They Wrote What? 

I stumbled on a comment the other day where someone bragged about never touching a novel, claiming that fiction is nothing but a waste of time. They were adamant that anything fiction offers could be learned more directly elsewhere.

I couldn’t disagree more. Let’s explore why fiction is far from a trivial pursuit, and why we can’t dismiss fiction.


Why Fiction Matters

Labeling fiction as just make-believe stories misses the point. It’s like calling a gourmet meal just food. Sure, fiction is made up. I mean… yes, and? Using that as an argument against it is pretty weak. “Made up” or not, fictional stories journey into the deepest corners of human experience.

So, why does fiction matter? Here are ten reasons.


  1. Walking in Others’ Shoes: Fiction lets readers live countless lives, understand diverse perspectives, and navigate the complexities of different characters. It’s one thing to be told how someone feels or what someone did. But experiencing that through the medium of fiction makes it personal, visceral. There’s a ton of research backing up how fiction readers end up being more empathetic. It’s about seeing the world through someone else’s eyes and getting why they feel the way they do.
  2. Igniting Creativity: Diving into fictional worlds is a creativity booster. It pushes the imagination to its limits, sparking ideas that can solve real-world problems. There’s a clear link between enjoying novels and being more creative and open to new experiences.
  3. Sharpening the Brain: Tackling the twists and turns of a good plot is like a workout for the brain. It hones critical thinking and analytical skills, making you better deciphering complex situations, not just in the story but in real life, and this boost continues on for a while after you’ve finished reading fiction. Keep it up, though! Read consistently to keep this benefit going.
  4. Cultural Exploration: Fiction is a backstage pass to different cultures and historical eras, offering insights and awareness that are hard to come by elsewhere. It’s like a time machine, providing a deeper grasp of various societies and their histories.
  5. Language Mastery: Regularly reading fiction can seriously amp up your language and communication game. The rich narratives and diverse vocabulary found in fiction enhance your ability to express thoughts and connect with others effectively.
  6. Mental Escape Hatch: Fiction is a sanctuary for the mind, offering a break from the stress and monotony of daily life. It’s not just an escape; it’s a way to recharge and improve mental well-being.
  7. Moral Gymnasium: The ethical dilemmas and life lessons woven into fiction offer a playground for exploring complex moral questions in a nuanced way. It’s about wrestling with right and wrong in a safe, contemplative space.
  8. Fun: Let’s not forget, fiction is downright enjoyable. It’s a source of pleasure and entertainment, enriching our lives with stories that thrill, move, and inspire.
  9. Building Communities: Fiction draws people together, creating communities where fans can share, debate, and geek out over their favorite stories. It’s about connecting with others who get just why that plot twist blew your mind. I love talking to other readers about books we’ve loved and the stories within.
  10. Resilience and New Perspectives: Fictional tales of struggle and triumph can be incredibly motivating. They offer fresh perspectives on tackling life’s hurdles, showing that obstacles can be overcome, often in ways we might not expect.


Making the Case for Fiction

Saying fiction is a waste of time overlooks so much! Fiction is a cornerstone of cultural and intellectual life, offering insights into the human condition that are hard to replicate elsewhere. It’s a powerful tool for growth, understanding, and connection. Ignoring its value to your own detriment; you’ll be turning your back on an incredible source of wisdom, pleasure, and inspiration. It’s anything but a waste of time—it’s a vital part of our journey to understand the world and ourselves.

While I don’t have the space here to drop links, I’d encourage anyone curious to check out the swath of studies and discussions on the benefits of fiction. Look into publications from the fields of psychology, literature, and education to see just how fiction molds our brains, hearts, and societies.

(If you’d like to read my fiction, check the links to the right! You’ll find links to two free short stories, my novels, my Patreon, and more.)

“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” 
~ Anna Quindlen


Wait… Tarot for Non-Believers?


I love Tarot decks. Now, I also happen to be an Atheist. Tarot for non-believers? Does that seem like a contradiction? It’s not that, but it is something I’ve thought about a lot.

Tarot cards, often enveloped in an aura of mystique, are traditionally seen as tools for divination. However, their utility extends beyond fortune-telling. For the skeptic or non-believer, Tarot offers symbolism that can enhance personal introspection, creative thinking, and emotional understanding.


Deepening Meditation and Mindfulness

Tarot’s visual and symbolic complexity makes it an excellent aid for meditation. Whatever deck you choose, each card is a work of art, brimming with symbols that depict a myriad of human emotions and situations. By focusing on a card’s imagery while relaxing, one can enter a meditative state and open up to the subconscious. Meditation has many science-based benefits, and making a card, or several cards, your focus can unearth new insights into personal dilemmas, aspirations, and emotions.

For example, meditating on The Hermit may encourage one to explore a need for solitude and inner reflection, while The Empress could inspire thoughts on nurturing and abundance. This can lead to profound self-awareness and personal growth.


Reflective Tool for Personal Insight

In the hands of a non-believer, Tarot becomes a mirror reflecting the multifaceted aspects of the self. Drawing a card or spread can start a process of self-reflection, encouraging one to examine thoughts, feelings, and circumstances from different angles.

Consider a scenario where The Chariot appears in a spread about career advancement. This card might symbolize the drive and determination needed to succeed, prompting reflection on how these qualities manifest in one’s professional life. Sure, the reader drew the card absolutely by chance, but by considering how it relates to their life, or even if it doesn’t, the reader is thinking. Much of the time, that’s likely to bring new insights.


Stimulating Creative Thought and Problem-Solving

The Tarot deck, with its archetypal characters and scenarios, serves as a catalyst for creative thinking and problem-solving. Each card tells a story, and when these stories intersect in a reading, they form a complex narrative that can offer fresh perspectives on familiar problems.

In creative brainstorming or decision-making, using a Tarot spread, like the classic Celtic Cross Spread, can illuminate different aspects of a situation, helping to explore potential actions and outcomes. This narrative approach can break through mental blocks and open up innovative pathways for thought.

The reading may seem to fit the situation perfectly, or not at all. Either way, the reader is contemplating their question.


Tarot as a Comprehensive Learning Tool

Beyond its use in personal reflection, the Tarot is a compendium of human experience and cultural symbolism. Studying the cards exposes one to a range of archetypes and historical themes, offering lessons in psychology, mythology, and the arts. This educational journey can deepen one’s appreciation for the Tarot’s cultural and historical significance, irrespective of belief in its divinatory power.


Inspiration for Writers and Creatives

For the creatively inclined, Tarot can be a wellspring of inspiration. For example, I recently put a deck I designed, The Modern Wordsmith Tarot, for sale in my Etsy shop. This deck, which integrates themes of writing and creativity, can stimulate the imagination and aid in storytelling. Each card’s imagery and symbolism can spark ideas for character development, plot twists, or thematic exploration, or help authors think about the balance between writing and marketing.

Tarot for non-believers is not about foreseeing the future but about enriching the present. The cards offer a platform for meditation, a mirror for reflection, a source of creative inspiration, and a means for education. By engaging with the Tarot’s symbolic and narrative depth, one can gain valuable insights and perspectives, regardless of their stance on mysticism.

“A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.” ~ Earl Wilson



Creating the Creedverse, my alternate history steampunk western universe, has been an exhilarating journey. There’s good reason people enjoy creating fictional worlds, even if they aren’t authors or game masters. It’s rewarding, and it’s a blast.

World building in science fiction isn’t merely about setting a stage for characters to perform; it’s about birthing a milieu grows with vivid characters, events, and cultures. It needs history, technology, governance, customs, and fictional people to bring it to life. It must be alive with possibility.

In this post, I’ll share insights into the world-building process, emphasizing the significance of structured frameworks, detailed record-keeping, and leveraging modern tools like WorldAnvil, which has been invaluable in organizing the Creedverse.


Structured Frameworks for Depth and Consistency

When I first started really filling out the Creedverse–and this was in the early stages of writing my novel, Bodacious Creed: a Steampunk Zombie Western–I signed up for a site where I could make a personal wiki. The problem was, the site had no built-in framework for world building. It felt little different from creating a website back in the 90s, when we had to code each html page by hand.

Then, WorldAnvil came along, a site made for world building with the framework to back it up. By that, I mean categories, robust templates for each type of entry, easy linking of articles and so on, and a lot of other features. This made my job so much easier, and I quickly signed up and have loved it every since. (In fact, I’ve become friends with the wonderful creators of the site, and they’ve even featured me on their podcast.)

Applying their framework to each entry in the Creedverse ensures both depth and consistency. It’s like scaffolding that  keeps my fictional world solid, navigable, and consistent. The templates remind me of important details that might otherwise slip my mind. I don’t have to fill in all the details for everything, but when something is important, I’ll know to fill it in.

Some of the templates include the following:


  • Characters: For each character, I create a comprehensive profile that covers not only their physical description and personality but also their backstory, motivations, relationships, and evolution throughout the timeline. This helps ensure characters are multidimensional and integral to the world.
  • Locations: Every location I use the Creedverse, from the streets of San Francisco and Santa Cruz to the wilderness, is well-detailed. I consider geography, climate, culture, and the location’s significance to the narrative, creating a vivid backdrop that influences and is influenced by the characters. When I need a new setting, I can add it easily and make sure it fits in with what I’ve already detailed.
  • Technologies, Artifacts, and Other Items: The steampunk element of the Creedverse requires a focus on inventiveness. Each piece of technology I come up with, from steam-powered automatons to advanced medical devices, is documented, including its function, origin, societal impact, and limitations. I want to make sure that the technological aspects of the Creedverse are both imaginative and grounded in the story’s reality.
  • Governmental Structures: So far, I’ve dealt only with the U.S. government, as the Creedverse stories have all been set in the United States. Governmental structures, from local law enforcement to overarching government bodies, are outlined to provide a clear understanding of the world’s political dynamics, laws, and leaders, as well as the challenges and conflicts they face. As with many other aspects of my fictional world, I research how things were in the real world. While I often stick closely to it, the Creedverse is an alternate history, so some things differ, but I need to know how and why.


The Importance of Detailed Record-Keeping

With a universe as rich and complex as the Creedverse (this may seem like bragging, but throughout 2023 I added a lot to my world, and the total content of my WorldAnvil site is close to 400,000 words… a lot of information!), keeping detailed records is essential. This helps in maintaining internal consistency and provides me with a reference to use when I’m writing. Some elements I include in entries include:


  • Historical background
  • Cultural practices and beliefs
  • Economic structures
  • Technological progress
  • Political landscapes


While not every detail directly influences the narrative, this comprehensive knowledge base allows for a world that feels lived-in and real.


Harnessing the Power of WorldAnvil

In the digital age, tools like WorldAnvil have revolutionized the process of worldbuilding. WorldAnvil, in particular, offers a suite of features that cater to the needs of creators like myself, enabling the organization, categorization, and linking of every aspect of the Creedverse.


  • Organization: WorldAnvil’s platform allows me to easily navigate between characters, locations, technologies, and governance structures, making the process of referencing and cross-referencing seamless. After I’ve written an entry, I can have the site auto-link to other articles.
  • Templates: The platform’s structured forms for various worldbuilding elements prompt me to consider facets of my universe I might otherwise overlook, encouraging thoroughness and creativity.
  • Privacy and Sharing: While the bulk of my notes remain private for my reference, I have the option to share selected information with my readers. This not only enriches their experience but also invites them into the world I’ve created, fostering a deeper connection and engagement with the narrative.

You can read about some of the main characters and lot more.


I invite fellow creators and readers alike to explore the Creedverse on WorldAnvil, where I’ve made select information available to enhance the storytelling experience and offer a glimpse into the intricate process of world building. You can read about some of the main characters and much more.


Expanding Horizons Through Worldbuilding

I’d go so far as to say that creating the Creedverse has expanded my imagination, which was vivid to begin with! It’s required meticulous planning, using innovative tools, and a desire to see this world I birthded right out of history keep growing. Building a universe with its own set of rules, histories, and cultures is both daunting and exhilarating. It requires a balance between creativity and discipline. My hope is that this ensures it resonantes with my audience. Through structured frameworks, detailed record-keeping, and the capabilities offered by WorldAnvil, the Creedverse has grown into a living entity that continues to evolve and inspire me. Worldbuilding, at its core, is the heartbeat of science fiction and fantasy. It helps authors and other creators stories, games, and so on with life. It transforms mere ideas into universes that captivate, challenge, and transport us beyond the confines of our reality.

To get started world building yourself, I couldn’t recommend WorldAnvil more highly. Full disclosure: I am an affiliate—why wouldn’t I be?—but it’s totally worth using the free version of the site until you decide you want to take it further, and then, subscriptions are very reasonable.

And, if you sign up there, follow me on my personal WorldAnvil page!

If you’d like to dive into the fiction of the Creedverse, check the sidebar links. Happy reading!

“Nobody believes me when I say that my long book is an attempt to create a world in which a form of language agreeable to my personal aesthetic might seem real. But it is true.” ~ J. R. R. Tolkien


As the author of The Adventures of Bodacious Creed and the tales that take place in my weird western world, the Creedverse, I’m happy to guide you through the canyon maze of narratives and characters that populate this world I’ve created and love. Today, I’m pulling back the coach curtain and reveal what’s on the horizon for our adventures together. From upcoming novels to fresh short stories, let’s travel into the future of the Creedverse.


The Next Novel: Anna, Daughter of Creed

In the wake of my trilogy, The Adventures of Bodacious Creed, our journey continues with Anna, Daughter of Creed, the spearhead of The Amber Lynn Chronicles. This new trilogy will shine a spotlight on Anna Lynn Boyd, a character whose resilience and ingenuity have resonated deeply with many of you. Anna’s story tells of her empowerment and defiance in the face of a society that devalues women, echoing the struggles and triumphs of women both in the past and present.

Anna, Daughter of Creed intertwines with the latter two novels of the original trilogy, providing a fresh perspective on the events unfolding in Santa Cruz while James Creed navigates the challenges of San Francisco. My goal is to offer richer, more layered exploration of this time period, inviting readers to experience the saga through Anna’s eyes.


The Creedverse Expands on Patreon

Beyond the novels, the Creedverse is growing in exciting new ways through my Patreon. This platform has become a crucible of creativity, where I share exclusive short stories that delve into undiscovered corners of my fictional world. Each month, I publish four short stories, approximately one a week. They often expand on the novels with heretofore untold tales and unseen perspectives.

Each short story is exclusive to the Patreon and the backers there for six months, after which I plan to collect them into published collections, more Creedverse-themed books.


Future Narratives and Untold Tales

While The Amber Lynn Chronicles paves the way, the horizon teems with potential narratives. A second trilogy dedicated to James Creed beckons me, promising to delve deeper into the complexities of our resurrected hero. Similarly, the enigmatic Dockside Poltergeist awaits, ready to unveil its mysteries. These projects represent not just the continuation of our journey but an expansion into new territories, each brimming with challenges and revelations. As you can see, I have a lot planned, probably for at least the next decade.


Events, Marketing, and Community

The journey ahead is not just about crafting stories, but also about forging deeper connections with you, the reader. This year, I hope to cross paths with many of you at San Diego Comic-Con, made even more thrilling by my pro status. Despite challenges in securing badges for my son and me, I hope to enjoy this incredible celebration of geek culture.

Soon, I will launch the Kickstarter for Anna, Daughter of Creed, too! Through unique rewards, this campaign will invite you to be part of the creative process. It will also help me pay my editor, and more.


Creativity Amidst Life’s Demands

Writing fiction while managing a full-time job and being a single parent is a proverbial balancing act. I manage it by allocating time and energy across my various roles to ensure that each receives the attention it deserves. I’m dedicated to my craft and to you, my fellow adventurers.


The Path of Growth

The essence of writing is growth, discovery, and improvement. From my earliest days to the present, I’ve embraced learning as a cornerstone of my writing. Engaging with fellow writers, taking part in workshops, and devouring literature on the craft are just a few avenues through which I refine my craft. I want to ensure that each story I tell is a step forward in my quest to captivate and inspire.


The Power of Story

I want my fiction to be a source of enjoyment and reflection, offering a diverse experiences and perspectives. The power of narrative is not just in entertaining but also in enlightening. I hope my fiction encourages compassion.


Dreams and Aspirations

My ongoing dream is to weave stories that not only sustain me into retirement but also continue to kindle joy and wonder in you, my readers. The ultimate milestone is a life rich with creativity, community, and shared adventures in the Creedverse.

Stories contain magic. They unit, challenge, and transform us. Thank you for accompanying me on this journey. Together, let’s continue to explore the boundless possibilities that await us in the Creedverse.

“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.” ~ Enid Bagnold