‘Plunge Into Darkness’ Cover Reveal!

I am so excited to share this with you! I was blessed to work with the talented Paraskevi Kourmpeti, who created the illustration of Ever for the cover. Her amazing illustration inspired this wrap around cover–a style that I hope to use for all the covers in this series.

I can’t wait for you to read this book. If you are interested in receiving an Advanced Reading Copy, there is still time. Email me at Kristin.n.spencer[at]gmail[dot]com ! And stay tuned for a video blog later in the week to explain why I wrote this book and to enter for a chance to win a free copy!

Happy reading!


How Reading a Horrible Book Encouraged Me To Write

Indie authors will often do something called a review exchange. It means you both exchange your manuscripts and review them for each other. A lot of times this turns into a great experience that ends with a new writer friend. Other times though, it can be disastrous. The latest exchange I joined has been more of the latter, but that’s ok. Why though? I’ve gotten a two star review on a book that otherwise has great reviews. Also, I’ve had to read through a horrible book. I don’t mean that the content was poor, but that the writing was less than mediocre. I kept making myself read further, and everything in me that loves reading and writing revolted. No, stop reading this. You’re wasting part of your favorite reading month of the year on this book. Read something—anything else—because life is too short.

Photo by Markus Clemens on Unsplash

The Worst Part

You know what offended me the most? Is that the book could have been good. It was about an interesting topic. The story had some problems, but they also could have been fixed with just a bit more effort. The whole thing was what my reading and writing friends call ‘lazy writing’… it’s the sort of thing that happens when the writer doesn’t put any effort into their writing. Using the same word three times in one sentence because you couldn’t be bothered to use a thesaurus? Lazy. Jumping from present to past tense as if there isn’t a difference because using the correct tense sucks brain power? Lazy. Using a cliche every other paragraph? Lazy! Writing is an art. It takes a lot of effort and constant education to increase one’s skill. It isn’t easy. If you want to do something easy, don’t write. As my favorite writing quote says

“Easy reading is terribly hard writing.” -Richard Brinsley Sheridan

No thanks, I’m ok being rubbish at my job.

But don’t be discouraged. I am also a stubborn believer that anyone that wants to can learn to be a writer. Because of that, I emailed the author and asked if she would like me walk her through why I would give her book one star if I did review it. Her response: “I would appreciate if you didn’t review it.” No, “Sure, I would love to hear your constructive criticism!” It makes me sad.

A few years ago I would have made a list of examples of why her writing was so difficult to get through (including the use of cliches, many grammatical errors, and lack of creativity when choosing words)… but now I ask first because usually I received a reply like, “Thanks for your email, but my readers don’t seem to mind the things you pointed out, so I’m just going to keep writing like I write now.” Why would you be ok being bad at something you supposedly love? I don’t get it. Sure, it takes time to learn how to be a better writer, but isn’t the time investment worth it? Because money. These authors don’t care if their books are good or not because their books still sell, and contribute to the idea that self-published books can’t be held to the same standards of other books… forget literature.

Photo by Jonas Svidras on Unsplash

Over the summer a writerly friend read two of my books. The first one I ever wrote, and the most recent (book number five). She said, “You can definitely see a difference in the quality of writing between the two.” THAT! That is what I want. Thank you, friend. That was the best compliment to me you could have paid.

After reading that horrible book I’m encouraged. Now I know what I don’t want to do, and I realize more than ever how much I care about the written word. I want to get better and write amazing books. Maybe I won’t be able to convince anyone they should read my books anytime soon. But either I’m going to do it right, or I won’t do it at all. Let me close with this quote:

“What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.” -Samuel Johnson

Happy reading,


A Note To The Weary NaNo Participant

I remember before I went through the organized insanity that was my first National Novel Writing Month (now you know why we abbreviate) I thought I wouldn’t finish all 50,000 words. In retrospect I realize how stupid that was because I’m very goal oriented, and I would have rather died than not finished. I have a very supportive husband that made sure when I needed to write, “Just 2,000 more words today…” that my children didn’t starve or my undone laundry pile reach Matterhorn like heights.

Don’t Quit Before You Start

If you’re expecting a pep talk along the lines of, “I have three kids, a full time job, and I still did it. What’s your excuse?” you are obviously new to my blog. Welcome! I’m so glad you’re here. Also, I’m not mean like that. What I will say is that you shouldn’t be afraid to start because you think you won’t finish. So, so many people ‘lose’ NaNoWriMo every year. But you know what? They have more words than when they started. That’s the whole point, to add more words to the words you already have. Maybe you have zero. Even one sentence should be considered a victory.

Go-on Girl. Do Your Thing. (Or Boy)

I mean, we all know that the first few pages are the hardest to write. “But I have to fit the very soul of my work into the first few lines or the reader will get bored and return my book!” I’m not opposed to a stunning opening line, ok? But give we readers some credit. Tell me a story from your heart. Find a good editor so that I don’t get lost in a swamp of mistakes (post-NaNo), avoid having the protagonist say the same three things over and again as inner dialogue (a current peeve of mine), and I promise I will make it all the way through your book.

You can do this!

Whether this is the first time you’ve ever written something or you are a weathered, tenured author challenging yourself to do something for the first time, welcome. Insanity will ensue. Yes. But the crazy people are all in this with you. Let’s make more words, worlds, and characters that will get stuck in someone else’s brain forever. Shall we?

Whether you are a planner, pantser, plantser, or don’t know what any of those are, what plan do you have to help you beat discouragement into a bloody stump this November? Comment below. If you don’t have a plan, may I invite you to participate in my #nanopropel2017 challenge? Check it out. It’s easy and helpful. I promise.

Without further ado… let the battle for your right to write begin!

Almost naively optimistic,


Worldbuilding and Anticipation – NaNoWriMo 2017

We are T-Minus 12 days from the start of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2017 and this year my NaNo prep has been super intense. Why? I am a making a multiverse!

That’s right, my very own space themed wonderland complete with different beings, cultures, religion-run time travel, and unrequited love (I consider myself an expert on the latter). At first the task seemed daunting. “I’ll just work on it a little each day,” was my mantra as I attempted not to feel overwhelmed about being responsible for creating different solar systems, universes, and complex characters who needed both physiology and personality. I can confidently say I am finished with the backbone of the story. The 3D characters are mapped out. I still need to create a stunning cast of 2D characters to make my 3D beings shine even brighter… (or not shine… even darker? This parenthetical statement turned confusing) but I will not fret a thing. A steady viewing diet of Star Trek, Star Wars, The Orville (an amazing Sci-Fi in its own right… you MUST watch it) and a year of reading old and new Sci-Fi/Fantasy has me anticipating all the aliens I can create.

Worldbuilding What Exactly?

So… what exactly is the Space Fantasy baby I’m birthing into the world this November? It’s called ‘The Introvert Time Traveler’ and follows the life of Ezeit Traginus, an amphibious humanoid from the planet Krigrag in the Septum Majoris system who is chosen to be this century’s Traveler by the panfamous Tigd. (Did you notice the made up word? Yeah, that’s going to happen a lot in this book)

The problem is, Ez, as his friends (wait, does he have any?) call him is super introverted and also insecure. When his selfish ambition causes two unsteady worlds to go to war, again, he must discover a way to fix what he has done… without manipulating the rules of the Aanving, the Tigd book of laws and ordinances, or his ship’s companion Vitality, Jotie.

I’m so excited about this project. I can’t wait… as in, I want to write it now! But I still need to figure out a few things (like what is the fan convention called where Ez attends to meet fellow fans of his beloved graphic novel series turned Exo-net video sensation).

My kids are not cooperating with me writing this post… sigh. Sorry if it makes little sense. I don’t write well with screaming/yelling/insanely loud talking in the background (contrary to popular belief).

What projects are you looking forward to this fall?

Happy reading (writing, sewing, whatever),


Reader Experience: The Double-edged Sword

This morning I was reading a review aloud to my husband before I clicked the “send,” button and he asked me if I wasn’t being too harsh. “It’s subjective, isn’t it? Are you sure you want to send that?” I’m so glad he said that, because after a few minutes of abusing the delete key and writing a totally different review, I realized I was using my experience to discount the other author’s book. Not cool, Kristin. Fast forward to later in the day when I happen upon a discussion of one of my books online.

Reader Experience: The Double-edged Sword

Imagine that you have just spent six months of your life carefully crafting a story. You wrote the first drafted, edited, and sent it out into the world on it’s own. If you write contemporary fiction, you understand that when readers bring their own experiences to your story, it can be a double-edged sword. Contemporary fiction is it’s own beast when it comes to reader experience because you can’t really apply your own experiences so well to other genres. For example, you are less likely to complain about a character who is in space doing something you wouldn’t do. Why? You aren’t in space.


My first novel, Newfangled, was an experiment based on my own experiences. I was raised in a really sheltered way, and then when I went into public school, my parents were going through a lot. I faced numerous firsts on my own. It was like I was totally apart from the world, and then suddenly thrust into it without a sufficient support system. So I wrote Newfangled as a way of dealing with that. It’s fiction, so I gave Olive, my protagonist, a supportive family as she faced some of the similar challenges that I experienced. I based her family on real people I know. These people are the ones I want to emulate as they emulate Christ. But they are real people. Clip to me reading that the whole family in my book is too idealized. Le sigh.

Who’s to Blame?

One of the things we talk about in my writing group is reader experience. People will read your book and judge your characters based on how they would respond. If they relate to your character, that’s a good thing. If they think your character is unrealistic because they wouldn’t behave that way, it usually means you’re going to get a bad review. But who is to blame? You certainly can’t blame the reader (say it with me, “Never blame the reader”). But can you blame the author?

How to Approach Reader Experience

We have a way of battling this double-edge sword in the writing world. We go with the majority. If 8 out of 10 people say our characters are acting realistically, we accept the criticism of the 2 that disagree and leave the story the way it is. If a majority of the people testing your book notice a problem during your advanced reading group, you work like crazy to fix it before your launch date.

Reader experience is a real issue, and it needs to be addressed. But somedays the bad reviews hurt more than other days (for example when not one person in your advanced reading group has written you back about the manuscript you sent them a while ago), and you want to quit.

I’m so glad I didn’t send that critical review this morning!

If you’re still reading this, you deserve a cookie. And also, hug an author today. I guarantee you they need it.


Getting Workshopped

According to Wikipedia, a

“Writing Workshop is a method of writing instruction that developed from the early work of Donald Graves, Donald Murray, and other teacher/researchers who found that coaching students to write for a variety of audiences and purposes was more effective than traditional writing instruction.”

Another way of saying that is when you are part of a writing workshop, you get together with other writers and discuss the things that are good and could be better in order to nicely shred your story down to the most important bits. Everyone submits and everyone critiques. If this sounds intimidating to you, then you’re getting the idea. But the cool part is, you get to hang out with awesome people, and your writing gets better.


The Wrinos

The workshopping group I’m part of is called the Wrinos. Good luck figuring out who the other members are, but unless they give me their explicit permission, I’m not telling. What I will tell you is that I was so blessed at our last meeting (which was online due to my recent hernia surgery) where my friends helped me fix the first chapter of Plunge Into Darkness. I knew there was something wrong with it, but they were able to help me pinpoint the mistakes and fix them. If you are a writer and you have never been part of a workshop, you should try it. If your groups is even one/eighteenth as good as mine, I know you won’t be disappointed.

Happy reading… or writing… whichever.