Jacquelyn Lorin has a fantastic post about voice and branding. I’ve been thinking about this. She talks about branding and platform and does a brilliant job so I’d recommend just reading that.


It is something I struggle with. Unsurprisingly. I think most people have when they start writing. At least there is a lot of stuff out there you can read about finding it and I don’t really get any of it.

Oddly I have (I think) a very strong voice in my day to day life. My coworkers could hear a paragraph of my speech patterns coming from someone else and they’d know it was wrong right away. My mom can pick out my sentences on a website I had nothing to do with. Voice is something that comes pretty easy to me. But that voice isn’t appropriate for novels. It doesn’t work in writing stories. I mean it can, but it would be confusing and derivative and run oney.

This is one of those things where we say we want real things, but we don’t lace our novels with ums, ahs, because that would be boring and frustrating. We don’t have people walk away from conversations and come right back to say, what was I going to get from the kitchen again? Unless we are trying to make a point. But everyone does it. (It’s a door thing!)

We don’t really want real life in our books. It’s ugly and messy. No plot lines. Rarely complete sentences. People are stupid, all the time. They are just the worst really. But the world doesn’t punish bad people and reward good people. We want books to do that. (And movies and tv and whatever else.)

So it’s sort of the same thing with your voice, or at least my voice. I totally find words and cling to them for a while, over use them, misuse them. And then I move on to the next. And I do shit like starting every single god damn sentence with and or but. And I way over use both and, and but. And whooboy! None of my grammar checkers like that last paragraph, I’m giving them conniptions. But that’s the thing. We don’t really talk grammatically correct. People who always do are weird. Sorry, it’s true. Partial sentences everywhere.

Sorry what was I saying? I got distracted by a shiny thing.

So I can’t use my day to day voice in my writing. Even though I’ve been perfecting it for a handful of decades now. No, I have to come up with a whole new voice that is unique, and me, and grammatical soundish.

I over punctuate. I put commas in where pauses go, but that’s not right. But is that my voice? Or is that just me not being good at writing?

I rarely use “said” or “says” or any variant. When writing dialogue I usually write a sentence, end it, write dialogue, write an action thing which has a name that I can’t think of off the top of my head and I’m sort of trying to write this like I actually talk so I’m not looking it up. (And yes, for the record, stopping to google that door thing is entirely something I would and do in real life, and yes, yes it does frustrate the people around me, I’m trying to cut back but it’s so hard.)

This is a voice. But this isn’t the voice we want to see when writing. This voice is exhausting to be around.

Voice is hard.

I’m not sure any of this made sense. Because sometimes when we say shit in our day to day lives, it doesn’t really come around to a perfectly sensible thing. Sometimes the people in your life just go, “uh huh,” to shut you up and move onto the next thing that is interesting to them.



Fall is coming! (I promise, even if it is hot and sticky right now.) With fall comes Halloween. I’m working on getting ready for October episodes and am looking for Halloween themed stories.

October suggestions

  • Ghosts falling in love
  • Werewolf puppies trick or treating
  • Secret lives of jack-o-lanterns

My piece has a werewolf, a witch, and a vampire. Not that they’d be recognizable as that compared with modern versions, but hopefully a bit of a more old-fashioned tale. But old-fashioned doesn’t mean horror!

I’m a great horror wimp, so, please, nothing that would give me nightmares. I’m still recovering from Dangerous Metal and real life. Though the nightmares of the later may last a while longer still.

The submission guidelines.




Dress Code

I’ve been reading a lot of stuff lately and feeling very admonished. I think a lot of what I’ve been reading has been a bit like sending out the dress code to the whole office when you really need to talk to the one guy in dirty board shorts and flip flops. (There may or may not be some parallels to my job as well.)

There’s a thing that happens at not great workplaces when someone is breaking a rule or being an ass. The person wearing too much perfume/cologne/lethal axe body spray, the person who thinks the dress code is at best a vague suggestion, the person who is half-hearted about showing up or being polite or whatever. But people/management/leadership/a boss doesn’t want to talk to the person and say, “Hey! Show up to work, it’s your actual job!” or “Stop trying to kill us with Axe.” and instead they send an all-staff email.

What does this do? Make the rule breaker go “Oh Mah God!” and shape up? No! They ignore it because of course, it doesn’t apply to them. If they thought it applied to them they would have obeyed it in the first place. Instead what happens is the person who wears a lightly scented deodorant starts to worry that it’s about them. They go out and buy an unscented deodorant. And they stress out about it.

I know, we are talking to the internet. Heck, I’m doing it right now. I don’t want to admonish because they are big name authors and I’m nobody. Mostly I’m writing this to purge the demons from my head that are telling me I’m doing it all wrong. I can’t possibly do anything, I should shut up and quit. I don’t think I’m going to stop anyone from shouting at the internet telling people they should sit down and shut up because they are horrible for wanting people to review their books, not reviewing everything you read, promoting themselves, not promoting yourself correctly, writing sequels, writing a stand alone, doing anything for free ever, charging for anything ever.

All of this “advice” (I cannot scare quotes that hard enough) is supposed to be helpful. But I think that, much like this post, it is sort of raging at frustrations. So…I guess everyone gets frustrated and rages on their blog about it? I don’t know. I’m not going to quit. I’m sorry about the things I get wrong, and if someone wants to talk with me directly about it, I really am happy to listen. I need to stop listening to the raging of others that makes me anxious and panicked about what I’m doing.


Sit down and coach your staff one on one rather than sending an all-staff email with the dress code.

S1.21 An Axe

An Axe is written by Mariah Avix.

An Axe is a Smoke Jumper story. Look for Faye’s novella, Summer Solace, in the spring.

Mariah Avix is the creator of 600 Second Saga. A space for developing authors to explore the realms of science fiction and fantasy in 10 minutes or less every week.
Mariah writes magical tales of how technology will change our world, and technologically laced tales of magic, that probably isn’t real.
She is currently working on a series of novellas about shapeshifters who fight wildfires, a trilogy about a woman who refuses to admit that she has the M word (magic), and endless flash fiction.
When she’s not writing she walks along the rivers and parks throughout her city looking for inspiration.


Music is provided by MADS.

You can support 600 Second Saga by giving us a 5 star review on your podcast tool.


Death and Weddings

I’ve been plotting out a Smoke Jumper novella. I’ve been wanting to write a mystery for a while and the idea came to me for a murder set at a destination wedding. So I’ve been researching death and weddings. It’s been…weird.

First the wedding!

I’ve been making a Pinterest board. Just like other Pinterest board makers. Except my thought when I look at something is, “Would this make a good clue?” “Would this make a good red herring?” “How will this factor into the death?” “I wonder which bridesmaid’s dress color will look good with blood?” “What picturesque location would be best to find a dead body?”

Basically, it’ll be a sort of rustic farm wedding, with a dead body and a shape shifter. That’s how most weddings are right?

rustic wedding
Matt MacGillivray

Death and corpses

I’ve seen this making rounds but The Human Body After Death is extremely helpful.

I’m having a poisons problem. Wolfsbane seems WAY to obvious considering that my shifter will be a wolf.

Here’s a list of 10 poisons used to kill people (beware audio – sorry!) The real problem for me is where and what I’d like to use. Poison ivy just won’t cut it. I’m not sure if this poison will be the actual weapon, or a red herring, but I know I need something that is plant based, ideally found in North America, super ideally found in the Rocky Mountains. Hm.


15 Tips from Elizabeth Craig

25 Things You Need to Know from Susan Spann

Really old post but had some good stuff about plotting clues which I’ve been having trouble with.

This (long!) post has some clue examples which is also helpful. Beware it isn’t even for writers, it is for creating one of those mystery dinner things I think. But I really liked the clues section.



iOS Writing Apps

I’ve been thinking about and setting up iOS apps for writing. (I’m still pretty sure that I’m going to get an iPad Pro this fall.)

ipad pro
iOS Writing Apps
  • Firefox: I’ve been doing all my writing stuff in FF on my desktop and have it synced so it knows all the stuff about me.
  • Pintrest: Pintrest keeps telling me I should use the iPad app. I’m trying to be better about using social media, including this one. (Check out my Smoke Jumper Wedding thing, I’m planning a murder at a wedding. Mysteries are fun but I want to have all my ducks in a row.)
  • Facebook: The social media thing, plus easy sharing.
  • Scrivener: YAY!!!
  • Google
    • Drive
    • Sheets
    • Docs
    • Keep: I’ve been using Keep to stash my ideas, links, and a lot of other stuff, I’ve been quite liking it.
    • Inbox
  • WordPress
  • iBooks
  • Overcast: Have I ranted about how much I love this? I love Overcast.
  • Overdrive: Did you know Overdrive does audiobooks too? Overdrive is likely the tool your library uses to let you borrow books. Super handy.
  • Goodreads
  • Dictionary
  • Dropbox
  • Pages
  • Wolfram Words: I think I like this tool in use more than I actually use it.
  • iCloud drive
  • Kindle
  • Wattpad
  • Nook
  • Audible
  • Canva
  • iAnnotate: This is more of an audio tool, but I may use it in the future when critiquing things. We’ll see?
  • LastPass

Anything I’m missing? Anything I should have? Anything you have questions about? Anyone have a great audio editing app?


For Dangerous Metal I went the self-publishing route, and some of my reasons for that were in last week’s post. Today I’m going to talk about distribution, why I am distributing the way I am.

First a failure!

Personally, I read on iBooks most of the time. If I have the option to read in iBooks or Kindle I pick iBooks every time. (I read enough on iBooks that I got enough money back to buy a couple of new author programs and new books!) I got set up with iTunes for the podcast very easily. I went well I’ll try to set up with iBooks directly.

Dangerous Metal ebook cover
Dangerous Metal ebook cover

…….no. Just no.

I knew you needed to own a Mac, I do, so no problem there. I knew that epub would work. Great. I can make an epub. (more on that later) I spent three nights after work fighting with it. Trying to find the iTunes Publisher, and get signed up because I need a different connect account and I need all this other stuff and emails weren’t coming through and you know what? Maybe next time. (And I will likely try again, just my frustration got too much so not this round.)

Actual Distribution with Kindle and Smashwords

My choice has been to submit directly to Amazon and submit everywhere else with Smashwords.

Direct to Amazon?

Some of the things I’ve published I’ve tried the exclusivity thing with. (Nothing has done well. I’m not doing it with Dangerous Metal for that and many other reasons.) I can upload the epub and so far it has always worked smoothly for me. It has been quick and easy to upload.

I’ve also had some concerns about the connection with ACX. For ACX you claim a book on Amazon and then set up from there. If the book is updated there can be Whispersync issues, etc.

For me, it makes a lot more sense to do Amazon directly.


I know that Smashwords is one of several different distribution companies (I read a bunch of stuff about Smashwords vs D2D. The primary downside of Smashwords seems to be that it is “harder” to format. The primary upside is that they have more distribution locations (libraries! and I can set a lower price for libraries). I haven’t had any format issues with Smashwords at all. The epub I’ve created has so far turned out just fine, no formatting throwbacks at all. So Smashwords works well for me.


You had to know it was coming! Audio distribution for me is through ACX. It is incredibly easy. Once the book was on Amazon (even just for pre-order) I can go into my ACX account and claim the book and then upload it.

The reason my audiobook was out before the ebook is because I can’t set a preorder date on ACX. I have a couple books that I narrated that have been hung up for a long time so I thought that it would be slower. HA!

ACX turned my book around and published it in under a week. It can sometimes take longer so it is a little hard to judge when that goes live. (The other book is still hung up, go figure!)

ACX sends the audiobook to Audible, iBooks, and Amazon.

I’m not 100% sure what gets something set up with Whispersync but most of my stuff has ended up Whispersync.


So Dangerous Metal has 3 primary distribution points. Amazon (KDP), Smashwords, and ACX.

But wait…what about paper?!

Nope. This may be an error, I’m not sure. I am open to working on this later. For me, paper books are a super low priority. I am not excited to see my book in the store. It isn’t something I am pushing for. I know I’m not going to go out and get my local bookstore to sell it on their shelves. (Because that would require talking…to people…) I don’t go to conventions (again…people….) or do events (with people….) so for me at this point I’m not doing that.

I might in the future. But I’m not right now for Dangerous Metal.

Formatting roundup

I’ve been doing a lot of work on the novel lately and part of that was formatting. I read a bunch of stuff. I bring you a formatting roundup. Some of which helped. Though the other thing that helped is the CSS I know from my other life.

I clearly still have a lot to learn, a lot. But hopefully, I did ok with this book. Epubs are what I’ve been using for Kindle and Smashwords. So far I’m not noticing anything horrible doing it that way. I haven’t yet gone into the world of physical books so I don’t have anything about that. Just the epubs.

Formatting with Scrivener

This is super long and detailed from Garrett Robinson a whole bunch of steps. At the end of each post is a link to the next post.

Compiling with Style. I don’t know that I have style.

And if you’ve been going, I keep hearing about this Scrivener but I’ve been holding back because I want to be able to use my iOS device? Good news!

Good News!

Scrivener is coming to iOS soon… Which means, yes, I’m going all in for an iPad Pro – hopefully the 12 this fall when they do a refresh. I got a chance to play with one and I’m really excited about it. I think it will be a good writing tool. Though I’m still waiting for an outstanding audio editing app.

Dig into the code

If you are breaking into the code there are some other resources. I’ve tried using tools for Mac to set up ePubs before I officially got frustrated. It was official. I have a certificate here somewhere.

Table of contents from a site dedicated to making better ePubs.

And a big ePub resource.


Who doesn’t love a numbered list? The Book Designer wrote about 6 Things to put in your ebook.

Dangerous Metal

I’ve been a bit busy and haven’t been posting as much last week and this. But it is all for a good reason. I’m putting the finishing touches on my novel and getting it ready for launch. Dangerous Metal is a cyberpunk thriller and I’ve got some brand new things to share.


Dangerous Metal ebook cover
Dangerous Metal ebook cover

I will, of course, be doing an audiobook version as well. (Recording is what has been devouring my time.)

Dangerous Metal audiobook cover
Dangerous Metal audiobook cover


Eva is happy to get her life back to normal, or as normal as it can for a woman who had half her brain replaced by a computer implant of her own making. Then Ernie, the ex who put a hole in her skull, shows up for dinner with her parents.


So it is up and ready for preorder at Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords and plenty of other places. Or add it to your Goodreads shelf.

It isn’t up for preorder on audiobook but as soon as that is live I’ll be sure to post a link. I’ll also be giving away a few audiobook codes.


I keep warring with myself about this. Do I warn people? This isn’t a nice book. One of my beta readers called it unglamorous and a book that sits cold in your gut. This isn’t a warm fuzzy book. This isn’t about people taking a happy vacation. It is a cyberpunk thriller so it really shouldn’t be, but even for cyberpunk…it isn’t just a noir with pretty tech. Don’t get me wrong, there’s lots of pretty tech. I love the tech. But it isn’t a detached story.

Part of me is like NO!! don’t tell people to not read your book, you have got to be kidding me! That is the worst idea. You are supposed to tell people how awesome it is. (And it is awesome, another beta reader said it had all the feels.)

But…I don’t want someone to pick this up thinking it is a light-hearted romp. So, buy my book, but be aware.

Another week

As I mentioned I still have some finalizing pieces to do so I think I won’t likely post again this week. Podcast episode on Friday (and it will be a light-hearted romp!) but that’s all until next week.

Thank you!