Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2 1/2 Things Worth Driving 28 Hours For

(bad grammarly title & all)

How was your Thanksgiving?

Ours? Six people squashed in a minivan for 14 hours each way to visit the relatives. Realizing two hours in that the cigarette lighter doesn’t work so we can’t plug in the computer or the portable dvd player (it has the battery life of a peanut).

28 hours, 4 children, no discernable means of entertainment. Let that sink in for a minute. Was it worth it to spend 72 hours with the people we love? Definitely.

Here are two and a half reasons why:

#1 Best Thanksgiving Speech Ever

You’ve heard them, so have I - the speeches about being thankful, maybe something about pilgrims, loving your family, blah, blah, blah. If the talking goes on too long we wonder if we’ll drown from salivating over the food piled before us. Well, this year was a little different. My amazing chef bro-in-law had lovingly brined and smoked a massive turkey. It's crisp-juicy presence drew us near, but before we dug in, we learned that my little nephew had something to say.


He stood up and proceeded to give a Thanksgiving speech - from the turkey’s point of view. Why are we murdering turkeys, ripping wives from their husbands, and leaving poor orphaned turkey children running around the countryside cold and homeless? The speech came complete with visual aids done in crayon. I was left dumbfounded, staring at my plate. Should I contribute to the PTSD turkey fund? Should I go vegan? Meanwhile my nephew had heaped his plate high and was munching guiltlessly away – on turkey.

It was awesome.

#2 Black Friday Shopping on Thursday

It’s a ritual I married into. Thou shalt go Black Friday shopping with the girls. This year’s rush started Thursday at 9pm hovering protectively over a pile of $5 Walmart boy pajammies for an entire hour until the sale actually started. I texted my sister (who has yet to be indoctrinated into the practice) a blow by blow as the night progressed. Midnight: Target. 4am: craft store. The best part? The two hour waits in between the ten minutes of store madness, standing out in the freezing cold, laughing and chatting and teeth-chattering with my sister-in-laws.

# 1/2 The Confession

Not so many people know I write. Okay, almost no one does – did. My dear husband suggested I let my teen nieces (who love to read and write stories) take a look at my YA novel. A critique by my target audience? It seemed like a good idea right up until my dh pried the manuscript out of my cold, dead-from-fear hands and gave it to them.

This is what it felt like:

It’s great for kids to write. It’s great for teens. But me? A grown up? That manuscript was the trash can lid around my neck. No denying who’s a little wacko now (okay, that was probably never really in question).

This is what I expected to hear: Who, who left that mess of words on these pages? You Tank, uh, Sue? You’re supposed to be the adult here. You’re supposed to know better than to leave metaphors and similes strewn around like yesterday’s garbage. You’re lucky we don’t laugh you out of here and all 14 hours back to your house.

But what I got was ‘When can you send more?’ and ‘I couldn’t put it down.’ And I don’t think they were just saying it. At least I hope not.

Maybe sticking your neck out isn’t so bad.

Unless you’re a turkey.

~ Susan

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pulling off the Big Twist

Most stories have twists in the plot, but I love love love those with that one big twist, the-staring-at-the screen-or-page, flipping-back-or-rewinding, trying-to-figure-out-how-that-got-past-you twist.

My dream is to write a story like that, but honestly I got nothing, yet. So I study those movies and books that left me with a sense of awe and wait for inspiration to strike. It will, I know it will, someday.

To me the twist in The Sixth Sense is just brilliant (stop here if you haven't seen the movie, but seriously, who hasn't seen the movie?).

I still remember sitting in the movie theater watching that scene where Malcolm's wife drops his ring, and that stunned moment when I realized he was dead. It was perfect, the timing, the emotion, the clues, everything. To me, it is the perfect example of the big twist done right.

I see dead people

Even without the big twist, Sixth Sense would have been a good story.

A boy lives everyday in fear, haunted by ghosts who don't know they are dead. His mother is desperate to help him but doesn't know how. The boy tries to pretend he's normal when everyday he is terrified by what he might see and what might be done to him, with no one to protect him.

Then there is a child psychologist who recently failed to help a child with disastrous consequences, and that failure shook him at his core because he really cares about the children he works with. And he is broken and needs to help the boy as much as the boy needs his help. But how can he help the boy if he doesn't believe him?

This story is dripping in tension with characters that are complex and impossible not to empathize with. And if The Sixth Sense was just about a psychologist finding a way to help a ghost whisperer boy, it would still be a really good movie, but the twist at the end elevates it from good to great, maybe even amazing.

In order for the twist to work, the story needs to stand alone. The twist cannot be the story. If the readers aren't interested in the plot and/or the characters, they probably won't make it to the big reveal, and even if they do make it, if they aren't engaged in the story, they aren't going to care. In other words, write a damn good story, then twist it. Yeah, I know, easy right?

Wait, psychologists don't make house calls

There were a lot of red flags in The Sixth Sense that I didn't even notice. I think this is the hardest part. Those clues need to be woven seamlessly into the story so that reader doesn't think twice about them. What helped in The Sixth Sense was that everything had to makes sense to Malcolm. He doesn't know he is dead, so everything that happens has to be rationalized by him, and through him, it is rationalized to the audience.

Psychologists don't make house calls, but Cole has been to so many psychologists that he refuses to go to another one. Malcolm really wants to help, NO, he needs to help, and is willing to do anything. This makes sense in the scope of the story and feels natural. It's characterization and not just a clever scheme to make sure Malcolm doesn't interact with anyone but Cole.

Everything needs to make sense in a story. Every element or plot point needs a purpose. As a reader or viewer, anything in the story that I can't immediately categorize gets stashed away in a "this is going to be important later" file, and I mull over those points as I read trying to crack the code.

So if you want to hide your clues from readers like me (and you gotta have clues. You don't want the twist to come out of nowhere), they need to serve double or triple duty. Disguise them to look like they are there for characterization or other plot points, so they seem to have a purpose and don't stand out as a flashing light.

Maybe a ghost is just what the doctor ordered

The twist cannot be forced. It has to come naturally from the story.

A boy who sees ghosts is helped by a ghost. Perhaps no living person could have help him. Maybe Malcolm only heard the dead man's voice on the tape because he too was dead, and Cole's positive interactions with Malcolm is what gave him the courage to face the other ghosts and try to help them.

The twist fits perfectly in the story, and everything that happens feeds into the twist, so that when the big twist is revealed the audience realizes that the story they are watching is completely different than the story they thought they were watching. Instead of a a psychologist helping a boy, we have a story about a boy facing his fears by interacting with one of the ghosts that terrifies him and learning to accept his gift. It's brilliant.

Not every story has a big twist in it, and I certainly love lots of stories that don't, but when they do and it all comes together perfectly, it really is brilliant story-telling. Someday, I'll write one.

So what do you think? Do you love a big twist? Do you have any ideas on how to make it work? I'd love to hear them.


The Sixth Sense official site

Monday, November 28, 2011

Addictions, Delusions, and other vices you can't make me drop.


It shouldn't surprise anyone that I like to read. I've counted, and I read about eleven books every month.  Hmmm...Let me get out my calculator for a minute... That's 132 books a year.

132 books.

That's on top of my own writing, critiquing for others, and the stocking of blogs, all of which I do on a regular basis.

People often ask me... How do you find time to read? My answer, how does an alcoholic find time to drink?

Taking a turn for the serious here. I think I might be an addict. Seriously.

I can't walk past a new book without picking it up, and once I've started, I can't stop reading until I've read the words "The end." And even then, I often flip the last few blank pages back and forth hoping to find words written on them. When I'm in story-land, I walk around in a story-induced haze. I'm no good for conversation until that dern novel is finished. That's not normal.

See, I'm not one of those people who can read a chapter and then put it down and do something productive.

I'm not a social reader.

I hide my reading. My husband will come home and ask me what I did that day, and I sure as heck won't say "Oh, I read for seven hours, and then did the dishes, made dinner, got me and the kids dressed - all in the half hour it took you to drive home."

I have a secret stash of books. I have withdrawals when I'm not reading or writing. My work, my recreation, and even my friends all center around my reading.

I allow all of this... maybe justify is the better word... because it is my job.

No, I haven't been paid for it yet. Thanks for asking.

This is what I want to do for a living. And I, perhaps delusion-ally, think that it's going to happen.

One day I will be published. One day my book will be the opiate for somebody else. One day my book may get between a reader and her family.

And I don't see that's a problem.

Do you?
~Sheena Boekweg

Friday, November 25, 2011

That Might Be Poisoned: A Thanksgiving Tale

I’ve been running a low-grade fever for a week and my younger son is a walking landmine of mucus explosion. The cats just decided to get fleas, my bathrooms are science experiments, and I have a mountain of dirty laundry. My in-laws drove two days just to visit this disaster.

But... I did what I could for Thanksgiving. Anticipating continued health challenges, I pre-ordered a cooked turkey, stuffing, and gravy. That left only a couple more sides to make, plus pies.
The perfect pie ladies, they taunt me.

It should have been easy, even if my heart wasn’t in it this year. Most of my thoughts centered around bed and more bed. I stole away a lot, making little notes, sometimes tweeting the worst of it to an anonymous Internet. Here is the rundown of Thanksgiving 2012: 
9:30 Every year it haunts me. I can’t flute my pie crust so it’s pretty. Tasty, but not pretty. I have little hope this year will be different. Grateful today that there is a new American Horror Story available for download on iTunes. It’s the little things.
10:00 As predicted, my pie crust looks like I let the 5-year-old shape it. Sigh. Tastes the same. 
10:45 Something smells wrong. Not burning. Is it possible the ceramic pie plate wasn’t safe at 450? Or the silicone crust shield? WHAT SMELLS? Someone on Twitter says it’s probably the silicone, but… if it is the shield, does that make this a POISON PIE? 
10:54 I have Googled. Many people report strange smells with silicone. Strange smells make me nervous. I hope we don’t all die from the fumes. 
11:00 I live. It is a miracle. But we’ll see what happens after we eat the POISON PIE. 
1:21 Holy crap! If you order a pre-cooked turkey, you have to check under the foil before sticking in oven. For plastic wrap. And a plastic container. The parade of smells just keeps on coming. 
1:25 This is our POISON THANKSGIVING. 
1:30 But really, if they say heat it in foil, don’t you think they should also say, but not until after you’ve removed all the hidden plastic? 
1:35 I hope this doesn’t cause stomach cancer. I really don’t want stomach cancer. (I am a hypochondriac with a particular dread of digestive diseases. I’ll spare you the "why" on that one.) 
2:50 We ate, we drank, we made merry. In a subdued, small family, WASP-y sort of way. We made politely pleasant. 
3:02 Less than 30 minutes since the kids were sooo full they couldn’t possibly eat a bite of green beans, the first snack request has aririved. 
3:03 DENIED. 
3:08 So sleepy. So very, very slee… 
4:30 Don’t want to clean up the mess. Don’t wanna. Next year we’re getting turkey sandwiches from Quizno’s and that’s that. Note: I make this declaration even on non-poisonous years. At the point when I am most certain I will never cook again, I am subdued by pie. 
5:21 Diabetic relatives = more for me = will be one of them soon. 
5:30 Pumpkin pie should be a vegetable, at least by federal standards. It’s at least as vegetable-ish as pizza and fries. Pecan, though… that’s a crime against nature. Sugar, corn syrup, eggs, and butter, cooked into a caramel filling of pure insulin-spiking pleasure with just enough pecan crunch to justify naming it pecan pie instead of sugar pie. You can’t have seconds of “sugar pie,” but “pecan pie” is a two-slice confection. 
7:00 All day, I have tweeted to my writer buddies, as well as random followers such as @nomoredarkcircles and a few shady characters who may or may not be selling pornography and/or iphones. Nanowrimo people posted their word counts, and each one was a fresh stab of jealousy. Why do I have to have a fever, children, and in-laws? Why did I have to be born American? If we were Canadian, my house wouldn’t smell like turkey and burned plastic right now and maybe I'd get some real writing done.
8:20 In-laws went to their hotel. Another thing to be grateful for: not being able to afford a big enough house to host anyone. John can do bedtime. I’m sneaking out to the office. 
8:38 I don’t think The Bravery needed to re-relase The Sun and The Moon with remixes. And I would like Pandora to understand this Truth. 
8:39 I still love you, Pandora. 
8:40 It is too late. I am ruined. Carbs, wine, fever… I give up.
I cuddled, I watched over-the-top horror featuring a mysterious rubber suit, I took three kinds of cold medicine, and then the dam broke. I let the gratitude I’d been fighting all day wash over me.

Yes, I fight it sometimes. Gratitude is always a mixed bag for me. The more I think about how lucky I am, the more I have to be aware of how fleeting everything is, how quickly blessings can disappear, and how many variations of tragedy and hardship I’ve been spared for no conceivable reason. It can be a weighty emotion, one I don't always feel strong enough to carry.

I checked on the children and wished I’d hugged my older one before bed. I wondered if the younger one would crawl in between us again, and knew I wouldn’t kick him out if he did. Damn gratitude. It always leads me to this place: the feeling that everything I hold dear is slipping through my fingers like so many molecules of water. I promised myself tomorrow I would write it all down, trying to hold on a little longer, hoping I could remember - what their smiles looked like, what their wishes were, how their bodies felt in my arms - the day I cooked the turkey in plastic wrap.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

The History of Food

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I celebrated by eating giant quantities of food, and chasing my nieces and nephews around the yard. Later, alas, it began to rain. Fortunately, video games were there to save the day!

Pretty much a fantastic day.

In case you hadn't heard enough about food today

I have a new favorite website.

I was mining through the fabulous list of articles over at the SFWA website, and I came across this website regarding the history of food.

The main feature of a site is a timeline with the most basic origins of food and recipes, with articles giving the details of each. Who knew, for example, that mozzarella sticks have been around since the 14th Century? Or that chocolate covered potato chips pre-date chocolate covered pretzels? Or that it took humanity until the 16th century to figure out that you could use eggs as a raising agent (such as meringue)?

The very first thing on the timeline is water, which cracks me up. This addition of water seems to hint that there was some point in human history in which water was not consumed. But I suppose that the creators of the site just wanted another excuse to link to the articles on food at the Cambridge site.

The good folks of Cambridge have written a large number of articles for a book called The Cambridge World History of Food. I'm sure that all of them are extremely fascinating, if they weren't clogged with the worst use of jargon I've encountered in a long time (and I read a lot of scientific journal articles). For example, the following passage on rice: "The origin of rice was long shrouded by disparate postulates because of the pantropical but disjunct distribution of zzzzzzzzzzzz"

That, of course, being the point where my eyes glazed over. The article on water is even worse:

"Even earlier ideas of water as one of the four (or five) elements will mislead us, for in many such schemes elements were less fundamental substances than dynamic principles (e.g., in the case of water, the dynamic tendency is to wet things, cool them, and dissolve them) or generic labels for regular combinations of qualities. In one strand of Aristotelianism, for example, water can be understood as matter possessing the qualities of being cold and wet…."

Uh, right. As my lawyer friend commented, "This article can be understood as possessing the qualities of being obvious and stupid." That’s right, folks, this passage makes even her brain hurt.

But I digress. I was particularly fascinated by some examples, like the fact that ketchup has its origins in Asia. My lawyer friend tells me that I should spell it as "catsup," because "ketchup" is a trademarked brand that has fallen into general usage, and I told her to stop reading over my shoulder. Anyway, ketchup at its origins could really be made with any vegetables, and apparently, it was at one time a close race between tomato and eggplant ketchup. I, for one, am relieved.

Seriously though, there's a lot of really great information there. It is in no way a complete or thorough guide to food history, but it's a good starting point, and as all good websites will be, lots and lots of fun. It's certainly inspired me to look more into the topic.

Or to try my own vegetable ketchup recipe. Brussel sprouts, your day has come at last.

Let us close with another passage from the Cambridge water chapter:

"It is probably right to see this linkage of macrocosm and microcosm as something more than analogical; such linkages would remain a part of popular understanding even after the rise of a mechanistic cosmology in the seventeenth century."

For the rest of this holiday season, may both your microcosm and macrocosm continue to be so much more than analogical.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gather Round the Dinning Room Table

I’m a hunter and a gatherer, a flea market, second-hand, never look a gift horse in the mouth, bargain shopping princess. So when it came to finding a table, Craigslist was a natural magnet. And there among the headlines calling out like orphaned royal waifs - Queen Anne chair, Louis XV buffet - I found more than once the clarion call, beckoning me to buy a dinning room table.
Did you snort at the misspelling? I did. ‘Dining,’ not ‘dinning.’ Didn’t everyone know din meant noise, hubbub, commotion?
We finally found our table, not on Craigslist, but at a local consignment store (they’d even spelled ‘dining room table’ correctly on the placard, just in case we couldn’t recognize the slab of wood with four legs and a set of six chairs.). The table is huge, and I do mean huge, with an extra leaf for the option of extra hugeness.
Over the years it’s had its share of breakfast cereal overflow, Play-doh mayhem and dinnertime calamities. But what I notice most about the table is the noise. Always around it there are voices, laughing, prattling, squabbling, tattling. I realized at last, that although I had not intended to, I had indeed purchased a dinning room table.
Some nights the clatter of dropped silverware, the repeated please pass (sometimes hold the please), the family talking over and under and sideways one another makes my head spin. But it’s nothing compared to the nights when the house is empty. Then the dinning room table is hushed to a timid murmur. A single clink of silverware on plate, a single glass set down. The paper napkin crumples up in my hand amid the stillness. Then our table transforms into what, I suppose, it was always meant to be, a dining room table. Sedate, elegant, uniformly well-mannered.
And do you know, I don’t like it. I can’t stand having a dining room table. Give me the din, the mayhem, the commotion, because in our house that is what lets us know we are alive, and together -this incredible mishmash of family and friends.
When this table has worn itself out, when it is time for it to go, I hope I will be able to proudly list it on Craigslist:
Dinning Room Table - to a good home.
And I hope that another gathering of family and friends can sit around it and fill their lives with a feast of memories.
Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving with the people you love gathered near.

It All Started with a Big Bang

Okay, I love the TV show The Big Bang Theory. I've been missing Schrödinger’s cat and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle jokes since Futurama went off the air, and with the Barenaked Ladies singing the theme song, how could this show not be full of awesomeness.

The first time I saw the show, it annoyed me. I only watched about ten minutes, but the characters were so cliché that I changed the channel. I've hung around a lot of scientists in my day, even married one. They are not all socially inept trekkies who are unable to lift more than twenty pounds. Some of them are rock climbers, skiers, partiers, and fashionistas. I even know a few scientists who were cheerleaders in high school. In fact, they are pretty much just normal people who happen to like science.

But I kept hearing how funny the show was, so one day when the kids were quietly playing and my house was semi-cleaned and nothing else was on TV, I watched a full episode and loved it. Been a huge fan ever since.

Still the characters are so cliché, so why does it work?

First of all, this is a comedy, and comedies can get a way with a lot. Part of the fun of this show is making fun of the stereotypes and taking them over the top. Klingon boggle and secret agent laser chess, pure genius.

But I think what really works here is that the characters are more than stereotypes. I find it fascinating how the four main guys on the show each fit the stereotypical science nerd, but they are all so different.

Leonard"Twelve years after high school, and I’m still at the nerd table." (Leonard in The Big Bran Hypothesis)

Leonard is very much aware of his geekiness and wants to be cooler. He still wants to date the popular girl (Penny), and even though he knows she is out of his league, he can't give up the hope that she will see how awesome he is. And he really is awesome. He is very insecure, but also rather confident at the same time. He is the most self-aware, and the heart and leader of the group, and the only one who knows how to handle Sheldon.

"If it’s ‘creepy’ to use internet, military satellites, and robot aircrafts to find a house full of gorgeous young models, so I can drop in on them unexpectedly, then fine, I’m creepy." (Wolowitz in The Peanut Reaction)

Wolowitz, on the other hand, is rather delusional. He tends to think he is cooler and smoother than he really is, a real ladies man despite the lack of evidence. There are moments when we see his insecurities and give the impression that the confidence he exudes is more of a front. And yeah, he still lives with his mother.

Raj"Oh, if only I had his confidence. I have such difficulty speaking to women or around women or at times very effeminate men." (Raj in The Vegas Renormalization)

Raj is sweet and sensitive and mute around women unless he's got some alcohol in him. He is the one who reads Twilight and felt that the night the power went off in the Antarctic was a nice bonding experience. Honestly, I just want to hug Raj, he is so adorable.

Sheldon"That’s no reason to cry. One cries because one is sad. For example, I cry because others are stupid, and that makes me sad." (Sheldon in the Flaming Spittoon Acquisition)

Sheldon is the fan favorite and deservedly so. He is hilarious. He is the prodigy genius who doesn't understand human relations and social cues. He is condescending, demanding, and self-centered, but he tries to be a good friend to Leonard and tries to reach out to Penny. Really it is his cluelessness that makes him endearing.

"Aw honey, the buses don’t go where you live do they." (Penny in The Infestation Hypothesis)

Penny is also a stereotype, college dropout, attractive, actress wannabe working as a waitress. She is also very sweet and sassy and the only one who really stands up to Sheldon. The interactions between her and Sheldon are some of the best, and her on-again off-again romance with Leonard is really sweet. I'm cheering for them.

I'm glad I gave this show another chance and didn't let the stereotypes run me off for good. Because even though the characters have very many cliché characteristics, they really are well rounded and engaging characters that I love. I guess sometimes the clichés work.

So what do you think? Are you a fan of The Big Bang Theory?


The Big Bang Theory site

Monday, November 21, 2011

Why Colonel Brandon would beat Mr. Darcy in a street fight.

Mr. Darcy is overrated.  There. I said it. His “I love you against my better judgment” attitude, when you think about it, is insulting. Yet somehow, when you ask women, “Which of Austen’s gentlemen is your favorite”, I would bet money that Darcy is the name that comes up.

Darn that Colin Firth.

For my money, Colonel Brandon is the hero I would like to ride off into the literary sunset with. Yet most people see him as the consolation prize Marianne Dashwood settles for in Sense and Sensibility.

I blame Alan Rickman. 

While Alan Rickman is fabulous as Snape, he is no Colin Firth. He’s no Colonel Brandon either. 

Colonel Brandon is supposed to be 35. Rickman was 49 when he played Brandon in the 1995 Emma Thompson vehicle. I would say my suspicions of why he is played so old, but it's impolite to mention a woman's age.

Jane Austen calls Brandon old ironically. She also says that his looks are pleasing, and that he is well-mannered and friendly.

He is called silent and grave, which I admit isn't squee inducing. But as you read, you find he’s silent, because he is worried. He’s grave because he is still carrying his first heartbreak.

He’s in pain… How cute is that?

He finds hope, and a path to happiness, when he falls in love with Marianne, but then he is rejected and finds himself the constant audience of Willoughby and Marianne’s obnoxious unmannerly show of love.

I've been there. It's obnoxious.

When he discovers Willoughby is worse than a jerk face loser he thinks he is, they duel, and Colonel Brandon is triumphant. His reward… Oh yay…now he gets to watch Marianne mope after Willoughby.

How sad, right? Can you imagine what it would be like to watch the person you love, wish that you were someone that you hate? Yet Colonel Brandon is kind, gentle, and forgiving. His heartbreak from his first love gives him understanding and sympathy for Marianne that none of the other characters can show.

Hmmm. Dreamy.

Because Sense and Sensibility belongs to Elinor, her love interest, Edward “ I’m engaged to a shallow mean girl, but I love you better, but I'm not going to do anything about it because my Mommy wouldn’t like it” Ferras becomes the main hero. But I would love to see a version of Sense and Sensibility where Colonel Brandon gets his due. 

And I think I know how to do it.

It’s simple. Cast Andrew-Lee Potts as Colonel Brandon.

Dreamy, right?

Andrew is most well known for playing Connor in Primeval ( shown on BBC America), or Hatter in the newest adaption of Alice and Wonderland ( shown on Syfy). So if you aren’t a sci fi dork, which I admit I am, you probably don’t know who he is. Don’t hold that against him.

I will say unequivocally, that no one can play the wounded lover better than Andrew-Lee Potts. No one.

What makes this English actor so affective, is not only his good looks, (Although he is adorable), it’s that he is enormously likable. When he loves a girl, he really loves her. It’s sweet and dorky and wonderful... as all the best love stories are.

So then, when he gets the girl, you get to watch this likable character get what he really wants. It’s a triumph. It’s dreamy.


Sorry… I got lost in my imagination for a little bit.

My bad.

So… Andrew. If you ever google your name and find yourself reading this, I have two things to say to you.

First… Hi.  Hello. How are you? I’m a big fan of your work.

And second… Please find a way to play Colonel Brandon in a movie the way you play Colonel Brandon in my head. (You are really good at it. Just so you know.) It could be your Colin Firth career-making role. Millions of Jane Austen fans, myself included, will thank you. 

You would even be doing Colonel Brandon a favor. Because honestly…Mr. Darcy who?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Meeting an idol: Charlaine Harris

I love fictional vampires. We’ll analyze that another time. Right now, pop open the champagne, because I met a ROCK STAR of the vampire genre. And by “met,” I mean I handed her a book to sign and had my picture taken in her vicinity.

Why I adore Charlaine Harris: The Southern Vampire Mysteries are addictive. Sookie is my kind of heroine - smart and sexy but vulnerable enough to be relatable. The Sookieverse is funny, magical, and located in backwoods Louisiana. Alexander Skarsgard is HOT. That may be tangential, but I'm sticking with it.

When I found out at the last minute that she was appearing a few miles from my house, I threw together some childcare, rushed out the door, and made it just in time to hear her speak.

Tell us, Sarah-san, what was she like?
Entertaining and delightful, of course! Ms. Harris speaks with such an easy, melodious drawl that it is impossible not to crave sweet tea when in her presence. Impossible, I say, and I don’t even like sweet tea. She was candid and real. She touched on her discomfort with fan fiction, hurt feelings from mean-spirited reviews, being queen of her fictional universe, and getting to meet other big name authors as a member of the club.

As I waited in the signing line, I was determined to tell her how much I appreciate her work. And I did. Sort of.

Blathering Blathery
Here's the thing: I suck at speeches. I have never made a toast that failed to be cringeworthy. Also, I am not pithy.

But I had to try, right?

It came out something like this:
“Ms. Harris, ah, I just wanted to tell you, I’m a mom, a stay-at-home mom I mean, but, ah, well, the thing is, I always wanted to write fiction - I mean I’ve written other stuff but not fiction, because I never really thought I would be very good and maybe I wasn’t creative or something but then I read Dead Until Dark, and I don’t know, ah, things kind of clicked, and there was something about the book - it was just really fun, I don’t know, but I, um, decided to try writing and I’ve been really loving it and so even if I don’t get published I’m just so glad that you, you know, opened up that world for me and stuff.”

Southerners are nothing if not gracious
Here’s what I think she heard:

“Blah blah…mom (we’re the same!)…blah blah blah…Dead Until Dark (I could have written that)…blah blah blah…published (read my stuff!)… blah blah.”
Her understated response:
“Good luck to you! I was a mom when I started writing and it seem to have worked out okay for me.”
See? She's awesome.
Charlaine Harris and MOI at Mysterious Galaxy, Redondo Beach

Mulligan! Mulligan!
She won’t read this, but I’m writing my do-over anyway, because I wield that awesome power on Fridays.

My copy of Dead Until Dark is marked up from beginning to end. It was my first textbook for decoding this beast called plot. It was also the book I was reading when a niggling feeling started in my gut that maybe I should stop putting off a dream just because I might fail miserably.

I hadn’t written a single piece of fiction in my adult life. I'd been writing for years, crafting poetry and snippets of heartfelt prose about marriage and children and the inner world of Sarah. I shied away from fiction, believing I lacked any talent for making stuff up.

When I read about Charlaine Harris, her bio seemed so… normal. Accessible. She had combined motherhood and writing, publishing regularly and with moderate success before she tackled the fun and kooky idea that led to big success. She seemed, fundamentally, not so different from anyone else with a passion.

So, I started writing and... okay, I wasn’t great. But I got better,  and finding ways to improve is just part of the fun.

The real discovery was that my dreams of publication went on the back burner once I got into my story. I never knew how much joy I would find in writing fiction until I started.

What is this JOY of which you speak?
That’s right. Joy. Maybe literary types get to be miserable, but with fantasy there is joy, even when your character is broken and bleeding. (It can be a sadistic joy.)

In writing, I’ve found imaginary friends. I’ve found a hidden part of myself that doesn’t depend on real life’s cooperation to feel good. I’ve found a community of people who love the same things I love. And I’ve found desire, the kind of desire that sometimes gets lost amid carpools and grocery shopping and laundry.

What if I could have a do-over? I’d probably just say, “It’s a real pleasure to meet you, Ms. Harris. I love your work,” and leave it at that. The thing I wanted to thank her for is too precious for me to capture in a nerve-wracked fan speech. But whether she knows it or not, Ms. Harris does have my gratitude, as does every author I’ve ever read who made me think: I wish I’d written that.

~ Sarah

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Portrayals of Women in Fiction, part 1

Last night I made the mistake of watching the movie "Black Death." I don't characterize it as a mistake because of the violence, which was excessive, or the gory shots of plague victims. No, the movie was an awful experience because of its treatment of women.

Before anyone can roll their eyes and declare, "Chill out, Gloria Steinem!", let's make a few things clear. First, as a reader of fantasy, I am unfortunately accustomed to female love interests whose sole role in the story is to be rescued by the hero, and female leads whose idea of strength is wearing pants instead of a pretty dress. All of that just gives me an increased desire to write kick-ass female leads. Also, don't try to tell me that, "It's just portraying things historically! The middle ages were a terrible time to be a woman!" Yes, the Middle Ages were a terrible time to be a woman. But there were a couple of things in the movie that take it from historical depiction to pure condescension.

We would have brought wine, but it's too cliched as a gift

I've got to give you a quick rundown of the plot of this movie, spoilers included. Beware, spoilers abound. It's the 14th Century, and the Black Death is ravaging England. A group of men has been tasked with investigating rumors of a village that seems to be miraculously free of the plague. So Our Heroes go tromping across the land to this magical village that is indeed plague free.

But after just a few hours in the village, they find it is an almost cult-like place. In this patriarchal England, their leader is a woman in red who seems to have mystical powers. The soldiers get captured and tortured for their intentions to destroy the village. But some of the soldiers escape, prove the Woman in Red a fraud, and slaughter those villagers that resist them. And then, in a fun twist, the soldiers turn out to have brought the plague to the village, and all the surviving inhabitants die. The end!

This whole thing reminded me of the common portrayals of matriarchal societies in fantasy and science fiction – they are almost invariably portrayed as being inherently flawed or based on poor morals. And in the end, they always break down (see Melanie Rawn's Exiles series for a prime example). The portrayal of matriarchal societies is a post of its own, but it I mention it here to point out how prevalent it still is in fiction today.

Still, none of that is anywhere close to the fury part. So let's get to the point, shall we?

Also, she knits really great socks

After the bloodbath, one of the soldiers growls to a male villager, "Why did you follow her?" (referring to the Woman in Red)

And the man replies….

Wait for it….

"Because she was beautiful."

Really. REALLY?

Great! Now, not only do we have the female-lead society based on improper morals and descending into chaos, but the men weren't even in it for the non-plague non-violence part. Nor were they in it because the woman was a good leader. No, they just thought the lady was pretty!

But the worst part is yet to come. See, for some reason the director decided to tack on a sort of epilogue. The main character decides to seek vengeance on the woman in red. Apparently, killing her entire village apparently wasn't horrible enough.

So this guy who used to be a monk turns into a mercenary, and spends his days hunting down women who look like the witch and torturing them to death. Fun! And again, one could say blah blah, historical period. But at the very end, the narrator intones as the main character burns yet another woman at the stake, "Despite the grief in his heart, I hope he someday found peace."

Really? Because I kind of hope that someday the ghosts of the women he murdered come back and rip him into teeny tiny shreds and feed him to weasels.

The Point of it All

The intent of this movie is clearly to shock and horrify. The things it says about religion are also pretty terrible. But the parts about women still make me angrier. Maybe it's because their pure condescension, because those two moments seem almost casual in their inclusion. That's particularly true for the latter of the two. The first could be to show that the men of the village were terrible people too. But the second? There's really no reason for that, nothing it adds to the movie.

In trying to sum up this post, I started out asking myself why the movie made me so angry. But maybe the question is, what do I want to get from putting this into a post? If I just wanted other people to back my position, I could have complained on facebook. If I wanted to make a real, true change to the world, I'd need to do a lot more than post in a blog. But the more I think about this, I suppose I just want to understand. Why was this okay? Why did they throw that last sentence in there? Why, in every single review I found, does no one else have a problem with this?

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Caricature and Character

Lately, I’ve been writing Harry Potter.

Yes, yes I have. I’ve also been writing Shannon Hale’s, The Goose Girl, and Megan Whalen Turner’s, The Queen of Attolia.

Okay, I can only wish I was writing them for the first time, but I have been copying them and plotting them out and trying to glean every ounce of craft I can from them. And I’m hoping a few things will start to sink into my thick cranium.


Now before I begin this magnum opus, I have to give a disclaimer. Having had exactly one college writing course (graduate level technical writing – not exactly a repository of literary nuance), I may have my definitions a little skewed, but I see caricature as having certain characteristics over-emphasized and others minimized. Like the pictures that street artists draw, or like a helium balloon, larger than life, but filled with nothing but air. Am I getting close?

Early on in figuring out this writing thing, I learned the importance of well rounded characters, deep backstory, motivation and on and on. But what I think I see in copying JK Rowling is how much, and how successfully, she relies on caricature. Sure, the main characters in Harry Potter all have characterization in spades. But how many other beloved characters are basically overly exaggerated caricatures? When I hear Crabbe & Goyle, I think lumbering, not-too-bright brutes. Percy? Fudge? Filch? Even the names of the characters are so evocative of their traits. And yet I love to loathe Lockhart and Umbrage, particularly because they are overblown.


Megan Whalen Turner, on the other hand, takes great pains to make sure almost every person in her novels is complex, both personally and in their relationships with other characters. The father of the main character could be considered a moderately minor character, but we learn that he’s had a turbulent relationship with his son: disappointed expectations, not being able to save his son from himself, pride, acquiescence to his son’s choices, but never quite being settled with it. He is completely realistic in his actions and reactions. And yet, in four books, this well-rounded, this utterly human man has remained nameless.

These are, imho, two brilliant authors with two equally brilliant approaches. As a writer of MG and YA, I mull these things over in my head. When is it appropriate to use caricature and when is deeper characterization needed? Are there types of writing or age groups that respond better to one or the other?

Walkin’ Down the Street

And when I start putting the same assessments into real life I realize we’re probably wired to make snap judgments, to sort and categorize: Look! it’s the bubbly intern, the frazzled mom, and that salesman that always makes us feel a little greasy.

Maybe all we really need of the pimply cashier slouching at the end of the self-checkout is for him to be a caricature in our lives. But sometime, something might happen that lets us see a little deeper to the kid saving for college and worrying that he’ll need to pay the electric bill instead because his mom lost her job. Maybe in real life, even more than in books, it’s important to try to see beneath the surface and find the real person behind the caricature.

What do you think? How do you view caricature and character?

~ Susan

For more, visit:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dinosaurs, Fairies, and Hunger Games

I have two little girls who have wild imaginations. Sometimes I write a story with them, and I've noticed that they all end up being pure wish fulfillment, for example: a dinosaur pokes his head in the window and whisks my girls away to a magical dinosaur world or a butterfly lands on their backs and turns into wings making them fairy princesses.

Whenever I try to add an evil circus owner or the paparazzi, the bad guys are instantly defeated, so we can get back to flying over rainbow lakes. I've just come to accept that my girls don't want any conflict in our stories.

I know eventually my girls will grow up and get bored with pure wish fulfilling fantasies, and we can add villains and battles to our stories. But I don’t think that wish fulfillment ever completely goes away.

Don't we want the boy to get the girl, good to triumph over evil, and happily ever after? Don't we want to feel like everything in the story happens for a reason? Isn't this just wishful thinking; how on some level, we would like real life to be?

Don't get me wrong. I do like a good tragic ending. The Crucible, Braveheart, and Titanic are all stories that I love. But even in these stories, there is some sense of triumph, John Proctor refusing to give them his name, William Wallace crying out "Freedom," and Rose taking control of her life. This is wish fulfillment; that even in tragedy, something is learned, something is changed.

There is nothing worse than a pointless tragedy. Yes, that happens in real life which is exactly why in stories we need the wish fulfillment.

Which brings me to the The Hunger Games Trilogy. I loved The Hunger Games. If you haven't read the whole series yet, stop now and go read it. Go, do it, now. I’ve got spoilers coming.


I enjoyed all of the books, but the ending of Mockingjay was disappointing to me. This is because my wish fulfillment wasn't fulfilled.

I loved Katniss. She is definitely one of my favorite characters. She is strong, resourceful, smart, and brave, but underneath it all, there is an aching in her. She is vulnerable, self-doubting, and denying her pain over her father’s death and her mother’s rejection.

Maybe I loved her too much because I really didn't want to see her used over and over again, by President Snow and by Coin and everyone else in the rebellion. I didn't want to see her fail at the only thing she tried to do on her own, and I didn't want to see her completely broken.

It's not that I wanted kittens and rainbows or Katniss taking down the Capitol on her own, Rambo style. I expected Katniss to suffer and struggle. I expected her to be irrevocably damaged but not broken. She could have even died as long as I felt that there was some sort of triumph, that she took back her life from those who tried to use her and showed them that they didn't control her, that she would live and die on her own terms.

But that is not what happened. She was manipulated into doing everything she did even the shocking ending. At least that is how it felt to me. And because my wish for her was not fulfilled, the story fell flat for me.

I think it is important to remember what readers want from the story. It may not be a magical tour through dinosaur land, and they'll definitely want lots and lots of conflict and to see the protagonist struggle and struggle and struggle, but in the end, they'll want their wish fulfillment. A satisfying ending whether it is happy, tragic, or bittersweet.


Awesome fairy picture is by sgrundy at stock.xchange

Picture of Katniss from

Monday, November 14, 2011

Put those shelved books on the shelves!

Self-publishing is a little too easy. Check out if you don’t believe me. I found them after finishing Nanowrimo last year, where the award for winning Nano was a free proof of your book. I swear, Createspace hands out those coupons for free proofs like they are gateway drugs. I've had three coupons for free proofs in the last year, and by the time I finish writing this post I'll probably find another.  

Oh look... a free proof.

There’s something so amazing about the idea of holding an actual copy of the book you’ve believed in... So amazing. You have to try to do it... it's free... What's the harm?  And then, once you’ve done the hour’s worth of work to get the book in proof format,  all you have to do is click one button and you’ve self-published.


 Your mom and your friends can buy your book. It might be the big break you've been daydreaming about...

Money will flow towards you.  

This is it...You can do it...

Why not, right?

Gateway drug, I tell you.

The problem is,  with that one click, you’ve almost guaranteed that a traditional publisher won’t publish your book, ( right?...sad.), and once those five to twenty people who are related to you buy your book, it will be just one of a billon self-published books clogging Amazon’s shelf space.

How's that for an emoticon?

That’s why… in case you are wondering… I’m not going to self-publish Funny Tragic, Crazy Magic. I believe in that book. I think it’s awesome. So awesome, in fact, I can’t believe I wrote it. I think more than five to twenty people would like to own it.

However...this brings me to my point… reluctantly...Funny Tragic, Crazy Magic is my fourth novel, which means there are two other perfectly good novels sitting on my hard drive doing nothing.

(And no, my math isn’t wrong. My first novel is so laughable, that it doesn’t count, and things that can’t count, can’t do math.)

 Oh great, a math joke.

These two other novels aren’t bad. They even have moments of awesome.  I’m not … super… embarrassed for other people to read them. I just don’t think they are the novels that will break me into the publishing business.

So… why.... not… self … publish… them…

I think you can read my hesitancy.

I’ll tell you the reason why I don’t think I should do it.   

  1.  Although I didn’t mean for this to happen, those first three novels ended up more autobiographical than I intended. If I self-publish, besides the one or two random people who stumble upon the book and like the idea enough to purchase, the only people who will buy these books will actually know me… And they might pick up on those autobiographical Freudian slips.
  2.  See above. It's so embarrassing, I had to say it twice.
  3. If I wanted to get money from my friends and family, I’d sell Pampered Chef. 

But the idea… it intrigues.  Mostly because then I could hold an actual copy of the book in my hands, and keep a serious face when I call myself a writer. I’d be a professional, a money making writing machine... not a hobbyist mom who keeps writing novels instead of creating scrapbooks. Or cleaning. Or looking at my children.

And those books are just sitting there…

Dern gateway drug.

What do you think? Would you do it?

Friday, November 11, 2011

5 Reasons to Never Ever Write Vampires

Genus vs. Species:

Agents and editors often say they are looking for something different, but not too different. I think creating vampires is like inventing a new species of squirrel. Any tree squirrel (genus Sciurus) will share common traits. You can look and say, “Yes, that’s a squirrel,” but still know the difference between a red squirrel and a gray squirrel. (Hint: one is red; one is gray.)

So you think about it. My vampires can go out in sunlight as long as they wear a special charm or something - maybe a witch makes it. Yeah, that’s good. But then you finally check out Vampire Diaries and realize that would be almost as unoriginal as making them sparkle in sunlight. Now you’re getting nervous. If their blood heals people, is that a rip-off of True Blood? But wait, it’s in Vampire Diaries, too. So is it fair game? There’s no official guide to genus-level traits (the vampire creative commons) vs species traits (the vampire rip-offs). You bang your head against your desk and pull out your well-worn Dracula. At least he’s in the public domain.

Fang Fail

Story is flowing, shadows are lurking, danger is imminent. You’re in the flow. And then, you type these two words: Glistening fangs.

Look, I get it.Vampires have fangs (usually). They’re pearly white because your sexy breed of vampire takes care of his teeth. Saliva naturally leads to glistening. It’s a logical word choice.
But…. you bang your head against your desk and open the thesaurus. Gleaming fangs? Not much better. Scintillating fangs?

This next head-bang hits the keyboard. Great, now a key is loose.

You wonder if you can tell the story without ever mentioning fangs.

The Social Factor

You still don’t know if those unmentionable fangs should retract, but otherwise, things are zipping. You attend a seminar with a well-known author to hone some skills and get to know other writers. Small talk erupts around the danishes, and you’re on the spot.

An elderly woman smiles at you. “What do you write, dear?”

“Fantasy,” you say.

A guy chimes in with a mouthful of pastry. “What kind of fantasy?” You’re with writers now. They know “fantasy” doesn’t tell you squat.

“Ah, urban fantasy."

“Oh, fun,” says another woman. Then she leans in closer and smirks. “Just, please, tell me you’re not writing vampires.” Several snickers of agreement accompany her dramatic eye-roll.

You mumble something about how they aren’t vampires, per se, just blood-drinking revenants with sharp canines. But it’s really totally different.

You go back to your conference table, bang your head against it, spill hot coffee on your notebook.

A Special Note for Bright-Eyed YA Writers:

Ah, the teenage vampire. So sexy, so charming, so at ease in his own skin. A morally complex and madly in love vampire is a wonderful antidote to the concerns of acne, parents, and college applications.

If you are a teenage girl, skip this one. Go ahead, my dear. Write what you love.

If you are not a teenager (except at heart - aren’t we all?) then at some point you will run across this little fact: The human brain doesn’t reach full maturity until between 20 and 30 years old. If you are over 30, you don’t need a source to know it’s true. (But here’s one anyway.) You can’t trap your character in an immature brain for all eternity! A teenage body, sure. But the brain? It’s too cruel. I know we’re supposed to torture our characters, but some things just cross a line.

The Nose Knows

Trials aside, you’re still gung-ho. You still love these my-vampires-are-different vampires, and secretly you believe they’ll become so popular they spark new “teams” in a national love triangle debate.

Your vampire meets his human heroine, and you meet your moment of truth.

If you can resist making your heroine’s blood smell extraordinarily good, then maybe, just maybe, you don’t need my advice. (In fact, maybe you have the restraint to become an ethical vampire yourself.) For most of us, however, resistance is futile. Futile. Face it, she’s delicious! You swore you wouldn’t do it, but then he got close to her neck, and he inhaled without breathing, and before you knew it, he was evaluating the base notes of her pulse and practically swooning at the euphoria of her delicate perfume.

Once again, head meets desk with violent force.

In conclusion, vampires are a terrible idea. QED.

But... If you’re still determined, at least write with a helmet on. And then let me know when your novel is published, because I’m always looking for a good vampire book.

~ Sarah

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Writer's Block

I'll admit it, I'm nervous. I've been asked to join a group of funny, articulate women in creating this blog. I've very much enjoyed the first three posts, all of which were about heartfelt topics such as family, self-image, and human connections. After reading those, I thought, "Maybe I should save that post about the origin of ketchup for another week."

But when I sat down and tried to think of a Meaningful Topic for my first post, I drew a blank. This happened several evenings afterward too, resulting in me getting more and more nervous that I wouldn't think of anything meaningful at all. But finally, I had to stop and laugh at myself for conjuring all this pressure out of nowhere. And that made me recall my experience with writer's block.

It's hard to describe writer's block without resorting to overly dramatic similies: "it's like losing an arm," or "It's like losing your sense of smell." Suffice to say it was one of the most depressing periods of my adult life. In order to write at all, I had to force every single word onto the page. Not surprisingly, my prose became flat and lifeless.

Finally, my frustration reached such a point that I decided to give up... but not on writing. Instead, I gave up on expectations. In other words, I gave myself permission to be terrible. So I started writing a story for of crazy characters, improbable plot developments and hideous cliches. It was pretty bad, but it made me smile. It let writing be fun again. And finally, the writer's block went away.

I learned something important from that experience: it's sometimes okay to give up. Don't let self-inflicted pressure choke the joy from your writing. Instead of searching hard for emotion and trying to force out just the right phrase, give yourself permission to be silly and meaningless. Stop trying to write and just write. Sure, your words might turn out to be ridiculous. Or they could end up having more meaning than you expected.

You might just get a blog post out of it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Maybe my Hair is Naturally Stiff

And Other Truths of Childhood

Or, how to find inspiration in the mundane.

I don’t know how long it had been since he’d used shampoo. Each morning I heard the shower running. I saw, as he flew out the door for school, that he had on a different shirt than the one he wore yesterday. That should have been good enough, shouldn’t it?

But one morning I surfaced from my latest attempt at literary brilliance and really looked at my son.

“Stop!” I ordered and corralled him between the open doors of our side-by-side fridge – yes they were both open to better peruse the meager contents. “What’s wrong with your hair?”

Up close I realized it was spiky. Not spiky-cool, but spiky-hedgehog. And it was then that I heard the words that changed my life:

“Mom, maybe my hair is naturally stiff.”

Why not? Who says a kid’s hair couldn’t have grown into quills during the night? To kids, the world is fluid, and one explanation might as well be as good as another. I realized then, that I was in the presence of inspirational genius. And every kid I’ve really listened to since has been a genius, too.

To prove my point, here are some recent exchanges at our house:

Question: Where did all the socks go?

Answer: It’s getting cold.

And then the kids rolled their eyes and explained things to their poor, dimwitted mother. Obviously the dust bunnies under the bed had collected all the socks to use for sleeping bags during the winter. Duh.

Question: Who moved my (you name it, I can’t find it)?

Answer: Usually a shrug, or a loud ‘It wasn’t me!’ But one day someone announced that there must a randomly appearing (very small) black hole in our house that picks stuff up and spits it out elsewhere. Well, that explains it all, really, doesn’t it?

In the conversations of kids I’ve found a fountain of creative youth, a never ending supply of oddities and quirks for inspiration in my writing. And though the neighbors might not quite understand us when they come to visit, I hope my kids never grow out of it. And I hope I can, just a little, grow back into it.

Maybe, just maybe, someday in my writing I’ll reach the heights of yesterday’s dinner exchange:

“Do birds burp?”

There was general agreement that they must.

“What does it sound like?”

And the answer to that must be left up to your imagination, because, I dare say, it’s fairly impossible to put into words the noises that accompanied our dinner.

Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

~ Susan

writer of MG, YA, and frequent gibberish

Current Novel: MOTHER OF PEARL

-- Deception- It's what Dyln does best, and the only weapon he has left.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hello, is Anyone Out There?

When I first started writing, I was all alone, just me and a laptop. I would sometimes talk my husband’s ear off whenever I made a brilliant discovery like why adverbs are evil and how to weave scenery into the narrative. My husband was cute and would feign interest, but I've been married to him long enough to know he was feigning (although sometimes I prattled on anyway). Still, it was lonely not to have anyone to share my new-found passion with.

Then I found writing forums, and they were awesome (met my lovely fellow bloggers there). Finally there was a group of people who loved what I loved, who I could bounce ideas off of and learn from and relate to. It was so much fun and so helpful.

But mostly, it was nice to know that I was not alone. That there were others banging away at their laptops late into the night, hoping that someday they would see their name in print and have readers posting glowing reviews of their books on goodreads. It made me feel less crazy and less shy about my dream.

So now as I start this blogging adventure, I'm hoping to find more people to connect with. I know there are a million blogs out there, and finding readers is like tossing a bottle into the sea of cyberspace. Still I hope that people will find this and will open a dialogue with me, and we can share what we love about storytelling.

So if you love movies, TV, books, and plays; if you love complex, intriguing characters; if you love fantasy, young adult, paranormal romances, and/or the classics; if you love to write and talk about writing; stick around. Post a link to your blog if you got one. I'd love to get to know you.


Picture is by just4you at stock.xchng

Monday, November 7, 2011

First Official Proser Post

I’ve thought a lot about what I should write for the first official blog post. But then something happened that trumped writing about my fears querying, or how I secretly think I’m like Beyonce. Prepare to read about that a little later.

My daughter just turned four, and she is the sweetest, smartest sassy pants you can imagine. She’s also gorgeous. I take a lot of pride saying that she magically came out of my gene pool.

Yesterday, my girl put her hands on her sweet little tummy, frowned, and then sucked in.

She just turned four. FOUR.


I write primarily for teenage girls, and so my main characters usually are unsure of themselves because;

·         You write what you know.
·         Being unsure of yourself is kind of the definition of a teenage girl.

I never thought it would define MY daughter. Who just turned four.

I’m a writer and I’m at a loss for words here. What do I say to her? I’ve told her she was pretty and smart and wonderful every day of her life- somehow that’s not enough.

Sadly, what I want to say to her most of all… I know I can’t . Here, I’ll test it out for you. Tell me what you think.

“Go get your own pain, kid. I’m still using this one.”

Work in progress, I guess.