One thing that becomes obvious if you read much is that literature transcends storytelling. Stories provide vicarious experiences and allow us to live countless lives, feel profound emotions, and explore the depths of the human condition through multitudes of characters. They’re gateways into worlds where we bond with characters who, though birthed from imagination, become as familiar to us as old friends. As readers, the moments that linger long after we turn the last page evoke emotions from the heights of elation to the depths of despair. Our connections to fictional characters heighten our engagement with the story and foster a deeper understanding of ourselves, others, and the world.

The Essence of Emotional Connection

Why do fictional characters captivate us? It’s because they encapsulate the myriad emotions and experiences that define the human experience, making it natural for us to empathize with their journeys. Writers imbue characters with hopes, fears, triumphs, and tribulations that echo our own, creating a mirror of our own lives. When a character laughs, we share in their joy; when they weep, we feel the sting of their tears. This empathetic bond is the alchemy of storytelling, and it’s a kind of magic. It blurs the lines between the real and the imagined, drawing us deeper into the narrative, be it short story, novel, or otherwise.

Crafting Characters That Resonate

Creating characters that resonate deeply with readers requires an understanding of human nature and also the ability to render it in all its complexity on the page. That’s not to say that young writers can’t create remarkable characters, just that the more experience you have, the more you understand others, the more believable your characters will become.

They must feel real, with backgrounds, experiences, dreams, flaws, and growth that unfolds organically over the course of the story. They should be as diverse and multifaceted as the real world. Modern writers know how important it is to write about characters from different backgrounds, providing not just representation for more readers, but for the sake of reflecting reality. Writing fiction is a chance to offer a spectrum of perspectives that allow every reader to find a piece of themselves within the story. A protagonist’s journey from adversity to resilience, for example, can offer inspiration, prompting readers to reflect on their own capacity for strength in the face of challenges.

The Role of Conflict and Resolution

Conflict is the crucible that tests and transforms characters. It drives the narrative forward and forges a deeper connection with the reader. Through conflict, characters confront their deepest fears, make hard choices, and develop in meaningful ways. These moments of adversity reveal the core of a character’s being, inviting readers to invest emotionally in their journey.

The resolution of a conflict may be triumphant or tragic, but they should feel right for the story and bring a sense of closure for readers. A well-executed resolution can stir a wide range of emotions, offering a sense of catharsis or prompting introspection about the narrative’s deeper meanings.

Empathy and Understanding

Reading is an exercise in empathy. In fact, it’s said that readers are generally more empathetic than non-readers, because they frequently step into the shoes of others and view the world from their perspective. Regularly connecting with characters on an emotional level enhances the reading experience and even enriches our real-world interactions. By experiencing the world through the eyes of diverse characters, we gain insights into lives and cultures different from our own.

While I know this information will be helpful to aspiring writers, I’ve also written this article for readers. The emotional journey we undertake with characters infuses literature, and by that I mean all fiction genres—with its enduring power and appeal. It transforms reading from a solitary act into a shared experience, a dialogue between the reader, the characters, and the author that resonates long after the story ends. Good fiction takes us on emotional voyages, entertaining us, challenging us, and prompting reflection on the human condition. Ultimately, the true magic of literature lies in the emotional odysseys it invites us to join, where we explore the landscape of human emotion and discover universal truths that connect us all.

One More THing

If you’d like to hear about all the stories I’m sharing on my Patreon, my steampunk western novels, news about when I’m attending conventions, to get alerted about new blog posts here, and much more, follow me on Substack. I send out a newsletter from there once a week on Tuesday morning.

“The three things that matter most in a story are characters, characters and characters.” ~ Bob Gale


As a writer, I’ve encountered a lot of advice–some invaluable, others not so much. Some, while potentially beneficial in moderation, can severely limit creativity and storytelling when taken to extremes. In this post, I’ll delve into three bad bits of writing advice that I’ve encountered recently and give explain why authors shouldn’t take them seriously.

What follows are three particularly egregious examples of bad writing advice, and why they’re so bad.


Do Not Use Prologues

One of the most contentious pieces of advice I’ve come across is the staunch opposition to including prologues in novels. Critics often argue that prologues can deter readers, suggesting that they serve as unnecessary preambles rather than engaging hooks. Evidently, some readers even skip them!

This perspective overlooks the unique role that prologues can play in setting the stage for a story. A good prologue can serve multiple purposes. It can provide essential backstory or context that enriches the reader’s understanding of the ensuing narrative. For instance, a prologue might introduce a historical event, a myth, or a legend that lays the groundwork for the story. Alternatively, it might offer a glimpse into a pivotal moment from a perspective not featured in the rest of the novel, adding layers of depth and intrigue to the narrative tapestry.

Prologues can help to create suspense or foreshadowing key themes and events. For example, in my novel, Bodacious Creed and the San Francisco Syndicate, the discovery of a body buried at an abandoned farm south of San Francisco hints at crimes yet undiscovered. By offering a glimpse of what’s to come, an author can pique readers’ curiosity and draw them into the story with a sense of anticipation. Ensure that the prologue is directly relevant to the story and crafted in a way that complements the narrative rather than detracting from it.

Also, recognize that prologues are distinct from chapters. They are not simply “Chapter One” by another name. By design, prologues stand apart from the main narrative, offering unique insights or setting the stage in a way that chapters, which propel the story forward, cannot. Dismissing prologues outright can rob a story of a powerful tool for engagement and depth.


Write Only When You Have Something to Say

“Write only when you have something to say.” On the surface, this advice seems sensible, encouraging writers to speak with purpose and clarity. However, it harbors an insidious implication: that one should wait for inspiration or a fully formed idea before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). This waiting game can be the death knell for creativity.

Writing is as much about discovery as it is about expression. It’s a process through which ideas are explored, refined, and brought to life. By writing regularly, even without a goal in mind, writers can unearth thoughts and narratives that were previously obscured in the recesses of their minds. This exploratory process can lead to unexpected insights, interesting stories, and a richer, more nuanced understanding of the themes at hand.

The discipline of writing regularly hones one’s craft. It ensures that when inspiration does strike, the writer is better equipped to capture and express it effectively. Waiting for a fully formed idea before writing is akin to a musician waiting to be proficient before practicing–it’s counterproductive and inhibits growth.


Only Conclude a Chapter at the End of a Scene

Another piece of advice that I’ve found baffling is the notion that chapters must not end in the middle of a scene. This rigid guideline ignores the myriad narrative techniques at a writer’s disposal and the dynamism they can bring to a story.

Ending a chapter mid-scene can be a powerful tool for maintaining momentum and reader engagement. It can create suspense and encourage readers to turn the page to find out what happens next. This technique, often referred to as a cliffhanger, can be especially effective in genres that thrive on tension and suspense, such as thrillers and mysteries.

This approach can offer a more immersive reading experience, mirroring the unpredictability and fluidity of real-life events. Life doesn’t adhere to neat, chapter-like segments; it’s full of interruptions and unexpected turns. Reflecting this in writing can add a layer of realism and relatability to the narrative.

While writing advice can be invaluable, it’s essential to approach it with a critical mind and consider how it applies to your voice and storytelling style. Writing should be a playground for creativity, exploration, and expression. By questioning conventional wisdom and embracing a more nuanced approach, whatever writing advice you encounter, you can unlock additional dimensions of storytelling and connect with readers in profound and unexpected ways.


P.S. I have a Patreon now where I’m sharing four stories every month! For your $5/month subscription, you’ll get to read these exciting tales that take place in the steampunk weird western world of my Bodacious Creed novels. Since I started it last month, four tales are already there for your enjoyment!

Check it out here:

Jonathan Fesmire | Crafting Bodacious Stories | Patreon

“Writing is an act of discovering what you think and what you believe.” ~ Dan Pink


Hey there, aspiring author. Have you come up with a writing routine? If you’re serious about their craft and committed to making significant strides in your literary career, you’ll want to do that soon. A thoughtfully established routine enhances productivity, sharpens writing skills, and enables the seamless construction of interesting narratives. In this guide, we’ll explore how to create a writing routine that harmonizes with your life and creative endeavors.

This is the second post I’ve written recently about creating a writing routine, but it’s a worthy subject to revisit.

Understanding the Importance of a Writing Routine

Creating a writing routine about fostering a consistent, sustainable practice that cultivates creativity and combats the dreaded writer’s block. It provides a framework that guides you towards achieving your literary goals. Recognizing the value of a routine can transform your approach to writing from a sporadic hobby to a professional endeavor.

Setting Realistic Goals

Setting achievable, clear goals is the first step in establishing a routine that motivates and even propels you towards your larger aspirations. Whether you plan to write a set number of words each day or finish a novel chapter a week, these targets should stretch your abilities without leading to burnout. Goals act as milestones. They’re tangible evidence of your progress, and each goal met gives a sense of success that can help propel you forward.

Designating a Dedicated Writing Space

The space where you choose to write plays an important role, as it will influence your creativity and concentration. Create an environment that minimizes disruptions and also visually and emotionally inspires your writing. The wall I face at my desk has beautiful canvas portraits of my son and me; a digital picture frame rotating art that I like; my Writers of the Future Honorable Mention certificate, framed; a fantasy map from the Hero’s Journal; a Bodacious Creed calendar; a Ginny Di calendar (she’s a Dungeons and Dragons YouTuber); a picture of my D&D character, and various buttons from Disneyland and conventions. All these give me a sense of home and comfort in writing space, which makes me feel at ease and able to write well.

To generalize, tailoring your space to reflect your personal tastes and preferences can transform it into a sanctuary of creativity, where ideas flow freely and distractions remain at bay.

Crafting a Writing Schedule with Flexible Scheduling

The cornerstone of a solid writing routine is finding a consistent time each day dedicated to writing, preferably when you feel most creative and alert. I use a flexible approach to scheduling and write in between other important tasks. When I’m working on a blog, like this one, a short story, or a novel, I often work in writing sprints. That’s where I dedicate perhaps 15 to 25 minutes just to writing, and after that, I take a short break.

You probably have some sense of when you’re most productive. Try to schedule writing for that time, to fit your natural productivity peaks. This can significantly enhance the quality of your output, be it prose, poetry, or brainstorming.

Embracing Rituals and the Power of Habit

Making writing as habitual as other everyday activities can demystify the process and reduce resistance to starting each session. Small pre-writing rituals can act as cues to your brain, signaling that it’s time to shift into a creative mode. These rituals, whether it’s brewing a pot of coffee or organizing your workspace, can significantly ease the transition into a productive writing mindset. I’ll sometimes watch a few recent news videos, or free-write for ten or fifteen minutes in my journal. Since I’ve made it a habit to work on my fiction after, these rituals prime my mind for that purpose.

Using Tools and Resources

The right set of tools can make a world of difference in organizing your thoughts and maintaining focus on your writing projects. From sophisticated writing software that helps structure your narratives to simple timers that keep your writing sprints on track, these resources can ease the logistical burdens of writing. This allows you to dedicate more mental energy to the creative aspects of your work, enhancing both efficiency and enjoyment.

Some that I use include the following.


  • 4thewords – If you find video games addictive, why not use that to increase your writing output? On 4thewords, you can battle various monsters and make progress through a fantasy world, all through writing. Create projects composed of individual files, keeping your writing organized here, too. In my 4thewords account, I keep my journal, win battles by pasting in the articles I write for my day job, and even organize and write the first drafts of short stories and novels.
  • Scrivener – Scrivener makes it easy to organize all the parts of your books, from non-fiction to novels. It’s a robust software package that’s also affordable. And, if you don’t love the default look, you can switch to another theme. After I write my a scene into 4thewords for whatever novel I’m in the middle of, I then paste it into Scrivener.
  • World Anvil – Not a writing site per-se, World Anvil is the ideal platform for world building. You can create multiple worlds, and populate them with characters, locations, and so much more. Get a glimpse at what you can do on World Anvil by checking out the world of my novels, the Creedverse. (Keep in mind that what you’ll get is just a taste of my world. I’ve made enough information public to wet the appetite for my novels, but most of the information I use in my books is private. How much information do I have? Try nearly 400,000 words so far!)

Prioritizing Writing

To make writing a non-negotiable part of your day, it’s crucial to establish boundaries and communicate the importance of this time to those around you. Viewing your writing as a paramount task underscores its significance in your life and ensures that it receives the respect and time it deserves. This commitment signals to both yourself and others that your writing is not merely a hobby, but a vital aspect of your identity.

Mindfulness and Breaks

Integrating mindfulness practices into your routine can significantly clear your mind and enhance your creative output. Try incorporating regular breaks and mindfulness exercises, such as meditation or leisurely walks, to rejuvenate your mind and body. These practices not only prevent burnout but also foster a mental environment where creativity can thrive, leading to richer and more nuanced writing. Also, while I write almost every day, I’ll take a day off if I’m feeling overworked, but I’ll get back to my writing the next day.

Finding Your Community

Building connections with fellow writers can offer invaluable support, motivation, and feedback on your work. Whether it’s through local writing groups, online forums, or social media platforms, engaging with a community of like-minded individuals can provide a sense of belonging and shared purpose. This network can become a source of inspiration, challenge, and encouragement, pushing you to refine your craft and persevere through challenges.

Attending conventions, first as a paying member, and later as a guest author, or a vendor, is another fantastic way to meet other writers. I have a lot of author friends, many of whom you’ve surely heard of, that I’ve met at various cons.

Keeping the Well Filled

To sustain creativity, take part in activities that fuel your imagination, whether it’s reading widely, exploring new hobbies, or simply engaging in thoughtful observation of the world around you. These experiences enrich your inner well of ideas, ensuring that you have a diverse reservoir of material to draw upon in your writing.

Reviewing and Adjusting Your Routine

An effective writing routine does not remain static. Stay open to tweaking it to ensure it continues to serve you well. It’s meant to support your growth and development as a writer.

Developing a writing routine is a personal journey that demands a blend of discipline, flexibility, and self-awareness. Embrace realistic goal-setting, create an inspiring workspace, adopt flexible scheduling, and incorporate habits and mindfulness into your practice. In this way, you can craft a routine that propels your writing forward while nurturing your creative spirit.

“Just get it down on paper, and then we’ll see what to do with it.” ~ Maxwell Perkins




I’m the author of the steampunk zombie western series, The Adventures of Bodacious Creed, and one thing I’ve known about since starting the first novel, Bodacious Creed: a Steampunk Zombie Western, is the main discovery that revolutionizes the world’s technology also connects to another side.

Okay, what does that mean? Do I mean “the other side,” as in the hereafter? Or another dimension? Maybe. Honestly, that’s all I can really say at this point. This aspect of the luminiferous ether, which is the key that unlocks greater electrical power, basic artificial intelligence, and much more, finally gets revealed in the third novel, Bodacious Creed and the San Francisco Syndicate.

I’m currently writing a short story that involves it as well, and that will be the story my Patreon subscribers will get in mid-February. If you’re interested in reading a lot more Creedverse stories, please sign up for just $5 a month! You’ll be supporting me and my son. I’m a single parent of a terrific kid with autism, and every bit helps.

Spiritualism in the Creedverse goes beyond what it ever could in our world, as mediums no longer need to put on shows with trickery. Here, the hum of machinery and the whispers from beyond the veil exist in harmony for those in the know.

In the final novel in my The Adventures of Bodacious Creed triology, and in my upcoming Patreon story, readers get a glimpse of how technology and the mystical merge. How? With the use of spirit rings, celestium alloy, and the luminiferous ether, Let’s delve into the complexities of connecting with the otherworldly in the Creedverse.

In my envisioned world, spiritualism flourishes at the edge of society amidst the backdrop of an industrial revolution powered by ether, steam, and steel. The movement captures humanity’s enduring quest to pierce the veil of mortality, reflecting the spiritualism movement of our own world.

Real historical figures like Mary Ellen Pleasant, and members of the Theosophical Society, including Madam Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Colonel Henry Steel Olcott, and William Quan Judge, are around to possibly make appearances in my fiction.

The Spirit Ring: A Technological Marvel

The spirit ring, a creation of my characters Tobey and Esther Ghering, makes it possible for characters to connect with the unknown. This device, infused with a special form of celestium alloy, acts as a bridge to the unseen, enabling communication with voices that seem to emanate from the ether. Through this narrative element, I explore the mystery of these communications: Are they the lingering consciousness of individuals who have passed, or is the ether itself, a collective consciousness, reaching out to the living? The spirit ring is a symbol of the blurred lines between science and the supernatural in the Creedverse, challenging both characters and readers to question the nature of reality and the afterlife.

The Luminiferous Ether: The Creedverse’s Mystical Foundation


The concept of the luminiferous ether, borrowed and expanded from historical scientific theories, serves as the mystical foundation of the Creedverse. This ethereal dimension is the life force that powers the world’s technological wonders and spiritual practices. It’s within this omnipresent–yet other-dimensional–ether that I posit the existence of a repository for human essence. Within it exist thoughts, memories, and perhaps the very soul.

Celestium Alloy: The Key to Unseen Realms

Anna Lynn Boyd, a protagonist in The Adventures of Bodacious Creed and the main character of my upcoming series, The Anna Lynn Cornicals, invented the first celestium alloy and several variations of this versatile metal, which draws the luminiferous ether into her world.

Later, others, including the Gherings, created their own formulations with other powerful properties. And, the Gherings distributing their sprit rings marked a juncture in the Creedverse, bridging the gap between the tangible world and the realm of spirits. Their form of celestium alloy serves as the backbone of spirit rings. Place a crystal ball on top of one of these rings, and the vibrations resonate with the energies of the ether and the human mind.

To explore spiritualism in the Creedverse, I combined it with my fictional celestium alloy, allowing me to explore the intersection of technology and the supernatural. I wanted to raise questions about the mechanisms of communication with the spirit world, inviting readers to ponder whether these interactions are grounded in science or if they touch upon something more profound and inexplicable.

The Creedverse Conundrum: The Intersection of Science and the Supernatural


So, are these phenomena rooted in scientific principles, or do they venture into the realm of the metaphysical? Though characters will surely debate this in the Creedverse, I don’t know if I’ll ever fully answer that question. Instead, I’d like to challenge readers to navigate the murky waters between empirical evidence and the mysteries of existence. I aim to not only captivate the imagination but also to provoke thoughtful consideration about consciousness, the possibility of an afterlife, and the essence of what it means to be human in a world where the boundaries of reality are constantly being redefined.

In weaving the narrative of the Creedverse, I’ve endeavored to create a world where the marvels of technology coexist with the enigmatic allure of the spiritual, where the quest for knowledge and understanding transcends the confines of the physical world. It’s a realm that invites both characters and readers to embark on a journey of discovery, to question the limits of human understanding, and to marvel at the mysteries that lie at the heart of existence.

And, if there is no afterlife, our thoughts, shared in stories, articles, blogs, social media posts, and more will continue on for a long time, like memories in the ether.

“More smiling, less worrying. More compassion, less judgment. More blessed, less stressed. More love, less hate.” ~ Roy T. Bennett


As the author of the Adventures of Bodacious Creed series and upcoming novels in my corner of the multiverse, which I call the Creedverse, I enjoy blending historical events with the world of my creation. A perfect example of this is my depiction of the hoodlum revolt of 1877 in San Francisco, a real-world event that I’ve reimagined in my short story, Siege! A Bodacious Creed Story.

The Real-World Hoodlum Revolt


In July 1877, chaos engulfed the streets of San Francisco. Originating as a labor protest by unemployed workers, the demonstration soon turned violent. Anti-Chinese sentiment was rampant, driven by economic strife and job competition. Chinese immigrants, seen as undercutting the labor market, bore the brunt of the rioters’ fury. They torched buildings and protected in the streets of Chinatown. Many were injured or killed in a city fraught with racial and economic tensions. The local police force, overwhelmed by the scale of the violence, struggled to restore order. It was only with the intervention of federal troops that the rioting finally ceased.

The Creedverse Reimagining: SIEGE! A BODACIOUS CREED STORY


In my Creedverse, this historical backdrop sets the stage for Siege! A Bodacious Creed Story. Here, the story takes a fictional twist with James Creed, a former U.S. Marshal and a central figure in my series, playing a heroic role during the first night of the riots. In my narrative, Creed, now a private investigator, takes it upon himself to protect a group of Chinese individuals, including a family in their teahouse, as well as the son of Wu Tingfeng, leader of the Wu Cai Tong, and some of Wu’s men. This element of heroism woven into the fabric of historical events adds depth and action to the story. He also protects an 11-year-old white girl who snuck out of her home to visit a young friend in Chinatown and finds herself in the middle of the siege.

Furthermore, the Creedverse introduces a steampunk elements, including several auto sapients. These advanced humanoid automatons, a signature of the Creedverse’s technological progress, participate in the conflict on both sides.

A Fusion of Fact and Fiction


The integration of historical facts with the fantastical elements of the Creedverse offers a blend of reality and imagination. I was a chance for me–and readers–to explore “what if” scenarios: what if advanced technology existed in the late 19th century? How would it have affected historical events? Through Siege! A Bodacious Creed Story, I aim to offer not just entertainment but also a deeper reflection on history, technology, and the human condition.

For those eager to dive into this fascinating intersection of history and fiction,Siege! A Bodacious Creed Story is now available to my Patreon subscribers. It’s a thrilling addition to the Creedverse, promising action, historical intrigue, and the innovative twist of steampunk technology. If you subscribe to my Patreon for $5/month, you’ll get a long story (at least 3,000 words) and at least three flash fiction pieces set in the Creedverse every month, with more coming as additional subscribers join. I’m happy to offer this fans of my novels to enjoy more of my fiction. Each story is exclusive to the Patreon for six months from when it went live!

Check it out on my Patreon page if you’re interested!

In the end, the story of the hoodlum revolt in both the real world and the Creedverse underscores the complexities of societal change and the enduring spirit of humanity. It’s a reminder of the power of storytelling to reshape our understanding of the past and to imagine the endless possibilities of alternate realities.

“San Francisco itself is art… Every block is a short story, every hill a novel. Every home a poem, every dweller within immortal.” ~ William Saroyan



This article is not a guide on how to write specific content like stories or articles. For those interested in story writing, the Writers of the Future free online workshop is a great resource, and composition classes can teach you article writing. Here, we focus on creating an effective writing routine, tailored to those with a passion for writing but find themselves constrained by other responsibilities like school or a full-time job. The goal is to help you carve out time for writing and use it efficiently, fostering a daily practice that nurtures your writing skills and creativity.


The Essence of Writing Sprints

Let’s introduce the valuable concept of writing sprints. What are they? Writing sprints are short, focused bursts of writing where you dedicate typically no more than 30 minutes to nothing but writing. The concept is straightforward: set a timer and write until it goes off. During this time, distractions such as social media, web browsing, or games are off-limits. If you find yourself stuck, switch to a different document to free write. This can help unclog your mind and get your main project back on track. If you draw a blank, persist; more often than not, words will start flowing. For most writers, three or four of these sprints a day are sufficient to make significant progress on projects like short stories, novels, or world-building. This approach turns writing into a manageable, less daunting task and can significantly increase your productivity.

Writing sprints are based on the Pomodoro Technique, which can be used for a variety of tasks, and is well-worth learning about.

The Role of Freewriting

Freewriting before launching into your writing sprints is another effective tool. It serves as a mental warm-up, loosening up your creative faculties to ensure smoother writing during your sprints. You can start with just ten minutes of freewriting–unstructured, spontaneous writing that flows without concern for grammar, style, or coherence. This exercise primes your brain, making the transition into more focused writing easier. The beauty of freewriting lies in its ability to unlock your subconscious mind, often leading to surprising bursts of inspiration and clarity. It can also be a therapeutic process, helping to alleviate any anxieties or pressures associated with your writing projects.


Dietary and Lifestyle Considerations

What you eat and how you rest significantly impact your mental clarity and creativity. Opt for healthful foods and limit sugar intake to maintain a clear mind. A well-rested brain is crucial for creativity, so ensure you get a good night’s sleep. If needed and feasible, a short nap can do wonders to rejuvenate your mental state. Avoiding heavy meals before your writing sessions can also be beneficial, as they can lead to sluggishness and distract you from your focus. Staying hydrated is equally important; sometimes, a glass of water can be all it takes to refresh your mind and keep the creativity flowing.

Balancing Writing with Other Responsibilities

Many aspiring writers juggle other significant commitments. Nevertheless, with dedication, carving out 45 minutes to an hour each day for writing is achievable.

A routine could look like this: start with about ten minutes of freewriting to prime your mind. Then, embark on two 15-minute writing sprints, with a 5-minute break between each sprint and the freewriting session. This schedule not only helps in steadily progressing your writing projects but also in enhancing your writing skills. Consistent practice is key to forging neural pathways in the brain, making your writing more efficient. This disciplined approach helps to embed writing into your daily life, turning it into a habit rather than a task. Remember, the key is consistency; even on busy days, a shortened version of this routine can help maintain momentum.


Expect Progress and Improvement

Initially, your word count might be modest, but don’t be discouraged. Like any skill, writing improves with practice. Over time, you’ll likely notice an increase in both the quantity and quality of your output. The routine you establish will facilitate the development of these skills, leading to a more efficient and enjoyable writing experience. It’s important to track your progress, as seeing improvements over time can be a great motivator. Don’t hesitate to adjust the routine as you find what works best for you; the goal is to create a sustainable, productive writing practice.

Creating an effective writing routine means incorporating writing sprints and freewriting, and can significantly boost your writing efficiency and skill. Remember, this journey is about consistent practice and gradual improvement. By dedicating focused time to your writing each day (or at least most days!) and adopting these techniques, you can make the most of your writing time, regardless of your other obligations. Embrace this routine as a pathway to enhancing your writing and unlocking your creative potential.

“Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.” ~ Ray Bradbury



When it comes to the art of genre blending, I consider my fictional world, the Creedverse, prime example of how mixing elements from different genres can create a cohesive and organic milieu. Rather than merely mashing various genres together, the Creedverse weaves them into a seamless narrative. Let’s delve into how the mix of steampunk, western, and zombie elements work together to form my unique weird western world.

(The Creedverse is the weird west setting for my series, The Adventures of Bodacious Creed, several short stories, and my upcoming trilogy, The Anna Lynn Chronicles. Two of those stories are available, for free. Just check the sidebar!)



Steampunk and Western: A Natural Confluence

The Creedverse is set in an alternate timeline, and in the Wild West. That’s the same period when most steampunk fiction takes place, aka., the Victorian era in the U.K. Steampunk isn’t confined to the geographical boundaries of England but extends to the global stage of the time, including the United States and its Wild West, which allows for a natural fusion of steampunk and western elements.

In the Creedverse, you won’t find the steampunk aesthetic shoehorned in for mere visual appeal. Instead, it’s integrated into the fabric of the society, influencing everything from transportation to practical appliances to weaponry. The presence of steam and ether-powered machinery alongside horses and revolvers isn’t just plausible; it’s a reflection of the era’s innovative spirit.


The Organic Emergence of Zombies

The introduction of zombies in the Creedverse isn’t a random twist or a forced element to add shock value. It’s a logical extension of the world’s technological advancements. In this universe, zombies aren’t products of magic or a viral outbreak. Their existence is a direct consequence of steam-era technology, particularly the pursuit of resurrection.

Take the character of James “Bodacious” Creed, for instance the titular zombie in Bodacious Creed: a Steampunk Zombie Western. His resurrection through steam-era technology gives him traits reminiscent of zombies, such as enhanced strength and a ghostly complexion. However, he retains his intelligence and personality, setting him apart from traditional zombie portrayals.

On the other hand, the Creedverse also includes zombies that align more with the Romero-style, mindless creatures hungry for flesh. These beings are not anomalies but the result of imperfect resurrection technology. In fact, the people who resurrected Creed are the only ones who have mastered this technology. This highlights the complexities and dangers inherent in pushing the boundaries of science.

So, in the Creedverse, the blending of steampunk, western, and zombie genres isn’t a mere juxtaposition of disparate elements. I hope others see it as a thoughtful and organic integration that enriches the narrative. The technological advancements of the steampunk genre naturally extend to the setting of the Wild West, and the foray into resurrection technology logically leads to the emergence of zombies.



Beyond the Creedverse: A Universal Approach

So, that’s a good overview of how I’ve handled the art of genre blending in my Creedverse. This technique can be a powerful tool for storytellers across various genres, including fantasy, mystery, horror, and science fiction. It’s not just about combining elements from different genres but about weaving them together in a way that feels natural and enhances the story.


Creating Unique Worlds

Here are some genre blending, or bending, ideas to explore.


  • Fantasy and Modern Settings: Imagine blending high fantasy with a contemporary urban setting. Elves with smartphones and wizards in business suits can create a world that feels both familiar and fantastical, as long as the magical elements are integrated into the fabric of modern society. Perhaps the capabilities of their technology arise from magic inherent in the world. In that case, what might fuel their technology, and what might be the price of widespread use of this magic?
  • Science Fiction and Historical Eras: Science fiction elements like time travel or alien encounters can be organically incorporated into historical settings. The key is to ensure these elements influence the historical context in believable ways, shaping the society’s culture, politics, and daily life.
  • Horror and Mystery: Combining horror with mystery requires a delicate balance. The supernatural elements of horror should serve the investigative narrative of the mystery, adding depth and complexity to the plot rather than overwhelming it. Stephen King is a master of this sort of story.



Character-Driven Stories

In any genre blend, characters play a crucial role. In fact, stories are always about people (which can mean aliens, fantasy species, and even animals with anthropomorphic personalities). Their reactions, beliefs, and interactions with the genre elements must feel authentic. A character’s journey can be an excellent vehicle for exploring the blended world, revealing its nuances and complexities organically.


Cohesive Plot Development

The plot should interweave elements from the different genres in a way that feels natural, one piece arising from the last. In a science fiction-romance, for instance, the technological aspects might directly impact the romantic storyline, creating challenges and opportunities for the characters’ relationships.



Respecting the Genres

While blending genres, respect the core elements that define each genre. In a mystery-fantasy, for instance, the rules of the magical world should not overshadow the logical progression of the mystery. However, the magic should be integral to it. Think of some of the plotlines in the Harry Potter series as examples.

Organic genre blending is about creating a world where different elements coexist and influence each other in a way that feels inherent to the story’s universe. It’s about building a setting and narrative where the combined genres enhance rather than compete with each other, leading to innovative and captivating storytelling. For writers, this approach opens up limitless possibilities for creativity, allowing them to craft unique stories that resonate with a wide range of audiences.

“All genres are worth perusing,” Zander said without missing a beat. “I don’t believe in declaring a whole subset of novels unworthy. You never know what treasures you might be missing.” ~ Ann-Katrin Byrde, The Omega’s Fake Mate


As we approach the end of 2023, I find myself in a reflective mood, looking back on a year filled with creative milestones and personal adventures. It’s been a year where each day was a page in my story, filled with its own lessons. Let’s look at an author’s 2023 journey. My journey.

Expanding the Creedverse: 300,000 Words Strong

One of the crowning achievements of this year has been adding a staggering 300,000 words to my Creedverse series bible. It’s nearly 400,000 words long, now, and that’s a lot of information! This massive expansion is not just about quantity but also the depth and complexity it adds to my fictional world, enriching the backstories and plotlines. While many of these articles remain a private resource for my writing, sharing some on my Creedverse World Anvil site has allowed readers to dive deeper into the lore of this universe.


A Memorable Adventure at San Diego Comic-Con

Attending San Diego Comic-Con with my son was a highlight that will stay with me for years. Taking part in the “Welcome to the Weird West” panel was an honor and a chance to connect with like-minded authors and fans. The experience went beyond the panel discussions and book signings. Roaming the exhibition hall, attending vibrant parties, and reconnecting with fellow authors in the bustling corridors of Comic-Con was an exhilarating experience that underscored the community and camaraderie of the event.


Writing ANna, Daughter of Creed

The journey of writing Anna, Daughter of Creed has been an example of the non-linear process of creative writing. After starting over following two extensive drafts, I’ve found a narrative thread that truly resonates with the direction I want to take. This year’s writing process has been about discovery, understanding my characters better, and refining the story’s direction. Now, well into the current draft, the end is in sight, and I’m eager to bring this story to its conclusion and share it with the world.


Diving into Patreon and New Skills

Revamping my Patreon this year has opened new avenues for connecting with my readers. Soon, I plan to offer exclusive content for fans, who will get two exclusive short stories per month for their $5. I’ve also embraced the challenge of learning and implementing Facebook ads for my books. This foray into digital marketing represents a blend of creativity and strategy, teaching me the nuances of online promotion.


New Connections and Ventures

Participating in Indie Author Day at Anaheim Central Library was a highlight of my year, offering a mix of education, networking, and connection with the indie author community. Starting the day with book setup at Mystery Ink, I was honored to be part of the Crafted Words: Mastering the Writer’s Toolbox panel, in which we discussed various aspects of writing fiction. The event also provided valuable networking opportunities, including a resource to find a French-speaking editor for the translation of my Bodacious Creed novels.

Attending LosCon as a vendor brought a unique flavor to this year. Selling books and dice towers, while making new friends and enjoying the con atmosphere, was a highlight. It’s these kinds of events that remind me of the vibrant and diverse community that exists in the sf/fantasy world. The connections made, especially with individuals involved in the Writers of the Future Contest, have opened new doors and provided fresh perspectives in my writing journey.

Creative Risks Pay Off

Launching new products in my Etsy shop was a leap of faith that paid off. The positive reception of the Dungeons and Dragons themed decks and signed copies of my novels has been both validating and motivating. It’s fun, turning my creative products that others love. These ventures have not only contributed to my financial stability but also enhanced my connection with the broader fan community.


Prioritizing Self-Care

Amidst all the creative and professional hustle, prioritizing self-care has been a key theme for me this year. Ensuring adequate sleep and maintaining a daily journaling habit have been non-negotiables in my routine. These practices helped to keep me focused so I can approach each day with renewed energy and clarity.


Looking Ahead

As I look back on the year, I am filled with gratitude for the experiences, the growth, and the creative fulfillment I gained in 2023. It’s been a year of embracing new challenges, staying true to my vision, and growing as a writer and as an individual. Stepping into 2024, I am excited for new adventures, armed with the lessons from this year.

Here’s to another year of storytelling, creativity, and connections. Let’s make 2024 another remarkable chapter in our lives!

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke



As a professional author, I’ve always believed that the journey of a writer is one of continual growth and exploration. Over the years, I’ve discovered several books, courses, and even an app that have become close companions in my writing endeavors. These resources have not only refined my skills but have also offered me new perspectives, guiding me through the complex and beautiful process of storytelling. Sharing these gems feels like passing on a part of my own writer’s journey, and I’m excited to dive into each one, hoping they might light the same spark in you that they did in me. Here are six tools that transformed my writing journey.

How to Write a Damn Good Novel by James N. Frey

James N. Frey’s How to Write a Damn Good Novel is a must-read for novelists at any stage of their career. This book stands out as both a guide to dramatic storytelling and a philosophical exploration of fiction writing. Frey’s accessible style and clear presentation of essential storytelling elements, such as creating strong premises, compelling plots, and vibrant characters, make this book invaluable. Its straightforward, no-nonsense approach to storytelling basics is perfect for both beginners and professionals looking for a refresher.

Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling (Masterclass)

Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass on the Art of Storytelling is a journey into the mind of one of the most celebrated contemporary authors. Over nineteen videos and numerous workbook exercises, Gaiman covers the essence of effective storytelling. This class is not about writing a book quickly but delving into the concepts behind great fiction. It’s an enriching experience for anyone interested in exploring the alchemy of storytelling and finding their own voice.

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody is a comprehensive guide on novel-writing, transforming Blake Snyder’s method for screenwriters into a format suitable for novelists. This book delves deep into genres and storytelling beats, providing a detailed framework for crafting well-structured narratives. It’s a tool for novelists at any stage, offering solutions for common writing challenges and a checklist for ensuring a compelling hero’s journey.


Write a Great Novel by Russell Nohelty (Online Course)


Though no longer available to new students, as far as I can tell, Write a Great Novel by Russell Nohelty was a transformative course. It covered everything from idea culling to character development, setting, world building, and story structure. The course helped me streamline my writing process, enabling me to complete the first draft of “Bodacious Creed and the Jade Lake” in less than six months. For those interested in Nohelty’s approach, his books on Amazon, such as “How to Build Your Creative Career” and “Get Your Book Selling on Kickstarter,” are excellent resources.

Tome Writing App

The Tome app is an innovative tool that has revolutionized the way I approach novel writing. Available at, it’s a comprehensive program that caters to both seasoned authors and beginners. I discovered its utility when I received it as a Christmas gift, initially to assist in accelerating the writing process for my current project, “Anna, Daughter of Creed.” The app’s ability to guide writers through each step of crafting a novel is remarkable. It’s structured to provide support regardless of where you are in your writing journey, making it a versatile tool for any novelist. In my experience, Tome has been instrumental in refreshing the basics of novel writing, ensuring that foundational elements of storytelling are robust and well-developed. This has been particularly helpful in maintaining the quality and pace of my writing.


For me, these resources have been helpful in refining my writing skills. Each of these books, courses, and tools offers insights and practical advice. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned author, there’s always something new to learn and ways to enhance your storytelling.

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”
~ Albert Einstein



We’re in the middle of the 2023 holiday season, and I got to thinking about how I’ve used holidays in my novels. Then, I thought, why not write today’s blog post about how holidays can enhance stories, even if the holidays aren’t the focus? So, here’s that blog post.

Remember, though, that this information is useful any time of the year as you work on your own fiction, or encounter holidays in novels, comics, television, or movies.

As an author, I find holidays to offer their own sort of narrative potential. In my Adventures of Bodacious Creed trilogy, I’ve used holidays days not just as a backdrop but as a catalyst to deepen the storytelling, enhance character development, and enrich the world I’ve created. Holidays, with their rich traditions and emotional weight, offer an opportunity to add layers of meaning to a story.

Crafting Emotional Depth by Weaving Holidays into Fiction

In my novel, Bodacious Creed: a Steampunk Zombie Western, the protagonist’s death on July 4, 1876, America’s Centennial, is no mere coincidence. I chose this day for its inherent symbolism of freedom and new beginnings, creating a poignant contrast with Creed’s demise. (Of course, his death is just the beginning, but you’ll need to read the novel to learn more!)

This juxtaposition isn’t just about setting a scene; it’s about embedding the story with historical gravity and emotional resonance. The choice of this particular holiday adds a layer of irony and depth.

Building a Believable World

In Bodacious Creed and the San Francisco Syndicate, the Christmas celebration of 1877 with fireworks off the Presidio is more than a festive scene. It’s an immersive experience into the era’s culture and social customs. This isn’t just about painting a picture of the time; it’s about allowing readers to live it, and to experience how Creed and his new friends have become a found family. The holiday setting gives a glimpse into the societal norms and traditions of the period, offering a richer understanding of the characters and their world.

Holidays as Narrative Milestones

Holidays in fiction can serve as significant plot points and catalysts for character evolution. Just as Charles Dickens used Christmas in A Christmas Carol to drive Scrooge’s transformation, I find that holidays can mark crucial moments in a character’s journey. In the Harry Potter series, Rowling uses Christmas at Hogwarts not just for merriment but as a key plot and character development device. Similarly, in my work, holidays act as turning points, marking significant changes or revelations in the story.

Striving for Authenticity

When integrating real holidays like the Fourth of July into my novels, I prioritize authenticity. Understanding the historical and cultural significance of such a day in 1876 America enriches the narrative, adding layers of depth and authenticity. It’s about more than just the date; it’s about capturing the era’s spirit, norms, and historical importance.


Symbolism and Thematic Reinforcement

Authors use holidays to highlight themes or character arcs. Harper Lee’s use of Halloween in To Kill a Mockingbird is a great example of how a holiday can encapsulate a novel’s themes, such as loss of innocence. This approach allows me to explore themes and character development more deeply, making the story resonate on multiple levels.


Originality in Fictional Celebrations

If you write in a world other than our own, or an alternate version of ours, creating unique holidays can add a layer of originality. Holidays like Durin’s Day in “The Hobbit” not only enrich the cultural tapestry of the world but also serve as pivotal plot elements. They ground the fictional universe, giving it a sense of reality and relatability. And, although the old Star Wars Holiday Special was a mess, the wookiee holiday, Life Day, has survived in canon and has enriched the Star Wars universe.



Weaving holidays into fiction is a powerful tool for deepening the emotional resonance, enhancing world-building, and driving character and plot development. In my Adventures of Bodacious Creed trilogy, I use these special days to make the story more vivid, relatable, and compelling. By weaving holidays, both real and imagined, into the narrative, authors can create richer, more immersive worlds that resonate deeply with readers.

“I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.” ~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol