Q&A With A Wordsmith: To Plot Or Pants

On Writing, Random Thoughts

Heya Lovelies,

As a writer taking a rather unique path, I often receive a wide range of questions. So far, I’ve covered some broad topics which you can find here and I’ll continue to shed some light on further questions. With luck, you’ll gain some understanding and insight along the way.

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, feel free to comment or drop me an email.


Question:
How do you decide whether to plot or pants your way through a manuscript?

Answer:

In case you haven’t heard, a common term thrown around by writers that don’t plot out their books are self-proclaimed pantsers — writers that write by the seat of their pants, without much of a plan beyond an idea. 

For some, that’s the only way to write. Otherwise it doesn’t feel as if the story is driving itself — these writers like to let their characters decide how to proceed. 

But for others, that’s asking for trouble. I couldn’t tell you how many started and  failed manuscripts are filed away for potential future use. These graveyards began with an idea but eventually it reached a point where I just didn’t know what to do next or figure out where I might’ve gone wrong. So now, I plot. 

There’s no right or wrong answer — the key is to do what works for you. Reaching The End is what matters most. 


For now, this will be my final Q&A session, since those fiction prompts are covering some of the same topics brought up by these questions. But if you have any specific questions in mind, feel free to comment or send me an email.  

Until next time,
Sarah

P. S. If you’d like to learn more about me, the Earthen Witch universe, my writing in general, or my other pursuits, feel free to peruse.

P. P. S. If you are interested in learning more about me, my books, and other various, important topics on a monthly basis, along with access to a free, ever-growing resource library of downloadable content, sign up for my newsletter.

Q&A With A Wordsmith: Choosing Settings

On Writing, Random Thoughts

Heya Lovelies,

As a writer taking a rather unique path, I often receive a wide range of questions. So far, I’ve covered some broad topics which you can find here and I’ll continue to shed some light on further questions. With luck, you’ll gain some understanding and insight along the way.

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, feel free to comment or drop me an email.


Question:
How did you decide on the settings for your books?

Answer:

During my days at university, I read about settings and how to pick the right one. I can’t recall if it was something included in one of my many writing classes, or if it was something I read elsewhere, but let me explain it as I remember it.

When a writer has a story idea in mind — even in the earliest stages of a story’s inception — it’s always good to think about settings. There are many things to consider, such as the story itself and the cast of characters. Even the genre of the story will play a part.

So let’s start with the genre. If you’re writing fantasy, odds are, you’re creating your own world — which means you are going to fabricate the location based on what your story requires. If you’re writing romance, especially a series, these tend to take place in small, pretty towns or bigger cities, depending on the story. These places can be fictitious, but they’re based in our reality and *could* exist. 

Derry, Maine — a famous and also fictitious town created by Stephen King is an excellent example of this. It’s not a bustling city like Bangor, but one of those smaller towns where everyone knows each other. And despite all the crazy things and deaths that happen, it’s not deserted.

It’s no secret that the genesis of my whole series began with a quick dream. A man leaning against an ornate light pole, looking out at a street of shopping pedestrians lined with cute little shops, with a hazy purple glow surrounding him. 

That was it. That was the dream.

The thing was: The place reminded me of one a few short hours away from where I grew up. I could envision the story happening there — with the town and it’s various people, shops, restaurants — even the neighboring rolling hills, farmlands, and the forests within Indiana’s largest state park. 

When it comes to deciding the location (or several) you have to consider what happens, too. Ask yourself: Does it make sense for the story’s events to take place there? 

Ultimately, you want readers to understand on some basic level that your story couldn’t have taken place anywhere else. 

Could you imagine Pennywise The Dancing Clown terrorizing Los Angeles and living in some unused part of the city’s subway system? 

Could you imagine the hobbits of Tolkien’s realm gallivanting around on Florida’s beaches?

Could you imagine the stones at Craig’s na Dun near Inverness actually standing in the middle of New York City’s Central Park?

The answer to those questions is no. The tales just wouldn’t be right if they aren’t in the right place for it. 

So when it came to considering the setting for Just Breathe and the events that would take place, there wasn’t any better place than Nashville, Indiana. 

If you’re struggling to find your story’s setting, consider your characters, what they’ll be doing, and eliminate places that don’t work until you find the one that does. 


Coming up, I’ll talk about how I decided whether to pants or plot through my books. 

Until next time,
Sarah

P. S. If you’d like to learn more about me, the Earthen Witch universe, my writing in general, or my other pursuits, feel free to peruse.

P. P. S. If you are interested in learning more about me, my books, and other various, important topics on a monthly basis, along with access to a free, ever-growing resource library of downloadable content, sign up for my newsletter.

Q&A With A Wordsmith: Choosing Titles

On Writing, Random Thoughts

Heya Lovelies,

As a writer taking a rather unique path, I often receive a wide range of questions. So far, I’ve covered some broad topics which you can find here and I’ll continue to shed some light on further questions. With luck, you’ll gain some understanding and insight along the way.

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, feel free to comment or drop me an email.


Question:
How did you decide on the titles of your books?

Answer:

I’ve already covered this one before. But, needless to say, titles should have some relation to the book. It could be a theme, a brief phrase, a name, or even a word that holds some significance. 

For my books, I’ve picked a combination of theme and significance. Just Breathe holds significance to controlling spiraling emotions due to post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, while also referring to a specific phrase used often between Aisling and Connor.

The same holds true to my other books. Stronger Than Blood is perhaps the best example of an exception to this process. The words are spoken once, but it does hold a strong significance in several ways. Blood in relation to vampires; blood in relation to Marcelline’s ancestry; and blood in relation to family.

But if you’re seeking help in deciding what your book’s title should be, all you can do is list ideas. List some more. And finally, consider the book itself. You might be surprised at why stands out to you.


Coming up, I’ll talk about how I decide on the settings of my books. 

Until next time,
Sarah

P. S. If you’d like to learn more about me, the Earthen Witch universe, my writing in general, or my other pursuits, feel free to peruse.

P. P. S. If you are interested in learning more about me, my books, and other various, important topics on a monthly basis, along with access to a free, ever-growing resource library of downloadable content, sign up for my newsletter.

Q&A With A Wordsmith: Challenging Beliefs

On Writing, Random Thoughts

Heya Lovelies,

As a writer taking a rather unique path, I often receive a wide range of questions. So far, I’ve covered some broad topics which you can find here and I’ll continue to shed some light on further questions. With luck, you’ll gain some understanding and insight along the way.

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, feel free to comment or drop me an email.


Question:
What perspectives or beliefs have you challenged with your books?

Answer:

Let’s be honest, my books aren’t likely to be considered in the future as literary masterpieces. There’s a good chance they’ll fade into the ether over the years.

But, for those that do give my books a chance, I hope I’ve shed some light on several important issues. Like how diversity can help shape a community. How people have their own histories and may not be what they seem on the outside. Or bringing about awareness. Like the lingering effects of long-term PTSD. How race, gender, etc. shouldn’t play a factor in how a person chooses to live their life.

I hope that through my books readers like you will see that the world is never just black or white, right or wrong. It just is. And it’s up to us to navigate it to the best of our abilities with open minds and hearts. The unknown doesn’t have to be scary or evil. 


Coming up, I’ll talk about how I decide on the titles of my books. 

Until next time,
Sarah

P. S. If you’d like to learn more about me, the Earthen Witch universe, my writing in general, or my other pursuits, feel free to peruse.

P. P. S. If you are interested in learning more about me, my books, and other various, important topics on a monthly basis, along with access to a free, ever-growing resource library of downloadable content, sign up for my newsletter.

Q&A With A Wordsmith: Next Book

On Writing, Random Thoughts

Heya Lovelies,

As a writer taking a rather unique path, I often receive a wide range of questions. So far, I’ve covered some broad topics which you can find here and I’ll continue to shed some light on further questions. With luck, you’ll gain some understanding and insight along the way.

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, feel free to comment or drop me an email.


Question:
What are your plans for the next book in the series?

Answer:

Before I dive into that, let me start with this:

If you haven’t yet read up to Safe, please keep in mind there are spoilers ahead. 

You’ve been warned.

Once the cliffhanger at the end of Listen happens, we know Zoe isn’t gone for good. We discover, through the events in Safe, what really happened to her and Aisling’s step-father. The reemergence of Zoe isn’t the surprise — her potential for redemption is. It doesn’t take Aisling and her group of friends long to figure that out. Of course, the tricky part is figuring out how to give her that chance.

By the time The End … for now comes along in Safe, Zoe, having lived with being a dark witch for years, is finally restored as to light. She joins the group while Martin is finally dead and in the Underworld where he belongs. But as she begins to settle into her new reality, Marcelline arrives. 

By the time Stronger Than Blood ends, Zoe’s story is primed to begin. Thus brings me to Enduring The Flames. It follows Zoe’s tale — which includes her deepening relationship with Vlad — yes, that Vlad. So far, I believe it is going to be a standalone much like Home was with Angela and Salvatore’s tale.

There is another project I’m working out. An anthology, of sorts, consisting of several historical events in the Earthen world. I’m anticipating each if these tales to be novelette or novellas in length — so the anthology (or series of them) will be more around the length of my other novels.


Coming up, I’ll talk about any perspectives or beliefs I’ve challenged with my books. 

Until next time,
Sarah

P. S. If you want to see for yourself what books I have to offer, find your FREE copies at your favorite retailer

P. P. S. If you are interested in learning more about me, my books, and other various, important topics on a monthly basis, along with access to a free, ever-growing resource library of downloadable content, sign up for my newsletter.

Q&A With A Wordsmith: Cover Design

On Writing, Random Thoughts

Heya Lovelies,

As a writer taking a rather unique path, I often receive a wide range of questions. So far, I’ve covered some broad topics which you can find here and I’ll continue to shed some light on further questions. With luck, you’ll gain some understanding and insight along the way.

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, feel free to comment or drop me an email.


Question:
What would you say to an author that wants to design their own cover?

Answer:

My answer is simple: if you have the skill set to do it and so it right, then by all means, go for it

However, if you aren’t well-versed in the sorcery known as Photoshop or even Affinity, and instead opting for something like Microsoft Word, then you need to reconsider.

As unfortunate as it is, people still judge books by their covers and of yours isn’t eye-catching, then I’m guessing you’ll be in a bit of a bind. If you use social media, ask your followers if any them have recommendations or those aforementioned magical talents. You may find they’re willing to do it on the cheap of even free for the experience of it.

Ultimately, if you love the end result of your cover, that’s all that really matters.


Coming up, I’ll talk about my upcoming book plans.

Until next time,
Sarah

P. S. If you want to see for yourself what books I have to offer, find your FREE copies at your favorite retailer

P. P. S. If you are interested in learning more about me, my books, and other various, important topics on a monthly basis, along with access to a free, ever-growing resource library of downloadable content, sign up for my newsletter.

Q&A With A Wordsmith: Writing Fast

On Writing, Random Thoughts

Heya Lovelies,

As a writer taking a rather unique path, I often receive a wide range of questions. So far, I’ve covered some broad topics which you can find here and I’ll continue to shed some light on further questions. With luck, you’ll gain some understanding and insight along the way.

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, feel free to comment or drop me an email.


Question:
How did you write a novel with over one hundred thousand words in under two months?

Answer:

Let me start out by giving you a little disclaimer: I am disabled, so I don’t work. I do, however, have a family and responsibilities at home to do so when I am able. 

As many of you may already know, my conditions that render me incapable of holding a job also limit what I can and cannot do in any given day.

When I start out with a book idea, I take my time. Flesh out the tale. Fill in gaps. Ask and answer questions. And so forth. 

I plan and I plot like crazy before I even write the first words. 

This can take days (if I’ve already been ruminating it for a while) or weeks if I’m starting entirely from scratch. And this time isn’t something I take into consideration for my writing timeline. 

Writing novels in short periods of time isn’t anything new. (Anyone ever heard of November’s National Novel Writing Month?

My goals, when I’m ready to begin drafting, is to write at least one chapter per day, which typically encompasses about three thousand words. That’s not a bad number when you already know the whole story.

Some days, the words fly out of me as I transcribe the movie of my book playing in my head, which helps for those days I’m unable to even emerge from a dark room and allows me to rest on weekends.

My point here is to say it’s not impossible and what I do isn’t a miracle in action. Honestly, if it took me six months or twelve to write a novel, it wouldn’t matter. 

The point is that I’m writing because I enjoy it. It’s therapeutic. And there’s nothing better.


Coming up, I’ll talk about what I’d say to an author that wants to design their own cover.

Until next time,
Sarah

P. S. If you want to see for yourself what books I have to offer, find your FREE copies at your favorite retailer

P. P. S. If you are interested in learning more about me, my books, and other various, important topics on a monthly basis, along with access to a free, ever-growing resource library of downloadable content, sign up for my newsletter.

Q&A With A Wordsmith: Why Twitter

On Writing, Random Thoughts

Heya Lovelies,

As a writer taking a rather unique path, I often receive a wide range of questions. So far, I’ve covered some broad topics which you can find here and I’ll continue to shed some light on further questions. With luck, you’ll gain some understanding and insight along the way.

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, feel free to comment or drop me an email.


Question:
How did you decide Twitter was the the right place for you?

Answer:

The decision to shift away from Instagram in favor of Twitter wasn’t an easy one. There were a few major issues that just weren’t fixable. 

My biggest revolved around convincing my mass of followers to not only notice my books (more importantly, my fiction), but to leave the app to learn more.

Even with keeping every book free, I was lucky to stir up enough interest to find one book download a week. The remaining few were generated primarily through my website and blog. 

Unfortunately, Instagram users are actively discouraged from leaving the app to look at a link. So that was one of the biggest must-haves for whichever platform I chose. 

To add insult to injury, it seemed that the majority of my Instagram following were interested in my poetry — the poetry I posted there only. At the first mention of fiction or my poetry book, The Silence Between Moonbeams, it was crickets. 

Another problem worth noting was the privacy policy offered by Facebook and their various platforms — Instagram included. That left me with a few options. Try something entirely new, like TikTok, or keep everything simple and work with something I was already somewhat familiar with.

Twitter fit the bill.

It is fast, generous with links in profiles and posts, and not reliant on pretty quotes, eye-catching workspaces, or bookstagram-worthy images to catch eyes for three seconds. So I, with the gentle encouragement from a dear friend, decided to give it a try. 

Since becoming active there, I’ve grown by several thousand followers, met tons of awesome new people — ones that are there for my fiction, advice, and so much more. My weekly book downloads are in the triple digits across all the various retailers that carry them. And my TBR (to be read) list is growing exponentially as I discover and befriend fellow writer friends.

I only wish I came to this realization sooner, but at least I’m there now. That’s what counts.


Coming up, I’ll share how I wrote my most recent novel in under two months.

Until next time,
Sarah

P. S. If you want to see for yourself what books I have to offer, find your FREE copies at your favorite retailer

P. P. S. If you are interested in learning more about me, my books, and other various, important topics on a monthly basis, along with access to a free, ever-growing resource library of downloadable content, sign up for my newsletter.

Q&A With A Wordsmith: Why Not Instagram

On Writing, Random Thoughts

Heya Lovelies,

As a writer taking a rather unique path, I often receive a wide range of questions. So far, I’ve covered some broad topics which you can find here and I’ll continue to shed some light on further questions. With luck, you’ll gain some understanding and insight along the way.

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, feel free to comment or drop me an email.


Question:
Why did you initially choose Instagram as your primary social media and then switch to Twitter after 5 years?

Answer:

When I was first starting out, I was doing both poetry and fiction. So, when I saw how other writers (mostly poets) were using Instagram, I decided to give it a try. 

In order to grow my following, I needed to post often and find readers for my writing. Since poetry was easy and quick, I was successful in my efforts to grow and make a name for myself. At least, that’s what I told myself for five years. 

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

While I did amass over two hundred thousand followers (yes, 200k) and succeeded in making a name for myself, I ended up attracting the fans of instapoetry, most of whom weren’t interested in my books. 

I saw the numbers week after week. The abysmal downloads of my books — even my poetry book The Silence Between Moonbeams ITALICS. The times I shared anything other than poems, were met with crickets.

Since my heart is in my fiction, far more than what my poetry offered me in terms of therapeutic benefits, I came to the realization that all that effort — all those years — were wasted in the effort. 

I needed to make a change but the whole concept terrified me. But when I finally made the decision and switched, I’m grateful I did. 

Better late than never.


Coming up, I’ll expand more on why I decided to switch to Twitter.

Until next time,
Sarah

P. S. If you want to see for yourself what books I have to offer, find your FREE copies at your favorite retailer

P. P. S. If you are interested in learning more about me, my books, and other various, important topics on a monthly basis, along with access to a free, ever-growing resource library of downloadable content, sign up for my newsletter.

Q&A With A Wordsmith: Character Relations

On Writing, Random Thoughts

Heya Lovelies,

As a writer taking a rather unique path, I often receive a wide range of questions. So far, I’ve covered some broad topics which you can find here and I’ll continue to shed some light on further questions. With luck, you’ll gain some understanding and insight along the way.

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, feel free to comment or drop me an email.


Question:
Which of your characters do you relate the most with and why?

Answer:

Plenty of writers agree that in order to tell a good story, we must disguise the truth within the fiction. For me, that included my first heroine. 

Aisling, from Just Breathe and beyond, was modeled after me. Her history wasn’t unlike mine, nor were her reactions to the world around her. I wanted to write a story of a haunted woman with a tragic past and give her a chance to find her inner strength.

Through her, I have been able to experience her triumphs, her failures, her love and her losses. It has given me strength to keep fighting for my own future. 


Coming up, I’ll talk about my initial decision to use Instagram as my primary social media, only to switch to Twitter after over five years.

Until next time,
Sarah

P. S. If you want to see for yourself what books I have to offer, find your FREE copies at your favorite retailer

P. P. S. If you are interested in learning more about me, my books, and other various, important topics on a monthly basis, along with access to a free, ever-growing resource library of downloadable content, sign up for my newsletter.