Java Junkie, coffee lover, Christmas tree ornament

What story element do you struggle with most? (+ 5 Writer Resources)

In the U.S., tax season is well underway. My returns are thankfully filed, but the process of gathering receipts, etc. for the woman who helps me prepare them always reminds me of various things I spent money on throughout the year. The list below is NOT a list of things writers can deduct. (Ask your accountant about that). It’s just a thoroughly incomplete list of various resources you might find helpful.

In no particular order, here are some things I thought worth my $$$ in 2015 (keep in mind I didn’t publish anything last year; I’ve already lamented about that here so moving on, but it explains, in part, why this list is so thin):

  1. Book cover design: Way, WAY back in the beginning of 2015 I had Amber Shah at Book Beautiful design a cover for me for “Dream, Interrupted.” Although I didn’t use the cover, I loved it and would absolutely work with Amber again. She was fast, did great work, and was really nice to work with. I’m currently working with another cover designer for Pocket Full of Tinder, but that’s because I wanted an illustrated cover for it. (More info on that designer later). In any case, it never hurts to have 2-3 awesome service providers you can go to in case one has a scheduling conflict. There are a lot of great cover designers out there!

  2. Goodreads Ads: I stopped running Goodreads ads because it didn’t make sense for me to continue until I had another book to promote. But I plan to create an ad later this year for Pocket Full of Tinder. I like that authors can link to a brief excerpt or a giveaway. (All this said, I’m sure I’ll explore additional ad options for B4).

  3. Bewitching Book Tours: I’m obviously a fan of Roxanne Rhoads! Although she helps authors who write in all sorts of genres, she specializes in paranormal blog tours. If you’re a new PNR author, check her out here.

  4. Functional Nerds: Singer/Songwriter John Anealio and Author/Blogger Patrick Hester host SF/F focused podcasts every week on books, music, and technology. They are funny and down to earth — plus their guests are great. I’m woefully behind but (somewhat) recent episodes I loved were: Episode 245 with Fran Wilde, author of UPDRAFT, and Episode 237 with Naomi Novik, author of UPROOTED. Like what you hear? Back them on Patreon here.

  5. Various and sundry non-fiction guides2015 Guide to Self-PublishingMailChimp for BeginnersCreateSpace and Kindle Self-Publishing Master Class

Obviously, a meager list. But YOU can help me flesh it out in the comments below! 🙂

I’m HOPING my next post will be a joint mother-daughter post. My older daughter took some great pics in Cape May a few weeks back and I’m going to experiment with having her write part of a future post.

Pocket Full of Tinder Update: I haven’t written the last chapter yet. I moved to internal revisions to really understand the totality of the novel – what the heck I’m trying to say – before writing that final bit. One of the BIGGEST things I struggle with in every novel is the mystery element. I love mysteries but for some reason, those subplots don’t come naturally to me. It’s almost always the #1 I have to beef up during revisions.

Have you filed your tax returns?

Any resources or recommendations you want to share?

Writers, what story elements do you struggle with the most? 

Readers, what are you reading?

Are you a fan of the beach during the off-season?

Java Junkie, coffee lover, Christmas tree ornament
What does this picture have to do with taxes, resources, recommendations, or challenging subplots? NOTHING! But who doesn’t love a Java Junkie? This is one of my favorite Christmas tree ornaments. (Yes, I know it’s April. But it was snowing only a few days ago so why not continue the seasonal anachronisms?)

Published by

Jill Archer

Jill Archer is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels including DARK LIGHT OF DAY, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, and POCKET FULL OF TINDER.

11 thoughts on “What story element do you struggle with most? (+ 5 Writer Resources)

  1. Great post, I design book covers and illustrate too, I love my job! The biggest story element I struggle with is the story arch, I’m still new to fiction and it’s so much different than the books I’ve written for indie authors.

    1. Hi Michelle-thanks for stopping by! I enjoyed checking out your site. 🙂

      p.s. Did a quick search on character arcs. This post looked like it had some good insights:

      And here’s a good, basic description of three act structure:

      TIP: screenwriters know their structure. Novelists can learn a lot from them.

      1. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this for me 🙂 I have read a couple of books on the story arc structure but I just don’t have it nailed down as far as making each scene count with it’s level of intensity and content. It’s frustrating, I’m very new to fiction so this will be a great learning experience for me.

        I’m so glad you liked my website! I am rapidly expanding on my content and a ton of new cover designs to add. I will be doing an overhaul of it over the next month and will have some of my non-fiction books available for free. So keep checking back and let me know what you think of the redesign when you have time.

        Thanks for the great post. I love your blog 🙂

        1. Frustration is natural. I don’t think any writer feels as if they have it nailed down. (And if they do, I’m highly suspicious). Every scene, no matter what your level of experience, is work. But worth the effort! Thx for the kind words re: the blog.

  2. Have I filed my tax return? Thankfully, YESSSSS!

    Any resources I want to share? Well… my husband has a formatting business: Enterprise Book Services ( I think he does excellent work (okay, maybe I’m a little biased).

    What story elements do I struggle with: DESCRIPTION. My first draft lacks a lot of that (mainly because I write by the seat of my pants and don’t know what stuff looks like until I get toward the end of the novel). I know I need it, but I don’t want to bore the reader, either. That’s a hard balance for me.

    Am I a fan of the beach in the off-season? You betcha! Is there even such a thing as off-season for the beach? I don’t think so. I grew up 5 miles from the beach (in Southern California), but now I live in Ohio and I miss it terribly. I don’t care what season it is, I like the beach. It’s very calming for some reason.

    1. Hi Stacy-great to hear from you! It’s such a relief to get all that tax crap finished, huh? 😀

      Thanks for sharing your husband’s formatting business link. Good to know!

      If you’re one of those writers that writes a fast first draft, I totally get that you wait to fill in the description later. For me, it helps to write the descriptions as I go. I love to visual a scene and setting and clothing are a big part of that. (But sometimes I go overboard and have to delete parts later. Description is def one of those things where everyone’s “just right” is different.)

      “I don’t care what season it is, I like the beach. It’s very calming for some reason.” => AGREED

      I grew up in western Pennsylvania and one of the things I love about Maryland is that it’s closer to the shore.

  3. Hi Jill! Just wanted to add some to you list. I use Erin Dameron-Hill for cover design and she’s the bomb. Love her work and reasonably priced.

    For ads, I recommend The Romance Studio ( When they have an ad sale, they do it up right. And they’ll let you bank ads so you can use at a future date AND they never expire. Also BTSeMag reaches something like 8000 subscribers, so they’re a good one to advertise with. Find them at

    For blog tours, I used to host with Goddess Fish. They cast a wide net (see what I did there ;)) and host any and all genres and have a wide variety of tours you can do. I’m planning on using them for my big release in September.

    Hope that helps!

    1. Hi Michelle– I appreciate you adding all these resources and links! I hadn’t heard of BTSeMag but it looks really interesting. (At first, I was thinking BTS = Behind the Scenes but saw it used to be a “Book & Trailer Showcase” site and the magazine evolved from that. Neat!)

      I’m making a list of various promo resources for my next book so this was helpful. Good luck and best wishes getting ready for your September release!

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