The Bright Side of the Dark Side

writing meme taking away everything you love

I love the show My Little Pony. I’ve watched it since I was a kid and probably watch it now more than my two girls as an adult. If I were a pony from the show I’d be about 40% Pinkie Pie, the obnoxious party pony, 40% Twilight Sparkle, the serious intellectual and 20% Fluttershy, the gentle animal-lover. On my Blog, I main stream Pinkie Pie. FUN! BIG CAPITAL LETTERS! Crazzyyyyy break-the-rules grammar mistakes and spelling! Being Pinkie is way fun on here! But when I write, I’m a mix of Twilight Sparkle and Fluttershy. Serious, shy, gentle, earnest—*eyes droop and starts to snore*

Well hey that’s not fair! I have surprises! I have drama! I like to shock people with the unexpected and push the envelope sometimes—

AHA! Keyword there: SOMETIMES. It’s not enough. It’s NEVER enough. 100% of the time when you write you should push the drama, push the conflict, make them hurt, make them cry. (Your characters, of course.) Readers don’t want NICE! They might THINK they do but what do readers know about writing eh? (That was a totally flippant statement and meant to be sarcastic. Please don’t rip me to pieces!) The reason they keep turning page after page is the need to know what happens NEXT. They want to be taken on a journey with a cast of characters they care about and they want to see them safety through dangers untold and hardship unnumbered. So here’s what I’ve learned from my foray into writing:


WHOOOMP there it is; the hard truth that every nublet writer must face. We create stories from the pieces of our souls that call out to be put on paper. We become mommies and daddies to these ugly baby stories that we want to protect and cherish. We want our characters to have a happy ending and a good life because that’s what we want for ourselves as well, yes? Wish fulfillment in the form of fiction. Well guess what? If you handed that manuscript to an agent all glowing and shiny and scrubbed pink until it sparkled they’ll do one of two things: Throw it in the trash or stab it viciously with the Red Pen of Ultimate Death numerous times and send it back with a happy face on a post-it note.

You: *GASP!* Oh my baby! My poor murdered precious baby! *cuddles novel dripping with Red Ink*

Agent: Get over it and grow a pair! *smiles*

CUTE is not for adult fiction! CUTE is not even for Young Adult fiction! You want cute, go write lullabies and nursery rhymes for BABIES!!!!! Put on your big kid pants now because we’re about to dive into the Dark Side of writing! The Bright side of the Dark Side.

The reason I’ve been writing one story for 16 years is that I wanted my characters to be content. This was a story about ME, essentially. Who I wanted to be, falling in love with the man of my dreams, having the father I’d always wanted. I didn’t want to wreck that life with….conflict. I’d had enough of that on real life. I figured if I could at least make HER happy, then that was okay for now.


As long as no one was going to see it, then it was okay right? Yes and no. Yes because if no one sees it, then there’s no one to criticize and thus your happy fantasy land stays intact—in a dark corner of your desk drawer. No it’s not okay, dear Summer Child, because that’s not what being a PUBLISHED author is about. Conflict drives a story. Readers want to get tense and sweaty over whether Sally is going to finally be with Harry or if the humble girl is going to survive being hunted in a jungle with 11 other teens. And it’s not just the major climactic scenes either! Ohhh nooo my friends it’s EVERY SCENE. EVERY WORD. EVERY GESTURE. ALL OF IT.

Sally meets Harry. She smiles and there are pepper granules stuck in her teeth left over from lunch. He drops his coffee on her new Jimmy Choo shoes trying to shake her hand. They bump heads trying to clean it up. He mistakenly thinks she’s pregnant when really she’s just fat and congratulates her on the baby and she gets angry and calls him a bald eagle because of his thinning hairline. They part ways, angry, only to meet up again when both of them are interviewing at the same company for the same job. Round 2 DING! FIIIIIGGGGGGGGHHHHHT! 

See? Every word has to drive the plot forward and every scene has to have conflict for one reason or another. If Sally and Harry had a nice conversation, the reader would have been let down and disappointed. Might’ve even put down the book. It’s happened to you. Admit it. (It really is a wonder some books made it to print =/) Now I’m not saying that the characters must be driven by ACTION every single scene. That could be just as boring as having a “nice” conversation. There are different kinds of conflict and tension that can be explored and a skilled author can feel by instinct when each kind should be used in a scene to enhance the story. We will get there too my friends. It takes practice!! (ewww…hard work  x_x)

It’s really no wonder that writing a book is hard work though. On top of coming up with dynamic original characters and a stellar scene list, authors (that’s you too!) have to mire themselves in a stressful state at all times where their characters are concerned. They have to take their freshly minted protagonist and put them through the fires of hell for entertainment. (Yeah, I guess you can call writers sadists but lets not travel down that road in this particular blog shall we? 😉 )

BE MEAN. If a character is crying because her cat died, make it worse. If the Gallant Knight is bleeding from a wound, make it so that it was his lady love that gave it to him and then make it hurt MORE somehow. Even in the quiet moments of reflection when the characters are turned inward, make them rehash every horrible thing they’ve ever done (make them HAVE horrible things they’ve done!) Make them feel guilt, pain, shame! Give them thirty lashes with the whip of Contempt!! Drag them through shards of broken-hearted glass strewn over a bed of scorching hot Agony!

Why do we do this? Why do we have to put our characters through emotional and physical hell for entertainment? Because it makes a good story. Because we, as readers, need to care about these fictional characters and we want to experience their journey, connecting with them. We want to root for them and find similarities between their lives and ours. And deep down, I believe that we HOPE for the happy ending. It doesn’t have to be the perfect happily ever after and lots of stories DON’T have it. But after a long exhausting trek from point A to point Z, we need to know that it was worth it. That all the hard work paid off. And most important, we as reader, need to believe that WE CAN DO IT TOO.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” At least in theory.

So take a look at your story and imagine it’s an earthquake seismograph, divided into chapters. Wherever the character starts the scene, he or she should end up either above that line or below when it ends. He or she should NEVER be okay at the end. It can be on either side of “okay”. But never smack in the middle or at the same level as when the scene started.

Now these aren’t cut and dried rules. These are just tips and beliefs that I have found along my foray into author-hood so feel free to agree or disagree as you like. But if you find yourself nodding then I’m going to five you one final personal trick that I find helps me whittle down my drafts.

What helps me is to ask myself this one question after every scene: “Is there conflict?” And if the answer is yes, I ask myself a second question: “Does it drive the plot forward?” We can’t be having scenes full of conflict that don’t make sense now can we? No no. Give the scene a make-over or neuter it if you can’t see it working out. Of course, your second, third and seventh draft of your novel will help you weed these little mistakes out as well^^ No worries about getting it right the first time! Just keep those two questions in the forefront of your mind while you write.

So gird your loins my author friends. Don’t be Fluttershy! Don’t be Cinderella! Don’t be Peeta! Don’t be NICE. Nice doesn’t sell books! Unless you really are writing nursery rhymes and lullabies. Then by all means, don’t give kids nightmares like “rockabye baby” did for me. Seriously dude. It’s a NOT RIGHT song.

EMBRACE THE DARK SIDE OF WRITING!  Your readers will thank you for it and come back for more. Might even give you cookies…the dark side ALWAYS has cookies….. 😉


Traditions-an Ipod Shuffle Adventure

This one could have gone several ways but I chose, ironically, the LESS traditional. Mainly because the fourth song that came on was completely unexpected and I didn’t know how to fit that in with the theme but it added an element of fun that just suited a less-romantic relationship and a more familial one. Enjoy! All songs have been fitted with a YouTube hyperlink so you can listen along if you like. (If you missed the description on the point of the Game, i use my ipod to randomly shuffle the songs and then write down the first 5, turning them into a Short Story using the titles, lyrics, melody, or whatever comes from them.)

“Long Black Train”-Three Bad Jacks 

Impressions: waiting, anxious for arrival, excitement, rockabilly 

–Dad is waiting on his baby girl to come home. Every year she comes home around the same time. Always makes time for it, no matter how busy she gets. It’s tradition, ever since her mother died. 

“Tightrope”-Janelle Monae 

Impressions: Frantic, stressful, tense, keep balance, can’t make mistake, determined to keep ahead, hope, 

–Grown woman at a high stress job balancing life and job. Looking forward to a vacation and seeing her family. Clear her head and have some fun. 

“Arms”-Christina Perri

Impressions: love, pride, sweetness, coming home, hope, forever safe, 

–Dad and daughter meet up and both are so joyful. Girl knows when he hugs her, everything is worth it and all is right in her world. 

“Braum”-League of Legends Soundtrack

Impressions: goofy, having fun, heavy work, old world, proud man, getting ready for something, anticipation, joyful, happy, 

–Every year dad, daughter and family dress up in traditional Scottish regalia and attend the Highland Games held in their city. Kilts, bustles, tams and sporrans. Live steel demonstrations. Contests. They drink beer, play games, eat ginormous turkey legs, watch the shows. Everything is fun and wonderful.

“Get what you give-New Radicals

Impressions: Cool, wise, encouraging, funky, hopeful, 

–Dad gives advice to daughter as they’re eating dinner at a fast food restaurant after the Games are over. Still in costume, people look at them funny and they don’t care. They talk about times past and how much work she still has. Dad says don’t give up. That things will work out but never forget she has family. Don’t give up. Don’t give in.


Loyal like a Stray- an Ipod Shuffle Adventure

Wrote this last night before bed, as it has become my routine now, and was stumped at first. The songs gave me nothing but EMOTIONAL LOVE songs and then–Whanuum whaauuuum– depression, death, dying….like, WTF Ipod! Way to throw a curve ball. Well, I threw a curve ball right back 🙂 It’s not your typical love story. Read till the end! All songs have hyperlink to YouTube so you can listen if you want. (In case you missed the description, this is a fun game I play with my Ipod, where I’ll shuffle the songs and the first 5 that pop up I have to turn into a short story. You should try it! It’s super fun and challenging ^^)

“Fantasy”-Mariah Carey 

Impressions:  young love, teen love, innocent, inexperienced. sweet, wistful, fluttery

–When I first saw you, my heart stuttered. My pulse beat at my skin like hummingbird wings and my mouth went dry when you spoke. Where you were, my eyes found you and followed you, admiring the grace of your long limbs and the shine of the sunlight on your hair, like the glow of candlelight. I would stay there on the bench all day, trying to catch a glimpse of you. Sometimes you would say hi and all I could do was nod and smile. I’d never been so tongue-tied. 

“Strange Love”- Goo Goo Dolls

Lyrics: Loyal like a stray/ You’re never going to break his heart so have fun/ abuse it/ Passion junkie’s fix is never satisfied

Impressions: Stalkery, weird, FU, cruel, laughing, pathetic

–I followed you. You were with her; always with her. I had one like you once. Maybe that’s why I’m so caught up. 

“Waking up Beside you”-Stabbing Westward 

Lyrics: I’ve been so alone for so long/ Forgotten by the world/ forgotten by myself/ you effervescent eyes have awakened me/

Impression: sad, missing you, lonely, heart ache, depression, 

–The warmth of the bed beside me is nothing but a memory now. I memorized  your face as it lay beside mine on the pillow. The shadows mimick it now and it breaks me to know it’s not there. Your snore was a lullaby to me. My body is rigid under the blankets, forming automatically to accommodate yours. The ghost of yours now. I miss you, darling. Why did you go? Did you find something better? I could have made you stay. 

“Sweet Emotion”- Aerosmith

Impressions: Dirty, passionate, sexy, snarky, 

–Who cares about you now. I got a sweet sassy thing that struts when he walks beside me, looking up at me with trust and love. We stroll around town, smirking as the people stare. We have the glow Babe. The one people crave. Come on, lets go paint the town red! Wait. Wait! No…not that kind of red!  STOP! SHIT—


Impressions: hopeless, calling out for help, depressed, guilty, 

–Don’t mind the machines Babe. We won’t be here long I’m sure. Don’t look at me like that. I’m not mad. Look, there’s hardly any blood now. It hurts just a little from the sitiches. You’re not going anywhere. You’re mine and I’m yours remember? You came to me and I promised I’d take care of you. I know you’re afraid I’ll let you go but there’s no chance. We’re in this together babe. Whatever I did to make you bite me, I won’t do again, promise. Was it the cat smell? Did I have food on my hand? We’ll work it out. Do you want belly rubs? Yeah? C’mere little guy! Lets get that leg going. Maybe later we can go get your ball and go to the park to run. Ohhh look at that tail going! You like running huh? Atta boy! You and me babe. We got a good life now. Believe it. 

Their hearts never changed- an Ipod Shuffle Adventure

I did this last night before bed and it’s kinda long for one of my ipod sessions. I was rather surprised by where the story took me though and I was pleased with the outcome, if not totally satisfied. But that’s where editing and refining come in, should I ever decide to come back to it for further writing. I’ve provided YouTube hyperlinks to all the songs in case you’d like to have a listen. (For those of you who didn’t read the description of the Game, it’s basically putting my ipod on shuffle and the first 5 songs that come up have to be put into a short story using the title, the feel of the song, the lyrics, whatever! It’s fun, you should try it ^^)

“Puttin’ On the Ritz”-Taco

Impression: Classy, High Society, feel good, snobbery, fun times, champagne and chocolate strawberries, diamonds and satin spats

–Guy made a name for himself dressing in drag and going to elitist parties for entertainment. Silk, satin, jewels, designer clothes. But he was lonely and bored and seeking a way out. 

“Gone”-Ben Folds

Impressions: Snarky, regretful, bitter, FU, IDGAF, Leave if you want to, I don’t need you 

–Poor guy. (Boyhood friend of Rich guy.) Parents dead. Stuck with house mortgage he can’t pay. Ex-girlfriend dumped their new born baby off on him. Has enough money left in his pocket for baby formula and that’s it. Can’t work now, no baby-sitter. Hasn’t eaten in two days. House being repo’d. On his way to a Homeless Shelter with a bag of clothes and diapers and a baby strapped to his chest. Rich Guy sees him walking down the street and stops him in surprise. 

“Traveling?” rich guy asks.

“Yeah. Let’s go with that.”

“Oh. Where to?”

“Homeless shelter,” Poor guys says.


“Dude, you don’t even care so don’t pretend to for the cameras. I got my shit to deal with and you got yours.”


Lyrics:  Dress up in your best so I can be proud of you/ Never believe I won’t turn on you/ How I wish I could be rid of this ennui/ Make you regret and make you afraid of me/ And never believe I do this for me/ And never believe I’ll do this gently

Impressions: Bitter, reluctantly fascinated, mild revenge?, anger, 

–Few days later rich guy comes into the shelter undercover and begs poor guy to come home with him.

“Like hell I will to some fairy princess monstrosity!” says poor guy.

“Then we’ll go home to your place. It’s seriously scary in here and the baby could get like, sepsis or something. Not to mention psychological trauma,” Rich guys replies.

“If I had a place to go I wouldn’t BE here dumbass. Don’t you think I want better for my girl?”

Rich guy hands Poor guy a key.

“What’s that? A hotel key? Thanks but I’m good here. I’ll figure it out.”

“I bought it.” Rich guy says quietly.

“The hell you say?”

“The house. I bought it. It was my house for a long time too, remember? I couldn’t let someone else live in it. I couldn’t let them ruin my memories.”

“You actually remember all that shit?”

“Wasn’t that long ago. Birthdays, camping, Prom. I even had my first kiss there when I turned 16…Please, let’s get out of here. I think someone is checking out my ass.”

“Isn’t that what you want them to do now?”

Reluctantly, poor guy goes home. There’s nothing left except stuff in the garage. They sleep on air mattresses and sleeping bags with the baby between them.

-Rich guy wants to update and refurbish right away but Poor guy is reluctant and downright hostile about it. Afraid to say yes to anything and be even more indebted to rich guy. Afraid rich guy won’t stick around once he got bored. Just like last time. Back and forth arguments and anger and pain. Old wounds are opened on both sides.

-Rich guy buys dream nursery for little girl as a surprise. Poor guy breaks down and cries. Rich guy awkwardly hugs him. Vulnerable moment. Rich guys goes to work for a few days, leaving poor guy alone in his empty house. baby momma tries to come back. Heard he was shacking up with some rich chick. Looking for a hand out.

-Rich guy comes back and boots her off. Got into an argument with poor guy.

“What did she say?” rich guy asked.

“Just leave it. She’s a bitch hoe-bag looking for a payout.”

“Yeah but what did she SAY? Did she recognize me?”

“As a chick yeah. A famous one.”

“Oh. Good.”

“You’re not a chick!” Poor guy yells.

“Part of me is.”

“Not MY part.”

-Rich guy is stunned.

“I don’t know who that chick is; the one you dress up as. She’s strange and loud and fake. I don’t want anything to do with her.”

“But she’s part of me now–“

“No. She’s the mask you hide behind because you can’t deal with your loneliness. You never could.”

Rich guy gets mad.

“Yeah? And who’s the one that did the leaving? One stupid kiss on my birthday and you freak out!”

“Of course I freaked out man! My best friend kissed me! I was 16 and stupid!”

“You avoided me after that. You got into sports and got too busy and the went off to Uni. Then you come back and what, know up some chick?”

“I hated sports. It was just something to do. Made pops happy before he kicked the bucket. And the chick was a mistake, obviously. First and last.”

“So it WAS because of me.”

Poor guy didn’t deny it and rich guy exploded.

“Do you know why I even have an alter ego? The dresses and wigs and make up are all because of you!”

“Bull shit!”

“No it’s true! I wanted to become a woman. A woman so famous that my face would be everywhere and you had no CHOICE but to look at me. I wanted you to be reminded of me constantly, to be something you desired!”

“You fucking moron.” poor guy snarled.

He grabbed rich guy and kissed him, hard.

“You’re the reason I got into sports, yeah. But it was only because I wanted to do that again. And again and again and I freaked out dude. You never left my head, even when I had broken bones and aching muscles. I still wanted you. My best friend. Ah, Fuck it all!”

Guy turns to go into house, turns back and punches rich guy in the mouth.

“You walked away from me when you put that chick mask on and left me in hell. You don’t get another free pass, asshole.”

Then goes and slams the door.

“Skyfall”–Our last Night

Impressions: Never giving up, face the world together, hope, passion, determination, won’t take no for an answer, loyalty, 

–Rich guy is gone for weeks, sending furniture to the house since poor guy refuses to touch the money given for anything except food and baby stuff. Poor guy tried to get a  job as a line cook or a pastry chef since he liked being in the kitchen. Start making payments to rich guy for the house. When he comes back, he has another key. This time to a restaurant. 

“It’s ours. And you’re going to be head chef, when it opens.”

“Oh yeah? And what the hell are you going to do while I’m slaving away?”

“I’m going to do whatever it takes to make sure your eyes never look away from me again.”

Poor guy contemplates this.

“Alright. One thing though.”

“Yeah?” rich guy asks fearfully.

“You’re going to be the one that does all the girly shopping and shit when the baby gets older. You know. Bras and shit.”

Rich guy laughs.

“Fine by me.”

“Candyman”- Christina Aguilera

Impression: Hope, playfulness, dancing,

Epilogue: Rich and Poor guy open a restaurant called “Candyman” where rich guy still dressed in drag and employed drag queens to work there. Their secret inside joke. Happily, weirdly ever after.

Lowrider-an Ipod Shuffle Adventure

I wrote this last night right before bed. All songs will have a YouTube link attached to them so you can listen if you like ^^ (If You missed the description of this Game, the summed up version is I put my ipod on shuffle and wrote down the first 5 songs that came up….and made a Story! WOW, just like that? Yeeeep. Alright, Carry on…..)

“Pig”- by Seether

LYRICS: Could it be I don’t want to save you anymore/ Could it be that we don’t have what it takes/ Take it away cuz I don’t like this anymore/ Throw it away

Impressions: Dark, Angry, hopeless, accusatory,  guilty

–Black man taking care of his sister and dead beat boyfriend. Works two jobs. Good honest man. They waste money on drugs, eat all the food. Man stayed out of loyalty but can’t take it anymore. Packs a bag and starts out on a journey. He doesn’t care where it takes him. He just wants to get AWAY.


Impressions: Happy, goofy, cool, groovy, laid-back

–Insert one sexy red head with a penchant for forging car pink slips into her own name. Pulls up beside the man and tells him to get in. They drive a little into a town and take a hotel room.

“Take the Money and Run”-Steve Miller Band 

Impressions: Very obviously going to use the title of this one xD

–In the morning, they have a brand new ride and a hoard of cash. She doesn’t say anything about it and neither does he. She just drives and talks. They travel through the states, changing cars every few hundred miles, evading the cops, grabbing cash by selling off the other cars. Detective has been following woman’s progress for some time. Closing in on her.

“You gotta Lose”-Delta Bombers 

Impressions: Going to use the title of this one as well.

–Woman gets caught. Takes total responsibility for the thefts and turns herself in on the condition that no charges are brought against the man. Says he was a hostage. Woman goes away and man takes a job somewhere.

“Smooth”-Carlos Santana Ft. Rob Thomas 

Impressions: Sexy, sly, fun, cool, sultry. Using this as a basis for the woman?

–Next day the woman rolls up in a borrowed car and takes the man to an empty lot where a large square has been taped off between stakes. She says she bought the property and that she wanted him to build a house for them on it so that when she got out of prison, they could live in it together.

“Why?” he asked.

“Because I love you, you big dummy.”

Pantsing VS. Flaking

Catchy title right? *waggles eyebrows* Well nothing lurid or inappropriate in here except for maybe some misplaced commas and misspelled words. *GASP!* (Hey I’m a WRITER first okay? I edit later, usually multiple times…)

I wanted to talk about my experience thus far about the process of writing as a profession rather than a hobby. I’ve been a Pantser for as long as I can remember. Which is to say, I jump in both feet first, whole hog, sprinting before I can walk, no rules, no game plan–just me and the Thing in front of me. “Look before you leap” has never been on the top 100 list of “advice I should take”. Writing, naturally, is the same. I’ve written stories most of my life but always for amusement and wish-fulfillment. I mean, who wouldn’t want the man of their dreams waking them up with breakfast in the morning on a tray with flowers and the words “Don’t worry babe, I’ll do the dishes,” taking your breath away? *Le sigh* And who doesn’t want their most despised enemy getting a taste of their own medicine through viciously scribbled and witty dialogue from yours truly? I DO I DO!!

OH what fun! With pantsing, the story could continue forever, winding its way through desires and whims and emotion and it may make me feel good writing such nice things. But it sure as hell is boring for someone else to read, which is what my goal is. So as I re-read some of my old stories, secretly promising myself no one would ever read such drivel,  I realize I’m missing something. A looooooooot of somethings. Turns out, there are RULES to writing and being successful.  (Key words: BEING SUCCESSFUL. Keep writing those wish-fulfillment scenes. We can do something more with them later 😉 )

After realizing that I couldn’t just have a great idea and swell grammar to publish novels, I turned myself into Jess-Alice and followed the white rabbit blogs down the dark and confusing hole of STRUCTURE. Ack! PLOTS. SUBPLOTS. Eek! CONFLICTS. EMOTIONAL ARCS. SCENES. OMG get it away! CHAPTERS. WORD COUNTS. Whaaaaaaaaaat??! Wait, hold on, put on the damn brakes! Now I feel like Jess-Alice swamping herself in her own tears of frustration. Life raft! Someone! Anyone? Pantsing is so much easier… *sob* Where to start? Where ot look? What goes first? Where does it end!?

It never ends. Because anything that’s worth doing has to be done right. After all, if writing best sellers were easy, everyone would do it and be successful, right?–says the Kernel of Stubborn Regard in my stomach.

Wooooorrrkkk….bleehhhhhhhh…… *turns into Zombie* 

I did turn into a zombie for a while after diving into this mess of Rules. My poor diseased brain couldn’t take it all in. I tried reading the books and the blogs and the hundreds of pages of advice from published authors. I wrote down plot structure devices over and over again in notebooks and I have oodles of reminders on sticky notes peppering my work space (which is to say, my entire home). Index cards. I even have those! I’m color-coded and have the scene list taped up on my wall above my bed! I have fold out project boards and print outs with messy handwriting and a finger in twenty different blog pies, soaking up the awesomeness that is supposed to be writing. I can do this!


Yeah no. On top of being a pantser, I forgot to tell you I’m very much a disorganized mess. Nothing about me is logical or makes any sense. My dearest and bestest friend Owen once described my thought process as ‘a tempest on the ocean, guided by whim.’ For once the truth doesn’t hurt because I love every bit of it! It’s one of my favorite analogies about myself to date, other than being called Pinkie Pie (also true. I even have the curly pony tail). People have tried to encourage me to have a routine, to “get on top” of things so my life would be easier. *blinks in confusion* Who ever said my life was HARD? I ENJOY being an emotional, instinctual creature, which is why–HELLO!–Pantsing is so easy and fun for me. Rules are no fun! It takes the creativity out of things! 

….said every single Panster out there, at some point or another. Yep. I feel ya. But hey, Pantsers! What if I told you that the Rules forced you to be MORE CREATIVE? \O/ Nooo Waaaaaayyyy Jess!! Seriously?! YES! But wait, why the sudden change of heart? What caused the 180 flip? Did you drink the dark side Kool-aide? Now now, just wait a minute. I’ll tell you. Lean closer…..CLOSER…*puts arm around your quivering shoulders* lemme tell you…..

SNOWFLAKE METHOD developed by Randy Ingermanson.

WHOOOMP there it is! The secret to my 180! It is both the easiest and hardest thing I’ve ever read.

Now I do completely understand and appreciate that this might not work for everybody. That’s okay. Find your own way! I will cheer for you and hold a candle in the window for those dark stormy nights of indecision and confusion! But this blog is about me so I’m going to tell you how I handled this stunning new development to my writing. If you don’t mind.

By the time I stumbled on this method, I had already gotten the basics down for structural writing and what not. Practice makes perf–well, makes me more knowledgeable. (But eventually I WILL finish that sentence proudly as a published author!) I was struggling with a novel I had developed during 2015 NaNoWriMo (really fabulous place to get started writing a novel or continue one you need help with). The plot was eh and I could see that from the post-it notes and index cards covering my walls it was a flopper. Great main characters, okay but underdeveloped villain, interesting setting…why wouldn’t this just GO TOGETHER dang it!? Well, because I was doing it wrong. Or at least not right. Duh…

So lets wipe everything away. *WHOOSH–makes hand wiping gestures* Forget the details of your story for a minute. Step 1 of the snowflake method is to sum up your story in 15 words or less. No names. This is a 15 word pitch that you’ll sell your book off of so make it interesting and intriguing. Try it….




It’s harder that you thought huh? THIS is what I was talking about when I said you have to be MORE creative when rules are applied. You have to strain your brain to fit a massive 80K novel into 15 words. Holy cow Batman! I enjoyed the challenge very much and was so proud of what I came up with I almost bust my own buttons:

“An orphan  girl is challenged to stop History from tearing apart at the seams.”

Yeaaaaahhh you wanna read more of that story right? Eh? Eh? You will. Maybe not soon, but you will. And look! Step one is done! Go you! Go me! Of course, I understand I started working the Snowflake Method with an existing story in mind. I know it’ll be infinitely harder starting out with a blank slate but I think I’ll enjoy the challenge just as much. I advanced through every step with new curiosity as I watched my story stiffen up, change, mold into something worthy of reading. And to be honest, it’s still changing the more I push through working with the Flake Method. Changing for the better I hope.

Caution: While change is good, have a limit. When it’s good enough, STAWP. I’ve been working on a story for 16 years because I can’t cement it in. And I still haven’t even applied the Flake Method to it yet. Yeah, say it with me “oi vey!”

Well. I’m not going to go through every step of the Flake Method with you cuz damn that would be a long post and Randy sums it up so very well if you click on the link. I did want to reinforce the idea, however,  though that Rules are challenging and will test you far more than any Pantsing will ever do for you. At least for us beginners. I dunno about the pros. Don’t they just poop out platinum best sellers? Pantsing has its place. It gets all those wonderful ideas right out on paper right away and you should do it! Don’t let any idea escape you. I carry around a notebook for this reason. Nothing is a bad idea. Just look at “Springtime for Hilter” from the movie “The Producers”. Who woulda thought, huh? ANYTHING can be a good idea. So write it, then refine it. Pants it AND Flake it. Ain’t no write or wrong way. Get it? WRITE or wrong….

Alright. Stopping. Bad puns mean I should be done. Hey a rhyme! 😀

Go be you, friend Panster/Flaker and write, right, rite!

Kay. Seriously done now ^^ Take care, as always.

The Fear: Say it! You failed, you failed, You FAILED, YOU failed….

*stands up and awkwardly shuffles my feet, avoiding eye contact* “Hi. Um–MynameisJessicaandIhaveafearofSocialMedia…and failure.”

WHEW! There! I said it! Isn’t it always the first piece of advice anybody gets when they say they’re afraid of something? FACE IT HEAD ON. Yeahhhh……this is me diving head first into my fear. Please have patience with me while I flounder about my kiddie pool of insecurities with my arm floaties. It won’t be depressing though or an emo monologue of ME ME ME, WAH WAH WAH. Promise! Because I’m sure that whoever reads this, if anybody ever reads this, has been where I am now in some form or another. Facing fears is hard and we should celebrate the bravery it takes. Let’s swim together, shall we? A burden shared is a burden halved. Now, on to the meaty stuff.

I decided to start a blog because I want to be a writer. A published one. And like all good little nublet writers, I scoured the internet for all the tips and tricks to giving me an chance of making that dream happen. WHOA MAN. I was overwhelmed by all the information and technical jargon that went into writing. Voice. Characterization. Subplots. Emotional Arcs. Voice and Themes and Backgrounds, OH MY! And that was just writing the actual book. That was part of the struggle of just putting words on paper for the novel itself. Then over and over I came across terms like “Author’s Platform” and “Social Media”.


Since when did authors need to promote themselves and be….SOCIAL? Don’t they have publicists for stuff like that? I mean, I’m SURE Stephen King just popped a manuscript out from under a darkened doorway and agents fought to the death to publish it, right? That’s SO how it happened! And then after his fifth book or so there was a book tour, and magically, he was a best seller. *nods* Yes, this is exactly true. Absolutely.

Not it’s not.

2016 is the year of Social Media. Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, Snap Chat, Facebook, dear GAWD it never ends! But with paper books being phased out in lieu of Kindles and E-books (a tragedy to hear since my favorite smell is fresh ink on paper), the only way now to make yourself known is through some sort of social platform. All the blogs say so, funny enough. Get yourself out there! Be social! Interact with your potential fans and promote yourself!

No. No No. I’m a hermit by choice! I have a very small group of geeky friends who accept me, warts and all. They tell me when my writing sucks and I believe them because they’re saying it with love. Perfect beta readers already in place! Ha. Hello Jessica, I’m the Real World. Let me welcome you with a slap upside the head. THEY not going to buy your books. (Cuz they know they’ll get them for free anyway.)  Really, it’s up to the readers of the elusive BLOG to support my charming yet clumsy self. I understand this. I do. But ugh. Blogging? I don’t even READ them regularly. I don’t sign up for e-mail updates! I recently cleared out 10K messages from my main e-mail, some of it from 2011. Yeahhhh…..Plunk, click and go is my computer know-how. But to be a writer, this is what I’ll have to do.


To understand my choice of being an anti-social hermit though there is a need to know the reasoning behind WHY. I’m sure you’ll understand and nod in sympathy. There’s just so many reasons to fear this little box of text being sent out into the internet ether but my top four are here:

  1. I’ve been teased my whole life for having big boobs and a crooked eye (also called Strabismus.) Also, I was a smart ass with straight A’s, which was uncool then. Self-esteem and self-confidence have been at an all-time low since Middle School. Yes, I’m a 30 year old woman admitting this. Points for bravery and honesty.
  2. I’ve never stuck with anything for any length of time. Hobbies, exercise routines, schooling, career choices. The devil really is in the details. I seem to lose interest whenever I have to delve below the surface of any given thing. Ugh. Who has time for details? Pfft! Let someone else work that out. The Big Picture is all you need! HA!
  3. I cry over everything. Seriously, everything. When I fight with my husband about movies, when I see cute bunnies on the TV, when I see a particularly stunning painting…EVERYTHING. But those are just the GOOD things. Imagine the bad things, like criticism and deliberate malice delivered by a sharp-tongued stranger who doesn’t know my soft heart at all. Oh yeah. Total mess. Rejection is hard for me to accept and I know diving into this, there will be a lot. Which brings me to my final and biggest fear…
  4. Fear of Failure. WHOOOMP there it is.

I read this quote by Stephanie Perkins (Author of Anna and the French Kiss) who sent a pep talk to us all on NaNoWriMo. (FABULOUS writing community by the way. Totally worth looking into.)

“Sometimes the things that matter the most to us are the hardest things to actually do. Sometimes they matter so much that we never do them, because our fear of failure is stronger than our fear of not even trying.”

I cried reading it, naturally. It was EXACTLY how I felt. I would rather live with the regret of never knowing what I could have been, than fail at the biggest dream of my life. I just wouldn’t have the strength to try to rebuild myself after the crushing disappointment.

There are thousands of posts out there that talk about this and I understand that there are other authors/ agents/ bloggers out there facing the same issues. Perhaps that’s part of the reason I had the courage to finally take this step. Like, who is ever going to read MY blog amidst the thousands? I’m SAFE!


No matter how fearful I was, there was always this kernel of stubbornness burning in my belly that never let me give up. (Even on math, which I loathe to the core of my being.) It didn’t let me give up on Harry Potter, even when I threw “The Half-Blood Prince” across the room and dented the cover. It didn’t let me give up on my marriage (best accomplishment EVER). And I know that even when things look bleak and when I’m glaring at my computer, wanting to table flip the whole thing and say FECK THIS, the kernel will pull me through. This tiny ember isn’t done with me yet. It has a huge Voice and it has a lot of things it wants to say, that it NEEDS to say.


If that means I have to write in a blog twice a week and talk to people and get fans in order to get a literary agent to consider me for a book deal, then I’m going to do it. If I have to start reading and following other blogs to see how the Pros do it, then I’ll carve out time from my schedule to do it. If I have to publish my writing here first to develop a thick skin and writing savvy, well then I damn well better do it, shouldn’t I? Whiny brat. Grow a pair!


Liz Gilbert’s book  “Eat Pray Love” did this for me. I had a panic attack for DAYS after reading her book. Random crying, shuddering, uncontrollable shakes, the works. My husband grew concerned with my emotional outbursts and gave me wide-eyed looks as I cried over the dishes. It was the first time anyone had understood the fear and frustration of being in a life they weren’t happy with. But she found it. She forgave herself her flaws, embraced them, and found balance in her life. Liz allowed me to see a different way and I hope one day I’ll be able to tell her how much her writing meant to me at that time in my life. I want to be that for somebody. I want to be the reason they change for the better. Maybe they’ll even write a book…


One of my all-time favorite lines is in “P.S. I Love You” (the movie)  when the main character Holly is describing what she wants to do with her life to Gerry, a stranger she met walking. She quotes William Blake: “I must create a system or be enslaved by another mans; I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.” To this Gerry simply replies “You want to paint socks.” OH MY FECKING GAWD! YES! Whether it’s a work of art or a book or a jar of barbecue sauce, I want to be remembered by more than just my friends and family. (That sounds selfish doesn’t it? Or pompous? Aiee yaahhh….) I Just want to carry out my legacy from beyond my death bed. Even if it’s just ONE book, or ONE piece of art. An imprint of ME on the world. Something I made and put out there and then THERE IT IS.

Pesky little bugger. It disturbs me uncomfortably when I’m chillin’ down in the dark pit of NOT KNOWING.

So, at the end of all things, after the back and forth tug-o-war, I have to ask myself, is my fear of failure going to stop me from pursuing my dream? If I stumble and fall, will I pick myself up again, try harder, and let the kernel speak for me? The fact that I’m starting this blog gives an answer. I hope people read it… Nope, never mind. Don’t read it.


Fine. Read. Reply. Comment. Help me with my fears and I will find a way to repay you in kind, one way or another. And I will help myself by getting used to the words “YOU FAILED.” I’ll say it every day and have people say it to me and maybe I’ll get a thick enough skin to endure this journey with some sort of grace. I may even take my arm floaties off 😉