World Building is Tough

Anyone that has read a bit about me or read my first book, Shattered,  knows that it as fiction, thriller, however you want to classify it. But it wasn’t Fantasy. It had mostly real places, real cities, humans, normal clothes, normal houses, normal beliefs and languages. Easy.

Now I’m working on a Fantasy. This shouldn’t be difficult since almost all of my earlier stories (unpublished) were fantasy. Fantasy is what sparked my creativity, my passion for writing. There is so much freedom in writing fantasy. No rules, no restrictions. Or so I thought. As I was writing Shattered, I realized it was very restricting and a bit boring. Not the story, but the world. If you’ve read it, you know the atmosphere is quite exciting in parts. But the world itself was Earth. So even though my locations were unique and different, it was still earth.  Everyone knows what “downtown” looks like, what policemen wear, what cars look like, what houses look like, how humans view death, wealth, etc. Everything is known. So trying to describe any of that is quite boring and difficult. You can’t describe it all but you can’t describe nothing as well. So I’m re-approaching Fantasy. Going back to my roots, so to speak. And for the first time, having to world-build.

Good grief.

This is so difficult! Fun, of course. But intense. So many things to think about! I’ve gotten a variety of questionnaires online to use as my guides. Where I thought I’d have to simply contemplate what food my character ate, I discovered I’d also have to contemplate what they’d eat based on their social status, race, location, and season. I had to contemplate not only what the weather was like, but how the seasons worked, how the sun worked, how the seasons effected the ecosystem, what animals I wanted available and how that varied by region. Which brings me to the map! I had to design a map. A map that hopefully made sense. I’m no cartographer. Nuff said. Also, races! Yep, didn’t anticipate that. I figured humans were good. Then I realized how vital new races were. For the first time, I’m a god to this little world.


I once thought I was creative. Then I started world building. And my creativity vanished. Great.

Nevertheless, I’m plugging on and can’t wait to create what I hope will be an immersive, believable and fantastic world for my characters and readers to lose themselves in. Good thing this is a series. No way I could do this for only one book.

What do you think of world building? How detailed do you go? Do you hate it or love it? Do you have a system or any tips to share? Leave it below!

Character Interview: Aia Wynnald; From the Ashes

Let’s meet….Aia! The Heroine of From the Ashes.

This will be a new series I’ll be starting. It doesn’t have a schedule or any guidelines except that I shall post future posts with this same category as a way for you to get to know my characters from future books. So let’s get started!

Shelby: Today I’ll be interviewing Maia Wynnald, goes by Aia. She is the heroin of From the Ashes, the first book in her story. Thanks for coming today, Aia. I’m glad you could make the trip all the way from Tharien.

Aia: *sighs deeply, sheepish smile across her lips* I’m more than happy to get away from Tharien, even for a silly interview. So the pleasure is mine. *laughs*

Shelby: So tell me Aia, if you could describe yourself in one word, what word would you choose?

Aia: *looks around, cheeks puffed* I honestly have no idea. *laughs* Truthfully, I feel like I don’t really know myself. I think everyone in my life would use a totally different word. Some might say nervous or weird. Some might say kind or brave. Some might say ordinary, others ambitious. I guess I’m a little bit of all of those. But being honest with myself, the word I’d use is phony. *laughs* Fake? Boy, I sound like a great heroine. Good job, Shelby. *laughs*

Shelby: Aww, Aia. Those are terrible words. I know there is more to you than that. Give me another. Something less pathetic. Show the readers what you are really made of. Don’t be modest.

Aia: *laughs* I’m sorry. I suppose even with my secrets, I do have some qualities that are me through and through. So, how about…cunning? Determined? Ooo, how about selfless? Is it still selfless to identify yourself as being selfless?

Shelby: *laughs* Of course it’s okay. And I’d agree with that analysis. That’s what gets you into trouble, isn’t it? You trying to help everyone. Cunning…determined. Yes those all are great words. See? I knew you had it in you.

Aia: *blushes* Now, you’re making me blush. Next question already.

Shelby: *smiles* Who do you most admire?

Aia: *softly grins* This, I actually have an answer for. My mother.

Shelby: Why?

Aia: Because she is everything I want to be. She’s brave, she’s honest, she knows who she is. She doesn’t let others push her around. She isn’t afraid to break the rules.

Shelby: And you are? Afraid to break the rules, I mean?

Aia: *burst of laughter* Are you kidding? Who isn’t? When breaking the rule could mean death, you’d be crazy not to be afraid of breaking them. Which yes, means my mother is crazy. But she is so supportive and protective and loves me, despite knowing what I am. She’s the only person in the world, apart from my father, who would love me knowing what I am.

Shelby: *smiles* It looks like you have more of her hidden inside than you acknowledge. Perhaps we’ll see some of that come out in your first book, From the Ashes.

Aia: *shrugs* Hopefully. I’d like to see some of her come out in me.

Shelby: Okay, so this is a loaded question, I know, but let’s go for it. What is your philosophy on life? Your outlook?

Aia: *laughs* Boy, you are trying to make me look pathetic, aren’t you? You should really ask one of your other characters these questions. You know, one who isn’t living every day in fear and pretending to be someone she isn’t.

Shelby: *laughs* I just want our readers to get to know you. You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.

Aia: *rolls eyes* I’ll answer. May as well warn them about the *finger quotes* heroine you wrote about, right? My philosophy is… you are as happy as you tell yourself you can be. Your life is in your hands and no one else’s.

Shelby: *considers* That’s not pathetic. I like that.

Aia: *cracks up* You like it? A little cross between diluting yourself and being optimistic.

Shelby: Well that’s really what we all do most of the time, isn’t it?

Aia: I suppose it is. Oh, Shelby. You make me feel so much less pathetic than I really am. I like you.

Shelby: *laughs* Moving on. What is your greatest goal in life?

Aia: * saddens* My greatest goal…is to be free. To be who I want to be. I know that sounds like I’m asking for the impossible. But there it is. I don’t want to describe myself as a hypocrite. I don’t want to hide. I don’t want to live every day in fear. I don’t want to control everything I feel and think. I just…want to relax. Be me.

Shelby: Doesn’t sound like you’re asking too much. Though I know you are. And soon our readers will learn you are as well. But I’d say that is a worthy goal to have as we follow your story.

Aia: *brushes away a tear* I certainly hope so. Ugh, *wipes another tear* next question.

Shelby: Okay, if you didn’t live in Tharien, where would you live?

Aia: *eyes brighten* Oooh, this is a fun question. Albeit, a fantasy question. I’m unable to leave Tharien. And I suppose the only logical Kingdom I could could would be Trier, since that is the only Kingdom with humans. And I don’t mind that being the only feasible option because they treat people like me so much differently. *eyes sadden* I could probably be free there. Maybe. At least I wouldn’t be as afraid as I am here. It wouldn’t mean instant death if I was discovered.

Shelby: And what if there were humans everywhere? Anywhere else you’d be interested in living? Just for the weather perhaps?

Aia: *smiles* Sirabell is beautiful. Though I understand it’s hot. I’m not crazy about the heat. Pyeri is scenic but a bit too wet. And Khar is just rocky. Nope. I’d still have to say Trier.

Shelby: Fair enough. Maybe someday.

Aia: *laughs* Maybe.

Shelby: Well I think our time is up. But I want to thank you, Aia, for joining us.

Aia: *stands* It was fun. A bit awkward–you can tell I don’t do interviews–but still fun. *hugs Shelby*

Shelby: Visit again to read more about Aia’s upcoming book, From the Ashes, which will hopefully be out at the end of 2015 or early 2016. More updates will be posted every month.Check back to hear about more characters, more about the world of Dyel and other tidbits about the From the Ashes series.

Among the Flames, Book 2, Outline Finished

Making great progress on my From the Ashes Series! With the first draft of From the Ashes completed, I had to take my cooling period. In which I finished the outline for book 2 in the series, Among the Flames!

Next up I will be fixing the From the Ashes and starting on Draft 2. I estimate 2.5 weeks then onto Draft 3. In the meantime I’ll begin my hunt for Beta Readers! If you are interested in beta reading this new fantasy series, (however many books you’d like) then let me know! Send me a message under Contact Me, comment on the post, message me on facebook, click Advanced Review Copy/Beta Reader under the Books tab on the website, whatever! Just let me know! As a beta you’ll help me form my books into something amazing, help me find things I missed and as thanks, you’ll get the final copy once it is polished and published, which is usually very different then the copy you would have beta read. If you have questions on what the beta reading entails, feel free to message me! I provide a questionnaire that asks specific questions to keep it low stress on you, so worry not. I’ll post soon on more progress!

8 Ways to Re-energize the Writing Juices

You’ve told yourself you’ll be a bestselling writer someday. Whether it’s fiction, non-fiction or poetry. You can feel it in your bones. Yet you are afraid to say it from the rooftops because you know people in your life who will doubt. If you are like me, you already  have people who doubt. People who ask how you are doing career wise. They mean for you to answer with your current day job and what “real” schooling you are undergoing. I know my mother was so proud when I told her I was doing Medical Coding school. I registered for classes because I figured I could do it from home…while I wrote. Though when I didn’t get a job as a coder because every job needed 5 years experience, and I decide to take Copy Editing courses, suddenly my ambitions aren’t so noble.

You need something to pull you back. Something to look at or listen to that will pull you back to the reason you are writing. The reason you spend hours online for the best writing classes, software, best writing pen, seminars in your area, and writers workshops online. You’ve probably wish listed about 100 books on amazon for writers. I know I have. So what do you do when someone makes you doubt yourself? This is not an easy industry. Many of the best well known authors were rejected several times from publishers. I’m not the type of person with thick skin. which isn’t a good combination with the term “Writer”. So tell me what you do to pull yourself back to focus?

Here are somethings I do to put my mind back in the Writer’s mind.

  • Buy a book you once read and thought “This is terrible. There is no plot! The characters are flat! The descriptions are mediocre.” When you are feeling put out, pick it up, read a few pages and tell yourself,”If they can do it, I can!” Have this book ready on your shelf always.
  • Pour your favorite drink (coffee, tea, soda, juice, wine, energy drink) in a mug titled: Writer.
  • Leave your current work and work on a brand new idea. Just brainstorm ten new books. Look at the list. Would a non-writer be able to make a list like that? Didn’t think so.
  • Get a new writer’s gadget. Some new reading glasses, a new laptop cover, a set of new pens.
  • Writer Identity items. Maybe a door hanger “Do not disturb…novel in progress”
  • If you are good with Photoshop or any other pic designer, design your book cover. You’ll be inspired!
  • Read a writing books for writers. There are hundreds! See my suggestions (soon to come).
  • Explore a different genre. Make your mother blush with a romance novel. Would you put Lord of the Rings to shame? What about writing the next Jurassic Park?

If you have other tips to share, please comment! Let’s learn from each other!

My Writing Process Blog Tour

Hooray, my first blog tour! Okay not really a blog tour but a post that is touring blogs. This apparently has been circulating for some time. Though, new to the writing world, it is a first for me. I was invited by Sandra Lopez, author of Esperanza: A Latina Story. You can read her responses to the same questions at her blog.  I was fortunate enough to meet Sandra though a author-reviewer relationship when she reviewed Shattered, which you can read here.

This is a post on, as you read, my writing process. I am to answer these four questions and invite 3 more authors/writers to do the same. I know for me, it is always so interesting to read how other writers do things. We all have our own way. Anyway, to the questions!

What are you working on?
I am working on a fantasy tetrology. The first in the series is called From the Ashes. I hope to release all four books within 3 years, hopefully sooner. As it stands, I’m only about a week off my estimated timeline. First draft is finished. From the Ashes is about a woman who’s been living a lie, keeping a secret to save her and her family’s lives. She has a gift. But when the gift is discovered and people she hadn’t even known to keep it hidden from discover it, more than just her life is put on the line. Now she must face the choice of using her gift and attempting to save those that would see her destroyed, or to die with the rest of them.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I like to think From the Ashes series will stand apart in the Fantasy genre because I’m hoping I can introduce a bit of a thriller feeling to it. I hope to cut some traditional fluff of fantasy for a faster, heart pounding read that I haven’t seen very much. So the goal is to make it more of a page turner that will attract readers of the Thriller genre who don’t read much Fantasy and give Fantasy readers something a little different.

Why do you write what you do?
I write the type of books I’d love to read. Books that I haven’t come across yet, that scratch that certain itch. I love page turners. I need page turners. So I try to write books that would keep me turning pages. My first book, Shattered, was a Psychological Thriller. From the Ashes is Fantasy. I am still trying to find my genre niche, so I’m exploring. But Fantasy has always interested me. The unreal. The worlds that take you away. That make you wonder. That free you for only a few hours or a few days. Those are the books I try to write. The reason I read what I do is the same reason I write what I do.

How does your writing process work?

Hmmm my writing  process. This is a hard one since I’m trying to fine tune that. But basically I get an idea, then I brainstorm for weeks, exploring every possible option and problem that could arise. Then I rearrange these problems, my story line requirements by my side. It’s right about here, I haven’t decided how I prefer to proceed. Sometimes it ends up with a major outline that ends op stifling creativity or the story takes control and it’s a big ugly mess that needs plenty of rewrites. I have a checklist for each draft so I know what to focus on each time. I write in the morning before work, on my lunch break, and after work, literally squeezing in writing time whenever possible. I don’t drink coffee, so I have no coffee. I don’t drink tea, so I have no tea. I don’t drink wine, so I have no wine. I literally don’t have any traditional writer drinks. When I need a boost or a treat for working so hard, I get the most amazing drink ever. Cinnamon Dolce Cream Frappuccino. No it doesn’t have caffeine or alcohol…mostly just milk (yes, I realize I just admitted that I drink milk to spoil myself) but it is full of sugar and delicious whole milk. 🙂 Sadly I cannot drink that every time I write or soon I would outgrow my office chair. Anyhoo, off track now. But that is my process. Hopefully by book 3 I’ll have what works down pat. I’m sure there is a happy medium somewhere in that hot mess.

Check out more authors!
On July 10th the following authors will be posting on their sites about their writing processes! Check them out!
Ben Starling, soon to be debut author 2015.
R.L. Nolan, author of Deadly Thyme
Carrigan Richards, author of Pieces of Me and Under the Burning Stars

From the Ashes 1st Draft Complete!

That’s right! The first draft is complete! Now the cooling off period begins and I finish the outline for Book 2 and work on the cover in the meantime! Only a week behind schedule, I’m pretty proud. It was really like 3 first drafts in one, so I can forgive myself for taking a little extra time. I kept starting over before I truly finished. But now it’s finished and I can’t wait to really work on the outline for book 2, Out of the Flames. *Commence happy dance*

Title Reveal

The book I’ve been working, or series rather, has now received a title. Drum roll please…..
That is the title of book one. I can’t decide if I want a series title or just to let the rest in the tetralogy become part of the “From the Ashes Series.” So I’ll keep you posted.
Tentative titles for the rest in the series:
So there  you have it! The titles for the tetralogy I’m working on! I plan to release them all in 2-3 years, hopefully sooner. But editing takes a lifetime and for financial reasons, I may end up attempting to do my own covers. *Yikes*

Novel Writing Software Liquid Story Binder VS Write Way Pro

UPDATE: It was very late, but I updated my opinion on the best writing software for authors. Check it out!

I am by nature a perfectionist. I also happen to be easily distracted. Yet I also happen to be a research guru. What does this all lead up to? Apart from not getting much writing done, it leads me to believe that in order to write, not just write, but write well, I need certain things. Laptop. Laptop cooler. Desk for writing in bed. Back rest to sit up in bed. Writing lamp. Among my needs is software. In order for my masterpiece to become a reality I can’t just sit down and write. I need the best software out there. I need software that will do everything but write the story for me. If you are anything like me and this is just one more excuse for you to not pick up the pen and write then I have bad news. I’ve found a program for you. So now you can sit down and write with me.

I’ll compare the two best ones I have tested and found worthy. I have tested others but these are the only two worthy of your time.Trust me when I say, I’ve found a program that will do what it needs to. I’ve tried them ALL. For some reason, I felt it wasn’t my fault if I wrote poorly, if I wrote at all, because how could I possibly create without the perfect program to organize all my thoughts? In all fairness to myself, I was partially correct. Since writing with these programs, my productivity has gone up and my frustration down. The two I will compare are Liquid Story Binder and Write Way.

Write Way

This was the first program I found worthy of purchase after trying all the free demos available


  • Smooth pleasant face
  • Easily navigated
  • Nice tutorial already implemented
  • Not overly complex- just enough of what you need


  • You can’t just write and organize later (you must add “scenes” and then rearrange”
  • I didn’t use the organization tools
  • The character profiles were too complicated

Liquid Story Binder



  • Tutorial covers everything
  • Use only what you need-totally customizable
  • Add music to your scenes! One of my favorite features!!
  • Bang for your buck! A lot of features for a small cost
  • 30-day free trial (mine lasted longer, and I only bought it because I was afraid I’d lose my work)
  • Very customizable (always something to work on-nonlinear writing)
  • Free online tutorials on the website and very responsive email support team


  • Tutorial a little overwhelming
  • Probably a lot of extra fluff you’ll never use (but maybe you will!)
  • Be careful about losing your work or renaming scenes

Apart from that, they have many of the same features. You can put both into ebook format, add content for the front and back matter, add character profiles, organize research and notes and much more. Unless you have a Mac, these are the best out there for Windows. If you have a mac I would also try Scrivener. Ultimately I thought WriteWay Pro was the best but then finally tried Liquid Story Binder and like it much better. So you can try either one with their demos and take my word for it.  Either way, pick one and get writing!

Fantasy Series in the Works

I told you earlier that my next work would be fantasy. Well, turns out this story can’t be contained to one work. Shocker. I am thinking the work will be four books, which stinks because it would be a Tetralogy? That doesn’t sound near as cool as trilogy. Anyway, griping aside. Hopefully you will all respond well and I’ll attract some new readers as well.  I know after Shattered, anyone actually reading this might be disappointed to not see another thriller in the works. But hold on to those hats. Just because it’s a Fantasy doesn’t mean it can’t also be full of thrills, suspense and mystery. It is my quest to make that so. For the last week I’ve been outlining and brainstorming all four books and I think I’ve got it. Now to think of a name… Do you think a series has to have similar titles? Or titles that are individual? What do you think?

Next Novel: Fantasy? Reality with a touch of fantasy?

I’m going to discuss a bit and give a sneak peek into the next novel I’m working on. Among the many started and half finished novels I have accumulated since I started writing,  I found a little gem I started years ago. It is now being revisited and revamped. I can’t explain much without revealing what I don’t want spoiled. So here is the rough blurb thus far. Let me know what you think! Hate it? Love it? I really want to know one way or another!

Aia is a Bender. Benders are forbidden. To reveal oneself as a Bender is to be executed, or worse, Drained. Aia has lived her life in secret until someone close to her betrays her. Now on the run, Aia thinks the worse is behind her. But when a thought long-dead Bender emerges from the shadows and wants Aia’s help to exact revenge, Aia must decide whether to save the Kingdom that hates her or seek her own revenge. To do either requires the use of her gift: something she has been trying her whole life to ignore.  To do nothing will result in the death of everyone she loves, including herself. Aia must face the power that courses through her. But what will be revealed when she does?

What genre popped into your head? Fantasy? Thriller? Action-Adventure? This book started as an Urban Fantasy but as I’m writing more and more…I’m coming to realize it isn’t very fantasy except for those with “powers”. Yet a make believe setting seems to work best. But look at Carrie, The Exorcist….those girls had powers. And those weren’t considered Fantasy. Horror maybe (mine isn’t a horror FYI) but not fantasy. So I still have the option to keep this story as reality focused as possible with a twist of fantasy. Not urban fantasy or paranormal (no witches in New York or sparkly vampires falling in love with awkward girls) but a thriller with fantasy aspects. Sound doable? If you liked Shattered, would you read this?  Would you stay far away? Remember….Shattered was a thriller with fantasy aspects but it didn’t ruin it for you did it? Let me know your thoughts!