important to remember, especially because you're probably making this mistake:

10. You're writing them as homeschoolers, not humans. A fatal flaw with any type of character development. You have to develop your characters as people first, then you can apply whatever lens you want: teenager, Islamic, nurse, Native American, lawyer, college student. In this case: homeschooler. Remember: Personality first. Then homeschooler.

Are we good here? Yes? Okay. Now go fix your homeschooled character. You can do better. I have faith in you.

Have tips of your own to add? I'd love to hear them! Please leave a comment below.

Related articles:
Writing Teenage Characters: What You're Doing Wrong
Writing Strong Female Characters: What You're Doing Wrong
8 Problems in the Christian Fiction Genre (And How to Fix Them) 

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Friday, January 5, 2018

A List of Great Self-Published Books You Should Read (Part 2)

You there! Yeah, you. You look like you need some book recommendations. Let me set you up.

Remember that post I wrote a while ago? The one recommending indie published books? Well, this is part 2. Because yes, it is a series, but I write each installment once in a blue moon so you'd probably forgotten. Well, the series is still alive and I'm bringing it back to the forefront. You're welcome.

But first, the rules:

Below are a list of self-published books I have read and enjoyed, along with links to my full reviews (in case you want more information) and links to various places you can find the authors (in case you like following awesome social media accounts and blogs). Also note that each book cover is clickable and will send you over to visit the book's Amazon or Barnes & Noble page (in case you want to buy it).
A List of Great Self-Published Books You Should Read (Part 2)
This list is in absolutely no order, so a book being listed last, first, or two above the middle spot has no significance. Now, onwards to find new reads!

The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz

Do you like humor? Clever twists on fairytales? Magic? Great writing? Amazing characters? Then you need to read this book (and the rest of the books in this ongoing series). I can't even begin to tell you how fun this book is, so you'll just have to discover it for yourself.

The Tangle by Aria E. Maher

Creeptastic pretty much sums up this incredibly written supernatural novel. It's scary (while still being tasteful), has beautiful prose (while also having an epic plot), and has a good mix of other-worldy and relatable characters. You should read it. 

Malfunction by J.E. Purrazzi

I'm actually currently reading this one (I'm 82% finished with it), yet I'm recommending it whole-heartedly. That's how confident I am in this book and author. It's an action-packed cyberpunk story with complex, brilliantly-written character. 
My Constant Collectible Review (coming soon) 

Battle for the Row by Ryan J. Penland

A short story complete with adventure and 80's/90's references. This is the first story I've read by Penland and I was pleasantly surprised by the nerdiness of his writing style. If you're looking for a fun romp of a story, this is it. 

Perihelid by S. Alex Martin

The third book in one of my all time favorite sci-fi series, this novel is darker than the first two. I love it. It is introspective while also containing a good balance of action. Go read the first parts of this series and then read this one. What with the great characters, science, plot, and writing style, you will end up being just as big a fan as I am. 

The Traveler by E.B. Dawson

You know the Creation of Jack series that I love? This is by the same author and yes, I love this series now, too. A fascinating blend of futuristic, sci-fi, action, and politics, this story also contains heartfelt characters and themes. 

Masters and Beginners by Daley Downing

Daley Downing's fantasy series is a lot of fun. It features strong family relationships, cool magic systems, and imaginative world building. It's also one of the few fantasy universes to represent autistic characters, so that's pretty epic, too. 

Last of the Memory Keepers by Azelyn Klein

A collection of six novelettes, this fantasy series has a lot of great characters. Each novelette is told from a different character's POV, which is a really neat twist that works to add richness to the already fascinating world. 

And that's all I have for you at the moment. Have any indie books you'd like to recommend? I'm constantly reading indie books, so this blog series will go on and on and on as I continue to discover more amazing stories. So if you have books you'd like to see mentioned in a post at some point, let me know so I can read it! And yes, you are absolutely allowed to plug your own book in the comment section. 

Also, remember: If you're ever looking for some more good books.... 
  • Check out my left sidebar. Dubbed Reader's Corner, it contains awesome indie published books you'll enjoy. If you can't see anything in the left sidebar, just turn of any ad blockers you have and they will magically appear.
  • Visit the Phoenix Fiction Writers website. An indie marketing collective, we have a website that will introduce you to more amazing self published books. The collection of authors/books will grow as the the years go by, so be sure to subscribe and keep checking the website.
Have you read any of the books on this list (or in Reader's Corner)? I'd love to hear your thoughts on them!

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

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Friday, December 29, 2017

9 Tips for Dealing With Writer's Burnout

My entire life is build around words.

I'm an indie author who's also seeking traditional publication. I write a blog post every Friday...and also (if I remember) a newsletter once a month. I'm a Youtuber, the Phoenix Fiction Writers Multimedia manager, the Live Events Coordinator for WriteOnCon, a reviewer at Constant Collectible, and a writing consultant at my college.

What does that mean? It means I'm writing and reading all. the. time. Query letters, searching for literary agents, editing, drafting, formatting, marketing, blogging, outlining videos and podcasts, sending business emails, reading blog posts, reading books, talking about books, helping other people read and write and edit.

I'm drowning in words. And, occasionally, it gets to the point that I'm so sick of the things that I think maybe I'd be better off switching jobs and becoming a Master Underwater Basketweaver.

It's not that I have writer's block. I can (and do) continue to write. After all, I have deadlines to meet. But the words don't feel the same: They annoy me. They feel cramped and not quite right. And my fingers, brain, and soul all want a break.

Do you know the feeling? Probably. Otherwise you wouldn't have clicked to read this article. So how can we, as creators of words, keep writing without suffering from the horrible Writer's Burnout?
9 Tips for Dealing With Writer's Burnout
1. Know there's no avoiding it. Notice I didn't title this post "Tips To Keep You From Ever Experiencing Writer's Burnout." Which may have been a good idea because that type of clickbait would greatly increase my views, but no. I didn't because Writer's Burnout isn't something you can avoid. If you are writing as a career choice, then you're going to get sick of words every so often just like you'd get sick of any other job you have. Writer's Burnout isn't a monster. It's just something you have to learn to handle in a healthy way. It's normal and not something to be afraid of. So when you come up against it: Don't stop writing. You like writing. You really do. Just keep going and remember that it'll get better.

2. Take daily breaks. No, not a once-every-so-often-right-after-I-finish-this-sentence break. Daily. Breaks. Eat lunch. Go for a walk. Drink some water. Get out of that chair and go do something for just a few minutes. Your writing will still be there when you get back. I promise. Unless you have an old, unreliable computer or a paper manuscript and a dog. In which case: I can't guarantee anything.

3. Change your view. Stop writing in the same place every day. Switch from your desk to your bed to your couch to your dining room table. Switch from your house to a coffee shop to a library. Redecorate your desk. Try listening to a new type of music or no music at all. Reschedule your writing time from the morning to the night. Make some changes so you aren't doing the same exact thing over and over and over. That may work for the people in the LEGO movie, but it doesn't work for you.

4. Engage in a non-writing hobby. And by non-writing I mean one that doesn't involve the written world. No writing. No reading. Take up cooking or knitting or painting or surfing or volunteering or martial art-ing (yes, that's a thing). Engage in an activity that uses a completely different part of your brain.

5. Unplug. Get away from your screen. No laptop. No computer. No phone. No TV. No, not even your Kindle. Take at least ten minutes each day where you're doing something that doesn't involve a glowing electronic device. And no, eating and showering do not count. Nice try, though.

6. Diversify your writing. Do you write fiction? Try writing blog posts. You write books? Short stories are cool. So maybe you write sci-fi, but what about horror? Or historical fiction? You could do that, couldn't you? Of course you can. Try writing something new on the side of your big project to keep you from going completely insane.

7. Organize. I keep telling you that it's important to schedule your writing time, but do you listen? No. Well, listen now: You need to get organized. One of the issues that leads to Writer's Burnout is because you have deadlines and projects you're trying to finish, but you can't quite complete any of them because you're too busy wasting time on being un-organized. And then you get frustrated. It's your own fault. Look at your writing desk. Organize it. Look at your schedule. Organize it. I know it's not considered "cool" for us creatives to be all rigid, but you'll get over it.

8. Have a conversation. When was the last time you Beyond complaining about your writing? How do you expect to get new ideas or find the encouragement to keep going if you don't go talk to other humans? Not on social media, but in real-life. Use your mouth and not your keyboard.

9. Be healthy. Exercise. Stop eating so much sugar and consume something green. Hey! Put down that green Jello! That's not what I mean. Also: I know writers are supposed to be fueled by caffeine, but you're taking that a bit too far. It's not good for you. Bring it down a notch.

If you follow all of these steps, will you never again have writer's burnout? Sadly, no. You'll still get burnt out. But now you'll be able to handle it. And it will happen less.

What have you found helpful when dealing with writer's burnout? I'd love to hear your tips!

Related articles:
5 Steps to Fighting Off Writer's Insecurity 
How to Stay Motivated to Write When Life Gets Hard
7 Tips for Balancing Your Writing with the Rest of Life

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Episode 4 of #ChatWithIndieAuthor: E.B. Dawson

E.B. Dawson writes speculative fiction and is the author of the insanely creative and moving series Creation of Jack and Lost Empire. She is also the creator of Phoenix Fiction Writers. Yep. She’s got a lot going on and all of it is brilliant. Today she talks about writing nonlinear narratives, working themes into novels, naming characters, and more!

Remember: You can listen to this chat on iTunes!

Are you following E.B. Dawson online? No? What is wrong with you? Go fix this grave misjudgment:
Find her books here:
Oh, and let’s not forget about Phoenix Fiction Writers:

When is the next #ChatWithIndieAuthor episode? Excellent question! Wednesday January 25th will bring us a chat with J.E. Purrazzi. Have questions for her? Leave a comment below or on social media using the hashtag!

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

Related articles:Episode 3 of #ChatWithIndieAuthor: Kyle Robert Shultz
Episode 2 of #ChatWithIndieAuthor: Aria E. Maher + eBook Giveaway of The Tangle
Episode 1 of #ChatWithIndieAuthor: S.M. Metzler

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

Friday, December 22, 2017

Announcing The Terebinth Tree Chronicles Publication Date of 02/02/2018

Nope, this is not the usual Writings Tips blog post. It is an Announcement blog post which, to my knowledge, hasn't been posted on my blog on a Friday for about a year. History in the making.

This is an announcement I released via my newsletter during the beginning of this month. And then again this Wednesday with my Youtube video. But there are still some slackers out there who have never heard of The Terebinth Tree Chronicles, so I'm reposting the announcement here for all to see.

This post is also a total cop-out because I'm visiting family for Christmas and forgot to write an article for today. Just deal with it. Don't be a Grinch.

Are you sad you won't be getting a regular post from me? Don't be. Instead, go check out Phoenix Fiction Writers and spend time meeting all of us on our website and Youtube...and then swing by and enter our giveaway for a chance to win some amazing Speculative Fiction ebooks. Phoenix Fiction Writers is like me, only awesomer and multiplied by 6, so you won't be disappointed.

Okay. On with the show.


*dramatic pause*

Announcing The Terebinth Tree Chronicles Publication Date of 02/02/2018
I am launching a new series of indie-published short stories coming to Amazon beginning 02/02/2018. I picked that date because it's pretty and easy to remember. Aren't I clever?

Yep. For those of you who keep asking me, "When is your next publication?" You can stop asking. The date is Friday, 02/02/2018. Go mark the day on your calendar with glitter...or Batman stickers. Or both (if you choose this option: Please send me pictures).

So, what exactly is this series of short stories?

They are a collection of YA Christian Fantasy stories under the umbrella title of The Terebinth Tree Chronicles. They share the same universe and characters as my novel, The Stump of the Terebinth Tree, which is a tale of four assassins banding together to kill a demonic sorcerer and have faith in something beyond their own swords. These short stories will be set before the events of The Stump of the Terebinth Tree and will explore what led each character to become assassins in the fight to overthrow the sorcerer.

Like an origin story. But the type that's actually relevant and not boring.

The first short story will be released on 02/02/2018 and will tell Wanderer's story. The main character of The Stump of the Terebinth Tree, Wanderer is a desert elf who hungers to travel far outside of his oasis, but is tethered to his home by family duties, lack of training, and more than a little bit of fear.

The synopsis, story title, and cover will all be released at a later date, so keep an eye out.

These short stories can be read as stand-alones from each other as well as The Stump of the Terebinth Tree. However, there will be Easter Eggs connecting them all, so you'll want to read them as a whole to try to catch all of the references. It'll be like PokemonGo, except without the potential for walking into fountains. Or off of cliffs. Or into other people. So, basically: Safer.

You're welcome.

Stay tuned for more information. Subscribe to my newsletter. Follow my Youtube channel. Stalk my social media. Send me a barrage of emails asking me for updates. Okay, maybe (definitely) not that last one, but you get the point.

Until then, if you have questions or comments, please leave them below! Who here is interested in reading this series? I'd love to hear from you!

Related articles: 
Skies of Dripping Gold: Synopsis and Release Date
Skies of Dripping Gold: Cover Reveal

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!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

#ChatWithHannah Ep 6: Taking Writing Advice, Blogging Tips, and More

Today we talk about fantasy world building, writing Christian characters, keeping your story from being boring, showing character’s emotions without going overboard, how to decide when to take or leave writing advice, tips for starting a blog, and favorite C.S. Lewis books. Yep. Lots of topics. Let's get to it:
As for my announcements, you need to go check out the Phoenix Fiction Writers. We're super cool. Not to brag or anything. Website and Youtube.

Oh, and here's information about The Terebinth Tree Chronicles releasing on 02/02/2018. Awesome, right?

Blog posts mentioned:
Recommended classic fiction novels:
The next #ChatWithHannah video is coming out on January 17th, so leave a question below or use the hashtag on social media to get answers.

The #ChatWithIndieAuthor interview with E.B. Dawson will be up on December 27th, so start getting excited for that video because it rocks.

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

Related articles:
#ChatWithHannah Episode 5: Writing grief-stricken characters and non-preachy Christian fiction
#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!

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