My Top 8 Writing Guidebooks

The following books are ones I’ve used and loved as I have developed my style, structure, and writing habits. I write romance, usually with sex and always with a happy ending, and that has certainly effected the writing guidebooks selection. I also have some strong opinions about writing and have chosen books in alignment with those opinions. Lastly, I am a practicing witch and Pagan. All of these things have effected my book selection so I wanted to give you a heads up.

I know I said this post is a Top 8, and it is as far as there are 10 books listed. However, there is no hierarchical order to them. Some of these books are so different I couldn’t really say that one is better than the other, only that they are ones I have gotten a lot out of.

Disclaimer: The following links are affiliate links. That means if you purchase a book via these links I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you, as this money helps me keep SmutGeek running.

5 Favorite Books for Writers

2k to 10k: How to Write Faster, Write Better, and Write More of What you Love by Rachel Aaron – this book is fabulous but the part that effected me the strongest was her advice for when you’re dreading or not enthusiastic about writing a scene. She points out the obvious – if you’re not excited to write it, no one will be excited to read it so figure out a way to make it exciting for you. You can read the blog post that gave her the foundation for this book here.

Rapid Release: How to Write & Publish Fast for Profit by Jewel Allen. Even if you’re not interested in putting out a novel a month, this book is perfect for getting that book you’ve been writing finished. It’ll help motivate you to write instead of just thinking about writing. If you are thinking about self-publishing and making money, this is a fabulous look at how one author not only did it but helped others to do so.

30 Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to Energize Your Book Sales in a Month! by Rachel Thompson. I believe this book is a MUST HAVE for any author that wants to sell their books and perhaps make a career from their writing. Its a simple, step by step challenge with information about social media, platform building, and more. Also check out How to Best Optimize Blog Posts for SEO by Thompson. She is a fabulous resource in general – check out her website, NaNoProMo, and weekly book marketing chat on Twitter. (BTW, are we friends on Twitter yet?)

Writing the Cozy Mystery by Nancy J. Cohen. If you are writing a cozy or soft mystery OR just have a mystery as part of your external plot in your story, this is a fabulous book to help you plot out the arc and keep your clues in order.

Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels (How to Write Kissing Books) by Gwen Hayes. By far my favorite book on writing romance whether sweet or steamy. Hayes helped out my writing a great deal by breaking down the romance story arc not only into the 3 act structure but further into 4 parts then into beats. By making sure my writing hit those beats it made the story tighter, flow better, and helped save me from the saggy middle a few times.

3 Magickal Writing Guidebooks

The following books are ones I recommend if you have any interest in witchcraft and combining it with your writing.

Mapping the Hero’s Journey with Tarot: 33 Days to Finish Your Book by Arwen Lynch. A fantastic roadmap on how to use tarot cards to help your novel writing.

A Witch’s Guide to NaNoWriMo by December Fields-Bryant. Spells, rituals, and more to help you in your writing journey.

Crafting Magick with Pen and Ink by Susan Pesznecker. If you can’t seem to get the ideas flowing or focused and want a little magickal aid, this is the perfect book for you.

Want to See How These Books Effected My Writing?

Then check out my books here!

10,000 Words for NaNoWriMo 2019

I hit my first 10,000 Words of NaNoWriMo2019! That means I’m 20% done with my 50,000 word goal revising/rewriting The Billionaire Geek.

10,000 Words for NaNoWriMo
The 10k Writing Badge from NaNoWriMo

To celebrate, I thought I might share a fun excerpt from my book. I read this to Mr. Faust who was very happy with it and followed up by asking me to read more. I took that as a good sign.

To set the tone – my main characters, Becca and Will, are being harassed by a misogynistic scifi fanboy troll named Roy:

Bracing himself but drawn through pure curiosity, Will looked at Roy’s website. There were already two blog posts about the situation, one included a video. He opted to just read about it. The majority of the post was about Becca, pointing out her questionable sex practices based solely on some scenes from her books.

While Jordan’s involvement in strange affairs is no surprise to any of my readers who have followed the last year’s scandals, they are certainly nothing compared to the strange fantasies she puts to paper.
From Elysium Rising
The toys and tools of Sister Kuva’s collection were nowhere near as well honed as her own mind. She would require someone with deft hands and strong will to put her through her paces. Aebram picked up the blades and approached the priestess, the firelight glinting off the steel. He would give her the pain she needed in order to break through the barriers of her training. Using pain, he would make her feel like the woman she longed to be with him.
Kuva gripped the steel bar to which her wrists were bound. Looking up at her beloved, she smiled slowly. “Thank you,” she whispered.
Aebram shook his head. “Thank me later.” He chose the location of the first cut. “Thank me when I kiss it and make it better,” he said as the steel met flesh.

Perhaps instead of taking her to conventions, Jordan should see if Vaughn company could hire her a good therapist?

Glancing up at Becca, Will’s mind went back to the night before. While what they did would probably be considered tame when held up in comparison to most scifi erotica he’d read over the year, it had been kinda kinky. Was Becca a bit of a perv? He wondered at this for a moment then felt guilty for it. Even if she was, it wasn’t any of his or Roy Smith’s business.

/End Excerpt
I cannot wait to get this book revised and published and out to you all next spring! Act 1 is revised and with another beta reader as we speak!

Thank you all for celebrating this milestone of NaNoWriMo with me! If you are participating in the writing challenge, how are you doing with your goals? What is your favorite line you’ve written? Share below!

Keeping Motivated as a Writer!

NaNoWriMo is just around the corner! I’m so excited but also a little nervous. Not only is this a huge writing commitment but I also changed my mind at the last minute about what book I’m going to write! I know! YIKES! So to raise my spirits and keep motivated as a writer, I have a series of fun things to help me out – and of course I had to share them with you!

(Video coming soon)


National Novel Writing Month is a fantastic motivator. The community online and off is like having a group of cheerleaders at any given time. They’re writers willing to share writing resources, do challenging word sprints, and give pep talks. I love this month!

Partipate in multiple locations! You can go on the NaNo site and hang out in the forums, search for Discord or IRC chats for NaNoWriMo participants, check out the #NaNoWriMo hashtags on social media (I prefer Twitter), and more. Offline, local areas often have write-ins where writers in your area can come together at libraries, coffee shops, etc to hang out, write and help each other out.

On the NaNoWriMo site? Want to be buddies? Add me: dphryxus


I am an achievement whore. I love badges and progress charts so much. This is part of why I love gaming (Skyrim!!!). So when I learned there was an online fantasy game that helped writers draft their works – I was so ready for it!

4theWords is a game where you “battle” adorable monsters by doing word sprints. Different word counts defeat different monsters – the easier ones are struck down by writing 100 words or so and the harder ones by chugging away at thousands of words in one go. By defeating monsters, going on quests, and writing multiple days/weeks/months/years in a row (streaks) you receive badges, loot, etc.

You can join 4theWords today and try it for a month free. After that its pretty cheap to play. You can buy crystals and spend crystals on monthly subscriptions or other in game materials. When you sign up, be sure to use my referral code (ZJHCO88919) and I’ll add you as a writing buddy.
For NaNoWriMo you can also add the bonus code (wrimo19) and get 2 weeks extra for free! Do this even if you already have a paid subscription, you still get the 2 weeks free.

Writing Charts, Posters, and Gold Stars

I told you I’m an achievement whore. I love a good progress chart. Not only do I have my NaNoWriMo site chart to go on but I also have a physical chart that I can rely on when I need to unplug from the internet and focus on writing without distraction.

As I write and achieve word count goals, I’ll mark the chart and use some sparkly stickers.

Rewards and Punishments

Last but not least are my sets of awards for reaching certain goals…and punishments if I don’t. I am blessed with a great, supportive Dom who is more than willing to help me along on this journey.

When I reach certain word count and story goals I get a prize:

  • Halloween candy (we’re totally hitting the store after Halloween for the big discounts)
  • Kaelan Rhywiol’s Training Chronicles of Ilavani
  • A ring light for doing YouTube videos and taking pictures for the blog
  • Multiple orgasms
  • A new vibrator

If I don’t achieve certain goals I get a punishment:

  • Orgasm denial/edging
  • spankings
  • tickle torture

#WriterWednesday Character Questions

NaNoWriMo is around the corner and one of the things I’m doing for #Preptober (Check out my blog post explaining NaNoWriMi and Preptober here) is working on my characters. After doing a read through of my zero draft, I realized my characters are horribly flat. So I’m answering some Character Questions to try and create relatable, realistic, likeable characters.

Getting Deeper with Shallow Characters

While most character questionaires focus on name, age, zodiac, what they look like, eye color, height, etc (and these are all good things to know in general) I want to focus on questions that dig deeper.

You see, my character issues aren’t due to forgetting Priscilla has red hair or that Teagan is 5 foot 9. My issues are that Priscilla is too naive to live (infantile almost) and Teagan is coming off as a self entitled prick. I have to fix that shit asap and the best way to do that is go back to their core personalities and beliefs.

Perhaps a better title for this blog post is Character Personality Questions or Inner Questions for Fiction Characters.

My Character Questions

  • If I were to describe this character in broad strokes, what would that description be?
  • What paradoxes make my character interesting?
  • What are my characters concerned about?
  • What do/did they want to be when they grew up and how does/did that attitude change or stay the same?
  • Where do they feel safe?

And because I write erotica:

  • How does this character feel about sex?
  • How does this character feel about sexuality and gender – their own and others?
  • How does this character feel about their genitalia or the genitalia of others?
  • What is my character’s hottest fantasy?
  • What is my character’s sexual history?
  • How is this shown in their current sex life and personality?

If you have already written your characters or a good chunk of your book – the following character questions can help in revision:

  • Have I shown a number of qualities my characters have?
  • Have I used attitudes to define my characters?
  • How are their cares/concerns conveyed in their actions?
  • How are their concerns conveyed in dialogue?

My Favorite Preptober Resources

I have announced my NaNoWriMo Project – a queer steampunk romance called Faith and Diplomacy. Now I’m compiling all of my favorite Preptober resources to start plotting and building. I thought I would share them with you all for #WriterWednesday and see if you find them as beneficial as I do.

Disclaimer: Some of the following links contain affiliate codes. This means if you make a purchase using this link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. This money helps me keep SmutGeek going. Thank you.

Favorite Books

Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes – I consider this necessary reading for anyone that wants to write romance novels. It really helped clarify a number of issues I was having when plotting my stories.

Ready. Set. Novel! by Chris Baty, Lindsey Grant, and Tavia Stewart. This is the book that got me writing longer stories. I was in college and felt like I would never finish a full length novel and pretty down on myself. After being gifted this book for the holidays I finally felt like I had a tool that would get me through the biggest writing funk I’ve ever been in.

2000 to 10000 by Rachel Aaron. I love Rachel’s books. They’re fast paced, coherent, and the characters feel real. In short – everything I want from a fun read. She has a large library of novels and when I discovered that she had a book that not only taught her writing method BUT how to write faster to get more books out, SOLD! The book is awesome. Many of the tips I’ve never seen in my resource collecting over the years.

Other books that I’ve read that aren’t my favorite but friends of mine love include Stephen King On Writing, Save the Cat Write a Novel, and Write Naked.

Favorite Sites

NaNoWriMo – not only does the site help you keep track of your word count it also has pep talks from best selling authors, forums to chat with other aspiring novelists, and community connections with writers in your area for Preptober and NaNoWriMo meetups. Wanna be Buddies? Friend me

Jami Gold – romance writing spreadsheets, worksheets, and writing craft articles really helped me get a grasp on romance writing and how it differs from my past dabbling in high fantasy and horror.

Scrivener – I adore this writing app. I bought it years ago after winning NaNoWriMo gave me a discount. When I switched to Linux I was disappointed to find they hadn’t really developed the app for that platform. Thankfully, Erkus Be Damned developed the app for Linux users – its even free (until Scrivener eventually decides to develop for this platform if that ever happens). I love this app because it allows me to create and access writing notes without a ton of windows or tabs open. Its what I use for prep and drafting before switching over to Google Docs for finishing draft(s).

Speaking of Scrivener, Romancing the Beat also has a handy dandy Scrivener template.

What are Your Favorite Preptober Resources

Share in the comments some of your best writing resources – books, videos, sites, etc. I’m always on the look out for writing craft tips.

Sex Positions Quote

I was quoted on Fatherly in an article about Best Sex Positions for older people. I saw the request for quotes in HARO (help a reporter out) and thought it would be a good follow up after my blog post about best sex positions for fat people.

Of course my full quote I emailed wasn’t used so I thought I would share here:

I think that as we get older we are more aware of our body’s limitations. As someone who not only has chronic hip pain but also has a partner with joint pain, we have had many experiences of working around these situations as well as those of fatigue, fibromyalgia, and more with other partners.
The best thing we recommend is no matter the position – make sure you have open communication with your partner about what feels good, what doesn’t, and be open to switching things up even in the middle of sex. Experimenting not only with positions but kinds of sex can really help.
Doggy style really helps when my hip pain flairs up but isn’t necessarily great for someone with knee problems.
Consider investing in a sex pillow or incline pillow to help with support during sex.
Mutual masturbation is a fabulous way to enjoy sex with a partner when one or more are having any sort of fatigue or pain problems. This way, you body get off, know what feels good, can turn each other on with a show, and can concentrate on connecting without pressure physically or mentally. Next month
(May) is Masturbation Month, btw, so perhaps this method will help celebrate.

It was really awesome being quoted alongside Kayla Lords, a sex blogger I look up to.

How Writing Smut Helps My Sex Life

Since I started writing smut and romantic erotica, my sex life has had a major boost. Before becoming a mom, Mr. Faust and I had a very adventurous sex life but all that died down quite a bit once we became parents. When I began reading more erotica, reading it aloud to Mr. Faust, and writing it myself – my libido got a boost, Mr. Faust enjoyed the audio foreplay of me reading my work to him, and I also received the added aid of connecting with like minded kinksters online to inspire us both.

Posy Churchgate wrote: Just read your piece ‘Writing for a better sex life’ – I dont use FB for my Posy persona, so this is the comment I wanted to leave x
~This was a great piece! As a writer of erotic fiction myself (over on my blog) I can attest to it unlocking my libido and also to it enhancing my sex life.
~I was too shy to put some of my desires into words, now my partner has read my stories he knows what goes on in my twisted little mind and can act on that if he chooses. Win, win!

Writing Smut for a Better Sex Life

Enjoy this article I wrote for The Big Fling about how writing smut can help your sex life too!

Write for Mercury's Sake!

It is that time again – Mercury in Retrograde! For many this time means communication disorganization, technology failures, and grumpy goblins possessing normally happy and chipper people.
Books and websites and blogs on astrology and magic often notes that this is a time to avoid new endeavors, important paperwork, and communication and technology in general. If Mercury in Retrograde was a tarot card I’d name it The Hermit in reverse – forced solitude and the crotchety bastard next door.

Of course during this time period, I got the urge to do everything I was advised against! I don’t know if this is because I love Mercury’s trickster side or if its because of my ornery Sagittarian nature. So, instead of avoiding communication and technology, I cling to it. I created a website, work on my social media accounts, call my mom long distance, and sit on my stack of pillows, cradling my laptop against my pregnant belly and WRITE!

Today I spent the morning tending my herb garden, sunbathing while making notes in one of my aromatherapy books and journaling. I texted and called Damon, my mom, and my sister in law over nonsense things like “remember to buy sponges” and “how goes the house cleaning?” Then I ate a quart of strawberries and wrote 2000 words on the book I’m currently working on. I pulled out one of my favorite writing inspirations – SARK’s Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper and read for an hour to avoid cleaning house. Between chapters I grabbed some water, cleaned up a little, lit a lavender candle, then grabbed my laptop to write yet another book idea up along with some notes. After exhausting that idea, and procrastinating further on cleaning, I returned to SARK’s book. Here I read a wonderful note about writing is part creating words to write and part moving the tools (actual writing). SARK said something about a pen with wings and this triggered an idea…

Often Mercury or Hermes is depicted with or just as the symbol of a staff with wings – the caduceus. What if Mercury’s symbol for me was not the medical staff but the tool of communication – a pen with wings!
So I doodled in my journal a bit, drawing the pen my midwife gave me in my birth center swag bag, which is a wonderful peaceful and communicative blue and added some wings to it. I drew this, of course, with the pen that I was depicting.

As I drew, and breathed in the lovely aromatherapy of my lavender candle and listened to the cranes bicker outside my window, I wondered what Mercury would think of me during this crazy time of retrograde. would he think I’m too bold and is preparing some crazy computer crash or miscommunication to knock me off my course? Or does he like my brash nature and grin down at me from his winged heights as I type away on this blog post that is already too long to be allowed. (I hope it is the latter)

Another thing SARK says in her book is that writing is a Daring process. It is preposterous that we put our words out there with the audacious idea that someone might actually want to read them!
What is mischievous Mercury but DARING! He is the god of thieves and tricksters! He dares to fly when others walk or crawl. He dares to be the message bearer even when the message doesn’t want to be heard! So perhaps, retrograde is a great time to dare a little with communication…

I think about how daring I must be to write a book…much less a book about a topic on which other books have already been written! I think about what my lil baby in my womb might think and even ask “Lil Caleb, is your mommy crazy to be writing?” I wonder what he will think about his paper and ink sibling when he emerges into this wild world. I wonder what he will think of Mercury in Retrograde; if he will be a grumpy goblin or daring the insanity like his momma. I think about how daring it is to write about writing here on this blog post. Little voices ask “what if you never publish?” or “what if they hate your book?” and here I’m writing about this book as if it is set in stone that it will be created. I dare to dream that it is already in my hands, created and published and being read my hundreds.

I can’t help but smile a little when I write and I light my candles and send up a little prayer to the god of communication, thieves, business, and trickery. Ease my self-doubts about writing. Let me be bold and brash like you and wave my freak flag merrily as I send my words out to the world. Give me many many winged pens that I may move my tools without care of criticism. May I keep my grin even when others are grumpy. Give me aid as I risk the stars and reach forward to communicate. So may it be.