Thoughts on Writing – Multiple Character Motivations in One Scene

Though I’ve primarily been focusing on getting the paperback edition ready for Magic’s Stealing (I ordered the proof copy today!) and making edits to The Multiverse Chronicles, I’ve still been thinking about the plot for The Shadow War. My goal is to iron out as many inconsistencies as possible before I get into the heavy writing/editing phase.

Today I’m going to look to look at a scene from The Shadow War and focus on how knowing the multiple character motivations in that scene can help improve the logic of what’s going on.

Warning: There are spoilers in this post regarding events in Magic’s Stealing, along with certain character motivations and the first major event of The Shadow War.

In other words, if you don’t want spoilers, you might want to pick up a copy of Magic’s Stealing before reading this post, then come back to read this post. If you don’t mind spoilers, then by all means, please continue reading. :-)

Toward the beginning of The Shadow War (the second book) there is a scene in which it is very important that the main character, Toranih, is captured by the shadows. In the current draft of this scene, a city guard requests her presence for legitimate reasons, but once she’s separated from her friends, a pair of shadows ambush her and the guard, then drag her through a portal to where Shevanlagiy (the antagonist from the previous book) is waiting to kill her. Shevanlagiy makes the attempt, but Toranih takes her by surprise and knocks her aside, leaving Lord Menchtoteale (the leader of the Shadows) to try. He attempts to strike her once, but since Toranih knows that shadows can’t be killed by mortal weapons, she grabs the nearest shadow’s knife and strikes her own hand. She falls into the shadow realm, and Menchtoteale again attempts to kill her, this time making what should be a devastating blow with the Wishing Blade, but Isahna (the trickster god behind the shadows, the god Menchoteale answers to) heals Toranih, orders Shevanlagiy to leave Toranih alone, and orders Menchtoteale to train her.

At this point in time, though, I’m a bit concerned that all of that is going to seem rather… confusing.

Why does Isahna prevent Menchtoteale from killing Toranih, and more importantly, why can’t these big bad guys successfully kill an almost defenseless teenager?

(Though I do have to say that Toranih has been working on her magic, and she is good at physical combat. But still… shouldn’t a well-trained sword fighter with a magic sword, or a super-powerful sorceress, manage one partially-trained kid?)

Since I want these scenes to make logical sense, I did my usual day-dreaming to work out the problems with this scene. As a result, I considered the character motivation for each character involved.

Toranih: She wants to get out of this alive. Being caught by shadows? Not exactly conducive to her plans of warning the port city of the upcoming attack. Now, she’s been in the shadow realm before (in a slightly alternate timeline that got erased because of her actions–read Magic’s Stealing if you want to know how that went), so she has a bit of an idea of how shadow magic works. She also knows that–at least according to her memory–she’s resistant to Menchtoteale’s attempts at magic’s lure (basically, a mind control power).

Shevanlagiy: Thanks to events in Magic’s Stealing, Toranih has part of Shevanlagiy’s magic… specifically her resistance to magic’s lure. Before that event, Shevanlagiy could ignore Isahna’s commands (so long as ignoring his commands don’t alert him to her own secret plans). Now that Shevanlagiy has lost part of her magic, she’s not sure how much it will take for Isahna to give her orders that she must follow, which isn’t good when she plans on stealing the Wishing Blade from him later. At this point, she needs to kill Toranih as soon as possible. However, it’s important that she be the one to kill Toranih, otherwise she won’t get her magic back.

Menchtoteale: He’s in charge of wielding the Wishing Blade, and his job is to collect as much power into the sword as possible. He needs an army of shadows (to overrun the Immortal Realm so that he can kill the gods and force their powers into Wishing Blade). Toranih was one of the few mages who didn’t lose her powers when he wished the magic of Cirena into the Wishing Blade, largely because she had the support of a lower-tier goddess behind her. For Menchtoteale, killing Toranih with the sword means finishing that part of the job. Alternatively, striking her with a shadow blade means he should be able to command her. But he knows that someone who looked like Toranih was particularly resistant to his ability to command the shadows. As such, killing her is the more practical option, even though having a shadow mage on his side could be good for the army.

Isahna: His intent is to have Menchtoteale get as much power in the Wishing Blade as possible so that he can eventually take that sword, confront the high gods, then take their place. (It’s a bit of a vendetta after he lost the bid for power to a different god). He’s gotten surprisingly useful information from Shevanlagiy, but he’s certain that she’s playing him for a fool. Unfortunately, he’s not all-knowing, so he’s not sure what her end-game is. He does have an idea that her resistance to his powers may have dropped recently, and has something to do with Toranih. Thus, keeping Toranih around might give him a few insights into what Shevanlagiy has planned… especially since the kid has strong powers (if she can be coaxed into using them) and an interest in military operations (unlike Menchtoteale, who Isahna chose as his general mainly because the guy could forge the Wishing Blade).

There are other motivations behind these guys, as well, but I’m trying not to give away all the twists of this scene. ;-)

Anyway, looking at those motivations, let’s take a look at the scene again and at what could happen instead.

First, Toranih must be captured early on in the story (or at least, she needs to be in a position where she becomes a shadow). This is critical to the plot, as she needs to be working against the shadow army from the inside. The problem with this is that, in theory, Shevanlagiy really should just sneak up on Toranih and stab her in the back.

Problem solved (And we have one very happy Shevanlagiy).

But we know from Magic’s Stealing that Shevanlagiy is hesitant to do that so long as Toranih’s other two friends are around. They have an artifact which can effectively wipe out shadows (and is a large detriment to her own powers). Not only that, but one of those people is Toranih’s sister–who has proven to have particularly good aim with a throwing knife and nearly killed Shevanlagiy once before (Shevanlagiy doesn’t die, per se, but she can get thrown into another realm and thus lose all her progress in this realm). The other person is Daernan–someone Shevanlagiy has been working very hard at making sure he stays alive. Putting him in danger isn’t a good idea for her–not yet.

Even if Shevanlagiy simply stabbed Toranih with a shadow knife and commanded her to hold still while she delivered the finishing blow, the possibility that Toranih might get destroyed by the artifact her friends have–thus permanently losing her “stolen” magic–is not a good risk.

So that’s an area I’m still running into issues with. Shevanlagiy needs Toranih dead, so the question is how does she make that attempt?

For now, let’s say that Shevanlagiy still orders a pair of shadows to kidnap Toranih and bring the girl to her. Now she’s putting the shadows–but not herself–at risk. Shevanlagiy’s first goal is still to kill Toranih… just on her own terms. She’s ready to strike when Toranih arrives, and makes an immediate attempt on Toranih’s life.

Since we don’t want Toranih dead yet, this is where we can see Toranih’s growth with magic from the previous story. She successfully thwarts Shevanlagiy with telekinesis… even though her chances are looking bleak if she can’t find a way to quickly escape.

Now enter Menchtoteale. He’s in the same location (which makes me consider… why would Shevanlagiy bring her captive to the same place as someone who might kill Toranih before her? Perhaps he comes back to their base unexpectedly early? Or perhaps Isahna gets wind that Shevanlagiy is up to something, so he sends his puppet along to check things out). Either way, Menchtoteale arrives unexpectedly, realizes Toranih is the same person he saw earlier, and he knows he won’t be able to control her easily. Forget making her a shadow, then. While Shevanlagiy is still dazed from her earlier attack, he attempts to kill Toranih and be done with it… except that Toranih, in her desperation, snags the knife from one of the nearby shadows and prevents her death by turning herself into a shadow. The catch here is that if he uses the Wishing Blade, that would kill her (but she might not be thinking about that)… unless he stops mid-strike because he’s bewildered that anyone would willingly make themselves a shadow.

He’s not the only one. Toranih isn’t sure what to make of her decision, either.

In the meantime, Shevanlagiy has had enough time to get back into the game. Now it’s more important than ever that she kill Toranih. She prepares to make the kill, but is stopped when Isahna shows up and orders them to stop. She can technically disobey his orders at the moment, but deliberately breaking his rules now would make it clear that she has her own agenda, which would jeopardize her later plans. She holds back, though she’s still trying to figure out how to take out her enemy.

Now, this next section needs some work, but this is what I have in mind so far:

Isahna orders them not to harm Toranih. Both Menchtoteale and Shevanlagiy protest, and Isahna makes the case that Toranih might be useful to have around. He orders Menchtoteale to train her, and orders Shevanlagiy not to kill her. When Shevanlagiy expresses her displeasure with the idea, he begins to question her why. Shevanlagiy tries making excuses, to which Isahna starts giving her minor orders with magic’s lure, ones which he knows she will deny if his suspicions about her are correct. Each time she refuses, her ability to resist magic’s lure dwindles, until he finally gives the order not to kill Toranih. This time, he successfully uses his power against her. Not only can he now keep Shevanlagiy away from his new military interest, but he has also discovered exactly where her resistance to his powers ends.

This is important for multiple reasons.

1st – This sets up a rule of magic that we will see throughout the rest of the series, one which Menchtoteale tells Toranih (paraphrased): “Better to accept the little things that Isahna orders of you, and thus be able to resist the commands that matter to you, rather than resist the insignificant things and be forced to do something terrible.”

2nd – We now see exactly why Shevanlagiy is afraid of Isahna… and why she is more desperate than before to push her plans along and find some way to strike Toranih and get her powers back… especially now that she physically can’t unless she takes care of Isahna first. Not only that, but this puts her in a position to ignore Toranih for the time being and focus her attention on Daernan, which gets into the sub-plot regarding glass-stone and protecting the kingdom from the shadows. Shevanlagiy is playing both sides, which makes her, to some extent, unpredictable.

3rd  – Toranih has now seen firsthand how magic’s lure works from Isahna, which affects her decisions through the rest of the series. This is especially important when Isahna offers her a legitimately useful deal later (Though it comes with it’s costs,of course. I rather enjoy stories with villains who can offer a hard-to-resist deal. Probably one of the reasons that I enjoyed Rumpelstiltskin’s character in Once Upon A Time). Along the same token, we’ll also see Isahna offering Menchtoteale a deal regarding Menchtoteale’s own freedom if he can get Toranih interested in trading places with him… and that gets into a whole nother set of character motivations. Needless to say, Isahna is going to try covering all the angles.

In the long run, taking a close look at what motivates each primary character to act, especially early on in your manuscript, can really help to work out the kinks not only in a specific scene, but also in the full length of the plot. Not only that, but you’ll also have more believable antagonists and stronger protagonists, because we can understand what they’re up against.

Now I just have to figure out how much to actually show in the story. On the bright side I’ve already shown multiple points of view in the first book, so it won’t be as odd if we see the occasional point of view from the antagonists.

I hope this post has been helpful. :-) Have you ever explored a character’s motivations to solve problematic scenes?

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Thoughts on Publishing – Infinitas Publishing Status Report

All right, the time has come for another status report. :-)

When Isaac and I first started Infinitas Publishing, we created an Excel file that listed our goals for releasing our books and games. Some of those are completely in the works (they haven’t yet been started), while others already have a fairly polished draft and just need editing.

Either way, I figured it would be a good idea to take a look at our current projects every once in a while and see how everything is going.

Here are the current projects:

The Wishing Blade: Magic’s Stealing -The ebook is now available and I’ve run our first giveaway via another author’s blog. I have finished formatting the interior file for the paperback edition, and I’m adding the final touches to the wrap-around book cover. I hope to order a proof copy in the next few days.

In the interests of time and money, Isaac and I chose to purchase the $10.00 custom ISBN at Createspace. It lets us list our imprint as the publisher, though we can only use that ISBN when printing through Createspace. Since it will be a while before we can try distributing the book through a site like Ingram Spark, we figured the printing restrictions should be worth it for the time being. At least this way we can have a print edition available (and through the money we saved by waiting to buy a universal block of ISBNs, we can now purchase a box of print books to sell and give away). I’ve also talked to a couple local book stores about stocking copies of the book, so we’ve started making headway there.

The Wishing Blade: The Shadow War – I haven’t made much progress here. I’ve got a partial rough draft from when I was writing Magic’s Stealing, and I’ve got some plotting in place (a few blog posts should be coming from that, too), but that’s about it. This is my next project after I finish editing the first half of Trials of Blood and Steel. Since I have the basic formatting in place from Magic’s Stealing, preparing the ebook and paperback editions shouldn’t take quite so long. We’re off-target on our planned time of this release, but we’ll see how the writing and edits go.

The Multiverse Chronicles: Trials of Blood and Steel – Isaac has finished writing the main plot, and he’s made quite a bit of headway on the “meanwhile” end scenes that go at the end of each episodes. Our plan is to polish the first thirteen episodes (of 28-ish? Haven’t divided all of them yet), and then begin releasing each episode. I’ve got twelve of those thirteen episodes edited, and after I finish episode thirteen, I’ll be editing the end scenes. Then I’ll run through the full thing one more time for continutity before doing a read-aloud with Isaac to make any further changes. Then I’ll proofread on paper, and afterwards we’ll start to release an episode a week.

I’ve begun setting up the Multiverse blog, but the main info still needs to be added, along with creating an episode guide and the main graphics. Due to the nature of this project, we’re considering holding off on beta readers, but otherwise, the first episodes should release on schedule.

Battle Decks: Trials of Blood and Steel – We’re currently on par with this project. We plan to read through our edits of the rules this weekend, and then we’ll be ordering a new proof copy with the edited cards. If everything looks good, we should be able to release on schedule. We still need to create a how-to video, but we’ll need the updated proof to complete that. If all goes well, this should be available in November.

SBibb’s Photographic Illustration – Not part of Infinitas Publishing, but still something I need to schedule (plus, it helps with the initial funding of the company). I have a few book covers to work on, so I’ll be doing those in order of due dates. This is one of the things I’ll be working on this weekend.

I hope you’ve found this post interesting. Once we have solidified release dates, I’ll make them public :-)


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Thoughts on Publishing – The Excerpt at the Front of a Print Book

I’m in the process of creating a paperback edition of Magic’s Stealing. I’ve got most of the formatting complete, save for a couple blank pages, and I’m currently focusing on adding an excerpt at beginning of print book. The idea is that as soon as a potential reader opens the book, the first thing they see is a teaser that makes them want to read more (and encourages them to be patient if that scene takes time to reach).

Keep in mind, when a reader is browsing a book store or examining a book at an author’s table, they will likely look at the cover, then at the back cover blurb, then at the excerpt on the first page of the book. The goal is to draw them in more and more until they choose to buy the book.

This is how I ended up buying The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross (and ultimately loving it) at a Barnes and Noble. I’ve seen other books do the same. Adding the excerpt provides a teaser so that the reader knows what to expect.

(You might see another form of this on a hardcover book, but the excerpt may be on the back cover, usually something of action or intrigue, with the blurb inside the cover flaps).

Let’s take a look at Magic’s Stealing and see how this compares.

Back Cover Blurb:

For centuries, ribbons of magic have provided the kingdom of Cirena with light, healing, and protection. Then, in a span of minutes, those ribbons fly from their masters, stolen, save for the magic of a few chosen mages. One of these mages is Toranih, a young noblewoman who would rather have a sword in her hand than use her powers to heal or throw fireballs. As a result, her magic skills are lacking. But with former mages dying from magic withdrawal, and the looming threat of an army of shadows who are impervious to mortal weapons, she must either embrace the responsibilities of a mage or watch her home perish.

Whatever excerpt I choose, the excerpt should enhance the understanding of the content inside the book.

These were the two excerpts I’m considering:

First Excerpt

Toranih cast a glance toward the distant mountain and shivered. The closer they came, the more her unease grew. It wasn’t her usual dislike of magic. As close as they were now, the magic inside the forge glowed like a star. Yet the whole place was shrouded with a thick fog, a veil that kept the magic hidden from the distance.

She frowned.

She could almost see thin filaments weaving through the fog, like the shadows of strings from a poorly played puppet theatre. The filaments lashed out in different directions, disappearing as they touched bright, sunlit sky. She tilted her head and squinted, but the strings vanished altogether.

She shivered and returned to picking at the soft innards of her roll.

There was something different about that magic. Wild. Unsteady. Like a foal that hadn’t been broken, and might never be. The magic was curious, like a dark storm cloud spewing cracks of thunder and lightning when the rest of the land was gold.

Toranih shivered.

All this magic was bound to cause strange visions.

So why was she drawn to follow?

In this excerpt, we get a glimpse at shadow magic, a sense of eeriness, and a taste of the writing style. There is a also a question at the end, which would hopefully draw a reader’s attention. However, this scene doesn’t jibe with the back cover blurb. We have a mountain forge, shadowy, string-like magic, strange visions, and some kind of call to follow that magic. While the scene should be intriguing in itself, it doesn’t mesh well with the blurb.

Second Excerpt

Toranih could actually see faint ribbons in the distance, rising from their masters. The ribbons streamed into the sky, a dazzling array of colors, then fled east, away from the city in a glaring river.

She looked at the bowl again and blinked her eyes to clear the spots. She had to know what was going on. The liquid had gone milky-white, but if she could see what was happening . . .

She ran her fingers along the strings at the top of the water. One here, one there. The tips of her fingers tingled as lavender wisps flooded the bowl. The image swirled, faint. The mountain forge reappeared. The man held his sword fixed between both hands, raised to the sky. His feet were spread strong under his shoulders. Ribbons streamed to his sword from across the kingdom. The sword glowed bright and brighter, and as the screams outside died into a disjointed murmur, the sword faded and the image darkened.

The water was clear now, devoid of life.

Everyone’s magic had fled into the stranger’s sword.

First, this excerpt shows the ribbons mentioned in the blurb. Second, we see Toranih using magic (which conflicts with her dislike of magic, but the blurb does say she must embrace the responsibilities of being a mage). Third, we see a bit about the antagonist. Fourth, we see the event that the blurb mentions, and the end of the excerpt sets the problem up further.

Ultimately, I’m thinking the second excerpt is a lot stronger as a potential hook, especially when paired with the back cover blurb.

I hope you find this post helpful. :-) Have you considered adding an excerpt to the front of your book?

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Thoughts on Writing – Subplots and End Scenes

Isaac has finished writing the rough draft of Trials of Blood and Steel, and I’m about half-way through editing his draft (with plans to go back at the halfway point and start polishing, that way we can start releasing episodes), so Isaac is now working on the little segments that go at the end of each episode.

We’ve been calling these segments end caps (a cross between recap and end of the scene? I’m not sure how we started calling it this), but I realized that wasn’t the actual name for those scenes. Did a bit of research, and they aren’t exactly a post-credits scene/stinger (they don’t come after the “credits,” just at the end of the episode, and they aren’t a teaser, since they come at the end of the episode rather than at the beginning. They also aren’t finales or cappers or endgames, per

So… I’m still not sure what to call these segments.

For now I’ll call them end scenes (though even that isn’t technically correct, per this site).

Anyway, our goal is to have a small scene at the end of each episode which provides a bit of extra background without being required for the main plot. Preferably, it will be something that makes readers wonder what’s going to happen next, and how this scene will get tangled into the main story.

For example, this is one of the end scenes (Still semi-rough), which references a carrier pigeon that was set loose earlier that episode:

Miles into its flight, the pigeon reached the border of the northern Prussian forest. The bird flapped tirelessly, trained for such flights, though it planned to take a food-break once it reached the other side.

Or it would have had a break, if it had made it that far.

A pair of glowing gold eyes spotted the pigeon from the ground, waited until the bird was within range, then lifted its rifle, sighted the target, and fired.

The shot echoed across the trees, but due to a slight miscalculation in wind speed, the bullet only clipped the bird’s wing. The pigeon faltered, but it had been trained as an elite war bird. It compensated for its broken wing, angling its beak and tail feathers in its best attempt to direct its plummet away from its assailant. The wind coasted under its good wing, and the bird directed its dive into the thicker part of the nearby woods.

The marksman waited as the bird disappeared into the trees. Despite being ordered to retrieve the bird, it turned around on its spiny legs and began its trek back to camp. The bird had fallen into the Deep.

The Deep… even in the marksman’s strained memory… resonated with its core and sent a tingle of fear through its metallic body.

Despite being a small part of the woods, no one who entered the Deep ever came out.

The goal of this scene is to raise the stakes (an important message has now been delayed), to set up the strange, metallic marksmen (which will become a major foe later), and to do the first foreshadowing of the Deep (which our heroes will encounter very soon).

Technically speaking, this scene isn’t absolutely necessary to the main plot.

It does raise the stakes, but if we remove this from the story, the rest of the plot would still make sense, though we might lose some of the richness.

This is, effectively, a subplot.

One of the interesting things about watching Isaac add the end scenes after writing all of the other episodes is seeing how they effectively develop into a subplot (mostly detailing what the bad guys are up to).

Not only that, but the end scenes significantly boost the word count.

Something to keep in mind if you have a bare-bones story that you want to develop further–or need to increase the word count of–is that you can add subplots.

Are there any plot threads that readers might find interesting that add to the story?

On the other hand, if you need to reduce your word count, cutting a subplot may be the way to go, particularly if there’s a thread that slows things down rather than keeps the pace moving. (If you need a breather, a subplot may be a nice way to release tension).

The next decision Isaac and I need to make is whether to have these end scenes be a separate post of their own, so it’s clear that they don’t have to be read for the main story to make sense (though I certainly enjoy them), or whether to include them at the end of the episode, perhaps with a telling Meanwhile… to denote that these are something separate from the main story.

I hope you’ve found this post helpful. :-) Have any thoughts about subplots you’ve found to be effective or ineffective?


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Behind the Scenes – Beyond the Eyes – Cover Remake

This is a cover for Rebekkah Ford. For this cover, we redid a cover I created for her three years ago, back when I was trying to find willing authors to take a chance on me so I could build my portfolio (thank you!).

At the time, we came up with this:

SBibb - Beyond the Eyes Book Cover

SBibb - Beyond the Eyes - Wraparound Cover

The goal was to create something mysterious, with a bit of a taste of horror for her first YA paranormal. At the time, I took inspiration from the cover of Clockwork Angel, the cover art of which I adore.

However, this was an earlier cover of mine, so the font effects are a tad amateurish (and I hadn’t even justified the original back cover copy… which I later updated once I discovered that trick). Not only that, but the cover felt too much like a horror novel, and wasn’t attracting as many romance readers as it should (since this is definitely a paranormal romance).

So Rebekkah contacted me again a couple months ago to see about updating the covers for this series. She had a few stock images in mind, and after working through a few proofs and font placement, we came up with this remake for the first book:

SBibb - Beyond the Eyes Remake Cover

SBibb - Beyond the Eyes Remake Cover

(See how much better the back cover formatting looks after three more years of experience?)

The woman on the cover clearly resembles the main character, Paige, the shadow in the distance could easily be a sinister dark spirit (or a mysterious immortal), and the eerie forest distinctly fits a prominent setting of the story. I blurred the background to help make the model stand out, then flipped it for the back cover, and darkened the spine to make sure the words were readable. This cover should now attract paranormal romance readers. In addition, the straightforward text should attract a bit of an older audience (this series fits the upper YA/NA categories).

Personally, I like both covers, but having read the book, I suspect the new cover will attract more of the target audience.

You can find Beyond the Eyes on Goodreads.

Stock images from Shutterstock:

Read more from the author’s point of view:


Filed under Client Work, Photo Illustration

Thoughts on Publishing – Starting a Publishing Imprint

A couple days ago I was talking with an author friend, and they asked about the process of how my husband and I started Infinitas Publishing. I typed up a response, then realized that other people might also find this information useful. So here it is… the basics of how my husband and I started a business.

IMPORTANT: I am not a lawyer nor am I certified in taxes, so please do not take this as legal advice. These are just my experiences thus far, and are meant to be useful in figuring out what steps you may need to take.

Also note that this process varies depending on your location and the kind of business you want to start. This particular post is tailored to my experiences starting a publishing imprint in Missouri, in the United States of America. (Business law varies from state to state).

Choosing a Name

First off, my husband and I chose the name of our business. We chose Infinitas Publishing. We did a Google and Bing search, since the results are different, to see if there was anything too similar to the name already.

We found a few similar names, but we decided that our specific product (speculative fiction and games) and branding was different enough that the two companies wouldn’t easily be confused.

Once we found that we were in the clear for general terms, we did a trademark search. Since trademark law tends to be a pain and I still don’t feel like I have a good grasp on it, I figured we’d be best off avoiding anything too close to something that already existed.

As a side note, if the trademarks can’t easily be mistaken for each other, and they involve unrelated products, they should be free for use. (For example, if two trademark names were similar, but one related to a brand of vacuums and the other to a doggy day care. Completely different uses, so the companies can have similar trademarks.)

As an example, at one point Isaac and I called Battle Decks “Beastie Wars”… only to discover that “Beast Wars” was already in use by Transformers. Since both products involve entertainment and games, we decided to steer clear of the name. Not only that, but renaming the game Battle Decks gives us more versatility in future game expansions… never mind that there’s a PowerPoint slide competition of the same name. The game and event shouldn’t be easily be mistaken, however, so that shouldn’t cause any mix-ups.

To look up a trademark, I used the Basic Search Database (Under TESS, click “Search Trademark Database”), and told it to search “all” words.

Fictitious Name Registration / DBA
After we chose the name, we registered for a fictitious name / Doing Business As (DBA) license. For Missouri, this cost $7.00 and lasts for five years (which reminds me that I’ll need to renew my SBibb’s Photographic Illustration DBA soon). This allows you to legally use the business name instead of your own.

Determine the Business Type
You also need to decide what kind of business you’re starting. There are four major structures, including Corporations, but a Sole-proprietorship, Partnership, and Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) are the ones you’re most likely to run into at this stage.

Nolo has some great information in regards to business practices.

An LLC has the benefit of protecting your personal assets in the event of a lawsuit, but it does have a higher start-up cost. There are also certain tax benefits, and the salary structure is different but I’m not as familiar with this business structure, so I can’t say what those benefits are off the top of my head. If you are if you are publishing multiple authors or publishing materials that could result in a lawsuit, you may want to go the route of an LLC.

EDIT: Check out Raistlin212’s comments below for a better explanation of the benefits of the LLC business structure.

A sole-proprietorship is by far the easiest business to start, as all money coming into the business flows directly to you. Technically, once you have the DBA and EIN, you have the basics you need to start the business online. (This is the structure I use for SBibb’s Photographic Illustration).

A partnership is like a sole-proprietorship, except you have multiple people involved and there’s an extra form you need to fill out for income taxes (Form 1065 and the resulting K-1, which I’m not looking forward to figuring out next year, but I know a couple people I can ask for assistance). This is the structure my husband and I chose for Infinitas Publishing.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Once you have the DBA, you can apply for an EIN (Employer Identification Number) through the IRS (so many acronyms, I know). This number is handy because it identifies your business on tax forms. The EIN is registered on the federal level. You apply online and you get the number immediately upon completing the form. Doesn’t cost anything either, and you have a different number for each business (Infinitas Publishing has a different EIN than SBibb’s Photographic Illustration).

If you have any questions about filling out the form, your local bank may be able to help. I had a bit of trouble trying to call the IRS help line (I felt like I was playing a Choose Your Own Adventure game, phone style), but the people at the bank were able to answer my questions in regards to start dates and such.

If you are doing freelance work, having this number is nice because it gives you a number to give contractors for the Form 1099-Misc without having to give them your social security number.

Business Bank Account
It is usually recommended that you have a separate banking account for your business to keep your income and expenses organized. This may especially be helpful if you’re ever asked to produce records for tax purposes.

Check with your bank to see what they require to start an account. I went to US Bank, since I was familiar with them and they had a basic package that suited our needs and wouldn’t cost us money to use. This was important since we didn’t expect a high inflow of money to start with. For a partnership, our local branch required a General Partnership Agreement (an LLC needed an Operating Agreement). They also needed the EIN, and I think they needed proof of the registered DBA. It took a couple weeks for this to show up in their system, so be sure to plan ample time between getting everything registered and actually starting the business.

If you need assistance with the General Partnership Agreement or Operating Agreement, there are several sites online that offer free templates. Once you find a suitable template, you can tweak it to fit your needs.

If nothing else, this agreement acts as a guide to each partner’s responsibilities in the case of misunderstandings or if anything gets rough. Now, if you want to be sure that everything is legally correct, you may want to hire a lawyer to look over your forms.

Since Infinitas Publishing is between my husband and I, we didn’t do this, though we did make sure that we understood everything in our agreement and that it suited our needs.

For SBibb’s Photographic Illustration, I don’t use a separate bank account. Due to the nature of my work, I have very few expenses that I apply to that business. However, I do keep a ledger of all income, and it is still advisable to have a separate account, even if you’re a sole-proprietor.

Online Payments
Once the business bank account was set up, I created a business Paypal account and input the new information into my Kindle, Createspace, Smashwords, and The Game Crafter settings. Now when we receive royalty payments or purchase proofs, they’ll be linked to the business, rather than our personal accounts.

Smashwords Publisher Account
Smashwords has a “publisher” account option, which I upgraded to so that my works would show up as published by Infinitas Publishing. Then I created “ghost” author accounts for my Stephanie Flint and Stephanie Bibb names, and I’ll add Isaac’s name once we start publishing our co-authored works.

Sales Tax
Our next step will be to fill out the Missouri Sales Tax form. During the time that we only had ebooks, we didn’t need to worry about sales tax, but once we get print books made, which we plan to offer to bookstores and try selling at a local holiday market, we’ll need to collect Missouri sales tax.

As a side note, I’m not sure about what differences we’ll see when I get to selling wholesale (to bookstores) versus retail (holiday market). I’m still researching this, so I’m a bit sketchy on this. However, when emailing the Missouri Department of Revenue, I’ve been able to get some very helpful information on what forms we’ll need to fill out (Form 2643 and 53-1), along with details about the form.

Give yourself a bit of time to get through it all, but definitely ask if you have questions.

Important: Check with whichever state(s) you’re doing business in, because the requirements vary.

Final Notes
Of course, all of this information is for if you plan to self-publish rather than seek representation through a trade publisher. Be sure to research both sides thoroughly, as there are pros and cons to each.

Granted, this doesn’t even cover creating a logo, a website, buying ISBNs, approaching book stores, and everything else I’ve forgotten at this point. But hopefully it will give you a starting point, and maybe I’ll talk about the “branding” and marketing side of things at a later date.

Also, If you’re curious to read more about the business side of publishing, take a look at Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s “Freelancer’s Survival Guide.”

I picked up a copy through a StoryBundle offer, and while I’m still in the process, it has been immensely helpful in considering what steps to take to start the business. Plus, some of the articles are on her website for free, so you can read through whichever ones you need. :-)

I hope you find this post useful. Do you have any tips for starting a publishing business?


By the way, Carissa Taylor was awesome and agreed to host a give-away of one free, ebook copy of Magic’s Stealing, so if you’re interested in winning a copy, head over to her blog.

She also has some really useful information on Twitter pitching and a list of literary agencies that accept YA science fiction and fantasy, so be sure to check those out as well. :-D


Filed under Business Ventures, Writing

Blog Tour – Born of Treasure by Jordan Elizabeth

Today I’m participating in a blog tour for Jordan Elizabeth’s newly released book, Born of Treasure! If you enjoy steampunk, be sure to take a look. :-)


Born of Treasure Banner

It’s science, darling…

Death and diamonds often dance together.

Born of Treasure - Cover

((Just to clarify, the cover artist is Amalia Chitulescu, not me.))


Clark used to be a miner, until he drank from a vial he swore was absinthe but was actually an invention to give him the ability to raise the dead. Now Clark seeks to fulfill his father’s wishes to keep other inventions away from Senator Horan. His beloved Amethyst is along for the ride. Deceit, drama, romance, the insidious underbellies of gangs…How can she not be involved?

Clark can’t hide behind the Treasure name forever and the army still wants him for his secret abilities. If Captain Greenwood can’t snare Clark, then he’ll use the Treasures as collateral. Saving his father’s inventions will just have to wait, especially now that the Treasures have been kicked off their ranch and driven into exile. Clark knows how to survive on the run, but that’s not the fate the Treasures deserve. He can surrender to the army or fight for his freedom, but Amethyst has other plans for fixing their troubles.

She’s come across another one of the vials that gave Clark is abilities, and it looks mighty tasty.

BORN OF TREASURE is Jordan Elizabeth’s third novel and the second installment of the Treasure Chronicles series. This young adult fantasy with elements of steampunk and romance, published through Curiosity Quills Press, is now available for purchase.

Check out BORN OF TREASURE on GoodReads for fabulous reviews!

Author - Jordan Elizabeth

Jordan Elizabeth, formally Jordan Elizabeth Mierek, can often be found garbed in corsets, long skirts, and boots. Her first novel, ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW, came out in October of 2014. You can contact Jordan via her website,


Craving more steampunk with the Treasure family? TREASURE DARKLY, book one of the Treasure Chronicles, is available wherever books are sold. GEARS OF BRASS, a steampunk anthology, features a short story about Amethyst.


Win a key necklace and matching earrings worthy of Amethyst herself!

Click here for the Rafflecopter Giveaway.


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Filed under Writing