Oftentimes, dialogue is the most difficult thing to write. It’s hard to make it sound realistic and relatable. As writers, we are told not to write like we speak however, that is difficult when writing dialogue. I get asked a lot how to write it and if I have any tips for people who are trying to write good dialogue. Below are my seven tips to writing dialogue. Yes, seven. I’ve never really liked even numbers.
Write First; Fill in Later
If I have a dialogue based scene or if the dialogue is super fucking important in a particular scene, I always write the dialogue first then fill in the details later. I also call this “bare boning” because it’s essentially the skeleton of the scene, then I add the meat later. I feel this helps me keep their conversation more organic and flow more naturally because I’m not having to constantly pause my thought or the conversation in my head to write what they are doing, physically.
Read it Out Loud
Reading it out loud helps me make sure it sounds organic. I know, personally, I have a habit of never using contractions when I write, but they are absolutely necessary in dialogue. Reading it out loud or to someone else will show any awkward phrases.
Don’t Write like you Speak
I know this may be controversial. My argument is that you aren’t your characters (not really). They probably speak a bit differently than you. They have different experiences. They grew up with different influences than you. They may not even be your age, which means they will probably use different types of slang terminology. Write like your character speaks, not how you speak.
Dialect (AKA Accents)
I have written characters with a southern US accent, and although you can hear it in all of their words (if they were to really speak which they do in my head), I only select a few words to show their accent in the way they talk. Like, instead of dropping all ‘g’s’ on words ending in ‘ing’, I’ll choose one or two to drop in the sentence. I also try to get creative with it. I show their accent or where they are from in the words/phrases they use. Someone from the Sothern US may use phrases like ‘lick of sense’ or ‘down yonder’ while someone from the UK may say ‘lads’ or ‘mates’ instead of friends.
Don’t Write Small Talk
Your reader doesn’t give a single fuck how the weather unless it is pivotal to the plot. If there is a scene with dialogue, every single bit of it should be pivotal to the plot in some way whether it is a reveal or moving it along. If there isn’t a reason for the dialogue, then do not write it. It gets boring.
If it can be Said in Dialogue, Wait Until Dialogue to Say It
Do not reveal anything in the inner monologue. Anything. This keeps your readers guessing about certain character traits. Does your character have a secret? Don’t reveal it until he says it outload. Is the mother of your heroine dead? Let her reveal that information to someone in dialogue. This helps limit the inner monologue your characters have and keeps the readers more in the moment. It also helps you bridge various conversations to one another so you don’t have random spurts to dialogue.
Avoid Long Text of Dialogue
I know this is sometimes difficult if one character is doing most of the talking. I like to break it up with questions. Let me use my two main characters in the Take me to Church Series as my example. If Harlan is telling Luka his story (he does eventually) it would make sense for Harlan to be speaking a lot in that scene. I break it up by having Luka ask him questions and contribute to the conversation.
I hope this was helpful to you in someway! Please let me know if you have any request on other author tips. Come chat with me on my social medias below. I just posted a video on my Instagram where I read the blurb of my book, Cool for the Summer, in a very dramatic way. I plan to continue this series, so come say hello!
Today, we are going to do something a bit different yet exciting! I had the pleasure of interviewing Aila Glass for my blog. She interviewed me as well which you can find here. Aila is an Indie Author with a few books out. She mostly writes romance that is more of the taboo side, which we get into in our interview. Find the links to all of her social medias at the bottom of the post!
What are the biggest challenges you have faced as an indie/self published author?
I think the biggest challenge for me, to be honest, is money. I am a bit of a control freak and I love to self publish my books because I have the control that I want but that means I have to buy everything myself and things like an editor I just can’t afford. So if you find typos in my book just know that I tried my best and that I am doing this all by myself. I am really thankful to beta readers for helping me because they will also flag typos as well.
Tell us a line in one of your books that is special to you and why?
“I need her like air, and I am just about done waiting” and “ No sweetness, you are not in trouble. I am” from Dirty Work. These lines made me feel like a legit romance writer. They are from my first book and those lines are what I love to hear in a romance book and the fact that I wrote them means a lot to me. So much so I could just pick one. I couldn’t choose between the two.
Why do you choose to write more ‘taboo’ subjects?
I’ve always read those kinds of books so when it came to writing I wanted to write what I liked to read. I think I like the “you’re not supposed to” kind of feel they have in them. Because it is always people who are like “I want it anyway” I love that attitude.
Have you received any criticism for the taboo topics you write about?
I think my aunt was a little concerned about my books but I would say that my books aren’t known enough to get a lot of people’s opinions, which is great on one hand. So I would say not really. Most people who read my books I think know what they are getting into and if they don’t link it they probably just don’t read it.
When and how did you start writing?
I started writing when I was a kid. I was always writing stories. I just never finished it. Until 202 when I thought since we were in a pandemic and I am unemployed that I would try it. That August I finished my first book and published it. I was so happy. The story meant a lot to me.
What is your biggest piece of advice for those who are just starting on their writing journey?
Write for you. Always. I think people get pretty consumed with “what if people don’t like it?” that they get stressed and it doesn’t become fun anymore. If you always write for you chances are you lift a huge weight off of you. Also, people who read your books might be a lot like you. Your audience and yourself tend to share characteristics so writing for you can hugely benefit you. Your book won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
Do you plan to branch into different genres in the future?
I have a supernatural/fantasy romance book in the works. I would say judging by the hundred of book outlines I have I have a hard time staying in the lines of “taboo romance” I think a lot of my books have that air to it but I am looking forward to getting into that supernatural vibe.
Do you read the genre you write in?
Most of the time yes. I read a lot of age gap books and “Daddy” books and other books with hints of taboo. I do branch off sometimes.
What book had the biggest impact on you and your writing style?
I don’t know if I could pin it down by a single book but I would say that Alexa Riley had a huge impact. I fell in love with their books. I started writing Dirty Work because of their books. I like their sexy, dirty, and fun atmosphere and they inspired me to write books like that because I also really like reading books like that.
If you had to describe your writing style in three words, what would they be?
Three words-Light, Dirty, and Sweet.
Bonus- Elevator pitch of your upcoming book
So my current work in progress is an age gap, reporter vs CEO. He is a millionaire who is 40 and single. She is a reporter who is 25 and has a boyfriend. But not for long. She ends up interviewing this man and gets a kind of a thing for him. She realized that guys her age don’t know how to treat her right. No cheating. Hot as hell. HEA guarantee.
When I tell people that I am in a polyamorous relationship, I usually get a ton of questions. I welcome them though and have never been shy with my answers. Most of the questions involve jealousy and what happens in the bedroom, whether that means sleeping arrangements or threesomes.
I have been in a polyamorous relationship for quite some time now. My husband and I wanted an open relationship from the moment we met almost 10 years ago. I’m bisexual, and I didn’t want to give up that aspect of my identity. He didn’t want me to either, so we decided an open relationship would be best for us.
Polyamory often gets confused with polygamy, but they are different. Polyamory typically encompasses a broader scope of practice while polygamy just refers to the practice of one person marrying multiple partners. Polyamory is practiced between consenting adults. If a person cheats on another, then that does not mean they are polyamorous.
I realize a lot of people want to write about an open relationship but may not know the logistics of it. There are also a lot of factors at play that I think most people just don’t even consider. So here are 10 things to consider while writing a polyamorous relationship.
There is a lot of terminology within the poly community. I would recommend looking at the Poly Glossary for more explanation. Mostly what I wanted to point out was the difference between a V and a Triangle in the poly community. A “V” relationship is when a person A and person B are dating, but then person B has some type of relationship with person C, but A and C don’t have any kind of relationship. A triangle is when Persons A, B, and C are all in a mutual relationship. I made diagrams! You’ll find those are very helpful later.
If you’re going to write your characters engaged in a polyamorous relationship, perhaps it’s a good idea to answer why. Why are they opening their relationship? Is it because one of them is bisexual or pansexual and they want to explore? Are they trying to spice things up? Have they met a mutual friend in which they are both interested in? If that’s the case, then you may also want to think about how they may approach the subject both with each other and their friend.
I get this question all the time. “Don’t you get jealous over the fact that your husband is fucking someone else?” and my answer is always “Meh” with a shrug. I know I’m in the minority here, but I have never been an overly jealous person. It’s just not who I am. I firmly believe that humans are capable of loving more than one person at one time. Poly isn’t right for everyone. If you or your character is a jealous person, you may want to reconsider unless certain circumstances arise. I can talk about those in a different blog post if you would like.
I don’t know if this is standard for all poly couples, but I know my husband I had discussed rules when we first opened our relationship. Maybe there is a rule where the new person never sleeps over. Like any healthy relationship, establishing rules and boundaries is very important.
This is something I’ve found a lot of people don’t even think about. Having a relationship with one person is hard enough, especially when you are trying to learn who they are and balance it with who you are. There is a lot of push and pull, then when you add another person to that, it sometimes makes things unequal. Two of the people in the relationship could feed off each other. When one is in a bad mood, it may make the other in a bad mood, which leaves the third feeling trapped in the middle. Take into consideration the characterizations of your main characters and how they may interact. Are they even compatible as a triad?
This is typically the question I get asked most often. It’s usually only after they worked up the courage, but that’s okay. I will probably write an entire blog based on triad sex scenes, but I will go over the basics here. Keep track of body parts. Plan various positions for them to try. The most important one, though, is understanding it should not be perfect by any stretch of the imagination. The reality is, you spend most of your first threesome feeling awkward and giggling. It’s a logistical nightmare, after all, and you don’t want anyone to fill left out. So please, if you’re writing a threesome, do not make it perfect because that’s simply unrealistic.
Like any relationship, communication is ridiculously important. Feeling jealous? Talk about it. Feeling nervous? Communicate that.
This obviously won’t apply to every book, but I thought it should be said. Perhaps the original couple has a child. As a writer, you have to consider how the child will react to this. How will the parents handle it? It will depend on the age of the child, but it is definitely something to consider.
The Little Things
This pertains to all the small details that most people wouldn’t think of. Like the fact that most toothbrush packages only come in numbers divisible by two. That is frustrating for triad couples. Sleeping arrangements. Do they switch off? All sleep together in one big ass bed? Little things like this will make your story more organic.
What’s Wrong With More Love?
A lot of people just can’t seem to fathom how I would be okay with all of this. Perhaps you have a side character in your book with a similar viewpoint. When asked that question, my answer is always very simple: What’s wrong with more love?
Well, I hope you enjoyed this! Please let me know if you’re interested in more information about poly relationships. If you would like to discuss any of this with me, follow me on my social medias below. If you enjoyed this work, consider donating to my career by buying me a coffee.
I have been writing poetry since I was in high school. I fell in love with Edgar Allen Poe, like most emo girls do. My boyfriend, at the time, encouraged my writing. He wrote a lot too and served as a great inspiration to me.
Poetry has always been a way of expressing emotions that I didn’t know how to voice outload. My poetry, much like my fiction, tends to be dark, raw and honest. It is the truest version of me. Below, is my poem entitled, Janus.
Watching but unseeing Touching but unfeeling Listening but not hearing Showing but concealing
I am standing with you But I am so distant Nothing can reach me This sensation consistent
Contact is numbed Sound is muffled Sight is blackened I am unruffled
You so easily feel And show your emotions I wish I could comprehend Instead of just go through the motions
You yell at me You are crazed You scream in my face I am unfazed
You are so angry I am unblinking I never react I just keep sinking
I don’t understand anger Especially what you express Emotions are pointless They get in the way of success
So when you start yelling And cursing and screaming When you begin hitting And the tears are streaming
I switch to my safety An unfeeling facade A beautiful mask I could trick your god
Similar to Janus My duality is true What you see on the outside Is completely subdue
One side is happy Confident and smiling. The other is cold, Emotionless and dying
I don’t think I am going to provide explanation because I think it’s important to interpret it how you see fit. If you would like to talk interpretation, I would love to hear what you have to say. Feel free to message me on any of my social media platforms below. Also, if you would like to buy me coffee, that is linked below as well.
I am so incredibly excited to announce the release of this book and reveal the cover here on my blog! I plan to write another blog soon with how this series came about. Thank you so much for your continuous support.
Luka Thomas has been raised in a God fearing family who never misses a church service. When they move to the Bible Belt right before his senior year of high school, he knows he’ll blend right in. Sort of. He’s just always been the “play now, beg God for forgiveness later” sort of Christian. He’s young, entitled to make mistakes. Being gay is a sin, so he’s not gay. He’s just a guy with an itch to scratch. After college, he plans to marry a woman, settle down, have children and beg God for forgiveness for the sins of his youth. It’s a solid plan. God is a merciful deity. Right?
Then he meets Harlan Sharp and begins to question everything he knew to be true.
Harlan stopped believing in a higher power when an event in his past left him questioning everything and angry at the world. He’s just trying to get through his final year of high school the same way he’s gotten through all of the previous years: by laying low and not making a scene. His well laid plans change when the new kid at school seems to have developed a fascination with him.
Telling Luka he’s an atheist doesn’t seem to deter him nor does blatantly ignoring all of Luka’s attempts at conversation. Luck isn’t on Harlan’s side in this at all since they have almost every class together and always seem to bump into each other, even outside of school. Luka has even managed to somehow weasel his way into Harlan’s very exclusive friend group. It’s as if the God Harlan doesn’t believe in is laughing at him.
The Take me to Church Series is a real depiction of falling in love in high school as a gay teen amidst the rampant homophobia of the south and the mental health issues many people face. It’s explicit in the ways that life is. It’s raw, beautiful and real. Readers will scream in anger and cry in pain but also laugh in joy and healing as they grow with these characters.
The book has a tentative release date of March 23, 2021. Follow me on my social medias below, so you don’t miss any updates on pre-ordering your very own copy. You can also subscribe to my newsletter on the homepage of this website!
First I would like to start with a disclaimer. This blog post is going to be 18+. It will contain adult content and somewhat explicit words/imagery. If this makes you uncomfortable in any way, please do not proceed. You can check out my other blogs, they are a bit more tame, yet informative.
Also note that I primarily write mlm romance, but a lot of these suggestions work for all romance genres. I’ve written a variety of different types of pairings including mlm, flf, heterosexual, and threesomes. I have also written many different sexual situations and scenes including BDSM. That is a topic for a different day, though. If you would like to see a blog post about BDSM smut specifically, leave a like or come visit me on any of my social media platforms!
I think it goes without saying that the amount of detail you put into your smut scenes is up to you and your target audience. If it’s erotica, I think a lot of detail is called for. I personally like a lot of detail anyway, but some people prefer to just focus on the emotional aspect rather than the physical. If you are one of those people, then that is perfectly fine and acceptable.
Keep in mind that writing smut is like choreographing a dance. I am not a dancer, but to me it is a similar concept. Smut is all about movement, knowing where the bodies are, how the limbs are moving, and the feeling you get from it. It’s about movements and shapes. The beat of their hearts serves at the rhythm for their bodies. It’s a dance between two people but they aren’t always doing the same steps or even listening to the same song.
Map The Scene
I know I say something like this in every single blog post, but it’s important to have a plan. I’m not saying you should know every detail, but I find it really helps me if I have a general idea of what is going to happen and sometimes why it needs to happen. This could be something as simple as knowing which positions I want them in while writing the scene.
This isn’t always necessary, depending on the type of the smut that you’re writing. If you are just going for erotica, then it may not actually matter why, but if you’re writing a romance novel with a plot and character development, then the why will matter. Are they hate fucking? Is it make up sex? Is it the couple’s first time? Is one of them a virgin? Does one of them need to be comforted? If so, how does that change their dynamic in the scene?
The Five Senses
This is important when writing anything really, but it is especially important while writing smut. Don’t forget to use every sense. Do their lips taste sweet like vanilla or minty like toothpaste? Does their heartbeat sound erratic? Does their skin feel sweaty? Does their hair look messy or disheveled? Does the bed smell like them or does the room just smell like sex?
This one sounds kind of ridiculous, but you have no idea how many times I’ve been reading a smut scene and suddenly they are both naked, but I have no idea how it happened. Don’t forget that they are probably wearing clothes in the beginning of the scene, even if it’s just underwear. If they are both fully dressed, don’t forget about the little things like socks and shoes. Those things don’t just disappear. It could be just something as easy as adding a line about how they both got fully undressed.
Very similar to clothes, as a writer, you cannot forget about their surroundings. Are they in a bedroom? Are the lights off? Did they need to turn them on? Are they in the bathroom of a nightclub? Describe these things. If they are in the bathroom of a night club, then things may be rushed, and you’ll have to describe things like the dull thud of the music. If they are in a bedroom, they can take their time. Does one of them have a condom? Are they using a condom? If not, has it already been established why? If you’re writing mlm, where is the lube? Do they have it in the drawer or in a packet in their pocket? If the writer forgets these things, it can be jarring for the reader. A condom doesn’t just suddenly appear on a cock. All it takes is a sentence to eliminate confusion.
This could be both physical and emotional. If one of the people in the scene is a virgin, it may be painful for them at first. This experience is new for them, so you have to try to describe it from the point of view of someone who hasn’t ever had these experiences before. As far as emotional feelings go, that depends on where you are in the story and what was happening before the scene takes place. Just keep in mind where your characters are mentally as well as physically.
I love dirty talk, but write it only if you’re comfortable doing so. I think dirty talk makes the scene so much hotter, but I also try to keep it in character. If one of your characters is a virgin, then they may not dirty talk as much because they aren’t comfortable. Writing their reaction as the other person dirty talks is always fun though.
Don’t Rush It
Ultimately, it’s your choice on how detailed, long, and graphic you want the smut scene to be, but I prefer mine not to be rushed. I don’t think you should spend 15,000 words droning on and on about how his cock is throbbing, but don’t be afraid to write good, detailed smut scenes, especially if it is meant to be an emotional one. It’s not just about the physical act, but the emotional one as well. Yes, sometimes smut is just smut, but sometimes it needs to be more. Rushing it can take away from what sex is supposed to be: a connection with another person.
Well that’s all I have for today. I could probably come up with more, but this is the foundation. If you would like, in future blogs, I can write tips for smut in different categories like public sex, quick and dirty, BDSM, long and loving, etc. I want to write what you think is helpful as a writer yourself. If you have any suggestions, you can email me or contact me on any of my social media platforms listed below!
All Wrapped Up was created based on a prompt from a very good friend. I told her I would write it if she helped me with the gift ideas because I am absolutely horrible at picking gifts. Thankfully, she agreed, and this novella was born.
It was very challenging for me. In all honesty, it almost got scrapped halfway through because I thought the reader would find it boring due to the limited in-person interaction between the main characters. I kept writing, though, and was very pleased with the final result. It’s fluffy and fifthly, and seriously, that’s the best way to spend the holiday.
Below you will find an excerpt from All Wrapped Up. I chose these particular scenes because I thought it would give you all an idea of how very different these characters are. To give it some context, the main characters completed a survey for their university’s annual Secret Santa Gift Exchange. This excerpt takes you through their responses, then the first gift that is given. Click here to purchase All Wrapped Up. It’s only .99c!
“Did ya get your assignment?” Seamus asks, waking Nate again from yet another nap. He is going to have to change the fucking lock. They are a week away from Thanksgiving break, and Nate’s brain has already checked out, which is a fucking shame since finals are right around the corner.
“Don’t know. Haven’t checked,” Nate mumbles, snuggling back down into his bed and closing his eyes again, hoping his annoying excuse of a roommate will get the picture.
“Well, check. I wanna know!” Seamus exclaims, and Nate can feel it when his laptop is balanced precariously on his hip. Maybe breaking in a new roommate wouldn’t be so bad after all. Kill Seamus now, get a new roommate by next semester. Simple as that. No-fuss, no muss. Maybe his new roommate will let him fucking sleep and not make him fill out a stupid Secret Santa gift exchange. Who does Nate have to blow around here to get a decent fucking nap? Not Seamus that’s for fucking sure because that is just gross.
“If I check, will you fuck off and let me go back to sleep?” Nate asks, not even opening his eyes.
“Nate, it’s five in the afternoon. If you nap now, you’ll never sleep tonight.”
“What are you, my mother? We’re in college. There is no such thing as a sleep schedule,” Nate responds, finally opening his eyes just to glare at Seamus, but his roommate is unperturbed. Fucking asshole. Yes, a new roommate that hasn’t known him since they were five and is still very intimidated by Nate. That is all Nate wants for Christmas, a new fucking roommate. Maybe he should have put that on his fucking survey. Too bad Santa doesn’t exist.
“Come on. Just see who you got.” Seamus smiles, looking pointedly at Nate’s computer, still balancing on his hip. After a few minutes of a staring contest, Nate finally rolls his eyes and sighs, grabbing his laptop and sitting upon his bed. He makes quick work of logging into his school email, finding the survey results as the first item in his inbox.
“Okay. I’m doing it,” Nate grumbles, skimming over this person’s answers.
Number Assigned: 28
Sex: I thought we were past these types of questions. I am a male, and I identify as one. However, I tend to like things that are more on the ‘feminine’ side.
Why did you choose that major: I want to help people who can’t help themselves. Many people can’t afford a lawyer, so oftentimes, social injustices exist in our system. If you are poor, you are more likely to go to prison because you couldn’t afford a lawyer. This can lead to false imprisonment simply because you are from a lower socioeconomic status. It’s not fair, and I would like to change that. I have also considered changing my major, but I’m not sure.
Favorite Food: Avocados. There is just so much you can do with them, and they are so healthy. You can put them in a smoothie, have them on toast, or even eat them in sushi.
Favorite Drink: Water. It’s good for you and allows your skin to stay hydrated. If I had to pick something other than water, I think I would go with Matcha tea. It has healing and energizing properties and is better for you than coffee. It is also rich in antioxidants, fiber, chlorophyll, and vitamins.
Hobby: Playing guitar and writing music. I learned to play the guitar when I was thirteen and started writing music when I was sixteen. I am also learning to play the piano, but I’m not that good yet. I usually participate in open mic nights at bars around campus. I also love karaoke.
Favorite Movie: The Notebook. That one is easy. It is such a beautifully heartbreaking love story. I hope someday to find a love like that. One that will last throughout the ages.
Favorite Book: Harry Potter Series. It has been my favorite since my sister read me the first one when I was 8 years old. Some of my favorite memories are of her reading them to me, then finally getting old enough to read them myself. I own all of them in three different versions. I am a Ravenclaw, in case you were wondering.
Favorite Store: Gucci, but that obviously won’t work for this since they don’t have anything below around 200 dollars (yes, I realize how pretentious that sounds). I just have expensive taste, I guess. But I would be happy with literally anything from Walmart, the Dollar Store, or Target. It’s the thought that counts.
Favorite TV show to binge-watch on Netflix: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I know it’s considered a ‘chick show, but I love it so much. I just think it is so well done and thought out. It is a feminist masterpiece that takes a traditionally male character and puts a blonde female cheerleader in his place. It completely flips the gender roles and does it in a believable way. She feels like the weight of the world is on her shoulders, but she keeps fighting. That is the best part of the whole thing. That she keeps fighting and winning even though she feels guilty for all of her misdeeds. It teaches young girls that they can be a badass and still have emotions. They don’t need to be like a man because they are perfect being themselves.
Favorite genre of music/band: Rock and Indy, but I will listen to anything as long as it makes me feel something. My favorite band is probably Fleetwood Mac if I had to pick only one.
Favorite Holiday Memory: One time, my mom fell and hurt her leg right before we were supposed to host our family’s holiday get together. She always cooks for everything. She couldn’t really cook when her leg was hurt. We couldn’t expect her to stand in pain for hours. That would be cruel. My brother, sister, and I stepped in to help her. She sat at the table and drank wine the entire time. She got increasingly more drunk as the day wore on, and she walked my siblings and me through the steps of each dish. It was pretty disastrous by the last dish since she was so drunk, she couldn’t remember her name, let alone a recipe. At one point, she even told us to use a cup of salt instead of flour; thankfully, we figured that one out. By the end of it, we were giggling, and we had made a mess. It was the best holiday ever because we spent all of it altogether in the kitchen, just chatting. It was lovely, even though my mom was hurt. When the family came over, it was great because the kitchen was a mess, we had food all over us, and mom was drunk. They didn’t know what to think, but we all just laughed at their reactions and eventually ate the food.
Favorite Sports Team/ Sport: Quidditch I know that doesn’t count. Maybe yoga? Does that count? I just started doing yoga for my body, but it also helps my mind. I hope you will try it out sometime. I am just, truthfully, not that into sports, but I do love running and yoga. It keeps me limber and healthy.
Shirt size: Medium or small. I have a long torso, so it’s sometimes hard to tell.
Favorite Color: Pink because it’s pretty, and everyone should feel pretty.
What is one thing about you that most people don’t know: Sometimes I get really anxious when I have to speak or perform publicly. Most people think I am charismatic and charming or whatever, but I still get stage fright sometimes. Not many others know that about me, though.
Favorite Scent: Sunshine? I know this isn’t technically a scent, but I love the smell of a warm day. It just makes me feel so happy and warm, just the smell alone.
Favorite chocolate/sweet: Ferrero Rocher probably. I love hazelnut, and because it is mixed with chocolate, it makes it that much better.
Favorite holiday song: Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. I just love how upbeat and peppy it is. Like you want to get up and dance to it. It isn’t boring like other Christmas songs. My family and I always played it growing up on Christmas Eve as we wrapped some presents and sang and danced along.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why: I will actually be going to Europe during my break, just to visit for the first time. My mom doesn’t want me to go alone, but I think I am going to. It seems fun, and I love learning about cultures and exploring different cities. I can’t think past that for the moment. I am really looking forward to it.
“Oh great, I got a rich, gay, hipster dude who wants to change the world. Fucking winning,” Nate says sarcastically after he skims over the answers, not even bothering to read the long-winded ones because he doesn’t have time to read a fucking book.
“You’re gay. Plus, how do you even know he’s gay? I think you’re jumping to conclusions just to be an asshole, Nate,” Seamus responds, pointing at him threateningly. Nate knows he could take him, though. He is quick and scrappy, whereas Seamus is far too nice to do any actual harm.
“His favorite movie is The Notebook. His favorite color is pink, and when asked about his sex, he went into this whole spiel about gender conformity, for fuck’s sake. The dude is gay,” Nate defends, voice getting higher with each answer he lists off. Nate knows gay when he sees it, or in this case, reads it. He has been gay his entire life, after all, so he is no stranger to it. His gaydar is impressive, even if he does say so himself.
“Give him a chance. He could be fun. You’re just grumpy because you didn’t nap,” Seamus argues, and Nate can’t exactly tell him he’s wrong. He may be right, but Nate also would never admit that. He just bets this person talks slow, based on the rambling nature of his answers. Suddenly, he has a brilliant plan as to what he wants the first present to be. It should be easy enough, but it just may make him an asshole.
“They’re here, Z! Oh my God! I’m so nervous. Why am I nervous?” Roman exclaims, jumping when he sees a new email in his school inbox labeled ‘Secret Santa Survey Exchange.’ He hovers his mouse over it but doesn’t click. His fingers are shaking with anticipation, hoping that whoever he is paired with has a good sense of humor.
Zac just laughs at Roman’s antics, shaking his head and pulling out his phone so that he can look at the survey without actually getting on his laptop. Roman wants his computer, though, feeling like he can understand it better on a bigger screen. He knows that it is stupid, but he can’t help it. He just wants to make sure he gets every detail down.
He takes a deep breath and opens the email, reading each answer carefully.
Number Assigned: 28
Sex: Yes. The answer is always yes, and I am a male.
Why did you choose that Major: Because I like to make people laugh
Favorite Food: Anything greasy and can cure a hangover
Favorite Drink: Coffee or Yorkshire Tea. I need caffeine.
Hobby: I play piano, occasionally. I also love soccer and video games. Video games count as a hobby, right? If you don’t think so, you’re wrong.
Favorite Movie: Grease
Favorite Book: Don’t read. It’s against my religion.
Favorite Store: Dick’s Sporting Goods. Adidas is my favorite athletic brand. What can I say… I love dicks.
Favorite genre of music/band: I like a little bit of everything. Mostly punk rock, but I want it to sound interesting.
Favorite TV show to binge-watch on Netflix: Friends
Favorite Holiday Memory: Staying up late with my mom to help her wrap my sister’s presents the night before because, of course, she put it off. She usually let me have wine or beer with her, then we would get to wrapping, getting them all done at like 3 am only for them to be ripping it all off again 2 hours later. We had the best conversations those nights.
Favorite Sports Team/ Sport: I love soccer even though it’s not big in the US. My grandmother still lives in the UK, so I grew up with it. My favorite team is the Doncaster Rovers.
Shirt Size: Small, but I sometimes like to wear my clothes baggy
Favorite Color: Blue
What is one thing about you that most people don’t know: I spent my summers in England with my grandparents growing up, so when I am drunk or tired, I will sometimes slip into an English accent. Random AF, I know.
Favorite Scent: Tobacco… if you think that’s weird, you can fuck right off
Favorite chocolate/sweet: Maltesers, they are hard to find in the US, but my grandparents always gave them to me as a special treat.
Favorite Holiday song: Santa Baby hahaha
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why: I think I would go back to Doncaster to visit my grandma. She is getting old, and we don’t know how much longer she will be with us. It would be nice to see her again.
“Well?” Zac asks, snapping Roman out of his read over of the person’s answers for the fifth time.
“I think I’m in love,” Roman responds, laughing at the mystery man’s answer for favorite scent. He is sassy, and Roman likes him already.
“Isn’t that a bit soon. You don’t even know if he’s gay,” Zac reasons, giving Roman a very confused look.
“His favorite movie is Grease,” Roman points out, and when Zac still doesn’t look convinced, he then adds, “His favorite store is Dick’s Sporting Goods because and I quote ‘what can I say… I love dicks’.” Zac’s mouth drops open at the statement, and Roman allows a wide grin to take over his face.
“Okay, maybe you got me there,” Zac concedes, nodding his head at Roman once he finally closes his mouth. “But I still think it is a bit too early for love.” He chuckles with the statement, but Roman isn’t so sure. When he looks back down at the guy’s answers. His chest flutters and his stomach does a weird jumping thing.
“What’s the first gift category?” Roman asks, mind already whirring with possibilities. He has the sudden urge to spoil this person, but he knows there is a limit to how much he is allowed to spend. Maybe he can exceed that just a tiny little bit, though.
“Umm…” Zac looks at his phone for a few minutes before looking back up. “The first category is food.” Roman bites his lip, mind whirling with ideas. He could go for something simple and easy, but he doesn’t want that. He wants his gift to be unique, but he doesn’t have a whole lot of time. The gifts are due in two weeks, so he needs to find them quickly.
“Where are you going?” Zac asks, staring at Roman as if he has lost his mind. He may have, but that’s not the point. The point is, he has a gift to find, and it may be nearly impossible to find it. He needs to start now.
“Going to get the first gift, and maybe the others if inspiration strikes,” Roman responds, slipping on his jacket and grabbing his keys, wallet, and cell phone from his desk.
“You have two weeks, though,” Zac argues, the line between his brows deepening, becoming more pronounced as he draws them in confusion.
“May take me awhile. Don’t wait up,” Roman responds, then waves and is out the door.
Two Weeks Later…
“Hi, I am here to deliver the Secret Santa Gift Exchange’s first round of presents. Is this the room of Nate and Seamus,” a cheerful girl asks when Nate opens the door after hearing a knock. She looks far too peppy, with a too-wide smile and black thick-rimmed glasses. She is wearing bright red lipstick and a Santa hat. She is even wearing an ugly Christmas sweater, and Nate kind of wants to smother her with it.
“Yeah. I’m Nate,” he answers.
“Okay. I just need you to sign here, and I will give you and your roommate your gifts,” she replies, still fucking smiling. Don’t her cheeks hurt? Jesus. She shoves a clipboard at him, and he signs his name by his and Seamus’ room number. She then hands him two small packages.
“Thanks.” He takes them from her, and places them in one arm then rubs his eyes tiredly. He needs to take his contacts out; his eyes are getting itchy from overwear. She waves then wheels her cart full of packages over to the next door. He kicks his own door shut with one barefoot before he even hears her knock on their neighbor’s door.
“Ooohhh, it’s the presents!” Seamus exclaims, pushing his homework to the side and rubbing his hands together excitedly. Nate chuckles, remembering what he had bought for his Secret Santa. The gift labeled for him is in a smallish sized box, maybe big enough for a large mug. It is wrapped carefully in brown paper with pink designs.
Nate can actually feel them under his fingers since they are embossed into the paper. Around it is a pink ribbon interlaced with a brown one, both tied into a bow. Nate shakes it, his curiosity starting to peak, but it doesn’t make a sound. He throws Seamus’ gift to him, without even looking up, too interested in his own present to pay attention.
“Aren’t you gonna open it?” Seamus asks, and Nate can hear the confusion in his voice.
“It’s almost too pretty to open,” Nate responds, barely above a whisper. He just can’t believe someone would waste so much time and energy on something so trivial. He has no idea what it could be, and a warmness is already spreading throughout his chest. However, his guilt over his own chosen present is threatening to strangle him. He looks at the tag, rubbing his finger gently over the messy all caps letters of his Secret Santa.
To: Number 28
All the Love: Your Secret Santa
“For fuck’s sake, just open it,” Seamus yells, pulling Nate out of his thoughts. He throws a pillow at Seamus because that’s what he deserves and rips into the pretty wrapping paper. Inside is a plain white box with obvious hand-drawn trees, snowflakes, snowmen, and all things Christmas-y on every side, and Nate is even more confused. On top, in the same messy scrawl, it reads, ‘Hope these bring good memories. Enjoy XX’ in big, bold letters, written in what is clearly green sharpie.
He pulls the lid off the box carefully, his breath hitching when he registers what’s inside. He blinks back tears as he pulls the plastic-wrapped item out, memories from summers long ago flooding back to him. The smell of his grandparent’s house on warm summer days and the rainy ones, too. Playing football with his younger sisters in the back garden. The taste of his nan’s cooking, but she would always sneak him some of these before dinner even though his mom said it would ruin his appetite. All of them come flooding back like a tidal wave, and Nate wants to cry from it all.
“Oh, my God. How did he find these? I haven’t even been able to find them anywhere. I didn’t even think they were sold in the US!” Nate exclaims, carefully pulling out the bag of Maltesers from the box, eyes lighting up like a kid on Christmas. Nate supposes it is almost Christmas, but he never expected to get such a special gift, especially from a stranger.
Suddenly a wave of guilt hits him over the ‘presents’ he bought for his Secret Santa, making him feel sick to his stomach. Fuck. He feels like a total asshole, which is saying a lot because Nate rarely feels guilty. It’s too late to do anything about today’s present, but he may be able to exchange the one for Wednesday and Friday if he plays his cards right, but first, he needs to get new ones.
“Wow. That’s awesome, Nate,” Seamus responds, holding a bag of coffee in his hand, but Nate barely registers it. His mind is racing with gift ideas, scenarios, and a plan. One that he is going to have to pull off in twenty-four hours. He is also going to have to sweet talk the exchange people. He has to at least try after such a thoughtful gift from the mystery man. Nate grabs his keys, coat, wallet, and cell phone off the desk, shoving some of the items into the pocket of his sweatpants. “Where the fuck are you going?” Seamus asks, breaking into his thoughts.
Nate is startled at first. He had almost forgotten Seamus was even in the room, too wrapped up in his memories and guilt. Nate glances at the bag of Maltesers he left lying on his bed, then looks back at Seamus. “I have some presents I need to buy. You touch those, and I will kill you,” Nate warns, then he is out the door, off to go and pull every string he can.
Thank you all for reading the excerpt from All Wrapped Up. I sincerely hope you enjoyed it. If you would like to chat, feel free to follow me on my social media platforms below. I would love to hear from you.
Music has always been a huge inspiration for me even though I wouldn’t consider myself an auditory person. For me, it’s the lyrical content that I find the most inspiration in. Each of my books has a playlist associated with them. In this post, I will discuss the songs that inspired my debut book Cool for the Summer. You will be able to find these playlist on both Spotify and Youtube. I will not talk about every single song on the playlist in this blog post, but the ones that really resonated with me.
Cool for the Summer- Demi Lovato
Lyrics: Take me down into your paradise Don’t be scared ’cause I’m your body type Just something that we wanna try ‘Cause you and I We’re cool for the summer
Of course this one is on the playlist! It ended up being the book title, after all. I explained how this came to be in my previous blog post The birth of my first book.
Here Comes the Weekend- P!nk
Lyrics: Drink some pink champagne I don’t know you yet But we’ll forget So, fuck what they say Let the rum flow until it rains
I’ve always been a huge fan of P!nk, so I knew I wanted one of her songs as inspiration in my first book. This song summed up how it feels to be at the end of the semester and have your whole summer break ahead of you. The freedom.
Lyrics: I did it all to break every single preconceived notion that you have I did it all to shake every single one of your emotions and just to make you Uncomfortable
This song is very much from Xander’s point of view, and the concept of sometimes enjoying making others feel uncomfortable. I don’t think being uncomfortable is always a bad thing. Sometimes, in order to break outside of your preconceived notions, you have to pushed from your comfort zone. That’s what this song is about. Xander’s blatant flirting with Gabriel made Gabriel feel uncomfortable in the best kind of way.
Lyrics: Everything is gray His hair, his smoke, his dreams And now he so devoid of color He don’t know what it means And he’s blue
There was something about this song that seemed so fucking perfect for this chapter, and I’m not exactly sure what it is. I think it’s the idea that when you’re upset, you kind of start seeing the world in blues and grays. They were both struggling in this chapter.
Hungry Eyes- Eric Carmen
Lyrics: With these hungry eyes One look at you and I can’t disguise I’ve got hungry eyes I feel the magic between you and I
This is a very obvious nod to the most classic movie about a summer romance, Dirty Dancing. When I was writing this chapter, this is the only song that was playing through my head. I was just perfect. It really summed up that summer feeling of falling in love for the first time. The innocence. This chapter was huge in the development of their relationship, so I felt this song fit for that reason.
Talk Fast- 5 Seconds of Summer
Lyrics: Leave all of your indecisions with you at home Don’t say you’re doing me a favor Why so complicated, won’t you throw me a bone? I want your love in every flavor
5 Seconds of Summer is probably my favorite band of all time, so they needed to be in this playlist somewhere. I remember being obsessed with their album, Youngblood, which featured this song. It’s the epitome of a summer fling song for me. The push and pull of being in a confusing relationship with no solid ground beneath your feet. There is a begging quality to this song. Like they are begging to be given a chance or maybe just some clarity, but they will take the night.
Let’s See What the Night Can Do- Jason Mraz
Lyrics: I wanna get lost with you And hide out, out under the light of the moon I wanna get lost with you And see what it’s like to spend the whole night With you, just you You, just you
This is probably one of my favorite chapters of the entire book. This song is almost whimsical, for me. Like living in a dream. Getting lost with the person you may or may not be falling for and just taking that night to forget all your worries. This is the chapter where Gabriel gives into his feelings for Xander and takes the first real step in solidifying their relationship. Of course, he doesn’t say that.
1950- King Princess
Lyrics: So tell me why my gods look like you Tell me why it’s wrong So I’ll wait for you, I’ll pray I will keep on waiting for your love
I really felt this song summed up where Xander’s headspace is in this chapter. He knows that Gabriel loves him, but he also knows that Gabriel isn’t ready to admit it out loud yet. He is willing to wait, though. He is going to be patient for Gabriel. There is also another line that really stands out ‘I love it when we play 1950’ which is very clearly a nod to the years where gay romances weren’t accepted in society, so a lot of times gay people were forced to hide their love from the world. This is the first time in the book where they really hid their relationship from the people around them.
Delicate- Janet Devlin
Lyrics: The closer I get to your paper heart; And the tighter I hold on Gently covered in paper cuts; I’m more stubborn than some You’re like the first day of winter; Everyday day of the year ‘Cause you’re too scared to let me in; Never close only near I’m just delicate, just a little more delicate than you
The title of this song really summed up the entire chapter. I wanted this chapter to feel like everything was somewhat hanging in the balance, and there is a ticking clock over the reader’s head. Gabriel also decided he was going to start pulling away in this chapter, but we all know how stubborn Xander can be.
Eavesdrop- The Civil Wars
Lyrics: Oh, don’t say that it’s over Oh, no, say it ain’t so Let the stars watch, let them stare Let the wind eavesdrop, I don’t care For all that we’ve got, don’t let go Just hold me
This is a devastatingly beautiful song. It’s giving yourself over to someone even though you know you plan to leave. It’s pretending that you’re not and allowing them to comfort you, if it’s only for the night. You know it’s your last night with them, and you just don’t care who’s watching. You’re going to spend it how you want, but it’s so very bittersweet.
It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing- Shania Twain
Lyrics: It only hurts when I’m breathing My heart only breaks when it’s beating My dreams only die when I’m dreaming So I hold my breath, to forget It only hurts when I breathe.
This song is so heartbreaking. It is the ultimate breakup song, and I decided Xander had to sing it on stage. Everyone has experienced the kind of pain where it hurts to breathe, and you just don’t want to anymore. Your entire being hurts because you’re missing someone. This song is so underrated.
Collide- Howie Day
Lyrics: Even the best fall down sometimes Even the stars refuse to shine Out of the back you fall in time I somehow find You and I collide
I think this is pretty self explanatory, and in a lot of ways, from the point of view of Gabriel. He says he feels like he can’t stop thinking about Xander, that he can’t stop himself from being with him. He wants it, and they were always meant to collide.
The Promise- Sturgill Simpson
Lyrics: I’m sorry but I’m just thinking of the right words to say I know they don’t sound the way I planned them to be But if you wait around a while, I’ll make you fall for me I promise, I promise you I will
This was actually my wedding song, so I knew I wanted it to be the last chapter of this book. The one on the playlist is actually a cover. I don’t really like the original. I love the way Sturgill Simpson slowed it down and managed to bring so much meaning to the lyrics. A promise you make to someone. It’s beautiful, and I knew it would be perfect for the final chapter.
There you have it! A small glimpse into my musical mind. As you can probably tell, my music taste is all over the place. I have put it on two different platforms so you can listen on Spotify or on Youtube. This playlist includes a little bit of everything. Was there a song on this playlist that you wish I talked about? If so, please feel free to message me on one of my social media sites below. I would be happy to explain why I chose a particular song. As always, thank you for reading my ramblings.
Every writer experiences writer’s block at some point or another in their career. Even if you write poetry, research papers, short stories, or full-length novels, you will encounter this particular problem.
Here are my 10 tips for overcoming writer’s block:
1. Figure out why
This is simple but very complicated at the same time. Why are you stuck? What is it about the scene that has you blocked? Is it the content? The subject matter? Is it something you are uncomfortable writing? Maybe it’s new for you, and deep down, you’re afraid you will mess it up. Often, when I am stuck, I find that it may be a scene that I was dreading writing. Once you figure out why, then the rest of this advice may come easier.
2. Keep writing
I know this one sounds simple, but it’s effective. Even if you think what you’re writing is utter shit, get it on the page. Force yourself to write something, even if it’s only a couple hundred words. You can always go back and rework it. You may even like what you wrote once you take some time away from it.
3. Talk to a friend
If I’m stuck on something, I talk to my friend(s) or significant others about it. They need to know your piece’s plot in great detail, so I typically ask my beta or editor. I’ve found that bouncing ideas off of them helps me in many ways:
-It gets the creative juices flowing. -It makes me excited to be writing it again. -Sometimes, the person I’m talking to has excellent ideas to add.
4. Go out
I know this has become increasingly difficult with current COVID-19 measures in place, but go for a walk. Sometimes fresh air and a change of scenery are all you need.
5. Change your scenery
Just like number 4, this has become difficult due to current COVID-19 restrictions. If you write on a laptop or with a pen and a piece of paper, take it somewhere else. Go sit out on your porch, or find the corner of a local book/coffee place. Just wear a mask!
6. Do what inspires you
This is largely dependent on the individual writer. What inspires me may not inspire you. Personally, I draw a lot of inspiration for my writing from music. I find songs that remind me of the current book I’m working on, or I listen to a playlist that I love.
7. Write something else
If you are on a deadline, this may feel like the worst advice ever, but it does help. Even if you skip to a different scene in the same piece or change paths entirely and work on a short story. There is a slippery slope, though. You don’t want to allow yourself to get too distracted, then end up with a ridiculous amount of unfinished works. We can revisit staying on track later if you’d like.
8. Take a break
It could be something small like watching an episode of your favorite TV show, wasting an hour on TikTok, or playing a game on your phone (my current favorite is Harry Potter: Puzzles and Spells). Taking a break gives your mind a chance to rest.
9. Read something
Reading your favorite book or even something new can inspire you in your work. Reading other pieces inspires me to get better in my own books.
10. Sleep on it
This doesn’t mean that you should stop thinking about it for 24 hours. This advice is the opposite. It’s best if you are thinking about it. Sometimes, I will contemplate it for a few days and slowly work it out in my head.
Like I’ve said before, these may not work for everyone. This is just some of the things that I do when I’m struggling with writers block. If you have your own, feel free to message me on my social media platforms below!
I want to start by saying that everyone is different. What works for me will not work for everyone. Your writing style is your own, and you should be proud of it. This is just how I outline a book and in no way reflect the ‘correct way’ because there simply is no such a thing. With that being said, I hope this may help writers in the beginning stages of their careers.
So these are my 10 tips for outlining a book:
1. Have an idea for a book
I know this sounds stupid. You’re probably like, “well, duh,” but you’d be surprised how many people want to write a full-length book without having an actual idea for one. Make sure your concept is feasible and within your writing ability. I think you should challenge yourself, but if this is your first book, you don’t want to make it unattainable and out of your current capabilities.
2. Don’t start making the outline right away
I know this one is difficult because you’re so excited you have this brilliant idea. I urge you to not start writing your outline right away, but just start writing lists.
Make a list of themes you want to flow throughout (an example of this is in Cool for the Summer, a theme throughout the book’s entirety was Gabriel’s struggle with his sexuality). The themes need to weave throughout the entire book/series. They are something you will keep in mind as your writing, and you need all of your themes to be cohesive to the overall story arch.
Start thinking of various scenes you would like to be incorporated and write them down, but don’t put them in order. For example, the first scene in Cool for the Summer that I thought of was when Gabriel saw Xander dancing. The second scene I thought of was the baseball game, which came much later in the story.
Music- I usually have a list of songs that have given me inspiration for a chapter or an entire book. I make a Spotify playlist for each of my full-length-books. You can use any music platform like Spotify, Apple Music, or even YouTube.
Have a character profile in mind for your main characters. Some people have pages and pages of information about their characters. In contrast, others just have who they are in their head and somehow manage to remember (I’m the ladder, if you’re wondering). I do recommend writing it down, though, because the characterization is critical. You don’t want your protagonist to do something entirely out of character unless they have an excellent reason for it. To make this easier, create a list of characteristics, including physical appearance, personality, mental health, likes/dislikes, sayings, etc. You want them to be a person. I love all of my characters like they are people because they are to me.
4. Put your existing scenes in order
This is where the actual outlining begins. Now that you have some settings (or several) in mind, you can start putting them in order by chapter. The way I like to outline my books is chapter by chapter, then scene by scene.
Chapter 1- Title -Scene 1- Description- Whos POV (Point of View) it is in -Scene 2- Description- Who’s POV it is in Chapter 2- Title
5. The Order
The order of the scenes and chapters is critical. This will set the whole tone of the book and the story arc. You cannot have the story climax too early, but you also don’t want to draw it out. It can be a very fine line and gets even more complicated with a series.
6. It can be unfinished
Your outline does not have to be finished at first, and it is ever-changing and evolving. You have no idea how many of my outlines say “Idk, something gross and fluffy” instead of an actual idea for a scene. It’s okay, as long as you have a general idea of what should be there.
The reason why having an outline is so important is because of foreshadowing. To foreshadow appropriately, you have to know where your book is going. You can always go back and add a foreshadowing moment during one of your re-reads or edits.
8. Chronological Order
I, personally, write all of my books in chronological order. I never skip a scene or move to a different one, then come back if I’m stuck. The way you read the book is the order in which I write it in. Again, I want to stress that this is different for everyone. There is no right or wrong way to write a book. This is just how my mind works. Jumping around while writing, for me, is confusing. I find that there are more inconsistencies and plot holes in my rough draft if I do it this way. I know a lot of successful authors that write scenes as they come. They may start off writing the book in the last chapter. This is all personal preference.
9. Talk to someone
I really like planning my books with my betas or even talk to my husband or girlfriend about the plot or ideas for a scene. I use them as a sounding board. Sometimes they have really unique suggestions that I would have never thought about if we hadn’t been brainstorming together.
10. The Ending
The last chapter is often the scariest and most critical. You, as the writer, have a lot of choices. Do you want it to end happily? Sad? Ambiguous? Do you want it to be bittersweet? Do you want there to be a nice little bow where all the loose ends are intertwined? This is up to you, and you don’t have to know that at the very beginning. This is just something to think about, especially when it comes to foreshadowing.
I hope you found this interesting and maybe helpful. Again, I would like to say that this is how I approach book writing. If you do not approach it this way, that is perfectly fine. The way you do it is amazing for you! Do what works. Feel free to use all of these ideas or pick the ones you think may work best for your personality or writing style.