Sunday, December 29, 2019


These are the most-listened-to episodes of the week. Did your favorite make the list?

1)   MJ LaBeff
2)   Andi Lawrencovna
Marj Ivancic
4)   PJ Tracy
5)   BB eBooks
6)   Eric Malikyte
7)   Bullet Books Speed Reads Part Two
8)   Ava Cuvay
9)   Lynne M. Spreen
10) Heidi Luerra

*stats compiled from Podbean - these do not include numbers from ArtistFirst Radio Network

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Writin’ Around the Christmas Tree ~ by Andi Lawrencovna

First off, a HUGE thank you to Kristine Raymond for inviting me to write a guest blog for today.

Secondly, a HUGE apology, because I have holidays on the brain, and so that’s where my head was headed when I sat down to write this.

I can’t tell you how many times over the past couple of months that I have sat with other authors discussing the need to stick to and follow a writing schedule. Setting aside specific time each day, or just forcing yourself to take time each day, at whatever time of day that might be, to write. Developing the habit of actually working on something so that you get a word or words down on a page every day.

Forming a habit, in everything, can be onerous, and very beneficial. I mean, my doctor tells me all the time that if I work out everyday it will become a habit and so that must be a good thing, right?

Well, writing is a form of mental workout, doc, so I think I should be good then, right?


Habits do actually work, if you stick to them and build them up, and habits can in fact be good. Many authors look at “NaNoWriMo” (National Novel Writing Month) as the first chance to build a writing habit up that they can stick to after the month is done. Essentially, if you write 1,700 words (+/-) a day in November, you can write a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month, and that will add up to a LOT of novels if you stick to that habit after November ends.

But at the end of November is Thanksgiving. And at the end of December is Christmas. And then New Years. And then my mom’s birthday. And then dad’s…and then…oh, I digress.

Now, I’m all for forming a habit and trying to stick to it, and this post is in part about that, but it’s also in part about breaking those habits to focus on equally important “other” things too.

Not just breaking the habit but allowing yourself to feel “okay” in breaking that habit, and not like you’re failing because of it.

Personally, the “holiday season” starts at Thanksgiving and ends February 1st. So, from Thanksgiving to February, there is a constant slew of parties, baking, decorating, shopping, wrapping, caroling, grousing, etc. that fills my waking time outside of the 9-5 job I pretend to hold down most days too. That doesn’t leave a lot of time to keep at that habit I tried to form during NaNoWriMo, or that I’ve stuck to the rest of the year up until this point (HA! Don’t make me laugh…).

I spent a lot of years agonizing and berating myself for not getting things done – those things being “writing” related, mind you.

Well, that negativity seriously does not help matters either. I don’t need to add more negative thoughts to my head above and beyond that tiny voice in the back of my mind already questioning if my writing and work is any good to begin with. Telling myself that I’m not worth it if I don’t reach a writing goal for a day…yeah, not good for relieving stress.

Sometimes goals and habits have to break for your own benefit and health. And let’s go further and say for your family and friends benefits and health too.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying: DON’T WRITE! Just don’t feel like you have to force yourself to write if there are other things you have to do or need or want to do instead.

It’s OKAY to take a break, to do what you need to do to be the best you. A break can lead to so many things, and you don’t need to be ashamed at needing one.

I noticed that I started to panic when I took a break from writing. My brain kept whispering these thoughts of: what if you don’t start again? What if it never comes back? What if you were never meant to write in the first place?


Brain, you are a dark stinker and I don’t think I like you write now! (And yes, I intentionally used the wrong “right” right there).

Every time I tried to look at a blank page, I got this pit in my stomach and those thoughts in my head and my “break” became this negative existence of wallowing because I wasn’t allowing myself to recognize that I needed to recharge and that taking that time to do so was okay.

I used to look at the holiday season as this glaring stop that my writing world had to come to so that I could get done everything else I needed. Then I used to fight through it trying to force writing that didn’t want to happen. Now I know that I can write, or I don’t have to, because everything comes in its own time, and a habit once formed can be broken and reformed and transformed time and again, and that is part of what being a writer, and what life is all about.

SO, for this Christmas, I’m going to probably put my pen down for a few minutes and sing some carols around the tree. I did not “steal” the recipe from a certain coffee shop for an eggnog latte, but I have definitely perfected it and I will be sampling throughout the season. And if I get some words written, great, and if not, that’s good too, because I can keep a habit, or change it, or pick up from where I left off when I decide it’s time, not when pressures tell me too.

Wishing you all the very best of holidays and the happiest of New Years! May your writing be blessed!

~ Andi 

Listen to Andi Lawrencovna's podcast episode here.

Sunday, December 22, 2019


These are the most-listened-to episodes of the week. Did your favorite make the list?

1)   Marj Ivancic
2)   Terri A. Wilson
Grace Augustine
4)   Angela Ford
5)   PJ Tracy
6)   Bruce Olav Solheim
7)   Lew Bayer
8)   Scarlett Braden
9)   Tosca Lee
10) Melanie Jayne

*stats compiled from Podbean - these do not include numbers from ArtistFirst Radio Network

Saturday, December 21, 2019

The Importance of Voice ~ by Eric Malikyte

One of the most common comments I get from readers is how each of my characters sounds unique in dialogue, and within their own point of view.  So, today I’m going to talk about the things that have helped me in developing those voices, and why I think it’s so important to create that illusion for our readers.

When I first started writing books, I was originally training to be an illustrator. I was experiencing some serious burnout when it came to that side of the arts. I had a ton of stories that I wanted to tell, but I wasn’t really sure how to start. I had written dozens of comic book scripts over the years, but nothing that would qualify as prose. I started by reading a book by Ray Bradbury (still one of my favorites) called “Zen in the Art of Writing,” and it kind of changed my life. I sat down over the next year and banged out a 100,000-word manuscript that was full of aliens and spaceships and…it wasn’t very good. But I learned a lot about myself in the process. The real fun began after I put that manuscript down and took a break from writing books.

See, I wasn’t one hundred percent committed yet. I had no idea what Kindle Direct Publishing was and was still under the impression that I would need an agent to get things rolling. It was during the years 2011-2015 that I was working on a web comic series—which never really took off—that I started to develop some ideas that would later lead to my debut novel and follow up.  It was only when I learned about KDP and how easy it was to publish, that I really started to get to work. I was reading constantly. Contemporary sci-fi and horror, fantasy, you name it. And one thing stuck out to me, now that I was reading critically for the purpose of finding my voice as an author.

A lot of characters in these books (especially classical sci-fi) sound the same. And for me, that’s a problem. It’s an easy trap to fall into too. After all, we can’t really escape our own point of view, can we? So, how do we confront this issue? How do we learn to write characters so well that readers experience them as different people? 

Well, I think that’s part of it. You have to write them as if you’re writing about people. Real people, I mean. And I know lots of authors like to go to twitter and talk about how their characters are making them do all sorts of things, but that’s not what I’m getting at. I mean, study how people around you act, their mannerisms, their vocal tones, their word choices, etcetera. When you start to develop your characters, apply those very concepts to them. There’s a great book on self-editing that I’ve got called “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” by Renni Brown and Dave King. They do a great job breaking down not only what publishers and agent want to see, but how readers experience modern fiction, and what makes for great writing (even though that is largely subjective)—but, one thing stuck out to me in this book. And that was on character voice. The book was talking about accents in one chapter, specifically for dialogue. How word choice (and NOT odd spelling) can convey accents in a clear way so that the voice that the reader hears in their head, sounds like the accent that you’re trying to convey.

Confusing? I hope not. How about some examples?

(Bonus points: comment below and give your best approximation of where these accents come from)

“He’s done caught onto us, that’s what he did.”

Sounds made up? Not at all. I wrote this down after hearing it come from the mouth of a friend’s relative. Ask yourself what voice you hear when you read that sentence. What kind of accent does it have?

More examples:

“I just felt knackered, you know? He just went mental, mate.”

“What’s a matter with you? I’m talkin’ here, you moron. Never mind. Just get in the car, Larry.”

“Chips is good?”

“That's very kind of you. I assume you are our mysterious party crasher. You are most troublesome, for a security guard.”

“This is good, yes?”

“Kinds are scared of the dark.”

“You’re scared of the dark too, Marv.”

You get the idea. Furthermore, listening to people who’ve learned English as a second language can really clue you in on what can make their accents sound believable when written out in prose or dialogue. This is a start, though, and not the end all be all of developing unique voices. An accent represented in a book is only a caricature of the real thing, as there is no sound to convey it (except in the reader’s own imagination). Think carefully on word choice. Everyone is different. Though you and I may share a similar accent if we grew up in the same region, our word choice may vary greatly due to various mitigating factors. 

Here are some things to consider when developing your characters:




How they describe their environment (this can even come down to the individual details that they would notice first, and so on. For example, an artist may notice color and texture before shape; a mechanic may notice individual mechanical parts, or cars before buildings; an architect may name drop the types of buildings that make up the skyline of a city and namedrop their designers). Be sure to use all five senses, too.

Their profession (see examples above).

You get the idea.

Once you start thinking about this stuff, you’ll be able to make multi-character POV shifts
without making it too jarring for your readers. But, more importantly, you’ll start to create characters that feel like real people, and that will go a long way to keeping those readers turning pages. 

Eric Malikyte is the author of Echoes of Olympus Mons and Mind’s Horizon. He writes cosmic horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. If you want to get a free PDF of his short horror stories, sign up to his newsletter.

You can also check out his books on Amazon.

Listen to Eric Malikyte's podcast episode here.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Episode 122 - Guest Marj Ivancic

Marj Ivancic – author of The Summons: A Selkie Tale, The Shadow & the Sugar Bean, and Let Go the Shore.!5b32f

Episode 121 - Guest Terri A. Wilson

Terri A. Wilson – author of The League of Wolf Protectors series, the Shadows series, and the Dragon Royalty series.!5b32f