What Should I Write Next?

If you are the kind of reader who wishes they could be part of their favorite authors writing process, this poll is for you. Tell me which of my WIP ideas are most interesting to you and if you don’t see anything that peaks you fancy, feel free to leave comments and suggestion in the last box of the survey. Peace Love, and Happy Reading!

Upcoming release!

Zenith (Secret of Ceres Book 4)

I am super excited to announce the upcoming release of Zenith: Secret of Ceres Book 4! It will fittingly be released on June 4th, 2021. Pre-Order Available Now https://books2read.com/u/4ERaNz (pre-order not available on kindle)

This will be the last in the Secret of Ceres Series but the story will continue in my next series Bloodlines.

I hope you readers enjoy this book as much as Ferocious, Dauntless, and Earnest. I know some of you have been anxiously awaiting Zazzie and Hendrex’s story.

The Aura have been forced out of hiding….

The surviving members of Aura Society are struggling with the transition to the human world. Zarovia Monoceros has a plan that could smooth the way, but before she can fulfill her destiny as Zenith, she needs to deal with the handsome distraction under her own roof.

Hendrex Andromeda wants nothing more but to settle down in his new life outside of Ceres. Free from his duty as Ruling Four, he can finally be himself, except he has no idea what that looks like in the human world. The only part of his future Hendrex is certain about is Zarovia. But in order to be worthy of her love, he needs to face his demons and show her the man he can be…

Under the constant threat of attack, will taking a chance on love be the key to the future for the Aura, or lead to the destruction of everything…

It’s A SALE!


I love my sisters dearly and so for their birthdays, I decided to share a little of that birthday joy with you!

Signed Paperback Copies are up to %50 off and Ebooks for only 99 cents!

Don’t miss out on this Spring Steal of A Deal! Get your copies while supplies last!

New Release!

It’s time to get your soul snatched by my latest release, His Soul To Keep!

Previously featured in the USA Today Bestselling Anthology, Eternal Bite, His Soul to Keep is the first book in my new series Bloodlines!

His Soul to Keep (Bloodlines 1)

Beware of Shadows.

Soulstice Washington has lived a life on the run. In constant fear of the shadows that have brought her nothing but trouble. Then, Makai Inigo, a real-life shadow, infiltrates her last efforts of living a normal life.

Makai has waited patiently for the right moment to stake his claim on Soul. Yet, his time has run out. Soulstice is special; her bloodline a rare commodity to the vampiristic Saurian. The rising competition against his claim forces his hand.

Caught between legacy and love, Makai Inigo must prove that Soul is his to keep.

Listen To My Reading of Prologue to His Soul To Keep!

May Reads!

WARNING! THIS IS A BLATANT PROMOTIONAL POST!

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The Write Process 2021: First Draft

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2021 Update: All of this is still pretty accurate for me as far as how I complete my first drafts. Of course, writing the first draft as a new author is different from a mid-list author, but only in the fact that today I have a much better idea of my strengths and weaknesses.

This article is going to be a little more pep talk than informative. Writing the first draft is a significant accomplishment for any writer. It’s the first chance to see where that idea in your head is going to go. Even if you have outlined your story to death, surprises are sure to come when you finally put pen to paper.

Here is a list of “rules” I use to get my first draft completed with as little hair pulling and head-bashing as possible.

Rule 1: Don’t sweat the small stuff

The first draft isn’t supposed to be perfect. Don’t fret if not all your characters have the perfect names or one scene doesn’t quite fit the way you hoped.

Rule 2: Don’t Edit

If you are anything like me, you may be tempted to polish that paragraph a bit. Fix those spelling errors and minor grammar issues as you go. Please don’t do it. Not only will it slow the writing process, but how will you know if your paragraph makes sense there if you don’t have completed work.

Rule 3: Don’t talk about Write Club

It may be super tempting to discuss your cool ideas with friends, family, and fellow writers. While it’s not always bad to bounce ideas off people when you get stuck on something, it can also lead to second-guessing your plan.

2021 Update: While I still find this ‘rule’ helpful at times, I talk about my writing all the time now! Yes, I may get distracted by shiny new ideas or ramble my way into a complete rewrite but in the end, talking about my work helps me work out the kinks. I have cultivated an amazing group of friends and fellow authors to bounce ideas off and talk through my struggles. If you haven’t found the right group or prefer the solitary writer life, grab a stuffed animal or rubber ducky to use as a sounding board.

Rule 4: Deadlines are suggestions (Sort of)

Unless you have a publisher breathing down your neck (or inadvertently posted a publication date before your first draft was ready), don’t get caught up with the clock/calendar watching. Getting the first draft done is arguably the best part of the writing process. The time when your imagination should be able to roam free and mingle with your excitement to write. Take your time and smell the pages.

2021 Update: I am a major procrastinator! I know it, I embrace it, and I plan accordingly. It’s one of the reasons I chose Self-publishing over traditional publishing. Yes, the production schedule is more intense, but It’s my schedule to set. That being said, having some deadlines is important. I usually go with a looser month deadline instead of a set date and adjust that deadline as needed.

Rule 5: Just write!

You can’t have a first draft if you never write it in the first place. Writing is hardly the best time and best place sort of activity. Get your words in whenever you can, and don’t be afraid to mix things up to help you get in the writing groove.

Now that you know the “rules” for completing your first draft, it’s time to get writing!

The Write Process 2021: Outlines

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I am not going to get into the Plotter or Pantser debate in this post. I am simply going to provide my opinion on outlining in the process of writing. Now that you have an idea of what you want to write, it’s time to get those ideas organized. How you organize them, like everything else in writing, is based on your personal preference.

My personal preference is not to outline.

I’ve tried multiple times to be an outline person, but in the end, I produce a much better product when I am flying by the seat of my pants. Does this make things more complicated for me in the editing stages? Yes! It takes a lot longer to edit, and I have to do substantial note-taking to keep up with continuity across my series, but it’s worth it for me. I find Outlining makes me overthink the small things and hinders my creativity.

With that being said, I haven’t given up on Outlining completely. I tend to do some sort of outline post writing, even if it’s just to ensure my story flow hits the right marks or as a guide for event timing in future books.

I guess you could say I have Story/Series Bibles that I store my pertinent information for reference but nothing that really details my work’s content. In addition to the Outlining Strategies from my previous article, I will be adding a few systems I’ve incorporated over the last year.

Ways I (Try To) Outline

Get the bigger picture and find some wall space!

 It doesn’t have to be an entire wall but maybe the size of a large wall calendar. Give yourself enough space to expand with as much or as little detail as you.

I took up an entire wall of my office to try and organize my Secret of Ceres Series. It was very helpful for me to visualize the crossover plotline, but other than that, this idea fell flat for me. That isn’t to say it might not work for others. Longer novels with lots of complex moving parts could benefit greatly from this option. You have plenty of space to put note cards, post its or whatever you want to organize your scenes and thoughts.

Speaking of Note Cards….

Use note cards, both physical and virtual! Notecards work great when you need to shuffle ideas around. Most writing-specific software includes a notecard format in their outline section for that reason.

I use Scrivener for most of my organizing. Freeing up my wall to be filled with painting and other artistic inspiration. Having the virtual notecards not only makes my notes more portable (Scrivener has a cloud save option), but I’m also more eco-friendly! Also, using virtual notecards ensures my notes don’t get destroyed or lost due to sidekick shenanigans. I don’t think readers will accept “my dogs ate my notecards” as an excuse for why my novels are delayed.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Remember, your outline doesn’t have to be fancy or complex. A simple line graph can be just as effective for some people. A good working outline will not only help you create your masterpiece in record time but will help streamline the editing process. So even if you are a Pantser like me, give outlining a try. You might find you are Plantser instead.

Ways to organize without “outlines”

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Photo by Charlotte May on Pexels.com

Idea boards – Similar to the notecard method, write your ideas for scenes on a notecard or sticky note. That way, when it comes to organizing your novel, you have something handy to play around with to help you decide on your story flow!

Story/Series Bible – A notebook or file folder that contains all your notes and pertinent information for the continuation of your story or series. (More on Story/Series Bibles in a later post)

Spelling and Pronunciation Guides – A must-have for your story/series bible. It will help you streamline capitalization and spelling across books, help your editor find inconsistencies, and be needed for audiobook narration.

Boost Your TBR!

Hey, Creatives! Below are a few book promos to help you find some new to you authors and round out your 2021 TBR! Each Promo has 20+ books in the Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Suspense, and Speculative Romance Genres!

Dive right in and find your next read!

Looking for Hot New Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reads! Look no further than this promo which includes my novel, Ferocious!

https://books.bookfunnel.com/free-romantic-sci-fi-fantasy-ebooks/7ng8nzoccr

Let This Promo Light Your Way to some fantastic and FREE Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Reads! Featured in this promo is my Shifter Short, Coy Wolf!

https://books.bookfunnel.com/widespeculativeromance/ftj1m88o4s

Widen your TBR with Speculative Romance Reads from your favorite digital content providers. Featured in this promo is His Soul To Keep!

Hello, Creatives!

I hope you all enjoyed my latest read, Unforgettable Valentine! I had no idea that it would be so fitting for this year’s valentine’s day! Did you enjoy your valentine with a special #BlizzardBae? As always feel free to hit me up on discord or reply to this email with your answers!
That being said, I hope everyone is safe and warm during this blustery weather, or maybe it’s cleared up in your area already and you are enjoying a little sunshine. I for one will be huddled in my Creative Cave pounding away at my keyboard to bring you the latest and greatest adventures that are spawning in my head.

Peace, Love, and Happy Reading!
Stella Williams

The Write Process 2021: Ideology

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Ideas are Key!

Before you even put pen to paper or finger to keyboard, you need to have an idea. Some call it a spark of genius, others just dumb luck. No matter how it gets to your brain, that is where the magic starts. Here are a few ways I get my ideas flowing.


Television And Movies

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Photo by Mike on Pexels.com

As if you needed an excuse to binge your favorite programming.

I am a sucker for Foreign dramas! Give me a K-pop idol crush, a scandalous telenovela, or a black comedy from across the pond. Stepping outside of your head could be just the thing to get back in it. There is a reason why fanfiction is so popular. Even the best plots can deal with a little tweaking or continuation. Just remember to put your own spin on things to avoid plagiarism. Any streaming service with a wide variety of international content is golden. I’ve found Netflix to be the cheapest and most extensive but I’m sure there are other great options available too, you just have to look!

A great example of a story being revamped for different audiences are the multiple adaptions of the Manga Series Itazura na Kiss written by Kaoru Tada

My fave adaptations

Mischievous Kiss (Japanese TV)

Playful Kiss( K Drama)

It started with a kiss (Taiwanese film)


Music

Music had been extensively researched in its ability to effect mood and productivity levels but just like my favorite dramas, a good heartfelt melody can be the perfect backdrop for an inspired writing session or the bases of a scene. Try movie scores to set the mood. Country, blues, and R&B/Soul are great places to grab an emotional storyline. Don’t forget that music can also provide visual inspiration through music videos!

I used Who Knew by Chloe X Halle as my mood setter for Unforgettable Valentine!


Daily Events

Original Opening Paragraph from 2019

Ever have a day that turned out crazier than anyone would believe? Well, guess what? You just found a new story or poetry idea. Your local news outlet might have some crazy story ideas for you too. Imagine your character as one of those laid off journalists or perhaps fictionalize the life of an Oscar Winning Composer

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

2021 Update

When I first wrote this post like most of us I had no idea what as in store for us in 2020. Current Events became a nonstop stream of shenanigans even the most dramatic and twisted Author wouldn’t have dared cram into a single novel. That being said, using current events is still good advice. No matter your genre a level of relatability can be achieved by tying in a major event from the time period your work is set in or maybe putting a spin on one for a fantasy world. However, although I would never get in the way of anyone’s personal freedom writing Corona Stories is a bit to soon for my taste.


Writing Prompts

Maybe you don’t have time for inspiration to just strike or you’re feeling a tad lazy on the imagination front. There are plenty of places online to find writing prompts. My favorite places are Reddit and Google. Seriously! Just google writing prompt and your preferred style/genre. I dare you.

A simple google search can lead you in the “write” direction!

2021 Update

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While I still feel this is valid advice. I myself have moved away from this. I have a new prompt tactic that I will share in the next section!


Word Generators

Random word generator– There are several random word generators online that give you a handful of words to test your creative ability.

2021 Update

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Word generators are great but if you want a low-tech option that’s less likely to land a virus or get you spammed with gross ads, grab some popsicle sticks and a dictionary. Write a word or phrase on each popsicle stick and keep them in a cup on your desk. If you get stuck, grab a stick and see where your imagination takes you.

This method can be further expanded on to include a variety of writer’s block helpers which I will further detail in another post.

Now that you’ve gotten a few ideas on where to get ideas, it’s time to bust out your favorite writing tool(s) and get to work! Feel free to share your muse magic in the comments.

Excerpt: His Soul To Keep

Prologue

Clouds obscured the moon and stars in a pitch-black sky.

Where the hell is he? “Branson!”

There was no answer. Soul stumbled through the barbed vines that littered her path. Thorns caught the thin white sheet she’d fashioned into a dress, leaving streaks of blood where they tore into her ankles.

“Branson! Answer me, you asshole!”

This time her calls were answered by the sound of flapping wings before a small, dark figure swooped low, almost hitting her head. The small gust of wind from its wings barely moving her gelled beehive fro. She swiped her hand over her face, not caring she smeared the green and grey zombie makeup she’d carefully applied earlier.

She stopped in the middle of what used to be a blooming garden, now overgrown and filled with dead and decaying foliage. Stone statues and fountains loomed in every direction. Just visible enough to play tricks on her mind. A feral growl broke the relative silence of the night, sending her heart racing. The growling got closer, but as she whipped around expecting to see an animal, all she saw was more shadows—this time running swiftly through the overgrown brush.

This is the last time I fall for his stupid jokes.

“I’m going home! I’m not playing no stupid games.”

She expected Branson to emerge from the darkness, or maybe for him to laugh and give away his position. Branson loved to play jokes on her. He was supposed to be taking her to one of his college parties so she would know what it was like before she graduated high school that year. Instead, he and his friends had stopped here at the old Foster Plantation on the outskirts of Foster, their small town. The creepiest house anyone had ever known.

Everything from ghost sightings to demonic possessions and monster-sized animals was tied to this place. Fitting to the atrocities served by its previous slaveholding owners. Not that the modern generation of Fosters was any less racist. Just now, their fortune was spent, and their ancestral home abandoned to the fitting ruin it should be. Most people with any sense steered clear of the place, especially on Halloween. The night when all manner of spirits roamed the earth.

Don’t go playing with spirits, child. You don’t know what’s lurking on Old Hallows’ Eve.

Grandma Ronnie’s words played on a loop in Soul’s head as she desperately fought the fear threatening to paralyze her. Soul would never have gotten out of the car if Branson hadn’t agreed to stay by her side. Of course, he and his friends, Blake and Wayne, had taken off running in all different directions as soon as they had the chance. Leaving Soul vulnerable and alone among the spirits of the dead.

Branson thought it was a joke when Soul said she could feel spirits. It wasn’t. It was part of her family legacy. Grandma Ronnie was known for her psychic ability around town, even if she tried to downplay it. Unfortunately, Soul was following suit in that regard. Even now, she could feel the brush of tormented souls along her skin, hear their screams like wounded animals in the distance. Barely a whisper, but audible all the same.

Taking a deep breath, she clenched her hands tighter. Her fingernails bit into the palm of her hands, bringing her thoughts back to the present. The feral growling started again, farther away this time, but still too close for comfort.

“Branson, when I find you, I’m going to kill you!”

The words echoed in the night. Giving up on trying to reason with the boys, Soul made her way back to the car. At least there, she would have some protection against anything coming her way. Maybe someone passing by would give her a ride home. The wild animals had enough sense to stay away from the road, even when the road remained mostly deserted. The local hunters had made sure of that.

The closer she got to the car, the farther away the growling became. She relaxed a little, focusing on her anger at Branson for taking this joke of his too far. Soul could just barely make out the silhouette of Branson’s old busted Camaro. The driver’s door was wide open, but none of the boys were in sight. She turned around, searching for any sign of them. Branson would never be so careless with his precious vehicle.

“Branson! This is too far!”

There was a rustling behind her, heavy footfalls getting closer to her position. The progress she made in calming herself down was now undone. She wrapped her arms tight around herself, rubbing her arms to fight off the chills racking her body. The spirits assailed her.

Run!

She took off for the car. She could feel the animal on her heels but refused to look back. Looking back would only slow her down. The vehicle was in sight, if she could just make it there, she would be safe. Soul never made it to the car. Something, or someone, struck a painful blow to the back of her head, rendering her unconscious.

***

Makai Inigo stood over Soulstice Washington. Breathing heavily, he dropped the stick he’d used to knock her out. He hadn’t wanted to hurt her, but in his haste to keep her from coming into harm from Mentor’s rogue beast, he’d had no choice. Shaking his head, Makai took in the scene before him. She was unconscious, her thin white gown sprawled around her like what he imagined a snow angel would look like. Highlighting the soft curves of her maturing body.

He had no idea how long she would be out and prayed he hadn’t hit her so hard that she never woke. His fangs pressed painfully at his gums as they elongated. He struggled to calm his beast. The smell of her blood was almost too enticing for him to ignore. He forced his heartbeat to calm as he bent to pick her up. He breathed a sigh of relief as he felt the soft rise and fall of her chest against his. She was still breathing. Now cradled in his arms, Makai didn’t want to let her go.

Something inside him awakened at the feel of her warm body against his. A possessive calm settled over him as he held her tight.

“I will never let harm come to you,” he whispered as he stared at her peaceful visage. Thick grey and green makeup caked her high cheekbones and softly rounded chin, covering the honey almond of her skin. She was still beautiful to him, though. No matter what she did to hide it.

“You going to just stand there leaving evidence, or are we going to finish this?” Mentor hissed at him.

Makai turned to the older Saurian and scowled. He didn’t know if the man had a real name, Makai had called him Mentor since the day he had learned to speak. Mentor had raised him, but they weren’t family by any means. The older Makai became, the more he saw Mentor for what he truly was— a dangerous wild animal. Mentor was so corrupted by his hate and bitterness toward the Saurian Houses that what little human was left in his DNA would soon be lost forever.

“Why did you kill them?”

Mentor straightened to his full height, his eyes turning entirely black before he let out a deep, rumbling growl.

“Are you challenging me, Omri?”

Makai resisted the urge to roll his eyes and shifted Soul’s weight in his arms.  Omri meant mixed breed. Mentor liked to use Omri as a slur. Still, as Makai came to know more about the Saurian and their bullshit Houses, he became increasingly proud to have that distinction. House Elek, House Akoro, and House Trewa liked to pretend Omri like him didn’t exist. Makai’s mother and father came from two different Houses. They had abandoned him. Cast him out into the wild because of it.

If he hadn’t been found by Mentor, and at least partially prepared for the changes occurring in his body, his beast would be just as untamed and dangerous. It was a testament to his control that he managed to save Soul from the same fate as her friends. He managed to get a hold of his beast in time to steer her clear of Mentor’s bloody rampage. Too bad he had realized the danger too late for her friends.

The beast within roared to be set free. Makai’s arms pricked like a thousand tiny needles as the creature began to emerge. His midnight skin scaling up like a snake. The taste of fire and brimstone heavy in his mouth. Taking a deep breath, Makai focused on the fact he held Soul, a fragile human, in his arms. When the beast settled, he looked Mentor straight in the eyes.

“No, Mentor, I’m not challenging you.”

The yet was left unsaid. Makai didn’t know how much longer he could live like this. Skipping from town to town, hiding in the shadows. They’d come across others like him. Other Omri looking for a sense of family and pride. Mentor had turned them all away, admonishing them as weak. Makai didn’t think wanting stability and a safe family unit was weak. How could you be weak knowing you had someone by your side to count on?

“Just dump her in with the rest. If we are lucky, they will blame the mess on her. Either way, it is time to get a move on. The townsfolk are starting to get a little too familiar and nosy.”

Begrudgingly, Makai followed his mentor to the pile of body parts that was all that remained of Soul’s friends.

“One day, I will make this right. One day, I will come back for you,” he whispered in Soul’s ear before setting her amongst the carnage.

“Let’s get a move on,” Mentor seethed.

Mentor’s forked tongue flicking out as his canines elongated. Being around so much blood encouraged his beast again. Makai started to move, but Mentor didn’t. His eyes focused on Soul. It was then Makai knew he couldn’t let Mentor get his way. He couldn’t leave Soul when Mentor already knew the scent of her blood. He jumped between Mentor and Soul, allowing his own beast to emerge.

“Don’t you touch her!”

He barely recognized his voice. Plumes of smoke spewed from his nostrils. His fingertips became dagger-like claws before his eyes. Makai had never transformed this quickly or felt this much control over his beast. Even Mentor was momentarily shocked by the sudden mastery Makai displayed.

“I never should have saved you. I knew you would turn on me, just like the rest,” Mentor spat.

“I’m giving you one last warning. Leave here now and never return, or I will have to kill you.”

Mentor glared at him with his pitch-black eyes. Makai braced himself for the attack he was sure was coming. Heat rose in his belly like hot acid sliding up his throat before flames shot from his mouth. Mentor hissed as the scorching red tendrils kissed his flesh.

“You better watch your back, ungrateful little shit. Once word gets out about your little Alulpo, I will be the least of your worries.”

With that, Mentor shifted completely to his beast, and spreading his wings, he took off, disappearing into the night. Makai had no idea what mentor meant about an Alulpo. Maybe it was slang for humans. Somehow, his beast knew it meant much more than that. Makai sat in the dirt beside Soul. Watching over her until the first rays of the sun peaked over the decaying Foster Manor. No Saurian would be out to harm her at this time of day. It was time for him to go.

***

The sound of flapping wings and birds chirping brought Soul slowly back to consciousness. It was cold, and her skin was soaked with morning dew.

Why the hell am I still outside? Did the boys leave me to sleep in the dirt? I’m going to kill Branson for this.

The ground beneath her felt cold and hard. The rusty red tint of the dust beneath her cheek the only indication that something was horribly wrong. She sat up slowly, letting her mind and body get their mess together. She stretched and swiveled her neck to relieve the kinks there. Her head throbbed. She touched her hair and found it sticky and matted. When she pulled her fingers back, they were covered in blood, as were her arms and her dress.

“What the hell?”

The flapping of wings continued behind her, and she turned and screamed. Arms flailing desperately, she got to her feet and fended off the vultures pecking at the body parts she’d apparently been lying next to. Her heart hammered in her chest as she took in the scene before her. For a moment, she thought she was dreaming. That she was in the middle of a nightmare. Soul took shallow gasping breaths as the world began to spin. She backed away from the carnage, her hands scraping at her blood-stained skin before she turned and ran. Screaming, hot tears streaming down her cheeks, Soulstice raced to the road. She ran and ran until she saw a car approaching. She threw herself in front of it, still screaming, still sobbing.

“Help! Help! Please!”

The blue sedan slammed on its breaks but not in time to stop it from colliding with her body. She hit the hood and rolled over it before being thrown on the ground.

“Help me,” she breathed.

The only answer she received was the whispers of the spirits.

Just the beginning, child. The shadows have found you. Rest now. Soon you shall genuinely be awoken—just the beginning.

Then the world went dark.

I Hope you enjoyed this excerpt from His Soul To Keep! If you want to read more, be sure to Reserve your copy of the Eternal Bite Box Set today!

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