• Why I Don’t Read My Reviews

    I have a confession: I don’t read my reviews. I used to read them, way back when I published my first book, but I stopped. Why? For one thing, it was bad for my mental health. It made me more anxious and more critical of my own work. Also, I realized that the reviews didn’t matter. They weren’t meant for me; they were for my readers.

    So, I stopped reading my reviews, and I feel much better for it. I haven’t looked back since. Where do you stand on reading reviews for your work? Let me know in the comments below!

    person holding a cup of coffee with a book lying open on the table in front of them
  • Writing Community Tag



    The wonderful V. Renae tagged me to do this tag about a thousand years ago, so here it is! Thanks so much for the tag! 🙂 I’m tagging Emma Fink, Jennifer Acres, and Bella Rose Pope to participate in this tag as well. See below for the questions, as well as the links to all the channels mentioned in this video (AND my social media accounts). Thanks for watching!

    WRITING COMMUNITY TAG

    1. What drove you to find a writing community?
    2. How did you first start getting involved?
    3. What have been your favorite online platforms for writing community?
    4. What are some best practices for connecting and interacting with other writers online?
    5. Are there any other platforms or ways to connect that you want to try next?
    6. Have you made any writing friends in person? If so, how?
    7. How has the community helped you in your writing journey so far?
    8. On what other platforms can people connect with you? (Share your handles/accounts)
    9. Shoutout some friends and positive forces in the writing community that you think we should connect with!
    10. Promote writing community by tagging friends to do this tag next!

    Mentions: Jenna Moreci, Jennifer Acres, Emma Fink, Brooke Passmore, Megan Tennant, Bella Rose Pope

  • My Top 5 Tips for Writing with Chronic Pain

    Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. With that said, I have not partnered with any of the authors or publishers for sponsorship. All recommendations and endorsements are based solely on my personal experiences.

    I have arthritis. It’s osteoarthritis, and it’s in my fingers, wrists, and elbows, among other joints. Osteoarthritis comes from overuse, but it isn’t something that goes away. I’ll be dealing with this for the foreseeable future.

    Despite my chronic pain, I still make progress with my writing. It’s difficult, but I’ve found some strategies to help. If you also struggle with moving forward in your books when dealing with a flare-up, check out my top five tips for writing with chronic pain.

    MY TOP 5 TIPS FOR WRITING WITH CHRONIC PAIN

    1. Take rest days. On days when the pain is too great, you might have to take some time off. And that’s okay! In my most recent newsletter, I talked about taking breaks when you’re feeling low. “The book will still be there when you’re feeling better.” The same holds true for chronic pain.

    2. KT tape. My friend and fellow writer Kate Mitchell recommended this one to me. If you can’t find this tape, try compression gloves. I had mixed results with those, but they might work for you. Buy KT tape here.

    3. Writing via dictation. Text to speech is an absolute godsend. I use Google Docs in Google Chrome, so dictation is built right in. If you want to use this feature, open your document, navigate to Tools, then select Voice Typing. Note: This feature only works when using Docs in Google Chrome. If you don’t use Google Docs, try Dragon or another dictation option.

    4. Communicate. As authors, we frequently have to deal with deadlines. Since I’m self-published to this point, I don’t have to worry too much about that. However, as an editor, I juggle due dates for various clients. When I’m in the midst of a terrible flare-up (like right now), I let my clients know to expect things with a delay. When you communicate what’s going on, people tend to be understanding. If they’re not, maybe they’re not the best people for you to interact with.

    5. Prioritize quality over quantity. Marathon writing sessions are phenomenal, but they can’t happen every day. If you’re in too much pain to get a lot of writing done at once, try doing a few sprints. That way, you’re still getting words down, even if you don’t think you’re getting much done. Every little bit matters.

    For more tips for managing chronic pain, check out this post with hacks for living with chronic conditions, or this one featuring tools for pain management that aren’t medications (thanks again, Kate!). Final note: I am not a medical professional. Please take all recommendations with that in mind. If you are truly having a hard time managing chronic pain, your best bet is to make an appointment with a qualified physician.

  • How to Make Writing Easier with Micro Goals

    Let me make the case to you for setting micro goals. Writing a book is a complicated process. Some days, 100 words are more than doable. Other days, it feels a gargantuan task. When I have days like the latter, what helps is telling myself I only have to write one sentence. It’s almost impossible not to talk myself into doing just that much. Usually, once I have that one sentence down, it’s enough to motivate me to keep going with the work.

    Take this blog post, for example. I told myself I was only going to write a topic sentence. But a minute or so has gone by now, and I am still writing the post. I can’t keep this little sprint going for much longer, but it’s given me a solid start. That’s the power of micro goals.

    When I’m working on a draft of a novel, I set a word count goal for 2,000 words per day. It’s been like this for as long as I can remember, maybe since college. But on days when writing feels impossible, like the last thing I would ever want to do, I lower my expectations.

    On days when I’m struggling, I focus on a much lower word count target, say, 500 words, or 100. Once, I even set a target for like, 50 words (a Very Bad Day). Still, it counted as writing, because I was getting words down. Even if my word count goal was lower than I wanted, I still got something done. That is the power of micro goals.

    So, the next time you’re struggling, lower the bar. Decrease the word count goal. This is not only good for morale, but also productivity. You’ll be surprised how much progress you’ll make.

    As I write this, I am dictating it. I’m in the middle of a pretty bad arthritis flare-up, I have it in my hands, so it makes writing difficult. I wanted to get this blog post done, however, so I set a goal to just write the next sentence. Here we are now, at the conclusion of this post. It’s going to be a short one, but I hope it helps someone as much as it’s helped me to figure this out.

    How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

  • My Top 5 Favorite Editing Books

    Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. With that said, I have not partnered with any of the authors or publishers for sponsorship. All recommendations and endorsements are based solely on my personal experiences.

    As an author and freelance editor (book my services!), I’ve often been asked about my favorite editing books. I don’t necessarily reference these books every time I sit down to edit, but they definitely come in handy.

    Whether I’m editing fantasy, horror, or another genre for my clients—or my own work, for that matter—I find myself coming back to these books. I’m sharing them in hopes you’ll find them useful too.

    MY TOP 5 FAVORITE EDITING BOOKS

    1. SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS BY RENNI BROWNE AND DAVE KING

    For anyone who wants to get better at line edits.

    Line edits are my favorite stage of the editorial process. It also happens to be one of the most difficult. Luckily, books like this one help make everything easier. Although I bought this book expecting more help with developmental editing, I’m glad it’s an invaluable resource for at least one step in the editorial process.

    If you like this book, make sure you leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads!

    2. THE STORY GRID BY SHAWN COYNE

    For anyone looking to make big-picture edits.

    Story structure may be naturally ingrained in human thinking, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get that across on paper. With decades of experience making good books great, Coyne offers spectacular insight on fiction editing and helps you lay out your story for literary success. This isn’t my favorite book because it can be intimidating, but I can definitely understand its value to other writers and editors.

    If you like this book, make sure you leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads! There’s also a podcast if you want to check that out too.

    3. REVISION AND SELF-EDITING FOR PUBLICATION BY JAMES SCOTT BELL

    For a comprehensive look at editing, geared toward those hoping for traditional publication.

    I love this book because it covers almost all aspects of the revision process, with special tips for the first read-through. You’ll focus on plot, characters, theme, voice, style, setting, and endings. The book also showcases innovative exercises to help you hone your craft.

    If you like this book, make sure you leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads!

    4. 2K TO 10K BY RACHEL AARON

    For anyone who wants to write more books in less time, or get through first drafts faster.

    This book is phenomenal because it helps you the words down faster, without sacrificing quality. She teaches you not only how to make your writing sessions more productive, but also how to plot if you hate plotting and edit if you hate editing. I LOVE THIS BOOK.

    If you like this book, make sure you leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads!

    5. 5,000 WORDS PER HOUR BY CHRIS FOX

    For anyone who wants to get more writing done in general.

    Like the previous book, this one is chock full of tips and techniques for increasing your overall writing productivity. Fox also introduces the concept of the editing sprint, which involves working in focused bursts for short periods of time. Highly recommend.

    If you like this book, make sure you leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads!

    No matter how much writing and editing experience you have, these books will provide a solid foundation for any author’s editing toolkit. Of course, if you’re dreading diving back into your manuscript to make the necessary changes… you can always hire an editor to do the dirty work for you. 😉

  • Vlog: My Top 4 Favorite Unsolved Mysteries

    This video is brought to you by True Crime Magazine. Also, sorry for the shitty sound quality—my iPhone mic is a wreck because someone spilled beer on it. Pray for me.

    RELATED LINKS:

    What are your favorite unsolved mysteries?

  • How to Rock Character Creation in Your Novel

    Hi everyone! Briana here. I’m still getting settled in my new place, so today’s blog post comes from the lovely Sarina Langer, a dear friend and one of my editing clients. I’ll be back with a brand-new vlog on Friday. Enjoy!

    Character creation is one of my favourite parts when I plot a new WIP. It’s a bit like meeting new people for the first time, wouldn’t you say?

    Intriguing, relatable characters ensure your readers will be invested until the very end—but how do you rock your character creation?

    Today, I’ll share some of my character creation secrets with you! I even brought you a present 😉

    Strengths and Weaknesses

    You’ve probably already heard this a hundred times, right? The reason I’m including it anyway is because it needs to be exploited until there’s nothing left.

    You can go easy—your MC’s strength could be that she’s an excellent archer, and her weakness could be spiders. (I know I relate to the latter)

    Or, you can make it a little more complicated. Your MC’s strength (let’s call her Sara) could be unwavering loyalty to her brother and optimism even in the darkest situations.

    Her weakness could be the memory of her parents dying, or a hatred for killing. Remember her strength being that she’s good with a bow? A weapon? CONFLICT

    The more complicated your characters are, the more your readers will fall in love. Your readers are just as complicated—all humans are—and we love seeing ourselves in fictional characters!

    Wants and Fears

    So, our girl Sara has seen her parents die and now hunts for dinner with a bow to keep herself and her brother alive. Losing her brother is a natural fear, but what other fears might this attachment cause?

    Seeing someone else die?

    Returning to her childhood home?

    Losing the necklace her mother left her?

    Sara’s wants can be simple: survival. But what does her survival look like? Does she want to make a new life somewhere? Does she want to stay on the move? What does she want for her brother?

    How does she fear she might fail?

    And, now that you know all that…

    Your character’s knowledge vs. the reader’s

    It’s tempting to write something like ‘Karen, who was Sara’s mum but died when Sara was ten, was still in Sara’s memories’ because the reader needs to know, right? They do, but Sara wouldn’t think this. Sara knows who Karen was. Sara knows how Karen died.

    She wouldn’t think ‘Karen, my mother who died when I was ten’, she’d think ‘Mum’.

    So, unless someone asks her directly, she’d have no reason to be this detailed. Honestly, she’d probably try to forget about it. We’ve just decided she’s seen her parents die, after all—pretty traumatising!

    Your reader definitely needs to know, but in your character’s own time. It’s whenever your character is ready—not when you are ready, or when your reader might be ready.

    Take your sweet time introducing it

    You don’t introduce yourself to someone new by saying ‘Hi, I’m Sara, I watched my parents die six years ago so I’m depressed and protect my brother because he’s all I have left. I learned how to use a bow because I need to keep us fed and alive, but I kinda hate killing people and animals. I’m just trying to survive, you know?’

    You’d be reserved. You’d say ‘I’m Sara.’ and hope this person you’ve just met moves on. No one ever asks if you have parents, so this new character wouldn’t either unless there’s a good reason—and giving your reader that information isn’t it.

    Feed your readers info slowly. Let them get to know your characters like they would a real person.

    If in doubt, ask yourself: does my character say this to teach the reader something, or because it fits with the plot, pacing, and their personality?

    Have a freebie!

    To help you create believable characters, Briana and I have attached a downloadable mini character questionnaire for you. It’s my own version, and I use this myself for every character I create. There’s room for a picture or two of your character, and it should help you create believable characters without overdoing it (:

    How do you create your characters? Do you have a method, or is there something you struggle with every time? I’ll stick around for a while, so ask away!

  • 4 Black-Authored Books to Read ASAP

    Today’s post is going to be a little different. Instead of talking about writing, I’m sharing some book recommendations. February is Black History Month, and in honor of that, I’m reading books by authors of color.

    If you, like me, want to celebrate talented people who aren’t often celebrated by mainstream media outlets, check out some of these book recommendations.

    The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    Young Adult Contemporary

    Goodreads summary:

    Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

    Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

    But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

    My reaction: This book made me feel a million different things, and I bawled like a baby. Please read this book.

    The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
    Adult Historical Fiction

    Goodreads summary:

    Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood – where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

    In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor – engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven – but the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

    As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

    My reaction: I love, love, love this novel. Colson Whitehead is going places. Read this book right now.

    Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
    Adult Literary Fiction

    Goodreads summary:

    An intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle, Sing, Unburied, Sing examines the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power – and limitations – of family bonds. 

    Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. His mother, Leonie, is in constant conflict with herself and those around her. She is black and her children’s father is white. Embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances, she wants to be a better mother, but can’t put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use. 

    When the children’s father is released from prison, Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love. 

    Rich with Ward’s distinctive, lyrical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first century America. It is a majestic new work from an extraordinary and singular author.

    My reaction: Confession time: I have yet to read this book. Nevertheless, it’s at the top of my list.

    Endangered by Lamar Giles
    YA Mystery

    Goodreads summary:

    The one secret she cares about keeping—her identity—is about to be exposed. Unless Lauren “Panda” Daniels—an anonymous photoblogger who specializes in busting classmates and teachers in compromising positions—plays along with her blackmailer’s little game of Dare or . . . Dare.

    But when the game turns deadly, Panda doesn’t know what to do. And she may need to step out of the shadows to save herself . . . and everyone else on the Admirer’s hit list.

    My reaction: I couldn’t put this book down, and it kept me guessing the whole way through. If you like mysteries too, you don’t want to miss this one.

    Of course, these are just some of the many fantastic books by black authors out there that deserve your consideration. For more books by authors of color, check out this list on Buzzfeed and this one from The Root.

    What are your favorite black-authored books? 

    Tweet tweet:

    What are your favorite black-authored books? Check out some recs from @brimorganbooks. (Click to tweet)

  • Moving On

     Photo credit:  Monika  on Flickr
    Photo credit: Monika on Flickr

    Quick life update blog post because next weekend I’ll be moving into my own place. I’ve been living with my parents and am looking forward to being independent once again. There’s nothing quite like having your own space to decorate and do with as you please.

    I’m also looking forward to having full control over my schedule. Being able to come home and write or edit without other people around will be nice. I love people, but sometimes I need solitude to work. If I can get into a good routine in my new place, I know I can thrive.

    I’m so thankful for the writing community on Twitter and the internet in general. I’d never be where I am as a writer without the encouragement of my online friends. I’m also thankful for my critique partner Amanda—who is a phenomenal writer in her own right. We’re putting out a horror anthology this year about the seven deadly sins and seven heavenly virtues. Look out for that if you like spooky things! Also, we’re recording a vlog about our friendship and collaboration!

    I am so excited to be moving on to this next phase in my life, and I can’t wait to share the journey with you. Also, if we’re friends and you’d like to send me a card or anything, email me or drop me a DM on Twitter, and I’ll give you my address! I want to fill this new home with love and light and positive energy, and I can’t do that on my own.

    What are you excited for right now?

    Tweet tweet:

    What’s next for author @brimorganbooks? A move, and other changes. (Click to tweet)