#HarshWritingAdvice: Twitter’s Writing Community is Trending

It’s not every day that the writing community trends along with Grimes and Elon Musk’s baby getting a haircut.

Sadly, this tweet, like many tweets on Twitter, is receiving a lot of backlash. Why? Well, it makes the claim that writers are constantly in competition with their peers.

Personally, I loved Tessa Dare’s response to this. She starts off by saying how “harsh” writing advice and “bad” writing advice are often confused.

It’s true. I’m sure many writers on and offline have come across bad advice being tossed around under the guise of harshness.

In her tweet, Tessa also points out how without peers within your genre, your audience would have nothing to read while you, yourself are working on your next release. Some authors only release one book a year. Others might only ever release a handful of books ever!

Some twitter users (mainly one who has removed their tweet since), thought it unfair of her to make such a statement. They couldn’t believe a New York Times bestselling author would have “the audacity” to comment on the competitiveness of the industry. Basically, trying to gaslight Tessa Dare by saying she couldn’t possibly understand, being a successfully published author.

Tessa was quick to clap back and the reading community backed her. She also elaborated on her statement in a separate tweet to avoid blasting this person.

“Especially when it comes to NYT publishing contracts, it’s important to note this business is not a meritocracy. The playing field is not even. Privilege, connections, timing, and just plain luck are all factors, and I have benefited from all of them to one degree or another. But one thing that doesn’t help in publishing is treating this business like the Hunger Games, where eliminating the competition is how you win. The absolute worst time to sell a historical romance is when no one else is successfully doing it.”

This is something that I agree with, there are many factors that come into play but if we treat industries like these as some sort of cutthroat competition, we aren’t doing ourselves or our peers any favours!

Sure, I work in what is considered to be competitive industries, but I don’t look at it that way. With my acting, I look at each person I meet at an audition as a new friend. More than likely, the people you run into at an audition, you will end up working with in the future. It’s a small world after all!

Here’s a real life example: when I auditioned for Tiny Tukkins, I met one of the sweetest actresses I know! We casually talked in the waiting room before our auditions and wished each other the best. Although both of us didn’t end up on this show together, the following week at a different studio I was called in by the director to play a character, on another show. Turned out, the girl I’d had a nice conversation with at the audition was one of the leads on this show. One week later and we ended up working together! Imagine if we had been cold to each other at that audition the week before?

I absolutely hate this cutthroat, competition mentality.

Nothing turns me off of a person more, than when that person targets their peers and treats them like the enemy.

In recent months I have witnessed so many authors/writers bullying others in the community. They attack anyone who writes something similar to their book. Even if it’s something as little as a person having a similar trope like…the girl next door. They consider everyone around them their competition, rather than their fellow peers as a potential opening for new readers.

This “I’m not here to make friends attitude” is ludicrous. Some go as far as to leave negative reviews on other authors books, just to help boost their own sales. Why? Why do you have the time to do stupidness like that? My harsh advice to those people would be, stop wasting so much time worrying about your peers and focus on your book. If you feel like you need to sabotage someone else, maybe you should spend a little more time perfecting your craft.

I personally don’t like associating with these types of people. They’re just plain mean. I don’t see the point in treating others like my enemy, when we have something in common. We can help each other navigate this business. We can provide each other with resources and wisdom.

If it weren’t for the wisdom given to me by others in the acting world, I may have signed with a sketchy agency. If it weren’t for the advice and critiques of my peers and professors, I would have continued making similar mistakes in my writing! You cannot grow without the help of your community in industries like these. It is the connections that you make with others, that encourage you to keep going and to put your best work out there!

I’ve wanted to go on a rant about some of the bad/harsh advice floating about the community for some time now…because the negativity and the jealously towards one another is gross and discouraging. My favourite thing is seeing others announce that they were accepted for publication! It brings me so much joy to see others doing well, and prospering in this industry because I know how hard we have all worked to have our dreams realized.

When I see people acting petty and cruel towards their peers in this community, I automatically unfollow them. I don’t have time for that. This isn’t grade school. It makes me miss the old writing websites I used to submit poetry to. People were supportive, and even when they gave criticism it was both constructive and respectful.

It’s not hard to be nice.


Reviewing a book I auditioned for!

I decided to request an ARC copy of a book I auditioned for earlier this month and was accepted. I loved the passages for the little sister that I got to read for my audition.

I love audio book auditions because I get a sneak peak at new books before they’re even offered as ARCs and before I unbox them at work. One of my favourite things to do at my part-time job is unbox the new releases. It’s so exciting seeing that final cover design, and…the new book smell. It is a thing! It is so comforting. Old book smell is its own comfort, but to me the most comforting thing about an old book is the bends in the spine, the gently crumbled pages and the slight browning of the paper.

I’m so excited to read this book. I was actually going to buy it when it released and review it anyway! It was already on my TBR.

I was also accepted for a bunch of other ARCs, but I’m currently reading the one and am hoping to finish it by the end of the week so that I can post the review. I’m going to be reviewing the Anne of Green Gables manga sometime this month as well, since I was accepted for that.

Fun fact: I’m that typical Canadian who loves L.M Montgomery. Anne, Emily. My favourite adaptation of Emily was the anime actually! I liked the live action show and I’d actually love if Netflix picked it up and revamped it…but they should definitely do it the way the anime was done because it followed the books. No one was turning into a kelpie. I mean, yah I’m Scottish on my Dad’s side but like…the random Scottish folklore being thrown in during those later seasons was…out of genre for how the series started. If they’d always talked about her having second sight and such earlier on, it wouldn’t have been so random. I liked it, but the genre switch was completely random.

Anne with an E was definitely well done in my opinion. I know of a handful of people who didn’t like it because it wasn’t as light and cheery as the previous adaptations (I own a bunch of those on VHS). I have yet to see a version of Anne that I can say I absolutely hate. The films and Anne with an E in my personal opinion, captured Anne, Diana and Gilbert well. Actually, I’ve found that the show versions of Diana truly grasp how important her friendship is to Anne in a way that the films (mainly because of the time length) aren’t able to capture.

Well, that’s enough about Anne.

I’m looking forward to reading these ARCs! I have high hopes for several of these books, but I’m also a bit nervous. I’m always open to reading new authors but I’m not always open to delving into new genres. I read a fair amount of different ones and will read anything ranging from Middle Grade to General Fiction. I love comics. If I’m being 100% honest, I adore them. Still, for me its all about the authors writing style and how quickly I connect with the characters. The plot draws me in and entices me to read but the character’s are what keep me invested.

Fingers crossed I like them all! I’ve already had one disappointing review for this year and I definitely need to read something to make up for it!

Which authors inspire you?

I love, love, love to read. If I wasn’t writing right now I’d be reading. Technically writing lets you read and write at the same time…but anyway, authors that inspire me.

I’ll have to start with Charles Dickens. I’ve read a lot of his work. My favourites are Great Expectation’s, Oliver Twist and A Tale of Two Cities. I like how descriptive his writing is…although I won’t lie there are times I’ve skimmed through it to get back to the main story. Still, I admire it because he really does paint a picture for the reader. I’ve attempted to put that level of detail into my writing in the past but stopped out of fear that I might bore my readers. I actually prefer to write dialogue.

Io Sakisaka is also someone I admire. I still can’t grasp how she can so expertly express relationships through her work. I don’t think I’ve read a manga that had me blushing and crying within a few panels of each other. Since romance is her genre of focus, it’s very interesting how she goes about playing with concepts and ideas surrounding love, friendship and family.

When I first read, S.E. Hinton, I think that was when I told myself I wanted my work to be published one day. I wanted people to love my character’s as much as I loved hers. I also considered using a pen name at the time versus my own. I liked how she managed to weave her stories together and I’m glad that she had Ponyboy show up in one of her other novels.

If I’m being honest, I feel like every author I’ve ever read has inspired me in some way. Whether it’s through their use of descriptions, their pacing, their character’s. Whatever it was that drew me to their work, has also inspired my own writing over the years.

I love the different ways we writers weave our words. How those words lift off the page, creating images, mustering emotions and forming even the faintest of smells. How a single sentence can capture so much…it’s always fascinated me. I think that’s what I love about books. You can open one up and be transported.

Book Talk Episode 17: Illustrated Covers

The other day at work, a co-worker of mine was admiring this beautifully illustrated book cover. I wish I could recall the name of the book so I could show an example, but her comment really made me think. She said, “I’m so glad that they’re going back to the illustrated version of this cover. I hate how boring a lot of covers have been these past few years.”

The two of us then went on to discuss how, since the first Twilight book came out a lot of book covers began to mimic the style and then ultimately readers were bombarded with stock images and lifeless photographs. Now, not to bash the creators of those types of covers…I believe that the covers for Twilight and their simplicity was actually well thought out. The issue that we discussed was that it seemed as though the plan was to get readers to buy a book because it had a similar cover to that of the Twilight series, versus coming up with something significant to the actual story.

I can clearly remember being a 13-15 year old wandering around my favourite bookstores and sighing at the cover art. I know that they say not to judge a book but it’s cover, but it’s the first thing a reader sees, not the review. Not the synopsis. Not the first page. The cover is what’s put on display for us.

Illustrated covers have always captured my attention. For example, the cover of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It’s absolutely beautiful. When I saw it, I immediately was drawn to the book! That is what a cover is supposed to do. It’s supposed to capture your attention.

The design itself isn’t too complicated, and yet it captures the eye. It stirs curiosity. It makes you wonder what’s inside.

Illustrated covers, in my personal opinion, do a better job of conveying certain types of stories. Especially within much of fiction. It makes them stand out more.

If you compare the classic horror book covers to current ones, you’ll find yourself greatly disappointed. A few of my friends who are avid horror readers lament over the lack of character given to horror books today in comparison to the ones printed in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

Look at this cover of Misery by Stephen King.

The illustrated version of this cover is eye catching, whereas the version with the snow covered cabin doesn’t peak my curiosity as much. It doesn’t pull me in as much. This however, is my personal opinion. I have however, seen some horror book reviewers (along with friends of mine who adore the genre) discuss this in more detail.

I recommend checking out the video, Horror Books Have Lost Their Identity. I’ve linked it below because I think it really summarizes what I’m discussing in this post.

As YouTuber In Praise of Shadows states in the video, book covers are supposed to give the reader some indication of the genre as well as what the story is about. However in recent years they have had to scan the covers for small clues…such as a single word in a review in fine print on the cover like, “haunting,” “shocking” or “disturbing.”

The older covers made it very clear what the books were about. Right now all of the covers, across these vast genres are blending together in a mess of bright colours and large font.

This video really grasps what my co-worker and I were discussing the other day. At some point all the books blend together.

I know many people who believe that The Hunger Games and the Divergent series are the same, simply because of how the covers were designed. People who know nothing about the plots for either series. This assumption came with how the books were marketed. I know that when I first saw the Divergent cover, I thought it was a Hunger Games spin off series. That was until I read the synopsis. I remember being almost…frustrated by how so many of the covers that came out that year, resembled The Hunger Games (and Twilight). I was so frustrated by it I missed out on reading a lot of potentially good books, and lost interest in much of what was published that year.

Now, as someone who also reads comic books and manga, I know how much work has to go into the covers for those. I’ve seen examples of some of the covers done for the more recent releases of the Jughead comics. There were several options done for the front cover, before one was selected by the team as the perfect cover. Guess what? I bought that comic solely based on the cover art.

Based on the cover you already know that Jughead and Sabrina are going to get themselves into some kind of mess (or fun!). Your eyes are draw to the different parts of it. The colours are eye catching. It makes you interested in the story.

When I look at some of the books being printed over the last few years, my curiosity isn’t peaked. A catchy title may draw me in but it’s the cover that makes me flip to the synopsis to learn more. It’s the cover that captivates me visually and draws me into this world created by the author. It’s the cover fills me with excitement.

I’m not saying that today’s covers are boring or lacking creativity. I know that design takes a long time. I just think that the genres are all blending together…to the point where each cover is more or less the same.

Even earlier this morning while I was looking at books. I was trying to guess where they went in the store, solely based on the covers. The adult romance books and the teen romance books were all clearly romance however the contrast between them was almost non-existent. I wasn’t able to tell which was YA and which wasn’t. Normally the shirtless cowboys are a dead giveaway. Not anymore. The majority of the books that I assumed were adult romances were actually YA. Some weren’t even romance books at all. They were coming of age novels. I must’ve blinked the confusion from my face at least 30 times while going through these books.

The fact that myself and many other readers are excited to see these unique, illustrated book covers just shows how much is lacking on the shelves. We want books that upon first glance make us excited, curious and capture our attention. We want to run our hands along the covers as we examine every detail, before continuing our individual book choosing rituals. Reading is an experience and for those like myself who read a lot and collect books it is extremely sad when books lack character in their design.

Sure, we shouldn’t judge books by their cover but covers convey so much. Like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Raising the Stakes

I’ve been working on a lot of other projects, so my editing had to take a backseat for almost all of August while I adjusted to my new schedule.

However, during my break period I’ve been playing around with a particular scene in my head, trying to see what I could do with it to really raise the stakes.

This may sound a bit silly to a handful of you reading this but my burst of inspiration came while watching cartoons. I kept thinking to myself while watching Miraculous Ladybug and Young Justice (I’m a sucker for superheros), how excellent the writing of the shows were. Especially in the case with Miraculous.

I’m on the edge of my seat (as an adult viewer), wondering what’s going to happen next. Im scared for them. Will they lose their miraculous this time? Will Hawkmoth finally win? Will they find out each others secret identities?

This is what I want to create for my readers someday. I want them to think “I need to know what happens next!” That anticipation and excitement is what makes stories so fun.

So, in regards to this particular scene it finally hit me that, in order to make sure that I actually accomplish this, I need to instill that same emotion in both myself and my characters.

Honestly, I don’t know what it is about this one scene that has made it so difficult these past few months, but I’m ready to tackle it.

Of course, I’m also being mindful of my other obligations (recordings, auditions, part-time job etc). Sometimes I wonder if I should get a t-shirt that lists what it is I do. I have a hard time explaining it to people.

I know I also promised to record this last edit, and I will…but I have misplaced my tripod at the moment so fingers crossed I can find it.

This is the final song on my character D’s playlist. I honestly love this song so much, I taught myself how to play it on guitar. It also ends up on my Instagram stories…often. It’s just pretty. I think I instantly fall for songs that remind me of my character’s or certain scenes. This song makes me think about D and R’s relationship both past and present.

Maybe I’ll post a cover of this on my YouTube channel later this month. When I have time to record it haha. I’ve got about 4 things to record tomorrow morning before I go to work. Still adjusting to this new schedule but I am glad to be working again after such a long time.

I’m also aware that I haven’t done an official AuthorTube video yet. I tried recording it twice now haha. I just didn’t like how it turned out, so I’m going to try again sometime in the near future as well. I think I’ll feel better about it once I finish this round of edits and pass them on to my editor.

Reviewing Book Previews on Amazon: Sloane, The Flawed Attraction Series and The Dawn Thief

I decided to review book previews from books on Amazon to help promote authors who released books during the early half of this chaotic year. My goal with this is to share these works with potential readers, who may enjoy these stories and also help these authors get more reviews on Goodreads and on Amazon.

If you, or anyone else you know has released a book this year, feel free to leave a link to it in the comments with a brief description (perhaps a single sentence pitch) for myself and others to check out. Please be sure to include the genre and other links that you feel would be beneficial (social media, where to purchase the book etc).

Alright, the first book is…

Sloane by Nick Kurch

Sloane is a scandalous force of nature! From the first page, this blonde is weaving tales of mobsters, monks and love affairs in a hotel lobby. This somehow landing her a room, free of charge.

The way in which she prays on the sweet clerk, Mary, and pulls her into her story is astounding. Even when she slips up, she finds a way to draw Mary back into her lie. As the promotional tagline for the book reads, she’ll make you want to believe!

About the Author:

Nick Kurch is a Hawaiian author and self-proclaimed, boring man with not much going on. He lives vicariously through his ridiculous characters and their misadventures.

Nick dabbles in writing books in both fiction and non-fiction and has written for publications such as ClutchPoints, The Manifold Magazine and Love Knot Books.

You can follow Nick on Twitter @authornickkurch and find his debut novel Sloane on Amazon.


Next is…

Final Year and Vice Ride by MJ Moores

For this one I will be covering two novels, both apart of the author’s Flawed Attraction series.

The first few pages of Final Year are intense. This thriller romance follows Beth and Jeremy, two complete opposites who find themselves on campus during a lock down, hunting Jeremy’s not-so theoretical chem project.

In this first chapter we follow Beth as she gives into her gut and runs back to help Jeremy as the other students on campus make their way to the stadium. Alarms are blaring and she continues to tell herself to go with the group, but instead heads back to help him. Her gut knowing that something is very wrong. When she finds Jeremy he’s on the floor, barely able to stand. His insulin is low and it is clear that he needs to see a medic stat.

Jeremy on the other hand is more concerned about his work.

MJ Moores novel Final Year received a 5 star review on Favourite Readers.

The next book in the Flawed Attraction series is Vice Ride.

Vice Ride is MJ Moores newest addition to this romance series, which follows Amber and her ex-boyfriend Josh across the Kawartha Lakes region in Ontario (yay Canada!).

In the introductory chapter, titled Venus Fly Trap, we meet Amber, who is moving back home after being away for eighteen months at school in London.

It isn’t going as she planned.

For starters, she gets stuck moving her luggage on her own and to make matters worse someone is watching her from across the street: her ex-boyfriend Josh, who she tries her best not to give the finger.

It’s very clear in this chapter as Amber’s frustration grows that she wanted nothing more than to move back in without Josh catching a glimpse of her. To her the entire relationship was a mistake and being near him and back in the Kawartha makes her uneasy.

About the Author:

MJ Moores has had a passion for storytelling since she was nine years old. Starting her career as an English teacher in Ontario, she writes and has an adoration for multiple genres. MJ has written for Authors Publish Magazine and Indyfest Magazine. Her work can also be found in many anthologies, such as Unbound II, Brave New Girls and more. She has also written and published several works including a steampunk serial, available on Amazon.

Her Flawed Attraction series follows characters in their early 20s, going beyond the initial stages of a crush and getting to the deeper roots of what draws people together. In this case, two people who are polar opposites and how each moment in the novel brings them closer together as they learn to see past each others initial impressions, their personal prejudices and also the realization of their feelings for one another.

You can follow MJ on Twitter @AuthorMJMoores or visit her website: https://mjmoores.com/


Onto the next book…

The Dawn Thief by Amelia Thorn

In the opening chapter of The Dawn Thief the reader is met with a scene of a young man chained up in a cell, known to the town of Cresvy as Evil Incarnate, a cell that he’s been in for seventeen years of his life. This mysterious man, has silver sewn into his clothing and has memorized each and every sound both within and outside his cell. His only friend, a cat named Whiskey, who he is drawn to for their similarities…that being, his other form, a wolf.

The young man (and wolf) Silas believes his entire existence could put those he loves in jeopardy. Spending his life, he has always been an outcast feared by the people of Crevsy. Doomed to a lonely existence.

About the Author:

Amelia Thorn is an author from West Yorkshire.

After suffering from a back injury in their youth, Amelia was forced to bed rest, where among her limiting activities–homework, watching television and reading–she discovered her love of writing.

She claims the book she wrote during this period was gobshite, but the passion for writing remained with her ever since.

The Dawn Thief is her debut novel.

You can find Amelia on Twitter @AmeliaGThorn

Book Review of Sweat by Lesley Belleau

At the beginning of her novel, Lesley Belleau acknowledges missing and murdered Indigenous women, with a lovely dedication.

Belleau’s novel Sweat addresses the issues that come with the absence of women within a community and how their absence not only has an effect on their immediate family but the community as a whole, and all the generations that follow.

Her chapters weave within the spaces between fantasy and reality as it bounces between the perspectives of its two protagonists, Jolene and Beth. In it a woman falls down into the abyss, like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, memories resurface that try to engulf Jolene, knocking her about like rough waves and Beth creates a haunting painting that follows the reader throughout the novel.

Lesley Belleau structured the novel in a way that allows the chapters to connect to one another. Each character has their own story but these stories beautifully blend together, creating one large tapestry. A decision that Lesley seems to have made puposefully. It relates to the way in which she discusses the missing and murdered Indigenous women, as their absence becomes loose threads in the tapestry. Although these women may have never met, their lives are still connected. The absence of these women is haunting and the remaining motherless children, widowed husbands, broken sisters, mothers and daughters echo throughout Belleau’s novel Sweat.

Lesley Belleau is a participant in the Idle No More movement, which she mentions at the end of the novel. She mentions the organization through a dialogue between Beth and her two young sons Juno and Keith, who Beth has been educating on Indigenous culture and current issues facing the community in Canada. Belleau did a beautiful job of incorporating this cause into her novel, in a way that seemed natural, and at the same time was able to educate the reader on its importance.

The novel strongly focuses on the absence of mother’s but also discusses the death of children, in a way that is both haunting and heartbreaking.

The first being Beth’s painting of the dead babies, and the death of her infant son Daniel. The next being a scene with the death of children, and the cutting open of mother’s wombs on page.84 of the novel. It hauntingly echoes the events that happened within Residential Schools and during The 60s Scoop, in which children were stripped away from their mothers and the rest of the country turned a blind eye. There is another scene where the children’s wombs violently cut open by the doctors and the one doctor just sits and sips from his cup while looking at a picture of his own family.

There is a disconnection to the acts which have been committed and the guilt that the people who have committed them should have felt in this scene. It gives a strong sense of the treatment of Indigenous people. The brutality of it all…done with blinders over the eyes so that they don’t have to see the blood of innocence on their hands.

Art by Tristen Jenni Sanderson

Belleau’s novel can by found on Goodreads.