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Role-playing is kind of a controversial thing among writers. Before we continue, let me define this word so y’all are raising your eyebrows at me… Role-playing is basically a conversation between two authors, but they both have at least one character they “write” with. They exchange messages and the story progresses. That simple! It might be a bit like co-authoring, in a way.

Some find it cringe-worthy while many started their writing journey through role-playing and co-authoring. Role-playing is often used for developing your own character, exploring plot ideas, and other things, but in the format of messages. You can start a RP with a total stranger, while you wouldn’t start a co-author novel unless you really knew the person.

So, you might be asking… what’s the point of role-playing?

I’m not here to say role-playing is for everyone. Or that is is a must. This is just a fun, light-hearted post about role-playing and why it can actually help you as a writer. Let’s get started!


Backstory: I have been writing since I was very, very tiny, and thus, when I first found the Internet… it was a blast. Other people wrote stories, too? People like me? I’ve role-played for years and I must admit, role-playing has, in a way, helped me develop my evilness.

Hey, I’m never one for mindless angst. If it is one thing role-playing has taught me, is how to string along a reader…. er, role-player. This ability is crucial. Because role-players are fickle people. We don’t have much time: we’re people, we’ve got busy lives, and, mercy, we have our own novels tow rite. Why waste time on a role-play that’s “pointless”?

Because, chances are, role-playing is helping us figure out the finer details of truly hooking a reader/RP partner. Every message counts. Every character counts. Don’t ever waste a second.


Whether you brainstorm ideas for the RP or you fly through it on the edge of your seat, role-playing with someone can really help exercise your creativity. Because you aren’t in control of the whole cast! This is a reason many authors use role-playing to develop their characters. If you slip one character into a world where someone else’s character is… boom. Things can really come to life. You can be faced with questions about your character you didn’t have answers for. It can help build up characters, or wear them down: a fast way to weed out those characters that just don’t vibe with you. It also is a creative whirlwind to get together with another writer and see what happens. Who knows what tidbits you can tweak and borrow for a novel later?

The ability to think fast and have quick solutions for problems in fiction is a useful tool, and easily honed with role-playing. (And, hey, I get to be super, duper cruel without having a militia of readers yelling at me… mwuahaha.)


Sometimes, writers can get too busy in the serious-side of writing, and we forget the fun side. I mean, if you’re like me and have been telling stories since you were young, you know that the Olden Days were plain fun. Did the plot have to make sense when you were young? No! Did you have to build solid characters? Nah! But you still had a blast writing a story. As we grow as artists, we strengthen our skills and focus too much on learning the ‘right’ way. Well, guess what? You can learn about writing while still having fun. You can learn to be better at something without doing it the textbook way.

If you enjoy role-playing, enjoy it. If you don’t, that’s totally cool beans. But if you like it, don’t think it’s a waste of time (assuming you also write your novel, of course, and don’t spend 24 hours a day role-playing… fool)! Take notes of what you learn. Take notes about what you like to see in another role-player: what about their story catches your attention, what part of their story annoys you, what intrigues you about their characters, why do you hate the other characters? It can be easy to learn such things and they’ll come in useful later.

(Also, I said it *can* be fun. I didn’t say it was always fun when I stab/shoot/poison/betray/etc my RP characters. Or kill them. That happens.)


If you’ve ever role-played, you understand how obsessed RPers are with visual aids. I’m talking aesthetic boards, actors cast as their characters, etc etc. I was never huge on finding models for every character (I’m… still pretty terrible at it, though Dylan O’Brien and Bill Skarsgard must play Simon and Gideon if The Infidel Books come into TV existence), but I do enjoy Pinterest boards for my WIPs (here’s my account). If you are a visual writer, then role-playing is a great way to get the imagery!


Y’all, this one’s obvious, but in case you didn’t understand this… You’re meeting other writers. And not just smiling, tossing your book into their face, and screaming, “FOLLOW ME AND BUY MY DEBUT!” Oof, right? As an author, we’ve got to build relationships, whether our goal is to inspire other writers or just sell books (hey, people who just want to sell books, who gave you coal on Christmas?).

So, role-playing is a neat way to hook up with other writers, form relationships, and have fun while doing so. I’ve met some dear friends I would not have met if not for role-playing. I’m mega grateful for them!


A lot of authors I know don’t have time for role-playing, and I totally get it, believe me. But it is a nice alternative for boredom, compared to other, less constructive things (*cough*playing Matt Maeson and staring at your ceiling*cough*). So, if you’ve finished your own novel and are waiting for betas to finish their feedback… I love focusing back on RPs then.

While RPs are cool and inspiring, don’t forget to write your novel, too. 😉

Happy NaNo!

God bless,




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I told y’all I’d post about my NaNoWriMo project… y’know, since I finally decided what I’d be doing. I had a major toss up between two novels, but GOLGATHA won out. Buckle up kids, and let’s see what this novel is all about…



GENRE: FANTASY, SUPERNATURAL (those are the main genres…)

RATING: PG-13 (though I am not actually sure if I will market this as young adult or not…)

WORD COUNT: over 50k, for sure, haha (send help)


Prince Moray will stop at nothing to earn the throne over the Buacach Kingdom and gain control for Golgatha–the world of hell. His brother, Finnigan, will stop at nothing to see the plan ruined: especially when Finnigan realizes the betrothed princess, Breeda, is unhappy. When an unlikely traitor slaughters the Buacach king and queen and casts Moray, his brother, his betrothed, and his merc, into Golgatha… they have no choice but to rise from the ashes.



Prince Moray and Prince Finnigan haven’t always clashed heads–but with a throne precariously hanging in the balance, neither are willing to go down without a fight. Being eldest, Moray chooses his bride to be before Finnigan ever has a chance. He will become king and gain power over Golgatha, the second world of chaos and hell. However, fate has no mercy on his plans.

Breeda, daughter of the chief of Red Clan, will never marry Prince Moray–his black magic is nothing that Elohai can ordain. Despite her attempts at fleeing, the wedding continues–until it doesn’t. After Moray and Finnigan’s parents are slaughtered and a traitor rises to power, Breeda–along with Moray, Finnigan, and the merc–are thrust into Golgatha.

A ragtag group of unlikely heroes, the four must face unholy conditions to survive. Meanwhile, the traitor, the wizard, and the peoples face their own hell.

Yes, the blurbs are rough, and not final.




Nope. Back when I was 10-14 yrs old, fantasy was pretty much the only thing I wrote. I was greatly inspired by Narnia, LOTR, Ted Dekker, the Inheritance Cycle, and Cornelia Funke back then!

However, I stopped writing fantasy after none of the projects went anywhere, and since God gave me Seek… Fantasy hasn’t been something on my plate for a while. I’m super excited to jump back into the genre!



Something that bugs me about most fantasy is the unclear line between good vs. evil. It’s pretty popular nowadays to blur that line: make dark magic/spells/etc OK, make good guys bad and bad guys good, and focus a lot on thing that aren’t really of God. I enjoy fantasy but honestly, can hardly read most of it, and that’s disheartening!

GOLGATHA is different because the dark magic and related things are not made into good things. The good elements and Gifts are good, but there’s a clear difference. So, basically, there’s “magic” (not good!) and “Gifts” (good!). And GOLGATHA also has some strong Biblical themes that are NOT preachy… Which, personally speaking, I feel is lacking in most fantasy novels I read nowadays, haha.



Months, haha? I’m not quite sure on the date, but I had the idea(SSSS) rolling in my head for a while. I finally sat down a month or two before NaNo to actually write the plot down and outline it the best I could.


Fantasy is pretty hot on the Indie market, and at the same time, it’s also something easier to pitch to presses. So… while I want to try traditional, I have a small feeling this book will probably be Indie.

Why? Well, I’ll be writing a post about this, but basically: I love Indie. I love being The Boss. I love learning and applying what I learn and watching God do the rest. I love all things it takes to be an Indie author–yep, even marketing. So while trad is cool and I’ll try one day… I don’t know if God is saying today is that some day, and that’s cool.

So, yep, no strong idea WHEN this bad boy comes out, but follow the blog/newsletter and you’ll get first beta reader dibs, ha.


I wrote a post dedicated to NaNo HERE so, rock on, friend!

And here’s my NaNo, if you wanna be buds.


NOW for real, ask me anything about GOLGATHA! (Or, hey, Indie publishing, since that post is coming up…) I’ll probably be doing a Q&A for this novel again (during November) IF y’all give me enough questions about it. 😉

Thanks for reading and I sincerely hope you’re a lil’ excited for GOLGATHA

God bless,



I’m back with another blog tour post but this one is unlike any I’ve done before. Why? Because Dark is the Night is an urban fantasy, something I rarely read, though I’d like to. So this will probably be one of my first novels in the genre when I read it. Exciting, right?

I’m also pals with Mirriam so obviously, an author interview was in order. Let’s get right to it!

ALSO: I read this book in a day, spur of the moment, so you can find my review here!


Skata only has one goal in life—to seek out the vampire who turned his wife and kill it. When he finally tracks the vampire to the small nowhere town of Salvation, South Carolina, he realizes he has stepped foot into something bigger than himself. He’s going to need help—and that help may come in many forms. Between the vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, and an unusual preacher, Skata may be in over his head.



MIRRIAM NEAL is an author frequently masquerading as an artist. When she’s not scrubbing paint off her hands, she’s thinking about writing (actually, if she’s being honest, she’s always thinking about writing). A discovery writer, she tends to start novels and figure them out as she goes along and likes to work on several books at the same time—while drinking black coffee. She’s a sucker for monsters, unlikely friendships, redemption arcs, and underdog protagonists. When not painting fantasy art or writing genre-bending novels, she likes to argue the existence of Bigfoot, rave about Guillermo del Toro, and write passionate defenses of misunderstood characters. 

To learn more about her fiction and art, visit her website: https://mirriamneal.com/, where you can find a full list of all her social medias, or join the Citadel Fiction newsletter: https://www.subscribepage.com/b1h5v9




Disclaimer: Thoughts and opinions shared by the following author are not my own and I do not necessarily endorse them. Thank you.

Welcome to The Peculiar Messenger, Mirriam, I’m honored to have you here. Let’s break the ice, yeah? Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I love ice but I also enjoy breaking things. I’m an author (obviously) but also a full-time artist and the book I reread every autumn is Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. I’m extremely (extremely) attached to Frankenstein’s Creature, and if you haven’t seen the BBC Miniseries, you have to. It’s a requirement. All due respect to Boris Karloff, but that’s not Adam.

Dark is the Night sounds insanely intriguing. In your own words, what is this novel about? Why should I read it? (Besides, y’know, the snark and the fact you wrote it…) 

It’s full of my favorite elements: preternatural happening/creatures, moral questions, life-threatening situations, unlikely friendships, redemption, and brotherhood. If you like any of these elements, I’m gonna suffocate you with them because they are what I, personally, like being suffocated with.

OK, you’re not being funny, you know I love those things as much as I love coffee. *grabby hands*

Everyone asks, “What inspired you to write *book title*”, so I’m asking, “What about this novel brings fire to your spirit?” 

I wrote it because I felt there was an enormous gap in the market. Christians were either completely avoiding vampires, werewolves, etc. for whatever reason, or they were, occasionally, writing a really bad one. Generally tying it back to Cain somehow (which frankly I find as offensive as some people find the idea of ‘vampires in Christian fiction’). The ‘secular market’ (air quotes) was providing supernatural vampire fiction in the forms of True Blood (excessive sexual content), The Vampire Diaries (lots of sketchy spirit-communication elements), or Twilight (which, while it has a very fond place in my heart, is achingly stupid). I wanted to write a good vampire book, as a Christian author, without turning it into a sermon or being preachy. Writing good fiction, especially good fiction which is unexpected from a Christian author, is something I’m incredibly passionate about. I often go back to the Martin Luthor quote where he claimed that a Christian shoemaker’s calling isn’t to put tiny crosses on shoes, but to make good shoes.

Popping in to say (well, first, you forgot Hemlock Grove so, *nervous chuckle*…) YEP. Dracula is one of my favorite classics, honestly, and the elements of Christianity in it were quite spiffy. It’s the only “vampire” novel I’ve read because of the very reasons you mentioned. There are few novels about shifters/etc that aren’t 1.) trashy 2.) awful. I’m grateful you’re helping fill that gap!

Let’s chat about “shifters”. As a Christian, how do you deal with these elements in your fiction, while many Christians title such things as sacrilegious? Is it a struggle? And, since we’re on “hot topics”… I’ve noticed it isn’t easy to be a Christian who doesn’t write what the Christian market prefers, so do you have encouragement for authors struggling with their peers? 

I’ve never had a problem with the concept of shifters. I think people who do have a problem with the concept are coming from a fundamentalist viewpoint that’s taking things wildly out of context. Therefore I’ve never really ‘struggled’ with that element in my fiction. There are things I used to firmly believe were Not to be Touched, but as I matured (not only in my faith, but as a person) I realized I was way off-base, and responded accordingly—many ‘fantasy elements’ being one of them! Your second question is trickier, though. I’ve never had an issue being a Christian author who doesn’t write what the Christian market prefers. I have more of an issue with many fundamentalist Christian readers who fall in the ‘Harry Potter is Straight From Satan’ camp (and yes, as a kid, I was one of them—despite the fact I was also reading myths, watching the Twilight Zone regularly, and ingesting heavy doses of Narnia). I’m fine with publishers—and readers—not wanting my books if they’re not your cup of tea; I only get frustrated when they approach it from an unfounded or fearful viewpoint. We are, as Tolkien coined it, sub-creators. If you’re concerned about werewolves putting a dent in your faith, maybe you should check your faith; not the werewolf.


Writing takes a lot of discipline. How do you stay motivated? (Pst, Five Finger Death Punch often does the trick, does it not?) 

Five Finger Death Punch is definitely the icing on the cake. Honestly, for me, writing doesn’t normally feel like a discipline. My art is a discipline; it’s what I do for a living, it’s a ‘have to.’ Writing remains in the ‘get to’ part of my mind, and since I can’t write full-time, I’m always excited about it in one way or another. I suppose the discipline really comes into play when I don’t necessarily feel like writing for long periods at a time, in which case I have to sit down and make myself work that muscle whether I want to or not. The right music is key.

How long have you been writing, and did you ever think you would be where you are today? 

I’ve been writing as long as I can remember, but the first time I took it seriously, I was twelve. I wrote a short story about a Pegasus for a site called Girls Horse Barn, and then I forgot about it. When I finally checked back, I was notified that I had won the contest, and that kicked off my desire to write not only for myself, but for other people, too. I’m an extremely private person by default, and writing has always been a way for me to communicate more than I could ever say in a conversation.

From what I’ve heard, DitN has a good dose of humor. Do you laugh or cry easily while writing (or reading)? 

I laugh while reading all the time, but I almost never cry while reading. I’m trying to remember the last time I shed any tears while reading a book and nothing is coming to mind. It’s pretty rare. I don’t laugh or cry while writing; I feel deep emotions, but it’s more encompassing and less reactive.

Do you enjoy the Indie publishing community, or are you secretly begging the agent gods to drag you into Traditional Land? What are some things you like best about being an Indie author?

 I’m bizarrely inactive in the Indie publishing community. I write books, I publish books, but my knowledge of the Indie publishing community is secondhand. I would like to be dragged into Traditional Land, absolutely, but I love having control over what happens with my books. There’s a certain amount of freedom in being an Indie author that you don’t get as a Traditional author, or so I hear.

Last, but not least… what is one of your future publishing dreams?

 Absolutely to see one of my large-cast novels turned into a TV show. Does that count as a publishing dream? Because that’s essentially the Best Thing I can imagine. That would really throw me over the moon.

OK but now you have to tell us who you would CAST personally for said show… because… reasons.


While I wait in agony to see if Mirriam returns and tells me the List Of People, let’s give her a hearty thanks for being here! I’m super excited to read Dark is the Night, and I hope y’all enjoyed this interview.

God bless, and may you always carry a stake (or wolfsbane)…



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Confession: my first NaNo was in 2017 and this year is my second NaNo. Of course, I’ve done Camp NaNo for years (literally, I don’t think I’ve missed one for over three years now…) and often surpass 50k during Camp. (Actually, I wrote over 60k this previous September! One month before NaNo! What’s wrong with me!)

So, what’s the secret? What’s the trick to writing 50k in a month? Here are some tips. I hope they help…

PS. I WILL be posting about my NaNo YA fantasy/supernatural/horror novel, GOLGATHA, shortly!


Whether you wake up at 5 AM or stay up till 1 AM to crunch out words, consume ungodly amounts of coffee or coco, or have a whole notebook of outline and character sheets to guide you… You won’t survive. So don’t try to.

What do I mean? I mean that writing, at the minimum, 50,000 words in 30 days isn’t easy for anyone. And most importantly? It shouldn’t be. I don’t care if you can easily write 10k a day or if you can barely get 2k a day… the challenge is a challenge for a reason. So own the fact you’ll be struggling, in some way or another, and be ready. OWN the challenge. DO NOT compare yourself to anyone else because the journey isn’t the same for anyone else.

Maybe you struggle starting your first chapter: write three sentences for that chapter and skip to chapter two. Maybe the middle of your novel always gets you bogged down: write something drastic to get that climax wild and fun to pound out. Maybe you don’t know how to end your novels: so take this NaNo as a chance to be strangely unusual and end your novel in a way you’ve never done before. Whatever way you struggle, remember that you won’t be coming out of this challenge the same person. And you don’t have to be a beautiful sight once you’ve hit your goal. (Psst, it’s OK if cereal ends up in the fridge and milk ends up on the shelf.)


I don’t care if you’re a strict planner or a wild panster. I’m not trying to convince you to have an outline in this post, but I suggest it. Why?

It’s 11 PM. You’re sitting in your bed, covered in blankets. Cold coco on your nightstand. Blue Christmas lights twinkle on your bedroom walls. Your laptop, before you, with a blank page blinking at your exhausted goblin face. “I don’t know what I’m doing,” you whisper. “What do I write?”

Yo, this’ll happen with or without an outline, but guess what? Too many of these moments and you’ll be losing actual writing time, and you can’t afford that in NaNo. It’s war. It’s brutal. So be brutal right back. Have a basic plot, basic outline, or super detailed ones, before the month starts. So when the Blank Page and Mocking Characters disease grabs you, you can poke it with a stick and write on.

Remember, the outline can be altered as you write. The book may look entirely different from November 1st to the end of NaNo. It doesn’t matter. What matters is writing 50k. Doesn’t even have to be a good 50k. It just has to exist. Get that through your head.


Before NaNo begins, PREPARE AND MOTIVATE. Here are some epic ways to get ready…

  • MAKE A MUSIC PLAYLIST. I’m hugely inspired by music and love to have a playlist playing as I write. (Here’s my Spotify playlist for GOLGATHA, if you’re interested…)
  • MAKE A PINTEREST AESTHETIC BOARD. Because, aesthetics, yo. Having visual inspiration can be really cool, so spend some time getting it ready BEFORE NaNo. (No pinning during writing season, y’all.) (Oh, did you want GOLGATHA’s board…?)
  • KEEP NOTES. Even if you don’t outline a lot, or at all, etc… Jot down alllll the ideas before and during NaNo. Even if it is the smallest, strangest speck of inspiration throughout your day, or maybe you read something in a book you loved–write it down in a notebook or in the novel’s brain dump document. You never know when you might need that fuel later on.
  • STOCK UP on coffee, tea, coco, whatever your fuel is… STOCK UP.
  • GET SNACKS. I usually shoot for things that are easy to snack on while I write. (And, y’know, save the big bowls of ice cream for after I hit important writing mile stones…)
  • FRIENDS? Who needs friends? Well, if you’re someone who likes having NaNo buddies (and I’d suggest it), be sure to friend your peeps before NaNo! Even if you aren’t sure about being buds with anyone, friends can be super fun to word sprint/word war with. Plus, you can rally together before NaNo even starts and get excited! Scream! Flail! Cry!


Pretty much every post for NaNo prep you’ll come across will mention “MAKE TIME FOR YOUR WRITING!!!!” and most people disregard this factor because “it is stupid and impossible”. But it’s vital.

Let’s be real, November isn’t exactly an ideal month to grind out 50k in a novel that probably wants us dead. You’ve got your job, you’ve got school if you’re a student, you’ve got Thanksgiving, and probably Christmas prep (if you rock). So, how do you find time to write?

  • WRITE EVERYWHERE. Wherever, whenever you can. No joke. Bring your phone, laptop, or a notebook wherever you go. Snag a few words in whenever you can. Every bit counts.
  • 5 AM OR 1 AM? If you can wake up early, pound out 3k before breakfast. If you can stay up late, do your word pounding then.
  • SACRIFICE THINGS. You need TIME to write… which means less time for other things. Write instead of binge watching The Office. Write instead of reading the next Mitch Rapp novel. Sacrifice other luxuries to do your work.


You’ll lose your mind! Don’t try and pretend you’ll come out of this challenge with all of your brain particles in tact! You won’t!

You’ll laugh till you cry at 12 AM watching stupid Youtube videos because you finished your writing goal for the day and your brain is a sack of rotten potatoes. You’ll cry over a scene that isn’t super duper sad but it’s cold outside so all things are 10x sadder. You’ll grab whatever friend online that’ll hear you rant and let them rant right back at you because you both forgot what the meaning of writing is. A HUGE tip is to REWARD YOURSELF when you have completed your daily challenge! Have some fun once the work is over. Try:

  • A NAP.

Treat yo self! But, while fun and games and reward systems are all grand, BE SERIOUS. Don’t get distracted, do your math so you know how many words you gotta write every day, and don’t let yourself lose your drive Only you can write your novel, your 50k. Don’t lose heart or determination. Your novel NEEDS TO BE WRITTEN and do not let anyone tell you or convince you otherwise.


Stay tuned for my post about GOLGATHA… and may you survive NaNo. If you’d like to be NaNo buds, I’m Angela R. Watts on the site!

God bless,



Happy Saturday, I’m about to make it even prettier by sharing the cover for Abigayle Claire’s upcoming release. Martin Legacy is the sequel to award winning Martin Hospitality. Feast your eyes on…



Gemma Ebworthy is a struggling single mother—but not for much longer. Engaged to a kind-hearted farmer boy, her turbulent life is looking more stable at last, but troubles are still on the horizon. It seems their efforts to build a legacy for their unique family are constantly under siege.

Farris cherishes the only life he’s ever known, even though he feels more called to the mission field than his adoptive father’s fields. Growing up among extended family and in the Christian faith, he’s always had a firm foundation.

Yet when the past Gemma is so ashamed of—the one Farris can’t even remember—comes calling again, the life they’ve built is put to the test. For it to remain standing, Gemma is going to have to silence her demons once and for all. But this time, she’s not alone.


Is this cover gorgeous or what? 🙂 I’ve got to run and write, but STAY TUNED for my newsletter for some exciting news of my own! (Not signed up? Here’s the link!)
God bless,