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Friday, December 29, 2017

My Favorite Books from 2017

I know it's been a while since I lasted posted anything on my blog. It's been a busy few months but that didn't stop me from reading (even if it did prevent me from writing.)

Here are my favorite books from this year (in no particular order):

The End of Oz by Danielle Paige

I am obsessed with the Wizard of Oz and Danielle Paige's take on the classic is my favorite one! The End of Oz is the perfect ending to the Dorothy Must Die series. It ended perfectly and in a way that was immensely satisfying. But... I love the characters so much that I want more and Danielle Paige may or may not have left Amy's story open.

Final Girls by Riley Sager

Final Girls by Riley Sager is a smart and fun love letter to slasher movies.  This story could have easily turned into a huge cliche but instead Sager played into the common slasher tropes and flipped them into great twists. I definitely agree with Stephen King, it was the first great slasher of 2017, in fact is the greatest slasher of 2017.

Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather

Haunting the Deep is a continuation of Samantha Mather's story from How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather. Instead of the Salem Witch Trials, this time we are taken into the world of the Titanic. Mather does an amazing job of building a totally immersive world and creating realistic and fun characters. I really hope that she continues this series, I miss Samantha Mather's world too much.

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Lying is a great mash up of The Breakfast Club, Pretty Little Liars, and How to Get Away with Murder. McManus does a wonderful job of capturing the craziness of high school and the trouble that social media can and does cause. After reading it, I was extremely glad that I went to high school when the only social media was Xanga.

Those were my favorite books from this year. If you haven't read them, please do.

Also, have a very happy new year! I hope the New Years brings you lots of happiness, creativity, and books!

Monday, October 16, 2017

#AuthorToolboxBlogHop: NaNoWriMo

Unfortunately I will not be participating in this year's National Novel Writing Month. My November is so packed that I will be lucky if I get any writing done during the month. But I wanted to let you guys know that I am still here for you if you are participating.

Here are some links to previous blogs of mine about NaNoWriMo:

Advice From Authors for Authors
Writing Prompts

There are more if you want to check them out, they were posted in October of 2016.

I am a writer who needs a soundtrack for my book. So, I thought I would share my current novel's soundtrack to maybe help give some inspiration.

  1. Perfect Places by Lorde
  2. Sometime Around Midnight by The Airborne Toxic
  3. Pork Soda by the Glass Animals
  4. Everything Now by Arcade Fire
  5. Autumn Leaves by Ed Sheeran
  6. Believer by Imagine Dragons
  7. This is Gospel by Panic! At the Disco
  8. Don't Take the Money by Bleachers
  9. So Close by Andrew McMahon
  10. Not Ready to Make Nice by the Dixie Chicks
  11. Rest in Pieces by Saliva
  12. Falls on Me by Fuel
  13. Shovels and Dirt by the Strumbellas
I hope my soundtrack and my previous posts help give you some inspiration for NaNoWriMo. Also, check back here during November for a book review or two!

Good luck and happy holidays my fellow Author Toolbox Blog Hoppers!

To continue hopping through other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join, click here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

#AuthorToolboxBlogHop: Writing By Hand

Have you ever found yourself staring at a screen and your brain goes as blank as the word document you have pulled up? Whenever I find myself stuck in this position I run though my usual writer's block prompts. Which one works the best?

For me, it's pulling out my journal and writing by hand. But why is it so effective?
  1. Writing the old fashioned way sparks creativity in a way that no computer screen ever can.
  2. It's hard to erase handwriting. Erasing is tedious. I know you could just throw away the notebook but I find that keeping "bad" writing/ideas is a great way to learn. Also, sometimes something you thought was bad, never really was.
  3. I find it easier to write with wild abandon than to type that way. When I type I constantly try to edit as I go. When I am writing by hand I don't feel that need.
  4. When using a computer, especially now that every computer has an internet connection, I am constantly distracted. Email, social media, Reddit, even these blogs all distract me. Writing by hand allows for less distraction.
So, next time you're hit with some writer's block, try writing the old fashioned.

To continue hopping through other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join, click here.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Book Review: How to Hang a Witch

I have always had a love for everything Salem and witches. So, when I heard about "How to Hang a Witch" by Adriana Mather I couldn't wait to read it. Especially when I found out that Mather is related to Cotton Mather, a key member of the Salem Witch Trials.

The main protagonist, Samantha Mather, also related to Cotton Mather, and her stepmother move to Salem after her father ends up in the hospital. Her arrival in Salem means that all of the descendants of the Salem witch trials are together and brings about bad luck, pain, and even death. Sam is instantly an outcast and her only friends are the boy next door and a ghost. As the stakes get higher, Sam is determined to change the future by searching the past and with the help of her ghost friend, she discovers the truth about what happened during the witch trials.

"How to Hang a Witch" mixed the past with the present effortlessly while inserting the supernatural elements organically. Sam was relatable and so were her feelings about everything that was happening around her. I felt like her actions and reactions made sense. Mather truly locked in on what it feels like to be an outcast as a teenager. She also captured the beauty and creepiness of Salem and the witch trials.

I recommend "How to Hang a Witch" to anyone who loves stories about witches and Salem, but also to those who love reading about teenage angst and outcasts.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Book Review: Final Girls

Final Girls by Riley Sager is a smart take on the "final girl" trope that runs rampant in the horror/thriller genre and flips it on its head. Instead of witnessing the making of a final girl, we meet Quincey after she has "moved on" from the whole ordeal. She has become a baking blogger who refuses to do interviews, loathes the click-bait title of "final girl," and has a penchant for popping Xanax with grape soda. Everything was going fine until she discovers that another "final girl" has killed herself... 

To find out what happens you're going to have to read the book yourself, and I definitely recommend it. Riley Sager took a trope which can so easily turn into a cliche and either steered away from it or embraced it with smart commentary. The flashbacks were relevant and full with as much action as the present day scenes. The dialog is smart, consistent, and each character has their own distinct voice. Overall, Final Girls, is a well-written thriller that will become an endearing classic. If you love campy horror movies and smart thrillers, Final Girls is the book for you!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Hey everyone,

I apologize, this month I will not be participating in the hop. My schedule is insane and I would prefer to be able to give adequate time to a post. But I will be commenting on your blogs and sharing them on my social media.

Thank you for understanding and I hope you all enjoy the blog hop. Next month I will be back and hopefully I will have some amazing advice to share about the joys of writing.

To continue hopping through other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join, click here.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Said is NOT Dead (#AuthorToolboxBlogHop)

"All that I ask is that you do as well as you can, and remember that, while to write adverbs is human, to write he said or she said is divine." - Stephen King

The purpose of a dialog tag (according to me) is to help a reader determine when someone is speaking and who is speaking. As a story goes along and the reader gets to know your characters, dialog tags become less important. Why? Because readers can be lazy and tend to skim over things that seem unimportant. 

So, for something that most readers tend to ignore, why have writers started avoiding "said" like the plague?

I am not 100% sure why, but I have a feeling it has to do with English teachers trying to enhance their students' vocabularies. If you do a simple Google search for "said is dead" 100s, if not 1000s, of worksheets pull up with "said" substitutes. Some of the substitutes make sense and others make for immature or clumsy writing.

Substitutes That Make Sense 
  • Yelled
  • Mumbled
  • Stammered
  • Pleaded
  • Responded
Substitutes That Confuse Me
  • Laughed
  • Grinned
  • Bawled
  • Faltered
  • Breathed
For me, the ones that make sense work because they indicated how the sentence is being said (though this could also be done with appropriate context clues in the dialog and scene.) The ones that confuse me just don't make sense. "Hello," he grinned makes ZERO sense. Why? Because grinning isn't speaking. "Hello," he said with a grin on his face/ while grinning, makes more sense. Whenever I read a story full of awkward ways to say said, I end up falling out of the story and wind up distracted.

I also find myself distracted when a writer uses too many adverbs after said/dialog tag. He yelled loudly (the fact that he is yelling should be enough to indicate that he was being loud.) She said sadly (again, context clues within the scene and dialog should alert the reader to how things are being said while also allowing the reader to use their imagination.)

So, when should you use something other than said? When it is organic, natural, and most importantly, when you're not using the other word just to avoid using said. 

To continue hopping through other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join, click here.

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Thank you Hoda for the Liebster nomination. Your blog is full of inspiration and amazing advice. I definitely recommend following her blog!!

The 11 questions from the nomination are:

  1. If you were stranded on an island, what three books would you want to have with you?: The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
  2. What’s your favourite food?: Popcorn
  3. You can have dinner with one person – dead or alive – who would you choose?: This is a hard one. Honestly, President Barack Obama. I have so much respect for him. He held his head high when so many tried to tear him down. I would love to have a beer with him and to talk to him.
  4. What’s your favourite travel destination and why?:  I love Table Rock Lake in Kimberling City, Missouri. It is a relaxing place that is far enough away from my home to be a get away but close enough for it to be a weekend trip. Table Rock Lake is a calm lake that is clean and family friendly. 
  5. If you could be best friends with any fictional character, who would it be?: Minerva McGonagall 
  6. Sweet or sour?: Sour
  7. Plotter or pantser?: Plotter with a hint of pantser.
  8. Give a tip for anyone struggling with writer’s block: Listen to music while taking a walk (make sure to take something to write down any ideas that come to you during the walk.)
  9. Give a tip for anyone thinking about starting a blog: Just do it. I promise it will be worth it. 
  10. What’s the best book you read in 2017?: The Black Witch by Laurie Forest
  11. What book are you most looking forward to reading in 2017?: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Now I’m going to pay it forward by nominating other bloggers for the Liebster Award.

Liebster Award Rules and Nominees:
Rule 1: Thank the person who nominated you for the award.
Rule 2: Answer the 11 questions the person asked you.
Rule 3: Nominate 5-11 people (comment on their blog to let them know)
Rule 4: Ask the people you have nominated 11 questions.
Below are my nominees and my questions.


  1. What is your favorite word and why?
  2. Where is your favorite place to read/write?
  3. If your blog had a playlist what song would it have to include?
  4. What is the next book you plan on buying?
  5. What is your favorite quote?
  6. If you could hang out with one author (dead or alive) who would it be?
  7. What inspired you to start writing?
  8. What would you choose for your last meal?
  9. If one author could critique and comment your writing, who would it be?
  10. What do you most admire about yourself?
  11. Where can your readers find you on social media?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Location is Everything: #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Kansas City Skyline (Photo: Vanessa M Scott)

Whether your story takes place in a generic suburb in a "make believe" town or in a well known city like New York City, London or Cairo, you have to make it believable.

If you choose a real world location, I find it best to be a city or place you have actually been to. Why? Because researching a location via the internet, other books or movies is not a substitute for the real thing. I can always tell when a writer has written a story that takes place in NYC based solely on what they have seen in the movies or on television. The story typically lacks the small details that bring a location to life and tends to focus on places that locals tend to avoid like Time Square (unless they work near there) and other famous tourist spots. 

That is why I tend to write stories that take place in my hometown of Kansas City. Kansas City has a lot to offer when it came to range. There is downtown, midtown, and multiple suburbs, along with great hiking trails, scenic parks, and a river. The city offers unlimited possibilities for telling an authentic story for almost any plot.

As for a fictional location, you can get away with quite a bit more and if you want to attach it to the real world, all you have to do is mention that the nearest hospital/shopping center/concert venue is an hour or two away in Berlin/London/Portland. 

Why is location so important?

Your story's setting and location help determine many factors that will ultimately shape your plot. Take my chosen location of Kansas City for example, my characters won't ever take the subway/train to work and will most likely have their own car because Kansas City is too spread out to walk everywhere. Kansas City has all four seasons (though this is becoming less true each year, I really miss a full blown spring and autumn) so I have to make sure that when I write an outdoor scene in January that my characters are dressed appropriately. I should also take into consideration local slang and diction when writing dialog. Imagine reading a story that takes place in the UK but the dialog is completely American, it doesn't make sense. 

So, when choosing your story's location, make sure it is something you can make feel real. There is nothing more satisfying than a story that I can get completely lost in without being distracted by a setting that doesn't make sense for the story being told.

To continue hopping through other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join, click here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Visual Writing Prompts

Here are some visual writing prompts... tell me their stories...
Photo by: Vanessa Scott

Photo by: Vanessa Scott

Photo by: Vanessa Scott

Photo by: Vanessa Scott

Photo by: Vanessa Scott

Photo by: Vanessa Scott

Photo by: Vanessa Scott

Photo by: Vanessa Scott









Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Voices of YA

Thank you Molly Looby and Raimey Gallant for tagging me!! And thank you Caitlin Lambert  for creating the Voices of YA tag!!

Here are the rules!
1 Thank the person who tagged you
2 Link to the original creator
3 Answer the ten questions

4 Tag at LEAST TWO other YA writers/bloggers


What draws you to YA?
YA feels limitless. It doesn’t have to fit into a certain box and can basically be about anything. 

Describe your writing process. Do you like outlines and structure, or seeing where the story takes you?
My writing process is not structured by any means. I don’t really do outlines. I do a lot of  writing my ideas out by hand in an actual notebook. When I write my ideas out, I let them flow and write whatever comes to mind. Later, when I am typing up my story on Scrivener, that is when I process my notes and make them make sense. 

How long have you been writing? Where are you in your journey?
I have been writing, according to my mother, since I came out of the womb. I only have one book published, The Best Mixtape I Have. It was self-published shortly after NaNoWriMo a few years ago. It is horrible and not at all edited. I do love the story line, but I wish I wouldn’t have rushed it. I just wanted to enjoy the free copies that I received from finishing NaNoWriMo. I am currently working on a book that I am definitely taking my time on and hopefully I won’t self-publish. 

What do you need to write? Coffee? Music?
I need my notebooks and music. Coffee is nice but isn’t a requirement. Music is a requirement, however. I have a special soundtrack that I listen to when I write. I’ll share a sample:

Contagious - The Night Riots 
The Night We Met - Lord Huron
Silvertongue  - Young the Giant
Do You Remember - Jarryd James

If you could offer one piece of advice to another writer (other than "don't give up"), what would it be?
Don’t ever let anyone tell you how it is for you. Whether it be a friend, an agent, a publisher, if making certain changes makes you feel uncomfortable or if you feel like you are destroying your story, do only what you feel best. Now, I am not saying that agents and editors don’t know when changes need to be made, but sometimes you have to go with your gut. You know your story and you know how it needs to be told.


What book still has you reeling from its plot twist? (*no spoilers please*)
I can’t really think of any…

What books are you most anticipating for this year?
It was The End of Oz by Danielle Paige, but I kind of already dug into that book and finished after a day. 

I am also looking forward to The Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts. Here is an official synopsis: In Bastards, we follow Tilla, an intrepid but surly cast-off of Lord Kent of the Western Province, who raised her as a baby but more or less shrugged her off once he discovered his trueborn children. But when a visiting princess chooses to sit with Tilla and other kingdom bastards at a royal dinner, everything starts to change. Especially when Tilla finds herself helping to safeguard the princess’s life as rebellion brews.

In your opinion, which YA book/series has the most unique premise?
I like the Dorothy Must Die series by Danielle Paige. I love the reimagining of The Wizard of Oz and how Paige mixes teen angst with a classic story.

What is your all-time favourite quote from YA lit (I know, I'm cruel)?
“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be.” - The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky. 

What book do you most hope will have a movie adaption?
The Black Witch by Laurie Forest. The book is beautiful and I would love to see it played out.

Thanks again for my tag! I am tagging DJ Humphries and Amy Laurel!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Names Have Power - #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

"Names have power." - Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief

You have to be careful when naming your characters. You have to consider the genre, the time period, and where the story takes place.

If you are writing a story about Mary, Queen of Scots (and your story isn't about time travel) who lived during the 1500s then I would stay away from names that have only recently became names. Even my name, Vanessa, would not be appropriate. Vanessa wasn't a thing until 1700s when Jonathan Swift invented it. 

You also have to think about where your story takes place. Some places, like the United States, gives you more leeway when picking names. But if your story takes place is small town in the Ukraine, you aren't likely to find a Nevaeh there, but maybe a Viktoria or a Sofia.

You should also be consistent with nicknames. If you have a character named Gregory who prefers to go by Greg, make sure he only goes by Gregory in formal encounters or only have one friend/family member who calls him by his full name. 

As a writer, I try to avoid using names that are too similar by both spelling and sound. Readers don't always fully read words. If you have characters names Laurie and Lauren, readers might confuse the two. Same goes with Tim and Tom. Also, have two characters with the same name, even if spelt differently can be awfully confusing. 

I would also be careful when naming based on ethnicity and looks alone. If you are going to name a character based on their heritage make sure you do some research. Do not be like E.L. James and be so lazy that you name the two characters go color in your book the same thing. In Fifty Shades of Grey, James named her characters of hispanic decent Jose Rodriguez, Jr. and Sr. It's lazy and rude. It would only work if there was a reason behind it, but as I recall, James never stated one.

When I name characters I tend to avoid names in the top 50 to 100. But if I love a name, I don't care if it's very popular though I rarely love popular names.  I also avoid names with heavy connotation. Beyonce will immediately make people think of the singer. Elvis, Madonna, Hitler, Kanye... those names can turn your characters into caricatures. 

So, where should you look for names for your characters? I keep a running list of names in my writing journals. I also look through phonebooks, baby books, yearbooks, and name generators. I write down my favorite names from my favorite television shows. 

What advice do you have for naming characters? Please share in the comments!!

To continue hopping through other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join, click here.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Blog Photography

Every good blog contains photos but you have to select those photos carefully. If you need a photo for your blog, please, don't use Google image search. Also, don't screenshot a photo from someone's Instagram to use a photo you find on Tumblr. 
By using photos you find in that way, you would be breaking the law and are opening yourself up to being sued.

So, where do you find photos that are free to use without purchasing the rights to do so? Well, you could just take the photos yourself. I love photography and creating an amazing image. 

You could also use certain website that provide free photos that don't require a license, a purchase, or to cite where you got the photo (though that is something you can do as a courtesy.) 

Here are the websites that I have found to have the best photos:

I am sure there are more, but those are my favorites. 

I hope this helps you add wonderful images to your blog. Also, if you want to see my photos, check them out here: 

If you do check out my photos, please tell me what you think!! 

Thanks and May the Fourth be with you!!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Building Block: The Five Bones (#AuthorToolboxBlogHop)

During my time at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, I had a professor who taught me something he called, "The Five Bones." Basically, it's a way to get to know your characters, particularly your main protagonist. 

What are "The Five Bones?" They are the things that make your character tick. "The Five Bones" are what makes your character who they are. When Professor Pritchett first told me about his building block theory, I thought it was crap. But I found myself using it in order to better understand my characters. Using "The Five Bones"has really added a depth to my story that wasn't there previously. 

And here are "The Five Bones"
  1. Desire - This is what your character wants now and will want five years now. It is one of the things that drives them.
  2. Fear - This is what terrifies your character and again, will terrify them five years from now. It also is one of the things that drives them.
  3. Strength - This is what will help your character accomplish their desire.
  4. Weakness - This is your character's suffering. It is the thing which will stand in the way of your character fulfilling their desire.
  5. Action - This is what your character is doing about the other four bones. This is what defines your character. This is what makes your character lovable, relatable, and revered. 

This building block technique has helped me give purpose to aimless characters. It has helped me discover what exactly my character needed to be doing in order for my story to feel complete. I say, give it a try. Use it to outline, at least, your protagonist and antagonist. See if it helps you get out of writer's block.

Let me know if "The Five Bones" works for you in the comments! 

Have a great week everyone!!

To continue hopping through other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join, click here.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Fifty Shades of Once Upon a Time

I want to preface this post by saying that I am not anti-fanfiction. In fact, my current obsession, The Dorothy Must Die series, is fan fiction. But, I sometimes wonder... do authors (including myself) have no more original stories to share? I'm sure that isn't the case. I mean, borrowing from other authors is a tale as old as time. Yet, I can't help but notice, even with TV and movies, everything seems to be a retelling or re-imagining these days...

I feel like Hollywood has always had a penchant for reimagining previous movies and remaking them or turning them into TV shows. The writing world may have done the same thing, but more in the form of publishing new editions of novels, not reworking them. But, it feels like the moment Fifty Shades of Grey was published and the moment Once Upon a Time hit the small screen, that stories started to be reimagined. Especially fairy tales...

I was browsing books at Barnes and Noble the other day and noticed that there were so many books based on fairy tales. My mind immediately went "this is the Once Upon a Time effect." Disney has a set of novels written from the villains point of view. (I will be reading Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen, thanks to Prime Reading.) I saw Marissa Meyer's The Lunar Chronicles which twists fairy tales and makes them as dark as they were originally. I picked up Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige because I'm a sucker for all things Wizard of Oz and was intrigued by an evil Dorothy. I also saw The Storymakers books by Betsy Schow (these seemed ridiculous to me and the back matter put a nail in the coffin of me reading it,) where Dorothea wears Hans Christian Louboutin heels and her parents are stuck in Kansas. As much as I liked the play on words with the shoes, the reimagining felt like it was just along for the fan fiction ride.

So, have we gone too far? I mean, at least Fifty Shades of Grey tried to distance itself somewhat from it's source material. Honestly, if I hadn't known it was fan fiction, I might not have put it together. I love that fan fiction has opened a path to creativity for so many, a path that has lead to some amazing writing and original stories. I don't want it to go away, but should we, as authors, try harder to make sure our stories can stand on their own even if they are a result of fan fiction?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Book Review: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

I know this week's blog was supposed to be about find a job that you love and that actually allows you to use your degree, but this week has been long and tiring and I would love to put more effort into that post.

So, instead I am going to review a book.

I am not a Me Before You reader, at least not normally. I prefer my stories full of teen angst and supernatural tendencies, but my sister recommend that I read this because I said that I needed a good cry. 

The story was well written. I absolutely loved Lou and felt myself falling for Will with each turn of the page. I honestly didn't think that a story about a women who took a job caring for a quadriplegic and fell in love with him would be any good. I mean, it sounded like a giant cliche and I was afraid that it might be insensitive to those who were really wheelchair-bound, but it wasn't. It was actually quite magical.

I had heard rumors about how heartbreaking this book could be but after getting almost a third of the way through I still wasn't feeling the heartbreak. I knew it was coming. The build up was extremely well-crafted. It broke me. I sobbed. I bawled. I felt everything Lou felt.  I have never been so mad at a fictional character while also understanding their decision.

Do I recommend it? YES, especially if it falls outside of what you normally read. This isn't a traditional romance and I am wholly thankful for that.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Importance of Word Choice

Have you every read a short story or a book that felt off? The story itself was good but something just didn’t feel right. There is a good chance that it was poor word choice that was throwing you off.

The way I see it, one of the most important things a writer can focus on is word choice. Especially when it comes to dialog. Dialog can make or break a story. As a writer I need to know when to have a character say “hello” versus having a character say “hey.” I need to know the connotation behind words, particularly if I am writing a period piece or a story taking place in a certain country (if the story takes place in the US but a character had just moved there from London, it would be a smart choice to have the character use British slang versus having them use American slang.) 

Along with good word choice, I find that my favorite writers aren’t afraid to use “colorful” language. They use cuss words and content appropriate slang. It’s kind of sad that I feel the need to mention this, but Americans are extremely weird when it comes to language. The word “fuck” will have some of them up in arms and they will act like you’re obscene idiot for using the word, but they have no problem watching something extremely violent as long the language isn’t too filthy (PG-13 movies.) 

Why is using colorful language important to me? Because it makes your characters easier to relate to. Think about Fifty Shades of Grey, it’s hard for to me to take it seriously because of the language that the characters use, whether in dialog or their head. The main protagonist is 22 and calls her vagina “my sex.” She says “holy crap” and “double crap” way more than most adult women do. The only Latino in the books says “dios mios” almost every time he appears. (Basically, you should read Fifty Shades of Grey as “what not to do” example.) It’s all good to have a character who has a tagline, but to have them repeat the same words over and over feels cheap and lazy.

So, when you’re writing your next story or editing your current story, please look at your choice of words. Did you make sure the language made sense? Did you make productive choices? If a sentence doesn’t sound right, try changing a word or two and see if that helps.

I hope this helps you in your writing. Please let me know if you have any word choice tips or advice!

Next week’s blog will discuss getting a job that allows you to use your degree. I would like to give a shout out to my great friend, Lori, for the idea!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Change: A Story Needs It

Last week I ranted about the changes that I am currently going through and I promised to share how one could use that change in their writing.

Well, how do you use what you’re going through in your life in your writing?

  1. Keep a journal. Writing about your feelings about things as you are feeling them is the best way to capture the emotions in a raw way. 
  2. Use that journal to help mold your characters. It is much easier to write a realistic emotional scene if you know you how that emotion actually feels. For example, if you have ever moved and felt said about it, you will know exactly how to have your character emote that without it being over the top or unrealistic.
  3. The changes in your life, no matter how small, can be used as inspiration for your story. Maybe you have a character that feels like their life is piling up on them but it feels off to have everything be a major issue. I hate it when I read stories about people who literally have every bad thing you can imagine happen to them. So, if you have a character who has gone through a series of bad things (they got into a car wreck and lost their job in the same day) using a small change could be the best way to set the character off (like their favorite snack being taken off the market or even going to. different restaurant than their usual for a birthday dinner.) I feel like making the tipping point something small makes the situation for realistic. 

Why do I feel that way? Why wouldn’t it be something major that sets a character off?

When I think about my own life, I was fine with moving and getting a new job, but it was spending a holiday (Valentine’s Day, a day I don't even care about) in our temporary living space that made me cry. With everything changing around me, I couldn’t help but long for something to stay the same. I feel like that tends to be the case with most people. Most people say that big change freaks them out when it’s really the little things that get to them. For example, moving is a big change and while it is normally not a bad thing, a lot of people hate it. I don’t think they hate it because they don’t want a change of scenery, but because of the little things that will be different (you might have to use a different grocery chain, your bedroom might be set up differently, but mostly, it’s just not the same.)

Why is using your experience with change important in your writing?

Because you have no story without change. If your character’s life is the same from beginning to end, if there is no change, no growth, then you didn’t tell a story.

I hope this helps you harness your own experiences and using them in your writing. Next week I will talk about words and why word choice is extremely important.