As 2019 comes to an end, I’m up to my eyeballs in words. The Blood Forest series is about to go live! What started as a prequel novella ballooned into a 120k word novel following Troa and her friends as they set events in motion which will forever change their world.


Troa Travay wants nothing more than to be the youngest ranger to earn a captainship, and if the sterling arrest rate of her four-person squad of cadets is any indicator, she’s well on her way.

Far removed from the dazzling society of Consortium Magi and Radiant HighCastes, the rural Shinador Region draws an abundance of outlaws. The rangers spend their days hauling those outlaws in. For Troa, it’s a perfect life…until she uncovers her mother’s plot to assassinate Shinador’s Radiant governor, the very man she unwittingly kissed the other night—the man the law forbids her from being with.

Now, Troa finds herself caught in a whirlpool of forbidden passion, murder, and deadly, illegal magic. With both her career and the lives of those closest to her hanging in the balance, she must make the ultimate choice: Honor the law she took an oath to uphold, or sacrifice her hopes and dreams to do right by her heart.

Land of Perpetual Night is a full-length prequel to the upcoming Blood Forest trilogy. If you like resilient heroines, unshakable friendships, and a side of steam served with your magic and heartache, you’ll love this gripping story.

LPN should see the light of day sometime this month, and Book 1 of the Blood Forest trilogy, All That’s Left Behind, is due to release the first quarter of 2020.

I can’t wait to share this adventure with you all!

Unsolicited Critiques—Don’t be a jerk.

Ugh. I just watched a fledgling writer leave a group due to an unsolicited, and unduly harsh, critique. This happens all too often. As over the last few weeks the subject of unsolicited critiques has popped up in my craft groups, as well as in my own life, I wanted to take a minute and address the issue.

Look, life as a creator is hard much of the time. Laypeople often don’t value what we produce, they want our work for cheap or ::gasp:: free, and a huge segment of the population looks at art, in its various incarnations, as hobbies, interests, and pastimes, instead of passions and careers.

As creators, we know support is hit-and-miss within our network of friends and family, but we should be able to count on other creators to treat us with respect, if not support.

So here’s my PSA for today:

Unless you‘re in a designated *critique* group, it’s rude as hell, and utterly tacky, to give creators unsolicited critiques. Would you go up to a woman and tell her you don’t like the way her clothes look? Or how she styled her makeup? Would you tell her she really should lose weight before she wore that dress, or you think she’d look so much better as a redhead, instead of a blonde? That you‘d prefer her ten pounds slimmer? No? Why? Because it’s rude AF—essentially the same as giving creators unsolicited critiques. Doubly so when the critique is made in a public forum/platform.

Among my pro tog buddies, we have an ongoing joke about those people who just can‘t refrain from critiquing all they see. Serial critiquing, when unsolicited, is usually indicative the critic is desperate to bolster their own self-worth by proving their (imagined) superiority—just like those really obnoxious guys who use their sports cars to try to pick up chicks. These folks are usually compensating for something they lack.

When the unsolicited critique is given to a newbie creator, it crosses the line from rude to cruel. It’s scary as hell to share creative work when one hasn’t mastered their craft. Each creation, each work of art—regardless of the caliber—is a part of the artist’s heart and soul. Sharing such an intimate part of one’s self with the world is daunting for budding artists. Seasoned artists, too, sometimes. They’re already agonizing on the inside. Then along comes Critiquer McDickhead, who tears their work apart. Not only is the artist devastated, but some are so discouraged they won’t pursue their craft anymore. Meanwhile, ninety-nine percent of the witnesses to these unsolicited critiques now believe Critiquer McDickhead is an utter douche canoe.


If you don’t want to be known as a dickhead or a douche canoe, don‘t share unsolicited critiques. If you have empathy and compassion for your fellow man, don‘t share unsolicited critiques. If you want to support creators in a world that often doesn’t, don‘t share unsolicited critiques.

If you genuinely believe you are doing the creator a service by providing an unsolicited critique, still don’t. If you absolutely must, reach out privately to the creator and *ask* if they’d be interested in hearing your critique. Anything else is bad form and paints you as a jackass.

Same goes for reviews. Sure. Leave an honest review of art in the appropriate forums, but for the love of G-d, don’t tag the artist. Don‘t post your poor review on the artist’s platform. Don’t share it on their marketing campaigns. That’s *your* review. Share it in review sections, on your own platforms, and with people who ask for your opinion.

In short, don‘t be a jerk.


Is everyone ready for the holidays? Hanukkah starts pretty early this year, and I still haven’t finished my shopping. Total mom-fail, right? Right now, I’m wrapping up the second installment of The Way of Thieves and Liars series, tentatively titled: The Way of Fools and Traitors. This manuscript has passed the 200k mark, so even with heavy chopping, it’s gonna be a meaty read.

Let’s talk a little today about using backstories for character development. For me, knowing my characters well is essential to a fast draft. Even if I don’t feature a character’s backstory in my project, having a full understanding of their childhood, family dynamics, traumas, victories, and other elements helps me keep their characterization consistent—no matter what the plot throws at them, I know how they‘ll react.

As a reader, I love discovering a character’s motivation after the fact. That style of reveal creates an ah-ha moment for me I simply can’t get enough of—especially if the author wove subtle clues through the story, like a trail of breadcrumbs. Extra points for red-herrings that throw me off track. Suffice to say, it’s an element of characterization I often employ in my own work. When creating backstories, I do so with this reveal in mind.

My Ten-step Drafting Process

What constitutes an effective novel-crafting method varies from person to person. Some folks are plotters, mapping every detail of their project before putting words to paper. Others are pansters, winging their writing as they go. Still more writers fall somewhere between those two ends of the spectrum. There’s no one right way to write a novel, but I’m happy to share the ten-step drafting method that works best for me.

I struggle with lengthy manuscripts, so over the years I’ve found the careful planning of my projects helps keep me under my word count limit. These are the basic steps I take in birthing a book baby draft.

1.) Craft a one-sentence premise for the project. This is the foundational element of the entire story.

2.) Plot the three act structure and create a skeletal outline.

3.) Craft character arcs and make style sheets for main characters, defining their vernacular, unique ticks, and other elements that help distinguish their voice.

4.) Use the skeletal outline to write a simple synopsis. I find it much easier to write a synopsis early on as I’m not invested in the story’s non-essentials. In other words, I can still see the forest for the trees.

5.) If this is a trade project, I’ll write the query. This allows me to build the story around the commercial elements I believe will help sell the book in a saturated market. I’ll design the elevator pitch now, too.

6.) Plot an in-dept, bullet point project outline.

7.) Break the above outline into chapters.

8.) Plot the basic elements of each chapter, highlighting tension and character agency. I use spiraled notecards for this task.

9.) Now that I have a pretty solid road map for the story, I go back to the beginning of my chapter outlines and note what I want to foreshadow and where to use symbolism.

10.) Start drafting. Before I write a scene, I’ve visually played it out in my head. I usually do this while running or biking. When I sit down to write, I’m only transcribing what I’ve already watched in my mind.


Character Development Worksheet

As both a writer and avid reader, I feel a fully fleshed-out, three dimensional character is the single most essential element to any good story. A character who comes alive on the page is a character your readership will invest in.
So how to you create a three-dimensional character? How do you bring this new person to life? Well, you gotta find their voice. And in order to find their voice, you have to understand what makes them tick.
How a person reacts to the world around them is often rooted in their prior experiences. What they’ve been exposed to in their past will shape how they navigate their present. I’ve put together this Character Development Worksheet to help understand how our characters process the world. I’ve tried to arrange these questions in an order which will facilitate a growing understanding of your character as your go down the list. Some questions I’ve expounded, but you can download a blank version of the worksheet at the bottom of the page.





Are parents alive
Socio-economic status Poor? Wealthy? Middle Class?
What kind of relationship does character have with parents A good relationship with parents will set the stage for emotional stability in a character’s life.
Were healthy relationships modeled for character Did mom and dad love each other? Respect each other and treat each other with kindness? Has your character seen someone demonstrate positive relationship practices? Do they have a high standard with which they can measure their own relationships?
Other positive authority figures
Negative authority figures
Has character been exposed to abuse
Has character been abused
Religious influences Religion/faith often shapes morality (For good or ill) and values.
Childhood living conditions
Most traumatic childhood incident
Best childhood memory
Proudest childhood moment
Greatest accomplishment in childhood
Greatest childhood loss
Best childhood friend
Social mores of childhood What was considered “right” and “wrong” in the society in which your character was raised?
Women role models in childhood What did these women do for a living? What kind of people were they?
Male role models in childhood Same^^
Person most admired in childhood
Greatest disappointment in childhood
Childhood fear
Most precious childhood possession




Greatest trauma
Greatest fear
Greatest guilt
Greatest regret
Greatest self-doubt
Greatest conflict
Resentments held
Greatest achievement
Proudest moment
Most selfless act
Greatest confidence


Sexuality Are they open and sex-positive? A prude? Ridged? Judgemental of others’ sexual practices? Is sex taboo? Is it scary? Are they curious?
Family Does your character want a family? Do they put value in having a family?
Government Does your character trust and respect the government? Are they suspicious of those in power? Do they see their rulers as allies or enemies?
Religion How does your character view religion? Do they think religion is a crock? Are they pious? How much of their actions are rooted in their faith? Remember, historically, faith has driven more men to war than any other motivator.
War How does your character feel about war and killing? Is it justifiable? Are they a pacifist?



Been in love
Had sexual intercourse
Had a child
Lost a loved one
Been in battle
Feared for their life
Been assaulted Physically? Sexually?
Assaulted another



Good Habits Get up every morning and make their bed? Always use good manners?
Bad Habits Do they drink themselves to sleep every night? Do they whine all the time?
Character flaws Are they prone to jealousy? Short tempered? Perpetually negative?
Character attributes Are they courageous? Selfless? Loyal?
Love/crush Is there someone who’s captured their heart or turned their head?
Who does you character admire most?
Who does your character despise the most?
Career aspirations Where do they see themselves in five years? What do they want to do with their lives?
Interpersonal conflicts  Who do your characters not get along with and why?



Humor Do they have a good sense of humor? What would make your character laugh?
Temperament Are they quick to anger? Do they “stuff” the little things until they lose it and blow up in a giant fit of rage? Are they patient? Does it take a lot to ruffle their feathers?
Secret indulgences What does your character enjoy when no one else is watching?
Favorite things



What are the lies the character believes about herself?
Okay, so this is huge. One of the most powerful character arc is overcoming these kinds of lies. Lies like: I’ll never be good enough or I’m unlovable or It’s my fault all this awful stuff happened. These lies our characters believes limits them. A strong arc will have them working through those lies, in essence, discovering the truth about themselves.

Is the character in denial about aspects of herself?

How does the character hold herself back?

What does the character have yet to discover about herself?

What will set the character free from herself?

What does the character want the most? This is the heart and soul of your story, the underlying driving force behind every single action they take.

What is keeping her from obtaining it?



Greatest trauma
Greatest fear
Greatest guilt
Greatest regret
Greatest self-doubt
Greatest conflict
Resentments held
Greatest achievement
Proudest moment
Most selfless act
Greatest confidence




Been in love
Had sexual intercourse
Had a child
Lost a loved one
Been in battle
Feared for their life
Been assaulted
Assaulted another



Good Habits
Bad Habits
Character flaws
Character attributes
Convictions of faith
Who they admire the most
Who they despise the most
Career aspirations
Interpersonal conflicts


Secret indulgences
Favorite things


What are the lies the character believes about herself?

Is the character in denial about aspects of herself?

How does the character hold herself back?

What does the character have yet to discover about herself?

What will set the character free from herself?

What does the character want the most?

What is keeping her from obtaining it?

Take note on the differences between the start-of-the-story answers and the end-of-the-story answers. Those changes are what makes your character dynamic. Stagnant characters are not only boring, they don’t read as real.


You can download a blank copy of the Character Development Worksheet here.

If you’d like to join the Fantasy Circle, you can find our community here.






World Building Basics




Climate Zone Where on your planet is this land located? This will affect temperature & weather. Learn about climates here.
Geographic Features Mountains, deserts, lakes, rivers, etc.
Agriculture What food is produced in the land? What do people grow? How do they grow it?
Water Supply Where does the fresh water supply come from? Is it in abundance?
Unusual Elements – How do they work? Lets say you have moving islands in your lakes, how do they move? Are they really the shells of giant freshwater snails? Are they giant mollusks following a migratory pattern? Is there a unique kind of magnetism in effect that moves them from one place to another?

Storms Do people fear being caught without shelter when traveling?
Seismic Activity (Earthquakes)
Volcanic Activity
Unusual Elements Example: A toxic water source that when evaporated causes toxic rain. Example: The eastern wind always blows blue due to powdered mineral deposits in the mountain regions. Volcanos that spew ice instead of lava. Get creative using these natural processes to individualize your worlds.

Trees What kind of wood will your people have access to? How dense do your forests grow?
Grasses Grasslands can provide great cover for stealthy passage – don’t just think lawns.
Groundcover What does you ground look like? Dirt? Moss? Creepers? Get creative.
Succulents Succulents thrive in arid areas and can store water
Flowers Ever drive through California mid-summer when the hills are orange with poppies? An abundant flower or foliage can paint your world in color.
Herbs Are herbs used for seasoning? Medicine? Recreation?
Special Properties Examples: Trees that only put out leaves at night. Walking ferns. Flowers that bite. Grass that whistles when the wind blows. The possibilities are endless.

Insects Insects are the primary pollinators in our world. They can be a high protein food source and the blood-drinkers can carry disease.
Birds & Other Flying Creatures Do your characters need to worry about something dropping in from above?
Livestock What animals are raised for food, labor and burden? Do people ride animals? Plow fields with them?
Domestic Animals Got pets?
Wild Game What beasties do your hunters stalk?
Predators What animals will prey on men? Wolves? Lions? Long-legged walruses that run at 60pmh?
Sea Life What lurks beneath the water?

Mysticals What creatures have supernatural powers or properties? Unicorns? Giant butterflies? Worms that sing and grant wishes?
Monsters What creatures have supernatural powers or properties that are out to getcha? Goblins? Flesh-eating bunnies?
Non-Corporeal These are creatures that have no substance: Spirits, ghosts, Brittany Spears.


RACES Lots to think about here, folks. Your original races, are they humanoid? Do they resemble humans? Are they biologically compatible with humans? Do they share common ancestry with other races?
Physical Characteristics Don’t think only in terms of what they look like, get into the minutia – what organs do they have? Is their heart in their chest, or in their knee? Do they have a heart? Hell, do they have blood or is their circulatory system running on dole whip? Do they have a circulatory system? Maybe they have an exoskeleton.What’s their reproductive cycle look like? Can they regenerate limbs like certain amphibians? Have they hollow bones like birds? How many stomachs do they have? Do they give live birth? Lay eggs? Eat their mates after copulation?
Special Abilities Maybe they can talk to rocks, or turn coal into diamonds. Maybe they never have to poop. Super-strength? Extra-sensory perception? Have at it and make it different.


Language Does everyone in the land speak the same language? Do their neighboring nations?
Religion This is HUGE. Religion shapes a culture’s morality, values, intolerance, acceptance, etc. Monotheism? Polytheism? No gods? Real gods? Are there men speaking to the people on behalf of god(s) or claiming to? Is there a religious system at play that holds power?
Governance Who’s in charge? Kings? A senate? The High Priestess? Does anybody oppose the rulership?
Social Castes Are there distinct social castes in your world? Nobility? Aristocracy? Working class? Outcasts and untouchables? What defines privilege in your world? Are there subjugated castes? Slavery? Who is the system set up to benefit?
Social Mores What’s right and wrong? Religion often times influences mores. How does your world view murder? Rape? Sex? Adultery? Theft? What’s considered a virtue? Perhaps your culture holds strength in high regard and to kill a man is something to be admired. Maybe wealth is worshiped and stealing is considered a tradecraft. There’s a million different directions to take this.
Family Structure Mom, dad and kids? Mom, mom, mom, lots of kids? Dad, dad, children? A bunch of people and a bunch of kids and nobody belongs any one person specifically? Dad, harem, a thousand kids? Kids left on an island to fend for themselves? Kids hatch out of eggs and claimed by random adults?
Age of Adulthood At what point are people considered adults? Is there a certain age? A task to be completed? Menarche? Puberty? Trials? Actions?
Gender Roles Are there distinct roles for men and women? If so, why? Who says things have to be that way? Is there a reason? A history behind it? Are there people that buck those roles? Are there people that can move fluidly between those roles? Are there people to supersede those roles to whom the “rules” don’t apply?
Education Is there formal education in your world? Schools? Universities? Apprenticeships? Who has access to education?

Military Who runs the military? Who is allowed in the military? How is the military regarded by the public? What is used for uniforms, weapons and armor? What is used for transportation?
Law Enforcement Do you have police? Crime investigators? Salty gumshoes that will relentlessly track down leads? Is law enforcement corrupted? Honorable?
Courts Is there a court system? Is there due process? Is there corruption? How is justice determine and served?
Internment Where do prisoners go? Jail? Banishment? Penal colony?
Punishment & Capital Punishment If someone breaks the law, what happens? If your world implements capital punishment, what are the qualifiers and how is it carried out?

Sickness & Disease

Economy Free Market? Socialism?
Currency What do your characters use for money in their world? Do they have money? Barter only? Cashless society?
Taxes Are your citizens taxed? Who pays for the infrastructure?
Resources What natural resources does your land offer? Gems? Minerals? Medicine? Magic?
Exports What do other lands buy from this one?
Imports What does this land buy from others?
Production Are there factories? Artisans? What do the people make in this land? On how large a scale?
Artisans & Trades Have you metal workers? Sculptures? Artists?

Roads Who makes the roads? Where are they at ? What are they made with? How are they maintained?
Sewers Everybody poops, so where does the doo doo go?
Street lighting Is there any? If so, what is used?
Water Supply How do people in cities get fresh drinking water?
Emergency Services Is there anyone your citizens can call for help?
Health Care Are there hospitals? A healers union?
Libraries Where is knowledge stored (or is it?) and who has access to it?
Communications How do your characters send messages? How do they communicate long distances?

Materials Use logic. If your people live in a desert, their houses probably won’t be made of wood.


Individual Horses? Other animals? Foot? Machines?
Groups How parties travel? Carriage? Wagons? Bus?
Rural Do transportation options change outside of urban areas?


Community Activities

Fabric & Materials
Men’s Fashion
Men’s Hairstyles
Women’s Fashion
Women’s Hairstyles
Jewelry & Accessories
Class Distinction


Source Where does the power come from? The sun? The user? The earth? The force?
Accessibility Who has access to the magic? Can anybody use it and learn it? Are people born with the ability? Do people develop the ability later on in life? Does this power set people apart?
Attributes What can the power do? How does it manifest?
Limitations What can stop this power? Can the fuel source run out? Are there other powers that can counteract it?
Duration How long do the effects last? Do they wear off? Do they last forever?
Cost Is there a price to pay for using this power? Does it drain people like using strength? Are there adverse side effects?
Influence Are there external factors that augment, enhance or detract from the scope of the power?
Societal Perceptions How does society view the people that have/use this power?



Threat Level

You can download a blank copy of the World-Building worksheet here.















Welcome to the world of Miri C. Golden.
Since childhood, I’ve been enamored with fantasy, and my love for the genre can be found in my stories and artwork.
You can find a list of my current projects on our BOOK page.
Whether you’re a reader, writer, a fantasy-junkie, or simply someone who stumbled here by mistake, I’m honored to have you stop by.