Pitfalls to Avoid: Mary Sue Characters

Dragon Soul Press

You: “Oh man, people are going to love my female MC. She’s a total badass!”

Friend: “Why?”

You: “Because she has all sorts of magic at her disposal, she can fight with swords, she’s got a genius-level IQ, and she’s beautiful. Guys just swoon for her, but she’s a virgin, saving herself for her True Love.”

Friend: Rolls eyes. “Of course. What does she do?”

You: “I’ve got a whole series of books planned. She’s from a fantasy world, but she’s transported to our world in the 21st Century. She then learns about guns while wielding magic. She has to fight Neo-Nazis, werewolves, evil corporations, and gives a speech at the U.N. on women’s rights. She doesn’t need a man to save her.”

Friend: Sighs…loudly. “That’s it? What’s her flaw?”

You: “Umm…flaw? Oh yeah, she was abused a lot by her parents. She doesn’t know how to love. She can’t…

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A Year’s Worth of Updates

Well, it’s been a very long time. Almost a year, in fact! Quite a lengthy stretch of time for someone who used to blog often for eight years straight. I can’t guarantee I’ll be back to the same amount of posts, but keep an eye on this space for upcoming news. For those who have stayed on as followers, thank you! This is an extraordinarily long post so grab the beverage of your choice and pull up a chair. Feet propped up? Here we go.

First up, Dragon Soul Press. After years of having the Fantasy Writers group on Facebook and publishing anthologies so foundling authors could gain publishing credits to help further their careers, a new traditional publisher was born. This happened shortly before I disappeared from this blog. I threw myself into work and have built DSP into an amazing publisher that currently caters to over 200 authors, growing by the day. You can view all of the titles on the website or follow the Facebook page for the latest.

DSP has been featured in Writing Magazine, UK’s largest and bestselling magazine for authors. DSP also appears on multitudes of other websites, such as Duotrope, The Horror Tree, and The Grinder. There are far more I’m sure we don’t know about yet, but each one is extremely exciting and a testament of how far DSP has come in a short time. Most new publishers find themselves closing their doors within the first few months. Thankfully, due to the amazing writing community and the fantastic team behind the publisher, Dragon Soul Press will be around for many years to come. Dare we say generations?

Second, J.E. Feldman. Though my own writing has slowed down quite a bit due to working two full-time jobs and having a very introverted life, I have still accumulated a whopping thirty-one publications as of this post. Six books a year is still a reality. I’ve been very honored lately to be personally invited to join multiple anthologies. I have also been getting so many co-authoring requests that there is now a carefully managed list of potential authors to team up with. It’s an incredible feeling!

As usual, I’m currently working on several different projects. At the forefront is a novel called Quest of Angels. I snagged the premade cover from Atlantis Book Design and the book immediately began writing itself. It shoehorned its way into my schedule earlier last year and is currently still undergoing a rewrite. Publication is tentatively planned for later this year.

The sixth book of the Witch Hunter Chronicles is coming slowly, but surely! It is still planned as a thirteen-book series and all of the covers have long since been acquired. If you haven’t caught up with this series yet, start the journey here.

I have taken a break from the Cassandra Avocet series because it didn’t gather as much interest as originally hoped and there are many other fantastical things to write. If readers want the third book anytime soon, they are welcome to petition for it sooner.

Considering it has been a long time since the second book of the Arbedenion Trilogy has been published and my writing style has drastically changed, I am seriously considering doing an entire rewrite and rebranding of the first two books. The overall series is outlined for at least twenty-four books and I would have more peace of mind updating books I wrote at fifteen. Since I can’t fit it into my schedule anytime soon, this could almost be considered a trunked project.

Other trunked projects include titles that may not be familiar unless you have been an excellent stalker:
Rogue PrincessDeath Gem of GarzaBattle for Nanbet | Deadly Prize | A Second Life Lived | Written with Love | Fallen Skies | Cursed | Queen of the Sea | Ember | the Godmother Diaries series | Veracity | Torn Between | Siren’s Calling | Misery | Once Upon a Dream | Ranger of Death | Blue Moon | Forgotten | Castle of a Thousand Dreams |

Now that depressing bit is over, let’s focus on what will be coming relatively soon:
Quest of Angels | Haven | Beastly | Tempted | Hunted (Witch Hunter Chronicles #6) | SoulGrace | Instinct (featured in Coffins & Dragons anthology) | Reign of Queens (anthology)| Revenge | Legend | Organic Ink: Volume Two (poetry anthology) | Exile | Decadence | Lost Love (anthology) | Lethal Impact (anthology) |

None of the above are in any semblance of order, except I would like to have Quest of Angels wrapped up and ready for release sooner rather than later. It isn’t nearly as old as some of the other projects, but it is the next solo release I am most excited about.

As usual, I could always use some beta readers for my work. If you’re interested, join my street team on Facebook. Believe it or not, The Dragon’s Den has still been active as I seem to spend most of my days on Facebook compared to all other social media. It’s where I interact with the most amazing people and feed my cover art obsession. With other 700 covers (honestly, I lost track shortly after that), my fingers may very well start bleeding from all the writing I am expected to do. With the DSP team growing, I will be reclaiming some time for myself and getting these projects done.

Speaking of which, I need to get back into writing articles for TSR Games and other sources. As you can tell, I have the “squirrel” effect when it comes to new projects. I want to attempt everything at one point or another, especially if it is able to benefit the writing community in the end. Patience is a virtue.

Third, real life. I went from being an IT analyst for Whirlpool to playing secretary again for the family auto body business. Things worked out for the better because their company ended up closing down the location after I left.

Copyrighted © J.E. Feldman

We went to Alabama and picked up our beautiful little beagle. We’ve had her a year now and though full grown, she’s just under twenty pounds. She gets along most of the time with my male cat, but my female cat avoids her at all costs. My two hamsters died. Well, one died. The other kept wanting to be Houdini and ended up getting himself lost. Pretty sure he became a cat snack in the end. Lesson learned. No more tiny pets.

On a week-long trip to Alabama, I stayed at a gold camp with my mom. We had an amazing time and were outside the entire time. We chickened out and got a cabin so we had a/c since it was summer, but well worth it because we were well-rested for all the shenanigans. The picture you see is one I took while gallivanting in one of the five creeks. It’s photography worthy, right?

I’m planning on going again because while there are many other amazing places to go (and yes, I’ll get to them eventually), the camp was so calming and most importantly had limited WiFi capabilities so I was genuinely forced to not work. Don’t get me wrong, I still snuck off in town when we went to pick up a handful of groceries, just to make sure nothing had caught fire while I was gone. Everything was handled amazingly by the DSP team and I’ll always be extremely grateful for them!

While I put on a happy face for everyone and work nearly non-stop, it’s been extremely hard after the sudden death of my fiancé. I have PTSD that is going untreated due to lack of insurance and it’s still not possible to enjoy media entertainment that I used to adore (example is Fast and Furious and Transformers). I’m still unable to finish shows we had started watching, at times have anxiety while driving, and find myself catching my breath when I see motorcycles. It has been a little over a year and a half. Everyone handles things differently and should take all the time they need. I now speak from the experienced side of that.

To help cope and keep busy (I’m sure you think I’m crazy by now and can’t possibly have any free time left), I’m planning on joining a huge local Mustang group soon. I bought my second one earlier this year and am a little tired of hydroplaning around (because of all the rain, ha) and hunting down car shows on my own. I think it will be nice to have a bunch of gear-heads to hang out with again.

In the meantime, I have also been crocheting blankets of various sizes: from baby blankets to king-sized. Some people will be getting them for gifts this year (I know, spoiler alert) in time for the “cold” Florida winter.

Have you read any good books lately? I’m finally finishing up the Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas since a new friend I met in a record/bookstore helped me out with some spoilers so I wouldn’t have a PTSD episode. Thank goodness for other bookworms, right? Other than the amazing new manuscripts and anthology submissions pouring in for Dragon Soul Press, I haven’t been reading anything new except for technical books so we can expand the business further for plays and television scripts. It’s all very exciting!

I’m also back in college; I originally finished in 2013. Taking three courses simultaneously and loving every minute of it. Yep, I’m one of those weirdos who enjoyed learning and excelled in school. It’s been extremely helpful in the long run!

There are actually more updates, but I feel like readers may be losing interest as this is already so lengthy. As I said before, thank you very much to those who have remained followers and who take the time to read this. Feel free to leave your comments below to be answered by yours truly!

Until the next post.  ♫dramatic music♫

Author Interview with Kristine Raymond

Q: Tell us about yourself! What is your experience with writing?

Aside from a few angsty poems when I was a teen, I didn’t begin writing until September 2013 when I decided, pretty much spur of the moment, to self-publish a book. I’ve been writing ever since.

Q: Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Both! There’ve been times when I’ve danced around the room after writing a particularly amusing scene and others where I’ve stumbled into bed hours past my bedtime emotionally exhausted. With each story I write I live out a lifetime (figuratively speaking, of course) in the span of a few weeks or months while experiencing all of the highs and lows that go with it.

Q: What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Thinking they’re not good enough or that no one will read their work. There’s an audience out there for everyone, and if you believe in yourself enough, you’ll find yours.

Q: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I’m definitely an original. Of course, I want readers to love my stories, but I want to love them, too, and I’m not sure I would if I was writing to formula. And the few times I’ve attempted to write something ‘scripted’, even if it was only a paragraph or two, my creativity shriveled up. I’ve learned to trust my authentic self when I write.

Q: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to take chances. Just go for it!

Q: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Well, since I hadn’t really written anything before that first book, every step I took was a learning experience. I will say that with each book I write, my style improves. I truly think each story is better than the one before it.

Q: What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Anything by James Herriot. His All Creatures series is fabulous! I read those books when I was a kid, and they sit proudly on my bookshelf today.

Q: If you didn’t write, what would you do instead?

I haven’t a clue. Until I began writing, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Q: What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Trusting myself. I’m very critical of my work and tend to obsess that everything isn’t perfect. I’ve learned, not without a lot of inner struggle and more than a few tears, to just let it go and let it be, and have faith that I did my best.

Q: Where can readers learn more about you?

Pretty much everything about me can be found on my website – www.kristineraymond.com.

Thanks for having me. I enjoyed the interview.


Interview with Marianne Rice

Q: Introduce yourself! What experience do you have with writing?

First, thank you for having me on your blog today! So, a little about me. I’m married to my college sweetheart (he was the sexy linebacker on the football team!), I teach high school English (22 years!!), and have three children. My daughters are in 12th and 9th grade, and my son is in 7th. I’ve been writing for twelve years but didn’t actively pursue publishing until 2013. I signed with a publisher in 2014 and published my first book in February of 2015. My fourteenth book, What Makes Us Stronger, comes out October 9th, and my fifeenth book (I should throw a party, shouldn’t I?), Marshmallows & Mistletoe, comes out November 1st. It’s a Christmas book. My first!

Q: Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

I don’t think any book as made me think differently, but I definitely learn from my favorite authors–and new to me authors!

Q: What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Funny. I think writing men is actually EASIER than writing women. I absolutely love male banter. So much fun! Men can be sarcastic and it’s funny. Make your heronie too sarcastic and she gets a reputation for being bitchy. It’s challenging to write a woman who speaks her mind without her coming across as too abrasive.

Q: How many hours a day do you write?

Since I’m a teacher, I have more time to write in the summer. But since I’m a mom, I don’t ever own my time. My writing time ranges from fourteen seconds to a seven-hour stint. I make yearly writing goals instead of weekly or even monthly. My schedule is too hectic to have a regular writing schedule. I love writing in sprints. Thirty minute sit downs with no distractions; I can usually write between 1,000-1,400 words.

Q: How do you select the names of your characters?

This is tricky. Sometimes they just come to me, other times I go through baby name searches on the Internet. The name needs to fit my character’s personality. Since I write series, sometimes a minor character in one book ends up having his or her own book later on in the series. I’ve been known to go back and change the name based on his/her story. This is one of the many reasons why I like to have my series almost completely written before pitching the first book to my publisher.

Q: What was your hardest scene to write?

Love scenes. But they’re getting easier.

Q: What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

My day job. Ha ha!

Q: What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Believing in myself. I love when my author friends have success. It makes me SO incredibly happy for them. But, because I’m human, I sometimes wallow in my self-pity wondering why my book didn’t make the Best Seller list.

Q: How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Three months from Chapter 1 to The End, but I usually “sit” on the book for a few months (while I write the next one or two) before revisiting. I’ll then edit it to death and then send it to my editor.

Q: Where can readers learn more about you?

Everywhere! I love social media.










Interview with London Michelle

Q: Introduce yourself! What is your experience with writing?

London Michelle is a housewife and mother of four. She spends her days looking after her family. But after dark, with the curtains pulled and the lights down low, she writes stories that will ignite your fantasies and pull you into amazing new world.

She currently has six books out (Available through Amazon) and has several WIPs. She writes Romantica and several sub-genres in that category such as Contemporary, BDSM, Dystopians, and Supernatural/Paranormal.

Her experience with writing has been a wild journey. It began as strictly therapeutic, but soon, she wrote for the pleasure of it.

Q: If you didn’t write, what would you do instead?

If she didn’t write, she would probably be driven mad by all the characters in her mind. Seriously though, she would probably hold down a regular 9 to 5 like any other person.

Q: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Currently she has about five unpublished/half-written books that she’s working very hard on.

Q: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I discovered the power of words later than most. I hated reading books in school. I knew that I had so much more to do than sit back and read. I got stuck on a 9 hour car ride with my friends family when I was sixteen. Bored out of my mind, I asked my friend what she was reading. That’s when I discovered Tolkien! The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy completely opened my eyes to a world that I never knew existed. I had no idea that books could help me “see” all the things I encountered in those stories!

Q: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

My writing program, it completely changed the way I do things.

Q: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I’ve learned so many things after publishing my first book, Sweet Summer Wine. In fact, I’ve learned so much, that I am now going back through the entire Wine Tasting Series. I’m adding deleted scenes and sometimes even entire chapters. It seems that when you accomplish your first published book, you’re so relieved from all of the pressure, you are just happy it’s over. I encourage every author to go back to their first works and do this!!! You’ll be happy you did!

Q: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Brick and Mortar Publishing companies are a thing of the past. And…… Don’t get caught up in other peoples drama!

Q: Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

Feeling emotions strongly, in my opinion, is not what makes a good writer. If you are emotionally constipated and can still make your readers laugh, cry, or fall in love, you’ve done your job beautifully!

Q: Do you believe in writer’s block?

I absolutely do believe in writer’s block! There are times when I can’t hear the voices of my characters and I have to work on something different. If the voices in your head are speaking to you at the time… try listening for someone else.

Q: Where can readers learn more about you?

I am on just about every social media platform. Here’s a list of my links:

Youtube Channel : http://bit.ly/2qHpk4v

Pinterest : https://www.pinterest.com/londonmichelle01/

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLondonMichelle/

London’s Lip Service : (Reader/Fan Group) https://www.facebook.com/groups/1961428957448282/

London’s Luscious Legion : (Street Team) https://www.facebook.com/groups/188360611795796/

Twitter : https://twitter.com/londonmichelle0

MeWe : https://mewe.com/i/london.michelle

Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/londonmichelle01/

Goodreads : https://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomlondonmichelle

Website : https://londonmichelleblog.wordpress.com/

Amazon Author Page : https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B071HP7FWP

Book+Main: https://bookandmainbites.com/LondonMichelle

Interview with Nicole Strycharz

  1. Introduce yourself! What is your experience with writing?

Hello everyone! I’m a multi-genre author of modern, paranormal, and historical romance. I live in Virginia with my three crazy, wild, feral children, and our nanny Pitbull. We are surrounded by my incredible parents and I’ve been writing and/or telling stories since I was capable. I’ve always had an intense love of history and research, so my work began as mostly historical, but I’ve branched out over the last few years. I have twelve published works plus, one co-written book, and an anthology I was honored to be part of. A few more will be re-released by next year, along with other anthologies and some new stuff.

  1. How many hours a day do you write?

Well, hahaha, it’s never a consistent amount. With three little ones running around, I must work around their time. Some days I might get lucky with cave time in abundance, while others, I might get ten minutes or nothing. It just depends.

  1. What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Actually, I love writing about the opposite sex. Men are far less complicated to write and whenever I do stumble upon uncertainty, I interview the many men in my life like an avid journalist!

  1. Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

I do. After I lost my guy in a car accident a few years ago, I threw myself into my writing to cope and it became a kind of therapy. He supported my stories and after he passed on, my words became uninhibited, raw. I started to trust myself, and in doing so, I found a lot of spiritual serenity in my characters.

  1. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

Every book I’ve ever read has left me with something special. All the stories have shown me another side of history, religion, politics, ethics, traditions… I’ve discovered more cultures, more insights… Nothing has made me think differently about fiction, but each book has made me more aware of how important a break from reality can be.

  1. What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?

I could never repay my mother for the never-ending fountain of inspiration she has been. From situations and escapades, she shared with me from before I was born, to things she has accomplished while I could stand witness, she has become the main source of clay for every one of my characters.

Otherwise, almost everyone who has passed through my life has left some sort of impression; something I could mold a protagonist or even just a side character from. I have friends that completely embodied the type of personality or appearance I needed to envision. That’s always a lucky feeling, but I owe them so much just for existing.

  1. How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?

That’s not something I overthink, and yes, that has gotten me into trouble. My only goal is to tell the story that needs and wants to be told. I enjoy offering conflict. Going by a rule that a hero should have a little villain, and a villain should have a little hero. I like to feel that I’m making myself and readers feel something. Anything. Because that’s what books are supposed to do. So, I never write for shock value, I don’t do things to deliberately make readers cringe, I write them because that’s how the story goes.

  1. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

I have a huge author family that I network with daily all over the world. Their books have carried me away from any troubles or struggles. I’ve spent sleepless nights needing to turn pages, going on journeys and finding new perspectives on life. A couple years ago, I could have given you quite a few underappreciated names, but honestly, my author family’s careers have skyrocketed since then. They deliver epic stories, smart business sense, warm personalities, and they thrive from it. 

  1. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

I drop things about myself into books that I desire to share, therefore, I’m mostly open about that fact. I dedicate each book in The Relationship Quo Series to anonymous people of note in my life. People that either taught me something about the topic of the relationship the book will explore or people that directly inspired a protagonist in them. I won’t ever disclose their names because their legacy is the story, not their identity. They will likely know if they read the story or see the dedication, but otherwise, muses are sacred and should be somewhat a mystery to readers, in my opinion. My job is to use the muse to create something that only a reader can really claim. It’s like buying a house. It’s just a house until you start to live in it, decorate it…

Characters are created by authors but made alive by readers.

  1. Where can readers learn more about you?

Readers can follow me in the links below and on my website: http://www.nicolesbooks.wix.com/authorpage
FB: https://www.facebook.com/nicolestrycharz/
IG: https://www.instagram.com/nikkiwrites2/
GR: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/12633370.Nicole_Strycharz?from_search=true
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2rY9dw4



Author Interview with Rinna Ford

Q: Introduce yourself! What experience do you have with writing?

I live in St. Louis, MO with my husband and two daughters. Right now I stay at home with them and would love it if I could become a full-time author by the time they both start school. Rinna Ford is a pen name I created to help write the stories that I make up.

I made up and wrote down stories a lot when I was younger, and they always had fantasy elements. I’ve always loved fantasy and the paranormal so when I decided to take up writing again, that’s what I wanted to write. I have an education background so I use that to help with writing and creating stories.

Q: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I write what I would want to read and I hope that others will like it too. I’d like to think my stories are at least somewhat original, but I do like getting suggestions from people who have read something I’m working on for what they would like to see happen. It’s always nice to get fresh prospective on what you’re working on.

Q: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

It’s definitely streamlined the process. It took me almost 9 months to outline the first three books in my first series. Just outlining. It took me another almost 4 months to write, revise, edit, and publish my first book. I’m hoping to publish book 2 within 3 months, and I think I can definitely do it. Outlining has become less time consuming as well.

Q: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I would tell my younger self to never be afraid of using my imagination. I think somewhere along the way I lost that because I stopped writing and making up stories. It took me getting breast cancer and going through treatments and needing an escape from reality to realize that it was gone. That’s when I decided to start writing again.

Q: What is your writing Kryptonite?

Pinterest, Facebook, and pretty much the internet in general LOL would be my Kryptonite. I have to constantly make myself turn off all of those distractions to start writing.

Q: Do you believe in writer’s block?

Definitely! Stress creates writer’s block for me. Ugh! I hate it!

Q: How long on average does it take you to write a book?

It took almost a month to write the first draft of Queen of the Fireflies, but start to finish it took a little over a year. I think the next books will go much quicker now that I have a better idea of what I need to do.

Q: What was your hardest scene to write?

The hardest scene to write was the first sex scene. I originally didn’t plan on including sex scenes, but I kind of felt like the book needed them. I needed a little liquid courage to get through it. That’s also when I created my pen name. Being someone else for a little while helped me write it. Sex scenes have gotten easier since then.

Q: Do you Google yourself?

No, not yet!

Q: Where can readers learn more about you?

FB Author page: www.facebook.com/rinnafordauthor/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Rinna’s Reader Group: www.facebook.com/groups/rinnaford/

Bookbub: www.bookbub.com/profile/rinna-ford

Twitter: www.twitter.com/FordRinna

Instagram: www.instagram.com/rinnaford/