November 21, 2023

Astrology for Character Development


Astrology is something that not many of use when we’re creating our characters, but it can be a neat layer in your character development. Using astrology, we can learn more about our characters than ever before.

First, knowing your character’s sun sign (Aries, Leo, Pisces) can provide you valuable insight into the core of who your character is as a person, such as their ego and sense of self. All you need to know is your character’s birth month or day to calculate this, if you have a specific date in mind, or if you know a sun sign that sounds like a fun one, you can chose a birthday to coincide with that sun sign. You can research sun sign facts to understand the basics of each one to find a sign that matches your character.

Second, you can dig deeper in to your character by calculating the moon sign and rising sign for your character. In order to do this, you’ll need to know your character’s birth date, time, and location. This isn’t usually information we think about, but if you take some time, you’ll be able to nail down this information. It could be as easy as using your own birth time, the birth time of one of your children, or a time of day/night you’re attracted to, maybe a time you always tend to wake up or look at the clock.

The moon sign is your emotional and intimate self and will greatly help with understanding your character’s desires, emotions, and deep-rooted feelings. This would be a great aspect to explore for romance writers.

The rising sign, also known as the ascendant, is the version of yourself that people see at first glance. It’s your outer self. Knowing this sign for your character will help you to craft how other characters may respond to him or her when they first meet.

You can create an entire birth chart for your characters and download a free report packed with insights from

QUESTION: Have you used astrology for character development before? Do you know your sun/rising/moon signs? Mine are as follows Aries (sun), Taurus (rising), Scorpio (moon).

November 14, 2023

My Muse Says, "Hi!"


In Greek mythology, there are nine goddesses (known as muses), daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who preside over the arts and sciences:

Calliope – Epic Poetry

Clio – History

Erato – Lyric Poetry

Euterpe – Song and Elegiac Poetry

Melpomene – Tragedy

Polyhymnia – Hymns

Terpsichore – Dance

Thalia – Comedy

Urania – Astronomy 

Usually when we think of a muse, we think of a person or a force that is the source of inspiration for a creative person. Sometimes we visualize a fairy-type creature sprinkling us with glittery star dust, which can cause people to think that the idea of a muse as silly, and they balk at the idea of needing a muse to inspire them. They will say something like, “If I waited for a muse to inspire me, I’d never write.”

To me, a muse is a manifestation of your creativity that can make you feel less lonely in the writing process. This manifestation gives you someone to greet when you open the document for your work-in-progress or pick up a pen, someone to vent to or yell at when things aren’t going right. 

When I was little, I had an imaginary friend named Ena. As the youngest in my family, and often pushed aside by my siblings, my imaginative (and lonely) mind did the only thing it could to help me to grow, nurture my creativity, and give me a companion I badly needed and craved; it invented a friend for me and only me. I didn’t have to share her with anyone, and she was always there when I needed her. My entire family knew about Ena and embraced the idea of her. They would even ask me about her like, “How is Ena?” And I would be happy to deliver a report. 

November 07, 2023

Restrictive Writing Rules


One of the biggest causes of writer’s block is all of the restrictive writing rules floating around out there. Many of these writing “rules” are created by other writers and editors. Most of the time, they are opinions, and writers fall for them, thinking they are law, but they are not. Usually you can tell which “rules” are opinions, like not writing sentences that start with “as” or “-ing” words (gerunds).

For Example: As she rocked the baby, she hummed under her breath.

Or: Shaking her head, she glared at him.

There is nothing wrong with those sentences. Nothing at all. They are grammatically sound. More importantly, you very well can rock a baby and hum simultaneously. You can also shake your head and glare at someone at the same time. Writing sentences like this is NOT a sign of a hack writer, as some would say (I actually saw this wording in a book for writers), which in fact is an awful thing to say. Talented, dedicated writers have sentences like this in their work. I do, and so do well-known authors.

The only time I have a problem with sentences that start with “as” or “-ing” words is if it’s impossible for a human to do the two actions mentioned at the same time.

For Example: Running upstairs, she hopped onto her bed.

Unless her bed is in the middle of the staircase, this does not work. The character would have to run up the stairs, enter her bedroom, and then hop onto her bed.

Another writing rule I came across is not to write about tears. Yes, really…tears. This rule was published in a book of writing rules shared by published authors. I found it at the library and couldn’t believe the “advice” in it. The author for this rule said not to write about tears in any shape or form. No teary eyes. No tears on your characters’ cheeks. No lingering tears. Etc. Etc. Etc.


Tears are an emotional reaction, a physical cue that happens when we are sad, happy, or angry. Tears mean something is going on internally, and one way for that turmoil to get out is through the formation and shedding of tears. Tears are normal, natural, HUMAN. You can’t write about a crying character and not mention tears.

I feel a tear coming on right now that this rule exists in a book that writers can read.

Another rule I find crazy is to use only 10 exclamation points per manuscript. Or not to use them at all. Let me just say this…

I HATE RESTRICTIVE WRITING RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There. I abolished that rule.

I feel so much better now.

October 31, 2023

Do You Write? Then You're A Writer!

Julie & Julia is one of my favorite comfort movies. In the beginning of the film, Julie says to her husband, “You’re not a writer unless someone wants to publish you.”


You’re a writer if you write.


That doesn’t mean you have to be writing all the time, either.

You’re still a writer when you’re blocked.

You’re still a writer when your burned out.

You’re still a writer when you choose to take a break.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a writer is “one that writes,” which should say one “one who writes,” but you get it.

Another definition is that a writer is someone who “expresses ideas in writing.”

No matter which definition you choose, all of them say the same thing…that a writer is a person who writes.

“Published” is never mentioned.

Publishing Depression


For years I fought to get a single thing published. I sent out query letters and received only rejections. Nothing with any substance, either, to let me know what I did wrong. During that time, I kept on writing, though, and completed four books in a series. Still nothing. Not even a shred of hope.

I always read tips from agents telling unpublished writers to build their credentials, as if we aren’t trying to, and get stories published in magazines, as if it’s easy. To this day, I still haven’t had a story published in a print magazine. Although, I must admit I haven’t tried in a very long time, but when I did, nothing. However, there’s other markets out there, such as online magazines. So, I submitted flash fiction pieces to many of them, and still got rejections. Over time, though, I managed to publish a couple of poems and a few flash fiction pieces, one of which was published in a PDF anthology and is listed on Goodreads. Those accomplishments thrilled me and gave me something to put in my bio in query letters, but rejections continued to pour in.

Close to giving up, I had an epiphany. Perhaps I needed a different story to break into the publishing industry. That was when I thought of Hurricane Crimes, and I started to write it on Christmas Day 2012. That wasn’t the end to my struggles, though. Oh no. In many ways, it was just the beginning. The beginning of the road to a lot of good, and the beginning to some of my worst days.

Below is an entry from my journal, bad writing and all. Why am I sharing it with you? Because I hope it’ll demonstrate that you’re not alone, that some of the thoughts you may be having or troubles you may be experiencing, I had, too. Also, to show you that I got past them, and so can you.

August 8th 2013,

I have been feeling really depressed all during July.

This is from a message I sent my best friend:

“…but I’m not optimistic. Nothing ever works out for me. I know, I know, gotta be positive, but I got in a very depressed state today. I feel like a freaking thirteen-year-old! I’m just so aggravated. It’s been five years since I’ve moved to [city name] and nothing (and I mean nothing!) has changed for me. I’m tired of it! I don’t want to be in this situation much longer. So, God needs to hurry things along! [… ] I’m done with people thinking I’m a bump-on-the-log because I don’t have a job or go to school. I’m over my family not understanding my situation. I’m just over it! I don’t know how much more I can feel like a failure at this point and at this stage of my life.”

I’m cutting into my journal entry to say this: I bet you’re thinking I was being rather whiny, huh? Reading that back now, I’m definitely thinking it, but that time of my life had been tough. Every day my circumstances wore me down more and more—the fact that I couldn’t work due to a back disability but couldn’t actually get approved for disability, and how my loved ones treated me. My insecurities were at full swing then, too. Actually, that was the most insecure period of my life. Something my father said to me during his visit stuck with me, which was the same visit where I met my stepmother for the first time. During lunch, he asked me, “Are you still being a bump-on-the-log?” He said it with a light tone, but the words replayed in my head for weeks after that. My father knew my manuscript for Hurricane Crimes was being considered by the senior editor of The Wild Rose Press and how I was fighting to get disability, so his question and that phrase hurt me. Those words contributed to my emotional state at that time.

Now back to my journal entry:

I was so depressed that day that I didn’t even bother checking my email at night before I turned off my computer. Earlier I had checked the old email from the editor from The Wild Rose Press to see how much longer I had to wait [for a decision] and was very depressed to realize I’d have to wait until September for an answer. Well, the next morning, I found I had an email from the editor, which was sent the night before. I started to panic, thinking it was a denial. It wasn’t! She offered me a contract! And this is a bigger deal than the other stories I’ve published because this is with a [real publisher]. I will get to work with editors and cover artists. And it’ll be sold as an eBook.

I signed the contract July 28th!

Oh, the excitement of a first-time published author. If you haven’t experienced that joy yet, I hope you do.

I thought this journal entry would benefit you in showing that even in your hardest, darkest moments there will be a light at the end, and that when you’re so desperate you demand for something to happen, there’s a strong chance that it will, sooner than you realize.

But when hopes and dreams come true, new stresses can emerge and tough times can be on the way. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for your dreams or hope for things because hardships will continue to come. Hardships are a part of life, but we can get through them. Each and every time.

August 15th 2013,

I am very stressed! I’ve learned so much about promotion that it’s tumbling from my ears! Not only do I have to promote my eBook when it’s published world-wide on The Wild Rose Press’s website [and on other vendors], I also have to promote my eBook when it comes out on Kindle three months before and when it’s free for five days. But I am glad I am learning all of this now. It’ll prepare me for when I get an agent and publish [print books] traditionally.

I got so stressed out in November of that same year (as well as October and December 2013) that I wasn’t eating and drinking properly. I lost six pounds and came close to dehydration. Let my mistakes be a word of warning for you. Please, please, please take care of yourself. I started to feel sick because of it. When it’s time for you to publish your first book, don’t be afraid (or too stubborn) to ask for help, take a breath, relax, pause to eat a healthy meal and drink water. Your health is much more important than your book’s release. It’s true.

The great thing is, following that stress and the release of my first eBook, a lot of good things started happening, especially with my blog. A simple nomination for a blog award from another blogger lifted my spirits and made my day. Positive comments and feedback and being mentioned in another author’s blog for my efforts to help other writers boosted my confidence and happiness as well. Those things may seem small, but when you are in the midst of a pain that no one can see and no one knows about, it means everything.

During that time, mixed in with these lovely milestones and acknowledgements that made my heart burst, I was going through one of the worst depressions of my life due to disability and poverty.

October 27, 2023

I’m Dead / Vlog / Ghost of Death


Last year, I recorded this short video. I really had to pull out my acting chops for this one. This is Jolie’s monologue in the beginning of Ghost of Death. Ghost of Death is a short story that’s always $0.99!

I’m Dead

Length: 1:13

BLURB: Jolie Montgomery, a twenty-one-year-old woman, wakes up in an alley next to her corpse. She has no memories of her murder or the night she died. She didn’t even see the killer’s face before he or she took her life. Wanting justice, Jolie seeks answers in the only way a ghost can…by stalking the lead detective on the case.

Avrianna Heavenborn is determined to find the person responsible for a young woman’s death. She gets closer to the killer’s identity with every clue she uncovers, and Jolie is with her every step of the way.

But if they don’t solve her murder soon, Jolie will be an earth-bound spirit forever.

Length: 35 Pages (short story eBook)

Genre: Paranormal mystery

Heat Rating: Mild (kissing)

Content Warning: strong language, murder, death

EBOOKs $0.99: Nook / Kobo / iTunes Google Play / Scribd / Amazon

REVIEW: The Story Graph / BookBub / Goodreads

QUESTION: Do you like short stories? Do you like eBooks that are just $0.99? Do you like ghost stories? Well, check out Ghost of Death! 👻 

October 24, 2023

Disability and Poverty Depression


The year 2014 was difficult for me. So much uncertainty, insecurity, sadness, and helplessness. I didn’t know what to do. I felt lost and scared. It was a time of questions: would I get approved for disability, would I be homeless, would I have food to eat? It was also a time of the worst money situation I’d ever lived through.

The below entries from my journal are personal, giving you a peek into my despair and lowest moments.

April 7th 2014,

I got a letter from social security about my [disability] case. It mentioned sending in more information to help my case, so I emailed my volunteering log, pain log, and educational transcripts to my attorney. I called her today, but she said she’d have to call me back tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully, the social security decision will be favorable or my court date will be scheduled soon. I’m scared because I’m afraid the judge will say, “No.” If the judge does, I won’t know what to do. My life is practically in his/her hands. If I get approved, my life will literally change. And for the better. That’s what I need. Otherwise, I’m going to remain stuck in my life.

Mom and I were talking about dreams, and I told her about my dreams. It’s nice talking about dreams, but afterward, it makes me feel depressed because I’m worried my dreams won’t ever come true. I hope they do…

April 9th 2014,

Yesterday I got an email from my attorney basically saying that since I don’t have medical evidence from a doctor that I can’t work that my case will be hard to prove and the judge will most likely deny it. […]

When I read her email, it felt as though my whole life crumbled at my feet. I could see all of my dreams falling from the sky. I literally felt defeated. I cried. And not the pretty kind of crying. The snot-running-from-your-nose-non-stop kind of crying.


There’s just been so much bad luck in my life recently. I really need something good, something amazing, to happen.

During this time, my dreams were really up in the air, and soon my sense of security vanished. Every single day I was stressed and full of worry. I didn’t know where to look for relief, because relief couldn’t be found anywhere. There’s a saying “one thing after another.” That’s exactly what this was. One hardship after another. One more thing to try to break me.

Break, I did.