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You just couldn’t make this sh*t up if you tried…
A hot man, a one-night stand. Five days in Miami, that was the plan.

Things went sideways real-quick. Continue reading “WRECKLESS ENGAGEMENT ON SALE NOW!”

Novel Word Count: Does it Matter?

What’s the Word…Count?

To be, or not to be, that is the question’ (William Shakespeare, Hamlet). Well, at least for us writers it is. I possess an infinite love of the written word, reading it, writing it, quoting it. As a writer, I’ve been known to go on endlessly about any given topic—especially my favorite topics. But though I have a tendency to wax poetically, sometimes long-windedly, not everyone shares my penchant for long, passionate outpourings. In fact, a couple of my own family members has repeatedly stated, “I hate reading”. Imagine! As a lover of all things literary, I can’t fathom such a thing exists.

As I approach the long-awaited publishing date of my novel, one of the most frequent questions throughout that process—as well as one I’ve frequently heard from fellow writers, has been, how long should a novel be? How many words, pages, chapters? How much is too much or too little? The easy answer? There is no easy answer. I’ve done my research–searching publishing sites, author blogs, editor blogs, writing blogs, manuals, and other literary websites. Alas, there seems to be no consensus.

When is it enough?

Traditionally, a full-length novel has been between 80,000 and 100,000 words. The standard for general fiction is closer to 80,000 words, while sci-fi/fantasy tends to be a bit lengthier, at 100,000 words. Both standards seem a LOT of words when put in those terms. In accordance with those standards, when I first started writing my novel, I feared I wouldn’t be able to come up with enough words to even constitute a “Book”. Up until that point, I hadn’t written more than short stories. I had read about authors struggling to crank out their works; to come up with enough material to substantiate a workable plot. I admit to having been somewhat intimidated by the prospect. But fear not; turns out I suffered from no such affliction. In fact, three-quarters of the way through, I had reached 140,000 words!

Problem was, I had surpassed the traditional standard, and I wasn’t yet finished. Naturally, I panicked, believing I would have to do some MAJOR re-drafting. A daunting and discouraging task to say the least. I went back to do more research on word count—as my previous search had been a couple of years prior, and came across a lot of conflicting information. The traditional standard was still there, though with exceptions. As an avid reader, I have read novels of varying length—in fact, for me, the thicker the book, the better. I knew that some of my previous reads from one of my favorite authors, James Patterson, was well over the standard. So does word count really matter? The good news is, with self-publishing being on the rise, the industry standards have changed.

Here is what I learned in my renewed search:

  • If you’re going to a traditional publishing house, word count matters. Publishers operate on risk assessment—depending on the market, they have a standard for how a novel should look, what length it should be, etc.
  • Word count varies by genre, with general fiction and adult romance novels averaging 120,000 – 150,000
  • Mystery & Thriller: 80,000 — 130,000
  • Sci-fi/Fantasy: 130,000 –180,000 (though George R.R. Martin’s novel, A Dance With Dragons, was an astounding 420,000 words)
  • Young Adult: 60,000 – 80,000 (though J.K. Rowling’s book, The Order of the Phoenix, has a whopping word count of 257,000)
  • Memoir: 70,000 – 100,000 (unless of course, you are a former president or celebrity 🙂


Keep in mind, the referenced word counts are guidelines, not requirements. But remember, those words translate into pages. Personally, I enjoy a longer novel—so long as the plot is fast-paced, and not just pages full of non-qualitative meanderings. Bottom line, it’s important to keep your audience in mind when deciding word count–also, to be mindful of length if you are writing a series. Those books tend to be shorter. No one wants to read three four hundred page books just to get to the end of a long, harrowing tale. Got it?

Why word count vs. length? Semantics really. Factors such as font, format, graphics, etc. can take up space adding to the total page count but not necessarily to the length of the story itself.

Publishers are sticklers for word counts—but if you intend to self-publish, like many new first authors nowadays, you have a little more leeway. Try to stick to the guidelines, but the most important thing to remember is, JUST WRITE. Worry about word count later.  In my experience, once you’ve gotten to the final draft, you will have trimmed off 20,000 to 30,000 words anyway.

I hope this guideline was helpful 🙂

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*Site and text copyright 2017 kmarie-author.com.  Photos are either by the author, purchased from stock sites, or (where attributed) Creative Commons. Linkbacks, pins, and shares are always appreciated, but with the exception of promotional material (book covers, official author photo, book summaries), please do not re-post material in full without permission (or credit to the author).

Diversity in Writing: How to Be Inclusive

So Many Choices!

Does your story reflect those who may read it?

I previously wrote an article titled “Who Are You Writing For?” The focus of that particular blog post centered more so on the content of our stories, rather than the audience. The inspiration for that article was sparked by a comment from a friend. She raised the question of whether we as writers write stories from our hearts—the stories that we want to tell, or whether we write stories to appease others. Do we stick to the norms of what might be acceptable to society? Or do we risk venturing outside the box and write about what might be considered taboo to some? Undoubtedly, both content and audience are important factors for any writer, but in this blog post, I will focus more on audience. To be exact, the diversity of audience.

I’m a writer who’s only a couple of months away from seeing my long awaited goal of becoming a published author a reality. Thank the Book Gods! My fictional novel is finally completed and in the works of being published (excerpts coming soon). My inspiration for creating this blog was based on my experiences during the THREE YEAR journey of writing my story; the Do’s & Don’ts, if you will. I wanted to share with other would-be authors something that might be useful to them on their own journeys. But in sharing my work with others—such as beta-readers, there seemed to be a common theme in their questions. How did I come up with the characters? Did the characters reflect actual people that I know? What is the racial/ethnic make-up of the characters? All good questions for sure, because the characters are the bones of the story, right? But the questions also made me reflect, to dig deeper into my own psyche in order to articulate honest answers.

The beauty of telling a story—especially a fictional story, is that you get to weave that sucker any which way you want. The most fun part of all though; is in creating the characters. Characters are like “Mr. Potato Heads”, in that we can take-off or add-on as much as we want—when we want. It’s like when I was a child playing with my Barbie dolls—I would dress her up fancy for a party, or for the beach, or for a camping trip. Ask any little girl with a Barbie obsession such as my former self, and they will tell you that the doll just isn’t much useful without a fabulous wardrobe. In writing, how we build our characters is also how we build our stories. Our characters are our stories. So, who are our characters—and who do they reflect?

How important is inclusiveness?

Have you ever read a book that you may have found interesting—a good read even, but you just couldn’t relate to the main character/s because they just didn’t reflect you or your culture? I know that I have. I love reading, all kinds of reading—but especially fictional and history. I’ve read novels that were gripping reads that kept me engaged until the very last page; a good story is a good story, right? But I believe that stories work even better when we can see ourselves in them. That’s not to say the main character/s should be mirror images of ourselves–but that a story will be more relatable to a wider audience if that audience sees themselves reflected in there somewhere. In real life, the majority of us (unless you live under a rock) are surrounded by a diverse community of people. Whether it’s a neighbor, friend, relative, teacher, barista at Starbucks, classmate, server at a restaurant, or a co-worker—we are surrounded by individuals from all walks of life. For example, I live in a culturally diverse neighborhood. I have a Caucasian family on one side of my home—and an African-American family on the other side. There is also an Asian family four houses down—as well as a Latino family on the corner. Just three days ago—when it was almost eighty degrees outside in fickle temperate Michigan, there was a same-sex couple out walking their two dogs together. I could go on and on, but my point is, our worlds are made up of such diversity—our everyday interactions include people from all walks of life, so why shouldn’t our stories? How realistic is it to have a story based on two high school students as main characters, attending a school where EVERY student is homogenous in racial background? Or where everyone is heterosexual?  Not very likely or realistic.

In writing my book, I often created my characters out of thin air—meaning there really was no basis for their creation other than they served a purpose at that moment. But the ending result was that I unconsciously ended up with a book full of very diverse characters. When asked by my beta-readers about my character choices, I honestly didn’t have a deep or philosophical explanation for why I’d chosen to make a character Asian, or Latino, or Caucasian, or bi-sexual. I had simply gone with what felt right because that’s how I see my world. I either know personally—or interact on some level every day, with an eclectic consortium of people. And I am eternally grateful to have an opportunity to do so. Our differences are what makes us unique, and what makes our worlds so much more interesting. Can you imagine having to wear a plain white t-shirt every day for whatever occasion? How boring and uninspiring would it be to never have the choice of color? Don’t we often choose color to express ourselves—our own unique style or personality? So why not reflect the same in our stories?

I believe diversity in my own writing to be an important aspect of expression—with how I both relate to and see my own world. But I also want my writing to be inclusive of all persons, I want to share my writing with EVERYONE, not to limit my audience. Of course, some writers DO write for only a specific targeted audience—and I do not necessarily mean a targeted genre, but more so a targeted culture of people. And that is completely okay too. I’m not judging, only sharing my personal preference. Now, targeting a specific genre is different, but that’s not what this article was about (meh). I covered that topic in a previous post, “Who Are You Writing For?” Check that one out as well!

Do you believe diversity in writing important? Do your characters reflect inclusiveness? Is it a factor?

Thanks for stopping by.

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*Site and text copyright 2017 kmarie-write.com.  Photos are either by the author, purchased from stock sites, or (where attributed) Creative Commons. Link backs, pins, and shares are always appreciated, but with the exception of promotional material (book covers, official author photo, book summaries), please do not repost material in full without permission (or credit to author).

How to Channel Your Creative Muse

How Do You Get Your Muse On?

Today, I get to share with you one of my closely held secrets. I will share with you something that very few people may know about me—save for my closest of trusted brethren, those who have been privy enough to be regaled with my deepest of confidences. Until now, I have kept this deep, dark secret concealed in the depths of my heart—only allowing it to come out and spread its wings in the shroud of night. So here it is…that with which I will share with only my chosen ones. I am Greek Mythology geek.

Whew! Glad I got that off my chest. It’s been just eating away at my very soul. Okay, so perhaps my secret isn’t all that dark or mysterious, but it is a guilty pleasure that I’ve indulged in over the years; unbeknownst to very few. I believe it important—healthy even, to have something that we keep just for ourselves, that small aspect of our very being that we get to call our own. Oh, don’t worry that my closest held secret is now exposed to the world; I have other deep, dark, titillating secrets that will never see the light of day 😉

In keeping with my love of Greek mythology, I want to discuss the mystical goddesses in which we are believed to draw upon for our creative powers. We all draw creative inspiration from somewhere. Every time we put pen to paper, brush to canvas, string together lines of poetry, sway our bodies to an alluring beat, or act out a poignant scene in front of a camera; each of us taps into a source from which we are inspired to create. It’s believed (especially to us Greek mythology geeks), that our creative powers for the arts and sciences are drawn from the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne.

These daughters, the Greek goddesses, are believed to represent the various arts and sciences in Greek mythology; they were referred to as “Muses”. A muse—when used as a noun; is referred to as a person (usually a woman), who serves as a source of inspiration. In Greek mythology, the nine goddesses each had specific attributes. Erato was the muse of love poetry, Euterpe was the muse of music and flute playing, Kalliope was the muse of beautiful voice and epic poetry, and Kleio was the muse of history. Melpomene was said to be the muse of both songstress and tragedy, while Ourania, was believed to be the muse of astrology and astronomy. Polymnia was a hymnist of sacred music, Terpsichore the muse of dance, and Thaleia was the muse of comedy. It is believed that by calling upon and receiving the blessings of the muses, a poet, dancer, musician—or any form of artist, can transcend the normal bounds of talent and rise to unimagined levels of creative insight (1). Sounds intriguing, right? However, as much as I do love a Greek myth…or tragedy, I don’t believe we have to solely rely upon the goddesses to aid us in creativity.

A muse can be anything that serves as an artist’s inspiration. This can range from a person, place or thing; the very definition of a noun. To tap into our creative genius, we often call upon a particular person of influence (without resorting to stalking), an object (some of which might be awkwardly weird), a place (could include dark hovels), or even a ritual (hopefully not involving children or animals). It may not be a magical formula or general antidote, but whatever the source, it serves to aid us in continuing our creative flow. I wish that I could say I often channel the Dali Lama or some other great spiritual influential person in which to use as my own muse, but my external sources are fairly tame and pedestrian. I regularly draw on several sources of inspiration when writing. Of course, it sometimes depends on my mood or other factors, but I’m usually fairly consistent. For my book characters, I typically draw on people I know—or have met, and build from there. So in this aspect, my ‘people’ muses often change. But the one thing that remains consistent for me during my writing is listening to either rock or rap music—as well as sometimes requiring complete silence/meditation.

Why rap or rock music? Who knows, but music helps me to get in the creative zone. I don’t know why, but it’s just something about the high energy and grittiness of it all that seems to appeal to my creative genius. At other times, I require complete silence in which to create. This typically happens when I’m having a hard time concentrating, or when my creative thoughts draw to a complete halt via writer’s block. Another consistent for me is the use of my favorite scented candles. I know–this might sound weird, but for some reason, the aromatic scent of my favorite candles helps to relax me; which in turn helps me to focus.

Whatever the source, having something that aids in your creative process is essential. But channeling our creative genius through a particular muse goes beyond a particular external source. I believe that creating rituals and habits also helps the creative energy flow. Sometimes, performing a particular routine prior to writing can be helpful; such as meditating, exercising, listening to music, reading something inspirational, writing down goals, or reciting affirmations. Creating peaceful spaces, setting strict work times and routines are important factors as well. These factors help you to feel connected—help you tap into your creative place, and ultimately help you to write effectively. Sometimes, we can get easily distracted from our writing, but I’ve found the following routines to be helpful in keeping me on track.

  1. When possible, work at the same time every day. It helps to establish a regular schedule in which you feel the pressure to adhere to. Not being disciplined in your craft can result in that book that you will have been working on for ten years.
  2. Work in a space where there is a minimal amount of noise and distraction. For me, it’s usually behind closed doors in my bedroom—which also serves as my office space.
  3. Light a fragrant candle or incense that helps to relax you—to perhaps tap into your spiritual side. The herb sage is often used to clear the air of negative energy.
  4. Ensure your comfort. I often wear leggings or yoga pants, and either a t-shirt or hoodie; it depends on the weather. I also wear either a pair of thick, fluffy socks or a pair of my Ugg boots (they’re like house slippers). A nice throw blanket (in the winter or summer because my house is always freezing), is also a standby for me.
  5. Have everything you need on-hand. This prevents you from getting distracted by having to constantly get up to retrieve things. Before I start writing, I ensure I have a bottle of water, my favorite coffee mug filled to the brim, a snack, my phone, an ink pen and notepad in case I have to jot down something crucial, and the remote—if you like to have the television on (I sometimes do for background noise).

It’s not a full proof system, but these constants serve as tools in which I use to aid in my own writing process. There is no wrong way in which to channel our creativity. Whatever your muse of choice, also establishing a regular routine/ritual can help you to stay focused—thus helping you to produce your very best work.

Do you have a muse? What routine or rituals help to get you into your writing zone? Do you have any strange or unorthodox practices that aid your creative process?

Thanks for stopping by.


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  1. mythagora.com. Muses. Retrieved from: http://www.mythagora.com/bios/muses.html


*Site and text copyright 2017 kmarie-write.com.  Photos are either by the author, purchased from stock sites, or (where attributed) Creative Commons. Link backs, pins, and shares are always appreciated, but with the exception of promotional material (book covers, official author photo, book summaries), please do not repost material in full without permission (or credit to author).