Archive for February, 2023

A Matter of Perspective

Hey-a, squiders, how’s it hanging? This week is a Disaster and so mostly I’m eating a lot of chocolate and quietly panicking.

But anyway, let’s talk about my edit and how it’s going! Or, rather, how it’s not going, because Life is doing that thing again.

Now, to be fair, I have made some progress. I wrote 400 words on the new first chapter.

They were awful. Seriously, just the worst over-written, pace-killing words.

And to even write those 400 words, if you remember, I had to get my friends to guilt trip me into writing because of performance anxiety and all the importance my brain had heaped on the re-write of chapter one (and arguably, this revision as a whole).

Imagine, if you will, how frustrating it is to have your brain fight you on doing a basic, necessary task for several days, and when you finally trick it into doing said task, all your fears are justified.

You ARE a hack, you CAN’T write this book properly, you ARE NEVER going to get it finished and published, etc.

Anyway, it was not good.

Later in the day, I had some time to sit and consider why said 400 words were not working, and I ended up thinking, too, about Hallowed Hill. After all, HH has, arguably, one of the best openings I’ve ever written for any story, and I hadn’t hardly had to touch it in revision.

So, I said to myself, what did I do differently for the beginning of Hallowed Hill than I am now?

Well, that was easy. I wrote the beginning of HH in first person.

See, Gothic novels are often in first person, so I set out to do the same. And I made it, oh, maybe a thousand words, in first person before it became apparent that it was not working and I switched to third person. So when I went back to change the very beginning into third as well, I noticed a few things.

While you cannot be as voice-y in third person as in first, you can still maintain some of the voice in third, which makes the passages more engaging. AND it cuts directly to a character’s wants and needs.

Part of the problem with the first chapter of Book One is that there is SO much going on. There’s the war to introduce, and the fantasy world-building, and oh so many characters, and it’s easy for me to get bogged down in all that. And it bogs the writing down too.

So I got up early the next morning, and I wrote 600 words of opening in first person.

And lo and behold, it cut through all the fluff to what was important.

Then I took my 600 words of first person and my 400 words of third person and spliced them together into something actually useable, and now, dear squiders, we are off and running.

Well, off and ambling along because I’ve been having a hard time finding writing time. But it does seem to be flowing much better when I get around to it.

Fingers crossed that this will be the last time I have to rewrite this chapter.

I’ve a cool promo for you for Thursday, squiders, and then who knows what we’re doing next week. Something, I’m sure.


Promo: The Fifth Horseman by Jon Smith

Good morning, squiders! I’ve got a fun fantasy comedy story for you today. Take a look and see if it appeals to you!


Comedy/Fantasy/Mythical Realism/Fiction

Date Published: 02-07-2023

Publisher: Balkon Media

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Internationally published bestselling author Jon Smith makes his adult debut with The Fifth Horseman, a modern comic fantasy that rides roughshod over established mythology and the rules of life… and death.

The Fifth Horseman is a darkly comic tale of two thirty-somethings caught between our world and the afterlife, who must embrace their role as reapers to prevent the End Times. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets Father Ted, perfect for fans of Ben Aaronovitch, Terry Pratchett, and Neil Gaiman.


Death is just a day job you can’t quit…

Emma and Mark had a bad day. The worst part of it was dying. But, according to Death, the Rider on the Pale Horse and first horseman of the apocalypse, things aren’t that simple. Turns out the sand in their hourglass is stuck in place. Somewhere between life and death, they’re put to work as Death’s assistants, reaping the souls of the living until it’s time for their final clock out…

To compound matters, despite their omnipotence, the four horsemen are facing an existential threat – one they’re ill-equipped and ill-prepared to combat.

Emma and Mark must reap like their afterlives depend on it, to help prevent the End Times – even if it means scuppering the one opportunity they have at being granted a second chance at life.


Filled with humour, romantic tension, and suspense, Jon Smith utilises a witty, lightly sarcastic ensemble of flawed but loveable characters. It will appeal to mainstream fantasy readers and hopeless romantics, as well as those who enjoy a good story and a good laugh.


About the Author

 Jon Smith is the bestselling author of 14 books for children, teens, and adults. His books have sold more than 500,000 copies and are published in seven languages.

In addition to writing books, Jon is an award-winning screenwriter and musical theatre lyricist and librettist with productions at the Birmingham Hippodrome, Belfast Waterfront and London’s Park & Waterloo East theatres.

Jon enjoyed a happy childhood—making daisy chains, holidays in the sun and an obsessive interest in all things fantasy. No brace, few spots and only one broken bone and one broken heart (not his). It all went swimmingly.

Father of four, he lives near Liverpool with his wife, Mrs. Smith, and their two school-age children. When he grows up he’d like to be a librarian.


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Emma reached out to steady herself on the copper base of Bella, the magnificent Liver Bird that stands sentinel atop a white dome, looking out over the River Mersey and across to the Wirral and North Wales.

Her legs shaking from both effort and fear, she stopped for a moment to try and catch her breath. She ran a hand through her long auburn hair, gulping in oxygen and regretting cancelling her gym membership earlier in the year. A strong and sudden gust of wind hurtled in from the Irish Sea, its elemental tendrils clawing at the exposed skin of her hands as the cold sting brought tears to her eyes. Whilst she rued her choice of the landmark building, realising that not for the first time she’d let form take precedence over function, she paused to appreciate the stunning waterfront vista forged in blood, sweat, and tears by the city’s maritime and cultural history, both old and new, good and bad.

Why the clowns at UNESCO had stripped the city of its World Heritage Site status would forever remain a mystery.

However, with typical scouse nonchalance, she parked that train of thought and tried to focus on the task at hand.

Everyone was out and about – on Pier Head, on the Strand, on their phones – busy with their day. Busy with their lives. Not many people looking up, which suited Emma just !ne. She was used to being ignored. Used to just blending in. It was a learned behaviour that had started when she was a child, living under the strict rules of her parents, who firmly believed that children should be seen and not heard. She had trained herself to remain quiet, remain small, and remain in the background. It made for a lonely childhood but a peaceful one.

But much to Emma’s chagrin, once she’d left for university, she found it difficult to unlearn, and thus difficult to make and maintain friendships. Or to be noticed by lecturers, even if she had her hand in the air. Or to be noticed by boys, despite being single and very much ready to mingle.

However, what wound Emma up most was not being noticed at work, no matter how diligent she was or how many new accounts she brought in. It was never Emma who was celebrated in the company newsletter, and it was never Emma who was put forward for promotion. Emma was just… there. A safe pair of hands at the back of the room. Reliable Emma. Wouldn’t say boo to a goose Emma. The same Emma who’d just been handed a P45 and a beautifully written termination letter with her last and middle names mixed up. That’s how well management and colleagues had got to know her in eighteen months.

For once, standing next to the symbol of Liverpool, over three hundred feet above the city, she was grateful that no one noticed her. She didn’t really feel like looking back at them. She wasn’t there to be gawked at or be made into some kind of sideshow on the street.

Not until after she jumped, of course.


Executive dysfunction is no joke, my friends, and I swear it’s getting worse the older I get–or maybe it’s just manifesting in more annoying ways.

ANYWAY I finished my revision plan last week, like I was planning to. Monday I sat down with my red pen and the paper copy of the last draft of the story, and I scribbled all over, and ta-dah! I was ready to start writing.

A scribbled on printout of a story

Or re-writing, I guess, except I do need to do a new first scene, so who knows.

Anyway, the last couple of days have been busy (Tuesday I needed to run errands after work, and yesterday the roads were a mess, so I came home early and worked here, but that actually made it so I worked longer), so I thought I’d go to the coffee shop after work today, have a nice coffee, and write my opening scene.

Easy peasy, right?

Well, I gave myself about an hour and a half to write, and by the end I had this:

A poorly executed first chapter
Not impressive

What makes it worse is that I suspected I was going to do this. As I arrived at the coffee shop, I said to myself, “Now, Kit, don’t get distracted. I know it’s kind of overwhelming, to have to write a new first chapter, and I know there’s a lot riding on it, because we want this to be the last draft, but you’ve got to just do it, and the sooner the better, because maybe we can catch the end of the critique marathon, and then you can get feedback on whether or not the new beginning is working.”

And then I got a brownie, and I had to wait for my coffee, and I thought I’d play a phone game while I ate/waited, and then it was too late. All I did was make the document and generally panic.

This is stupid. I know this is stupid. I’m predictably stupid in this way too, so you’d think I’d just get over myself by now.

But alas.

Left to my own devices, I will eventually just sit down and write, but it can take a few days, depending on how easy it is to distract myself (spoiler alert: it’s super easy).

So I think tomorrow I will ask some friends to bother me until I actually write. I read an article today that said that, for people with ADHD, just sitting with other people, or having people expect something from you, can be the impetus to have you sit down and focus. Now, I don’t have ADHD, or, at least, I’m not diagnosed, but I don’t see any reason why it won’t work for me too.

(In fact, I know this can work, because if I’m goofing around at my desk and my husband comes and sits next to me to work, I tend to switch to doing things I’ve put off.)

Anyway, wish me luck! If all goes well, I’ll have a finished first chapter ready in time to post next Monday for the critique marathon (I think there’s only two weeks left on it), and I think once I’m past the first chapter and, indeed, just the initial hurdle of starting, the rest of the revision should go faster.

See you next week, squiders!

WriYe and Kissing

Happy Valentine’s Day, squiders! No one got me anything, although the smaller, mobile one gave me a leftover Valentine that was extra from her school set.

(It had candy. It was pretty good.)

In honor of the celebration of love, I thought I’d do the WriYe prompt for the month, which is:

Is This a Kissing Book? Romance as a main genre vs. subplot.

I’m pretty sure I’ve posted about this exact topic somewhere in the past (somewhere in the last twelve years)–I can recall mentioning I’d read two similar books, one of which was categorized as a mystery with romance, and the other of which was categorized as a romance with mystery, despite the actual make-up of the books being near identical. I, too, posed the question of what got to be considered the main genre, and why.

(I think my determination was that one author primarily wrote romance, and the other primarily wrote mystery, and so they got categorized due to that when the going got tough.)

Now, being older and wiser, I would say that it’s romance as the main genre if the major plot points of the story are driven by the romance elements. Like, if the main story question is whether or not two characters will get together, or how they will surmount the things keeping them apart.

If the main story revolves around other plot points–a mystery to be solved, an adventure to be had–then it’s a subplot.

But I do think it gets muddled in the middle of the spectrum. I always plot my stories with an external, an internal, and a relational arc, and romance tends to involve internal arcs more than external ones (excepting, of course, something actively trying to keep characters apart). So if you have a romance-based internal arc, and a, say, mystery-based external arc, and you give both arcs equal or about equal story weight, then it’s not clear if it’s a romance or whatever the other genre is.

And then we get into subjective territory, which is surprisingly common when it comes to genre.

Personally, I tend to use romance as a subplot, though arguably with Shards the romance could be considered to be the main thing driving the plot (though it doesn’t particularly follow Romance beats).

What do you think, squiders? Thoughts on romance in stories in general?

Finally! Movement

Howdy, howdy, squiders. How’s February treating you?

Aside from the SkillShare issue, mine’s been decent! Because, miracles of miracles, I’m almost done with my revision plan FINALLY.


And I moved my cards around a bit more, and I realized…

…I was thinking about it too hard.

What is the expression. Something, something, weeds… hold on. Oh, it’s just “in the weeds.” Maybe combined with a little bit of “can’t see the forest for the trees.”

When I started this revision, I knew where the problems lay. Specifically that my female main character lacked decent internal motivation and that the beginning of the book felt a little disconnected.

And then, somewhere along the way, I got lost. I got so deep into checking my plots and subplots that I lost sight of what I was trying to fix, and then I started to try and fix things that didn’t need fixing.

No wonder I was feeling overwhelmed and frustrated!

So, oh, Friday I want to say, I was like, hey, maybe, you know, things are mostly in the right order, and we just need to tweak things based on observations we made when we did the readthrough, including fixes for things that actually are problems (which I had figured out, I’d just…not stopped there).

And, oh, hey, guess what was suddenly a million times easier.

Anyway, I’m almost done with my revision plan for the beginning of the book (which is where the majority of issues reside), and once I’m done, I’ll finish the revision plan for the rest of the book, which is mostly streamlining things to make sense with the changes to the beginning of the book, and fixing clunky writing, and adding in one scene (or maybe a whole chapter) about three-fourths of the way through the book.

I’d like to say that I’m frustrated at myself for going completely off the rails and therefore halting the whole process unnecessarily, but I’m just so happy that things are finally moving! Hooray! Progress!

Anyway, things are moving now, and hopefully we’ll be able to start the actual revision next week! Eeee!

Re-Considering SkillShare

Howdy, squiders. Happy Groundhog Day. Someday I should probably watch the movie, but today is apparently not that day.

(Here in Colorado we have Flatiron Freddy. He’s a taxidermied yellow-bellied marmot. The park rangers put a top hat on him.)

(He saw his shadow too, so six more weeks of winter. Which is fine! We need all the moisture we can get.)

(I guess he didn’t see his shadow. He’s dead.)

Anyway, let’s talk about SkillShare. As you guys probably know if you’ve been about for a while, I’ve been teaching on SkillShare since 2019. I put a couple writing classes up a year, and it’s been giving me a small amount of income every month, normally between $20 and $70.

Not amazing, for sure, especially since it does take quite a bit of work to get a class ready, between planning it out, creating it, editing the videos, and posting it, but enough that it’s generally been worth it. Plus I’ve been getting a fair amount of followers, who have come over onto other platforms from there.

Well, a few months ago, SkillShare decided they were going to start paying based on engagement (how many reviews, etc.) rather than number of minutes of class watched (which is how payment has traditionally been paid out). Between August and December, my income dropped by 75% despite the number of minutes being watched remaining the same.

And I got an email last week that they were closing three of my classes because they didn’t meet the new engagement requirements. Nothing I could do about it.

(And, annoyingly, two of those classes were actually doing really well for the month! And I feel bad, cuz what if people were in the middle of the classes when SkillShare closed them? I tried to warn people beforehand but I don’t know how many people actually saw my warning.)

You guys know how I feel about setting goals that rely on other people. No matter how many times I ask, I can’t make people leave reviews, or watch other classes, or recommend my classes to other people. To make payment and, indeed, if a class can even stay on the site, so dependent on what other people are doing is frustrating, to say the least.

(Yes, I realize that the payment based on minutes watched also relies on other people, but it was a they did, or they didn’t, sort of thing. Nobody was getting their classes closed off of that.)

What it really feels like is that they’re trying to drive the smaller and/or newer teachers off the website.

It was already pretty hard to be found by the algorithms if you weren’t one of the celebrity classes SkillShare pays for and advertises, or if you hadn’t been on the site forever and built up a major following. But I was/have been getting consistently good reviews, and it seems like people have found the classes helpful.

So, what now?

From what I understand, there’s nothing to stop me from just making a new version of the class and putting everything right back up. (I even emailed and asked, and all the dude said was that the new classes would be held to the same engagement standards.) Of course, the new class will lose any projects and reviews, and no doubt it will be removed from people’s courses, which means I can’t contact those people anymore.

Also, it will make the class EVEN HARDER to find through the algorithms.

Is it worth it?

I haven’t decided. Maybe. You get some leeway on engagement stuff for a bit before they would pull the class again. But in the four years that I’ve been on SkillShare, they’ve consistently revamped how pay works, and it’s always worse for the teachers. Is it worth it to stay on a site that so obviously does not want me?

I could move the classes to another platform, or even offer them here on the website. But they are geared toward SkillShare, so I would need to edit or even re-record some of them. And I would need to do research to figure where/how to do all that.

It’s all a major pain in the ass. Part of me just wants to give the whole thing up, but then I’d have to go in and edit the back matter in the Writers’ Motivation books and workbooks to remove the SkillShare link too.

There’s not really any good answers here.

What do you think, Squiders? Have any experience with teaching on the web?