Meet Cute: Blank notebook looking for a long term commitment with writer

Wow. Last Monday’s deadline completely got away from me. >_<

Monday: Oh HELLO Jess, I didn’t realize you were here. I’m terribly sorry but I have no time to chat. Take care now. Much to do. Bye!

Jess: O.O Wait…what just happened?

Reflecting on that, I realized that this feeling of “missing days” has been following me around a lot longer than just this week and it’s been affecting more than just days. My writing has been passing me by before my very eyes. Or rather staring at me dolefully through unimpressed, judgemental eyes. It’s startling to see that I’ve written exactly NOTHING on my Hourglass novel (or any other manuscript) for the last two or three months.


I look back at the long stretch of months and I see only 5 Mother Project fiction pieces, two of which are excerpts from an already written section of manuscript. In spite of all the blogs I’ve written warning everyone else about this trap, I still fell into it. The “writer’s block” trap. Or, in my case, the laziness trap.

DOOM ON YOU! DOOM ON YOU! Er…me, anyway.

So how do I solve this? Where’s my absinthe?! 1 cc of the Green Fairy, STAT! Or, less damaging to my liver, I can have a Meet Cute with my story!

What’s a “Meet Cute”?

Well, as it was so adorably and succinctly explained in the movie “The Holiday“, (a rom- com with Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black, and Cameron Diaz), a meet cute is when two people meet each other for the first time in a very cute way. Say, the man walks into a department store and tells the sales clerk he only needs pajama bottoms. Then a  woman comes in a moment later and tells the sales clerk she only needs a pajama top. Then, badda bing badda boom, man and woman meet and it produces “awwwww”s.

Now I usually reserve the Meet Cute for plot bunnies and story ideas that come out of nowhere. It’s usually a surprise and ironic the way they come to me so they’re definitely qualified to have a Meet Cute status. It’s natural and sometimes hilarious.

For an already existing story, the Meet Cute has to be staged. I have to casually bump into it like Monday did for me this week. I totally have to invite it for coffee and we have to sit down and catch up on all the latest drama.

Having a staged Meet Cute can be beneficial for a writer. We can  read the story again with fresh eyes and marvel/cringe at our work. New revelations sprout and neurons fire again, renewing interest in the story. But really this is just another word for EDITING. Good if you have a rough draft already. The way that it’s not great, especially for writers like me who never seem to finish a rough draft, is that we want to change everything. Bits and pieces of ideas or a general concept leaves too many possibilities to change things and sink deeper into the swirl of madness that is creativity.

I believe, that if this is the case, the writer needs to relinquish control of the meet cute and let things happen naturally. Yes, it is a staged meeting, but trying to control what the story eats and adjusting it’s hair style in an attempt to get back into the flow of things could make the story unyielding instead acquiescent. I know my stories don’t like to be told what to do all the time. I’m not a control freak by nature and it knows that. It becomes recalcitrant when I try to micromanage. So, I advise that on a staged Meet Cute, pick a scene you are naturally inclined to like and start to write it. See where it takes you. Let it flow naturally to get a connection again. If, after the scene is over you feel like writing more, then go for it! If you’re done, poke around the story a bit and see if anything shakes out. See if anything catches your eye. Become interested again.

The length of the meet cute all depends on your tolerance and judgement, just like any date. If it was a pleasant experience and you want to meet up again soon, then make a another date to meet again. Hopefully you can establish a better long-term relationship with the story and actually FINISH. But if it was a bear to get anything flowing and you were just counting the minutes till you could excuse yourself, then maybe pick a different story to have a date with or try again under different circumstances. Pick a different place to meet or a different day.

Just don’t stop trying.

(Now, just a note, I’m basing this advice on noob writers who have a hard time keeping at it. Pro writers I’m sure aren’t as inclined to have this issue, self-disciplined as they are. HA. But even then I hope such advice can be useful to them in some way.)

I feel a bit like a lecturing mother when I post blogs like this. I mean, I AM a mother so of course I’m a natural lecturer but I do not want you as the reader to feel like I’m knocking you over the head with my words. If anything, what I write here is a random outpouring of my current thoughts about writing; a journal to write down my stuff and record my journey. However, if I strike a chord with you or inspire you in some way to come back to writing, then I will have had a good day. That’s my original purpose for wanting to be an author anyway.

Inspire. Create. Encourage.

“My Business is to create.”~ William Blake

So go have a date with your story or your WIP. It’s never too late to pick it up again and start anew.

And never give up! Take care y’all. Thanks for hanging out and hanging on. Much appreciated 🙂


This side of the Hormones (#5)

(An excerpt from my WIP Silver Sun…)

“So, Merry, have you given any thought to a baby shower?”

The look Isi received was so droll she flushed with embarrassment.

“Course you haven’t. Dumb question. But I mean, you don’t have ANYTHING for the baby. He’s going to need clothes and bottles and diapers–”

“I realize that Iz but I have limited room in my truck for extras. Baby doesn’t need much. Not everyone needs a full closet of clothes and a whole nursery.”

The words sounded irate to Isi’s ears. She never could guess what questions would put Merry on the defensive. It was a mine field to navigate, especially the closer it came to her due date.

“So…nothing then? Not even a pinterest board of ideas or–”

“No Iz, nothing!” Merry snapped and set down her bead project on her swollen belly, her green eyes flashing. “What are you really asking?”

Isabelle wasn’t used to being on the receiving end of pregnancy hormones so she floundered a bit. She also wasn’t used to straight-forward tactics.

“Colors!” she blurted out. “Just…wanted to know the colors you liked! For a boy and for a girl.”

Merry blinked, her eye brows hiking up into her forehead.


“You haven’t even thought about THAT? Seriously?”

“Iz, I’ve kind of been preoccupied this whole time running for my life and taking are of Caleb for the last seven months. Stuff like baby showers and color-coordinated outfits and diaper sizes hasn’t even entered my mental orbit.”

“I know but–”

“Not everyone is as excited about motherhood as you are.”

The words shut Isi’s mouth with a click and she felt a stab of pain in her chest. Merry pushed the project off her belly and she hoisted herself up, the conversation clearly over. Isi couldn’t understand at all and Merry gave nothing away to give her a clue how to handle the situation.

“Sorry I’m not like you.”

“You don’t have to be Merry! I was just–”

The other woman walked away without hearing the conversation through. Caleb, who had been sitting on the floor beside Merry’s legs looked sadly at Isabelle and followed after her. The golden-haired woman sighed and got up to head back into Moira’s nursery, sitting in the carved rocking chair and soothing herself by gently moving it forward and back with her toes.

“I don’t understand, Moira,” she said aloud, softly. The baby slept on, undisturbed by her mother’s words. “How can a mother NOT think about clothes and tiny shoes and bottles?”

“You okay?” Isaac came into the room a moment later, his face very concerned. “Merry just stormed out of here, keys in hand looking mad as a plucked hen.”

Isi held up her hands and shrugged.

“I just asked if she thought about having a baby shower and she freaked out at me, saying she wasn’t like me and not everyone is excited about motherhood.”

Isaac knelt down and kissed his wife’s forehead gently. She breathed him in, enjoying the smell of sawdust and manly sweat.

“Honey, who would she invite?”


“Who would shop for her?”

“WE would, of course!”

“Do you think she’d take the charity? She’s already living with us and she feels it sharply in her pride.”

“But surely she can think about her baby NOW because of that! She has a roof and food and a room–”

“Nothing is HERS though. She can’t take it with her when she goes.”

Isabella stopped rocking, surprise registering on her freckled face. Isaac smiled at her gently, trying to soften the blow.

“Did you expect her to stay here with us forever, love? One happy extended family with our babies growing up together and falling in love and getting married like some fairy tale?”

The woman fidgeted and straightened her shirt, not looking up at her practical and pitying husband.

“I love your big heart but did you really think before you asked?”

“I was just making conversation!” She burst out, upset even more now. Her eyes glittered with frustrated tears.
Isaac sat on the foot stool in front of Isabelle and looked up into her troubled face. He gathered her hands into his rough ones and kissed them, easing the sting of his truth.

“She’s had a hard time with the pregnancy Bells. Most of it was spent on the road in a beat up truck, running away from reporters who wanted to make her life hell. What does that tell you?”

Isabelle knew the answer Isaac expected but she simply would’t believe that a woman with a watermelon for a stomach could not have even GLANCED at baby clothes or thought about decorating a nursery. She said this out loud, deciding to be contrary because she was emotional.

“Would you if you were in her shoes?”

“I would be concerned about keeping the baby warm and fed at the very least, yes.”

“I’m sure she’s thought about those things but she can’t afford to fantasize about them. Where is she supposed to put a baby carrier? Where is she going to keep the clothes in the truck? How is she going to afford diapers and formula? Where is she going to go if the baby gets sick? Up until we took her in, these were her only worries for the baby. Not to mention praying the truck would hold up and that Caleb didn’t get jealous of the baby.”

“But now she DOESN’T have to worry!”

Isaac laughed in that special way that made Isabelle feel like she was being childish and she huffed at him.

“She has a job and a roof over her head! She can get clothes and blankets and diapers now. It’s WHY I asked about the baby shower! OH– gah nevermind!”

Isi crossed her arms and scowled at her dark-haired husband.

“Bells, Merry can’t stay here forever and she knows that. She can’t have a bunch of baby things like you can because she’s only here temporarily until she can get up enough money to move again. She can only take what will fit in that truck of hers.”

“That still shouldn’t prevent her from getting the necessities at least. And since she has to get stuff anyway, why shouldn’t they be in colors she likes? It doesn’t cost any extra money or space.”

“True. So maybe there are other reasons she’s upset. We won’t know until she tells us. For now though love, try to think before you speak.”

“Yeah yeah. Being on this side of the crazy pregnancy hormones is scary.”

He chuckled again.

“And now you know.”

He squeezed her knees and walked back downstairs to finish whatever project he was working on. Isi leaned back in the rocker and blew out a frustrated breath. One month to go and Merry doesn’t have a single thing for the baby. And yet Caleb has a whole backpack full of art supplies and clothes– Isi’s eyes lit up. Caleb. If there were ever a way to worm answers out of Merry, it would be through him. And he would be willing, she thought, the idea building quickly in her brain. He wants Merry happy. He wants the baby happy. He would be eager to help. Now she just needed a plan of attack…

Hell Hath no Fury…

Today I would like to talk about mood.

A helluva bomb was dropped on me recently and my mood has been more up and down than a Six Flags roller coaster. I’m having an extremely hard time dealing with it but strangely, in all it’s complexity, it makes me want to write, which is a good thing, yeah? Of courrseeee it is! Anything that compels someone to write is a good thing!

As a writer, you have to be ready and willing to strike a mood at any time for any scene at the drop of a hat. I usually use synthetic mood inducing music playlists for each of my novels so if I need to induce anger or sadness or a sappy mood all I need to do is click a button and let the music take over. It really is only a placebo affect though. The real thing, the REAL anger and the REAL sadness…there’s no truer writing and it’s a difficult place to be.

Writers are at their truest selves when they take from real life. My stories, for instance, Ni Hao Handsome and I’m the Punch Line? Wow, Really? were stories taken from my real life. There was embarrassment, self-deprecation, sarcasm, joy and so many other minute things. I formed them into something other people can relate to and that’s phenomenal. I was damn proud of those stories! Am, actually. And looking at those stories makes me realize how important injecting human emotion into stories is.

No matter what you write, Fiction, non fiction, biographies, Cook books, sci-fi, literary, poetry…all of it, every single word, is used to invoke emotion in the reader. Some will read the same poem and take different things away from it. Some will critique it or not feel anything. That’s okay. I just believe that with your current WIP, whatever it may be, deserves an injection of real emotion, not stuff that SOUNDS real.

Like, when you’re reading a paragraph and the author makes an analogy that so totally fits your understanding you have to believe they’ve felt what you have at some point. THAT is what mood helps us to do. It’s so broad in interpretation too! There are things written that you may never have thought about until you pause and contemplate.

“Wow….Okay yeah! I can totally see that.”

These are the moments I believe that writers have when they’re genuinely feeling that emotion. I admire them for translating their thoughts and feelings onto paper without sounding contrived. To cry over a death or a reunion or get angry at a villain for doing this despicable thing…I enjoy those experiences and try, whenever I’m able, to write my mood as well.

For instance, there is someone that I desperately miss right now, even though we’ve never met in real life. I miss his mind, his humor, his gentle admonishments when I’m being an idiot. This brings to mind my Silver Sun story, when the main character Merry is missing her almost-husband Gaelyn. I would use this emotion to write scenes where she’s reflecting on him. I would put her in my shoes and attempt to write the emotions I felt.

Or maybe I’m black with rage and feel like I could cut down the first person who crosses my path. This could be Nona, the main character in my Hourglass novel when she realizes her husband is dying without her. What a damn good ride this rage would take us on!! And I know my readers would relate to the emotion, if not the situation. It is, I believe, every writers dream to connect like that to their audience.

Nothing is purer than the emotion of real life experiences. If writers are able to capture than and funnel it into their novels, then I know their readers will thank them for it. Readers are not dumb. They can tell when something is contrived. Write the truth and readers will respond.

Sorry this is a short blog post. My Jim Beam shots are kicking in to numb me because I just feel too much right now. Nothing is clear enough to write except this blog.

Take care y’all. write on.

Journey to the Center of my Head

Here’s something most people don’t know about me. I LOVE to make lists. I like the process of adding things to blank lines and watching the paper fill up with necessities on my current subject of interest. Grocery lists, To-Do lists, Chore lists, Gift lists, Scene lists…it gives me a thrill to see it all organized. (Yes, I said the terrible “O” word.) And for a lady who thrives on chaos, this is a pretty weird quirk, if I do say so myself.

But here’s the clincher.

As much as I love to make lists, I almost immediately lose them or throw them away because they become obsolete. I’ve discovered recently that when I make lists, they aren’t meant to be absolutes. (Except maybe grocery lists.) In my mind, lists are possibilities that my brain needs to get down before it loses its train of thought.

Alright, you say. That’s not so bad.

HA. Now take that concept and drop it into Writing a Book.

Do you even fathom how many reams of paper I’ve chucked over the years because of this awful habit? How many notebooks I’ve filled and then recycled? Whole forests have died for my cause! It’s awful! And now that I’m trying to organize myself to be a productive and thorough writer, this method of organization just isn’t cutting it. I can write down scene after scene in a beautifully organized list but as soon as another possibility comes up I start from square one again. It’s an endless cycle that is the direct opposite of what I want to do and be.

As always, when I’m in a rut I turn to the internet and read articles and blogs about how other writers do it. Some I’ve tried for myself: The index cards on the wall, the timeline, the writer’s journal, the poster board, the snowflake method…none of them ever seemed right for me. It doesn’t help me get organized and motivated to work. I talked my dear friend Owen’s ears off about this and he grew smart enough to just say “I don’t know what to tell you Jess. You’ll figure it out.”

At the time I thought he was just tired and irritated with me whining at him but was just being polite about it. I realized though that it was the best advice (as usual. He’s amazingly intuitive.) I need to find my own way. Something personal to me that I can easily segue into my natural routine.

And so began the Journey to the Center of my Head. Left Brain Activate!!

When I started to really think about my problem with organization the first thing that came up was “reminders”. I write lists as reminders for everything, even though they’re subject to change. When I write my stories, I easily get lost in the details. I get overwhelmed with the thought of writing subplots and minor characters and emotional arcs and foreshadowing that I forget the BIG PICTURE. Things like, why am I writing this book? What’s the purpose? Who am I writing this for? What’s the theme of the story?

Getting back down to basics.

I realized I needed a sheet of paper exactly for this purpose. Something to look at every time I sit down and crack open my word document (or my file folder, depending on what is needed). I need to make it part of my ritual to remind myself of the story and also why I’m writing at all. Ya know, for those days where I want to table flip because everything is crap and my writing is crap.

The second thing that bubbled up almost immediately was the need for character interviews. Something more than just a one page Bio that I could reference and remind myself how each one is supposed to talk and react. A questionnaire that each character answers in their own tone with their own personality. It’s actually a lot of fun when you start out writing to do a Myers-Briggs test on your character. You get to slip into their shoes for a minute and really flesh out their personalities. You can also do the same thing with Horoscopes as a writing tool or Name origins. (I love characterization so I go whole hog into figuring them out. This one isn’t a chore for me.)

The third thing I figured might be a good idea is having a basic story structure for the scene layouts. (Ha. Yes.) Scenes that REALLY need to be written that are the foundation of the story. Again, with a list. How I love lists! Of course, these usually aren’t the problem for me. It’s weaving the subplots and arc altogether into a cohesive entertaining read.

This to me, needs the most work for my writing routine because it’s not just a matter of ready, set, go with plot and characters and stuff. It’s also a matter of incorporating “the Rules” of writing. Like, no character should exit or enter a scene in a neutral mood. Make them better or worse than they were. Then there’s the rule that every scene should have a purpose in either moving plot/ characters forward or give a sense of scene. Duh…who wants to read filler? Get on with it!! And then there’s the delicate inclusion of the subplots. How much is too much? How to I braid them into each other without making the subplot give away too much or become too important? There’s SO MUCH TO REMEMBER when writing a scene it drives me nuts and I quit before I even start.

Yeah, I know, I know. This is all what editing is for. But before that can happen I have to write a rough draft. And before that can happen I need to get organized and then I come back to the lists….see the vicious cycle? I do think I’ve come up with a solution for this dilemma however. I wish I had Excel because it would make my life a lot easier but that’s just not in the budget right now to buy Microsoft office. So I’m going to make my own hard copy of Excel using index cards and baseball card protectors.

Yup, you heard me.Er…read me.

I need a system that will allow me to see all the scenes spread out in order and make them easy to move around at will. This also won’t break the budget and make me kill forests with all the paper I’m wasting making lists. I also bought myself some color coordinating high lighters for the index cards so I can highlight the main plot and the subplots and when a new character appears. And eventually I want to figure out something for characters too. Maybe use stickers or something. Shiny ones. Mmmm shiny….

But so far, this is what I’ve come up with for organizing my stories. I’m excited to try to make it work and see if it suits me. I know it’s going to take some trial and error so I’ve decided to use books that have already been written as a practice model. I’m so proud my myself for finally coming up with my OWN solution! I’m such a mockingbird in all things organization that creating something like this (even if it’s not exactly re-inventing the Wheel) really makes me motivated to write again. I feel mentally ready to give it a good heave-ho and I have the determination to finish. I have at least one person who supports me with my writing (Thank you my dear Owen) and that’s a start.

I taped a picture of my daughters to the wall beside my bed. I want them to be my motivation to write and become published so 1) they’ll know I achieved my dreams through hard work and patience and 2) I want them to know you CAN be successful living your dream (at least I hope that’ll be true for us). If I can buy a house for them by living my dream then I really see no down side.

I just have to get it going and NOT GIVE UP.

How do YOU organize when you write or start a new project? Let me know! Having comments excites me!! 😀

I’m the Punch Line. Wow, Really? #4

-There’s a concert tonight at San Souci Bar. The Polecats are playing. Wanna go? Free of charge.- 

I glanced at the clock and did a quick mental calculation. Take meat out to defrost now, make dinner at 5:30, get ready at 7:30, have a celebratory drink at home so I don’t have to pay for alcohol, be out until about 11 and back home snuggled in bed with a book by 12. Hmm…

-HELL YES!!! I typed back. Come by before so we can get ready! I’ll even feed you, lol.-

-LOL, K. –

I rolled off the couch where I’d been browsing pinterest on my phone and hurried into my room, my brain racing ahead for possibilities. Did I even HAVE an concert clothes that fit anymore? I pulled open my closet doors and rummaged through my sad collection of dresses. Pink fluffy, Orange ruffly, matronly black, Purple sequins…? Meh. I dismissed everything. Who was I kidding? It was the dead of winter and most of the dresses were a size too small now.

I looked down at my gray leggings and my blue cheetah print slip dress. It was long sleeved and hugged my curves nicely while hiding my bulges. I’ll just add black boots and a knee length jacket to hide my large ass and call it a night. I’d never been to San Souci and didn’t know what to expect. Bombay was classy. The Garage was a dive. The outfit was a nice mix of elegant and casual. Accepted anywhere and I didn’t care if beer or taco sauce dripped on it. Gotta love cotton.

Rina got here early to escape her parents’ endless questions and unload her drama on me. I’m so lonely. My dog is sick. I’m so tired of living with my parents… yadda yadda yadda. Sounded like a Country song. I was nice enough to nod in sympathy and make noises of concern because no one ever listened to my advice anyway. I was learning not to mind that I was largely ignored in this regard. What did I know anyway? I’d only been in the longest running relationship out of anyone in my family, ever. Well. Whatever. At least I was kept in the loop.

I fed Rina tacos to cheer her up and we killed time talking/complaining and watching the kids play video games while my husband ignored us and plugged into the computer. Occasionally he would burst out in a guffaw of laughter that quieted the entire room temporarily and he’d apologize. At 8:00 I brushed my teeth and hair, stuffed a water bottle in my purse along with my wallet and a grabbed a book (cuz I never leave home without one) and we left an hour early.

Rina and I ALWAYS get to the bars early now to reserve seating. This was largely due to the fact that one night when we were going to a concert, on time like good little garage band fans, we were wearing heels and discovered that all the tables were taken. Yeah. That was a special kind of pain to a woman who LOVES flip flops and Chucks. That night my ratty thrift store slouch boots made an appearance. Who cares if the toe was chewed and they were a size too big? I could dance in them and they wouldn’t kill my feet. Besides, with a rack like mine, no one would be looking at my feet.

San Souci was tiny and a hole in the wall place that I walked by probably a million times without even a glance inside. I showed my ID at the door, snorting at my ten year old photo. I hadn’t changed much, which was the important thing. I still looked like me. I just wish that my weight now matched my weight on the card.

There were the typical smokers and boozers outside, already too loud and punchy. It seems like a drink and chill kind of place. An in-between place before the next thumping club with harsh obnoxious music. Rina took a quick survey of the tiny room and bee-lined for our boys, the Polecats. I followed more sedately, giving brief hugs and saying little because Rina had already launched into her latest drama. I took out my book and found an out of the way chair. I’d already heard it before.

Thank God for selective hearing, a skill I learned from my abusive stepfather. Bad-mouthing me seemed to make him feel better so I learned to tune him out. He was usually too drunk to notice. It was a kind of harmony between us I guess. Useful skill though.

“Reading huh?” some smiley tipsy guy asked, sitting beside me and wafting his beer breath near my nose.

“Nope. Just making sure this paper gets enough air,” I said cheerfully. “Wouldn’t want it to suffocate in my bag.”

Where’s Bill Engvall when you really need him? HERE’S YOUR SIGN.

Something about my demeanor must’ve tipped him off that he was interfering because he gave an uncertain smile and then wove his way back to the other end of the bar. Byyyeeeeeee.

Ah! Finally! There was some activity on the tiny stage. The band had a convenient excuse to brush off Rina by setting up their equipment and I stowed my book away, settling back to let the boys work. Rina grabbed my arm and squeezed.

“It’s been too damn long,” she declared. “I can’t wait for Charlie to sing. I hope they do Mojave Mojo.”

“Looks like we’re getting a private performance,” I replied, looking around. The tables had cleared remarkably fast once word got around that the band was rockabilly based. Peasants. They wouldn’t know good music if it slapped them.

“Their loss,” Rina shrugged.


The Polecats were an eclectic bunch. My favorite was their bassist, Stephan, who looked like ZZ top on top, a western country dancer on his torso, and a kilt-wearing goth on the bottom. He was utterly fabulous. The team mascot to be sure. But I really had to give credit to the other three as well. They made the perfect quartet with Tommy’s bad ass drumming, “Skim Jim”‘s mad shredding skills on the guitar and Charlie’s beautiful honey lovin’ voice. Together, they were amazing. Fast or slow, they had no bad songs.

We stood right in front of the tiny stage, as we always did. There was only a brief moment passing guilt for obstructing the audience’s view. What little audience there was. I thought it might annoy the Polecats but I figured it was the sound that mattered, not the visuals so I stayed put. Rina and I exchanged excited smiles and we giggled madly. The drummer knocked his sticks.


And then bliss started.

Ever the mover and a shaker I danced in place, uncaring who looked on. Rina shimmied beside me, her eyes flirting with Charlie. I could tell I was going to be on my own tonight. There was no getting her attention for the next hour. That’s fine. Music was too loud to talk anyway. Just the way I liked it even though I couldn’t understand half of what he sang. I twirled in place and kicked my feet up, swinging my ponytail around till it was frizzed out and poofy. I felt my boobs bouncing in the bra and the jacket slapped against my thighs. I was smiling from ear to ear, my chipped and crooked teeth gleaming in the lights of the stage. I was probably sweating a bit. I wasn’t aware of these things. Not while I was dancing.

This was heaven. I was away from home, listening to a really good band whom I admired. I was able to sing along with their songs because I’d worn out their CD. It was different experience going to a famous person’s concert and singing along with thousands of fans all together. That was uplifting and pretty damn cool. But singing the lyrics to songs made by local boys who were largely unknown felt like showing off. Like, YEP we were true fans. We found this band first, we know them personally, and we bought their CD’s because we support them wholeheartedly. We had TOP FAN status. It felt good.

Much to my surprise, after a few songs had played, I feel an arm slide over my shoulder and I look back to see a mysterious dark-skinned man grinning at me.

Whaaa? I looked up at this new man awkwardly craning my neck around to see his bright white grin. I couldn’t so anything but smile crookedly back. What the hell?? He reached over and took Rina’s shoulders as well and she gave me an alarmed look. Then we kind of swayed to the music like a white-girl “can’t dance” sandwich. We stumbled and fumbled, sweaty and giggling and crashing into each other. Rina was laughing uncertainly as this continued through another song and I could tell her vibe was thrown off. When he left to refill his cup we exchanged looks. Mine was flippant, like whatever. Hers was twitchy and anxious. Oh great. That was a downer if I’d ever seen one.

No, no NO! Dammit screw her! I didn’t mind dancing with the dude so I’m not going to let whatever was bothering her affect me. When another fast song came on I was doing the Charleston standing in place and I felt a tap on my shoulder.


I turned around and was looking at a leather vest over a flannel shirt. What kind of a fashion statement was that? My eyes traveled up and up and UP. Whoa. They encountered a beard, twinkly blue eyes and a grown-in dark brown mohawk. Later Rina would dub him Mr. Cockatoo.

“May I have this dance?”

Dance? You can have my arm. My leg. My first born child. Well…third anyway. Damn! And I couldn’t believe it but he could actually DANCE. Legit, throw me around like a rag doll, dance. He was pro. The patrons around me blurred as I was waltzed into a world every woman dreams of being in. Flung far away, twirled under his arm, brought close, dancing cheek to cheek. You can keep all the flowers and chocolates and diamonds in the world to yourself. Present me with a man who could dance, and was willing to in public, and I was butter in his hands. And that’s exactly how I danced. Sloppy and clumsy, stepping on his toes and probably smacking him in the face a couple times with my hair. I was smiling too much to apologize.

It must’ve been interesting to watch this giant toothpick of a man and plump little olive of a woman tear up the dance floor. My friend stood back and just grinned like a mad woman, applauding me while eyeing Mr. Dark nervously. When I was delivered back to her, sweating and panting, she fanned me.

“Nice moves there Ginger Rogers.”

“HA! I probably broke his toes!” I said it with a grin though.

“But you’re happy?”

“Hell yes I am! Ain’t been handled like that in a long while.”

“Your poor husband. Trumped by a Cockatoo.”

“I would dance with the ugliest man on earth if he could cut a rug like that.”

I paused by my purse during a slower song to hydrate and my ears sharpened on a conversation behind me somewhere.

“It’s like a pity fuck man, but a dance” a guy chuckled, not bothering to muffle his speech. “Find the ugliest and fattest chick in the club then throw her a round a little, give her some attention, and she’s your bitch for the night.”

“Yeah,” his girlfriend agreed, getting in on the cruel joke. “Except it’s worse because it was in public. Definitely a pity dance. I can’t believe she’s not embarrassed. I would be!”

I slowly lowered the water bottle from my lips and capped it, hands clenching the plastic until it crackled in protest. I felt my cheeks start to burn with something that wasn’t exertion. It was a numbing kind of burn that spread out through my face and trickled down my body like liquid nitrogen. It reached my lungs and made me take slow deep breaths. I remained kneeling for a few seconds more, absorbing with this knowledge.

I was the punch line to a fat joke? Really? Had I really become the fat chick everyone pitied but admired for her spunk? People felt SORRY for me so they felt obligated to throw me a bone?  I flicked a glance at my friend. She was back in front of the band, swaying blissfully. She didn’t notice anything.

I got up.

There were two ways people usually react to over-hearing a conversation like I did. They run away with their tail between their legs and go eat a pint or three of Hagen Daas. I could have. I knew I was fat. Fattest I’ve ever been in my life. I had double chins and back fat and my thighs rubbed together horrendously when I wore a skirt. I could excuse myself from public and go wallow in mud like the pig I was. Or I could make an even bigger fool of myself by raging at the trolls, pouring more scrutiny on myself with expletives and a rousing shouting match to which I knew I would break down and cry in the middle of.

I did neither of these things. I re-tied my hair, ready for battle. You can do battle with frizzies. I sucked in my gut, spun on my heel and swept past the trolling couple, purposely banging my arm into the back of their heads.

“Bitch!” they hissed and I turned and smirked at them, holding their guilty eyes long enough to make them turn away and lower their insults to murmurs. Then I walked straight back to Mr. Cockatoo and held out my pudgy hand to him, bowing slightly in greeting.

“May I have another dance?” I purred. “I haven’t had enough.”

After the surprise had left his face, he grinned, set down his drink and took my hand, squeezing it and setting me into a spin.

And it was true. Who cares if I was the Punch line to a fat joke? Rina couldn’t ruin my night with her whining or her strange men PTSD and she was my best friend. There’s no way in hell I was going to let a couple of trolls ruin my night by being assholes. Stick it to them. This wickedly tall and talented man chose ME to dance with because I was willing. Ms. fakey liposuction twiggy wanna-be didn’t have my nerve, my guts or my humility to be handled by such a man. Puta.

At the end of the night, all I asked for was a picture with Mr. Cockatoo.

“I like your spirit,” he murmured to me. “Thanks for saying yes,”

I’m married. I remembered that as we cuddled up in the picture and smiled at Rina’s camera. I thanked him for the dance, said good-bye to the Polecats and thanked them as well for a wonderful night.

“Aside from Mr. Piranha (the toothsome black dancer), it was a good night right?” Rina said as we walked back to her car.

“Oh yeah!” I said.

Yes I’m fat. Yes my clothes fit finny. Yes, I have self-esteem issues. But when a man wants to dance with me to a great band, there’s nothing better in the world than that.

She dropped me off at home and my husband was still plugged into the computer. The kids were asleep. I showered and snuggled into bed by 11, took out a book and for a brief moment, held the memory close that even though I was a Punch Line, I was chosen out of everyone for one perfect night.

Thank you Universe. I needed that. Hashtag “Positive vibes”.

To Infinity…and Beyond!

Here’s an exercise for ya if you have writer’s block. Or if you’re just bored with your writing. Flip to a random page in your current WIP manuscript, take a chunk out of it, and turn it into a short story. You’ll have to add in a bit more back story to it flesh out for readers and possibly even change the ending for it to make sense as a completed story. When you do finish though, re-read it as a solitary story. Forget that you know what comes before and after the segment.

Waiiiiit for itttttt…………………..

Whoooaaaaaa! Coooool right??!

I did this recently as entry #3 for The Mother Project. Part of it was out of panic since I didn’t have anything prepped to post that day but also I’d been re-reading a lot of my WIP notes and I thought that the particular segment I chose really highlighted my main character while being an entertaining read. I got a double lesson out of this little experiment.

“Silver sun” (my longest on-going WIP at 15 years) had started out as one book until I realized I was writing a manuscript that would eventually grow to have “War and Peace”/ dictionary thickness if I didn’t break it up into a few books. This caused a bit of confusion at first since my beginnings and endings for each book were now all wonky and I had to add in more meat into the story to give it some curves. (Can’t go wrong with curves, eh?) This also made it hard to remember characters and personalities and presence within the new arrangements. So I created a whole other file folder on my computer that’s labeled “Silver sun bits and pieces” and I used a kind of flash fiction method of writing to put the characters in a situation that may not be in my story.

Not only is this wish-fulfillment and extremely satisfying but it helps to cultivate a better relationship with your character. You may uncover things about them you didn’t know before or that absolutely make sense now that you’ve seen them in a different light. Put them in a car crash scenario with their best friend. Do they try to protect their friend or themselves from the crash? Do they faint at the sight of blood? Do the calmly remove the shrapnel from their skin and pull their friend out of the burning car? Make your main character gay for a minute. Are they the butch kind of gay? Are they  a Flamboyant, no-holds-bar kind of gay? Quiet and introverted and unassuming gay? Ot for an even funner brain teaser, take two characters from two different stories and ‘ship them together.

Yeaahhh buddy! You know you want to. Go on. You’re allowed. Just make sure to return to your original purpose!

Have fun! It’s a really great exercise to stretch your creative muscles. It allows you have freedom within your current WIP without distracting you from it. Unless the flash fiction gives you plot bunnies. In which case, I’m sorry/not sorry. (In my experience, plot bunnies become potential stories for the future and who am I to turn my nose up at inspiration when it strikes randomly??) Using this method also allows you to practice writing your characters in any kind of scenario flawlessly without changing them to suit their surroundings. It forces YOU to write the scenario around THEM. . It sounds easy but trust me, it’s harder than you think when you’re first starting out.

I have a character, Ciel, who is an anti-hero and is absolutely despicable and selfish. He ends up going into a kind of psychic seizure and the main character has to delve inside his mind to bring him out of it. When I first wrote the scene, Ciel was grateful and gentle with the MC after coming out of his fit. It wasn’t right for his personality at all though and I realized that after reading through the scene again. I was forcing him to have an intimate moment with the MC to “show a different side of Ciel”. Ha. (He didn’t thank for that one. He haunted me until I did it right. Bastard.) I’ve gotten more used to having his personality in my writing now though because I’ve gotten to know Ciel’s nuances better thanks to the flash fiction scenes I’ve written about him. It became easier to incorporate his personality into any situation seamlessly. It’s really important to stay true to your character when you write and pay attention to their transitions. You don’t want them to soften or harden before their time. Then you get weird cookies.

Bonus, for doing all this extra fun writing exercises, it can double as a sample you can show beta readers or editors or potential bosses to get their opinion about your writing style and voice. You can literally portfolio these things and whip them out whenever you have need of them. They’re 8 and a half by 11 business cards! So write a plethora of them and file them away! You never know if when they’ll come in handy. And hey, if you write enough of them, you can even turn them into a book of short stories 😉

So I suppose if there were any direction this blog entry was supposed to go in, I guess it would be to scratch beyond the surface of your stories. Really get to know them. Dive into your characters and let them tell you more than you ever wanted to know. Inevitably, these little things you’ve discovered about them will slip into your writing and your readers will thank you for making them more realistic. Create scenes for your stories that will never be published and carry that secret around with you, like the “deleted scenes” option from movies. Go BEYOND. Swim in the words you create, wallow in your writer’s block and sprint after your characters as they take you on a wild ride you never saw coming.

BE the story. WRITE the story. And good luck.

Stranger than Fiction…

When you write, the characters you create are born from the pieces of your soul. They carry your dark sides, your hopes, the people you wish you could be. You live vicariously through them. You become attached to them. And then you miss them when you’re away.

Lately I’ve been missing my Gaelyn. He’s the fictional man I created over 15 years ago for my WIP “Silver Sun”. He’s my longest ongoing relationship to date, haha. He has long waist length platinum blond hair (worn this way to honor his mother’s memory), grey/blue eyes, square-cut rimless glasses, sharp cheeks bones, thin lips, a thinly muscled physique, tall frame and a very sharp tongue. He’s intelligent, scholarly, and has a judgmental manner. He has little patience for dramatic people or liars. He likes children and eventually wants to be a pediatrician. He’s also a foreigner with a shady past and no family to speak of besides his fun-loving adoptive Scottish dad named Clancy.

In a way, it was Gaelyn who started me on this serious writing journey. He showed up one day and had the answers to all my problems so he became the man to which I measure all my other men against. We’ve toiled and journeyed over the years together. His story has been erased and rewritten many times (stupid computers) but he’s managed to stay true to the core of himself. He’s even influenced several other versions of himself in other stories. Little Gaelyn clone babies. Awwww….

I think it’s a truly special experience for any writer that can look back on a character and see them as a real person. Not just words on a page but a memory, a picture, a friend. To call them up and talk through problems like you would any real life friend. It would be nice to be able to say we can do that for EVERY character we create. They’re all part of us after all. But there are some characters that we feel connected to more than others, whether it be because they were our “first” or because we’ve placed some much effort and hope into them.

For me, with Gaelyn, I think he’s the kind of person that if he were flesh and blood, I would want him to be proud of me. He’s so intelligent and sure of himself (and so hard to get to open up!) that I know I would work hard to get him to be my friend. I’m sure that at first I would be terrified though, haha. He’s pretty sharp-tongued and scary.

Gaelyn is my hero and he saved me and I think that’s the best I can do as a writer for now. Until I start writing full roughs and editing them out for beta readers, I won’t know if I’m any good at characterization. It is my most favorite thing about writing though. I would say that in most of my stories, the plot is character driven.

The process of finding the perfect person is different every time. Culling through the millions of possibilities is as daunting as formatting DNA. Sometimes I’ll have a purpose that needs to be filled in the story and I’ll see a flash of curly hair or a sultry smile and everything blooms from there. Often I take quirks from real people I know and fit them in to my half-baked ideas. Sometimes it’ll be a name that comes to me and won’t leave my brain and I reverse the process, fitting a name to a body. Or sometimes I’ll go onto a baby name website and browse the names until one leaps out at me. (I LOVE baby name sites for inspiration!) Pinterest has also become a great source of character inspiration.

It comes from anywhere really. I love writing characters and then plopping them into a story. It’s probably why I have so many unfinished ones. Some are so important that they DEMAND to be written. Literally driving me insane until I give them at least a basic novel structure to live in. All writing flow stops for me when this happens and I cannot write another word of my current novel until I flesh out a rough outline. Seriously frustrating when your fictional characters rule your life, right? Stranger than fiction.

One such instance was my latest distraction in which I saw a pretty vapid blonde girl get mauled by a demon at a school dance and her arm gets crushed. The demons then gave her a robotic arm. Well well, Lexi, what will you do next? I don’t think she’s entirely okay with me doing permanent harm to her beautiful dancer body but I think she’ll forgive me once she realizes how important it was.

Another dramatic entrance into my consciousness was a dark-haired guy in a trench coat walking down a random street and a tattoo suddenly burns into his skin in the shape of a map with longitude and latitude coordinates. This was only made more dramatic by the fact that a cute Asian girl happened to be walking the same street and got the same exact tattoo. All this started from a tattoo I saw on pinterest. I know, I know. DAMN I’m good! I love my brain 😀

Characters are so easy to create! I love people and thanks to starting this blog, I’ve learned not to make them perfect. Well, Gaelyn taught me that in part too. Mr. wish-fulfillment. Flaws make them more human and interesting. Torture them and then reward them. Scar them outside, inside, on their hearts, on their skin. Make your readers care about them or hate them or get so disgusted they throw the book at the wall (I’ve done this twice in my life time. Thank you Rowling and Pratchett.)

I know that some writers struggle with characterization and yet plot structure comes naturally to them (I envy you writers). Just remember these two things:

  1. Inspiration can come from ANYWHERE so pay attention. (Keep a blank notebook handy or get a note-taking app for your phone)
  2. You CAN change them to suit your needs.

Gaelyn was a wimpy timid scholar at the beginning of this journey with me. Now he’s a cynical and pedantic man with a heart of gold, once you get past the thorns. It took 15 years. HOPEFULLY your writing endeavors won’t need to take quite so long to flesh out. The most important thing is to have fun with it!

Good luck y’all!