Words and Other Things

My best friend, Liz, and my best-friend-in-law, Martyn, loaned me a bunch of books the other day.  I just finished one of them.  House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski is a book about a guy who finds a book written about a documentary that doesn’t exist, that features a house that doesn’t exist, that was filmed by a man who doesn’t exist.  House of Leaves is a work of fiction, so technically if you read it, you are reading a book about a guy who doesn’t exist, who finds a book that doesn’t exist, written about a documentary that doesn’t exist, which features a house that doesn’t exist, that was filmed by a man who doesn’t exist.

You should read it.  It’s pretty good.  But very intense.  Not for the young of heart or the young of age.  Ye be warned.

The next book is The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson.  I’m still working on it, but so far as I can tell it is about a porn star who gets into a terrible car crash after combining cocaine, bourbon, and driving.  The crash results in lots of fire burning him all over his body, and then he has a chat with a crazy lady while in the hospital.  The chat is the thing I wanted to quote here, because it made me giggle with disproportionate glee.

I indicated the little statue on the bedside table.  “I like the gargoyle.”

“Not a gargoyle.  It’s a grotesque.”

“You say oyster, I say erster.”

“I ain’t gonna stop eating ersters,” Marianne Engel replied, “but that’s a grotesque.  A gargoyle’s a waterspout.”

“Everyone calls these things gargoyles.”

“Everyone’s wrong.”

The Gargoyle, pg. 81

See?  It proves something that was never called into question in the first place.  I once did thirty seconds of research on Wikipedia and now, years later, I’m reading a book that confirms my research and I’m all, “Yay!  This makes me happy.”  I just thought I’d share.  It’s a good read so far.

Finally, my computer broke recently.  I have the worst luck with computers.  But this time I don’t mean it crashed or it got a virus.  I mean it literally broke.  It started coming apart at the seams.  It’s currently being held together with duct tape and binder clips.

So I got a Mac.

Good news: I came up with a new comic idea.  I was inspired by English class and Shakespeare, since lately I’ve been working toward getting my teaching certification so I can teach high school English.  Without meaning to, this comic became a bit of an homage to Kate Beaton’s comic, Hark!  A Vagrant.  Though it was not intended, I am in no way sorry.  Beaton’s work is some of the funniest I’ve ever seen.

Bad news: My copy of Photoshop Elements is for PCs only.

Results: I drew the comic and then took pictures of each panel.  Enjoy!

Writer’s Block

WB Panel 1_1
WB Panel 1_2
WB Panel 1_3
redo 2_1(1)
WB Panel 1_5

P.S. I keep forgetting to plug my own book!  Here’s a link to my romance novel, Demon Heart.  I recommend buying the Kindle version (if you are 18 or older and not related to me) because it is way reasonably priced.

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The Cold Truth About Depression

WordPress is kinda getting on my nerves.  I wrote this post already.  Last night.  I saved it as a draft because I wasn’t ready to publish it yet.  This morning, I wake up and go to my site.  Lo and behold, no drafts.  The entire post isn’t there.  So now I’m rewriting from memory.  Let’s see if I can remember how I did this.

The title is a pun.  I apologize to all those pun-haters out there that I have offended.

A few days ago, I watched the movie, Frozen, in Spanish because I was trying to practice my oral comprehension.  Incidentally, the song, “Let it Go,” is changed to, “I’m free” [Libre Soy].  Disney spares no expenses with their translations.  They translate the songs, the signs, everything.  They even make sure the songs still rhyme in Spanish, all while fitting the same meter.  Anyway, I watched Frozen [Congelado] and then a few days after that I had an “off day.”  Some of you will recall that I have written about my mental issues in the past.  Funnily enough, that post also had to do with the cold.  I don’t like to make my depression or anxiety a secret, because I think they’re a part of my humanity, and I think that it’s good to remind the internet of your humanity every once in a while.

So on my “off day,” I was feeling depressedI was stress-eating and I couldn’t stop myself.  And that’s when it hit me: There is a scene in Frozen that perfectly encapsulates the nature of depression.  It’s a fairly innocuous scene in context, with throwaway humor from the comic relief snowman.  Take a look:

Frozen 1

Frozen 2

Frozen 3

Frozen 4

Look at the hesitation on Anna’s face, and the confusion on Olaf’s.  It’s such a simple task.  Olaf can’t understand what on Earth would prevent Anna from being able to knock on a door.  Now comes the frustrating truth:

The Frustrating Truth

These two characters do not represent two different minds.  Both of them exist in the same mind.  Anna’s hesitation and Olaf’s confusion exist together.  There’s a third character on screen, but you can ignore him.

Not Relevant

Look at this scene with different wording.  When I’m depressed, getting out of bed suddenly becomes a herculean effort.

Depression 1

Depression 2

Depression 3

Depression 4

That’s my brain.  Right there.  Depression in a nutshell.  Oh yeah, and my stress-eating, too.  It’s the exact same thing.

Depression 5

Depression 6

Depression 7

Depression 8

That’s what it feels like.

I want to say for the record that I am fine now.  I had one bad day in a sea of good ones.  I didn’t write (and then rewrite) this post just to make non-depressed people feel bad, or to make depressed people feel worse, or to make my family and friends worry.  All I wanted to do was jump on the Explaining Mental Health Issues Bandwagon.  Raising awareness is important.  For those with depression, this might seem obvious and familiar.  For those without it, maybe I’ve shed some light on the condition.  There’s nothing much else for me to say, except of course:

It gets better!

If you have depression, do not suffer in silence.  You owe yourself a chance at getting better, and remember that, thanks to the internet, the world is your support group.  There’s help out there.  There are people out there who understand what you’re going through.  Remember not to berate yourself when you can’t knock on the door.  Olaf will get through to you eventually.  Take it at your own pace.

That’s all I’ve got!


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Defining a Genre

If you’ve been keeping up with my last few posts, you’ll know that I’ve been working on revising a book entitled Grotesque.  This book has been with me since 2012.  It has come so far since its first draft, but it’s not quite ready to be sent out to editors.  Why?  Because, as my agent, her interns, and I discussed, the book was hovering in an uncomfortable space between two genres.  It had adult themes and characters, but still read like a Young Adult novel.  In order to revise it, I had to take a step back and ask why the narrative voice wasn’t working, why it still sounded like it was aimed at teenagers.

Through extensive discussions with my husband, my best friends, and my siblings, I discovered that I was never going to be able to revise the current draft of the book to read more “adult.”  Why?  Because the content, structure, and plot of the novel were always going to be too YA.  No amount of aging up the narrative voice was going to change that.  At best I could have ended up with a YA novel that read with an incongruously adult voice.

This is how I decided to address the problem:  I gutted the book.  Took out the YA content and upped the ante.  I’m expanding the world, going into more details with regards to history and characters, raising the stakes.  And it’s working, though I’m only a few pages into the new draft.  My purpose for writing this post was to offer a quick, easy glimpse at the difference between a YA novel and a plain ol’ adult novel.  Here’s a handy Venn diagram:

Venn Diagram

You’ll note that I use a lot of words like “typically” and “usually.”  Why?  Anyone who knows me knows I hate blanket statements.  Obviously each genre has its own conventions – otherwise it wouldn’t be a genre – but there are exceptions to every rule.  The Elegance of the Hedgehog is a book that I would classify as “Adult” but one of the main characters is a twelve-year-old girl.  Similarly, Sarah Dessen has written a Young Adult novel about relationship abuse, which might be considered by some as an “adult” theme.  As for audience, there’s no set age-limit.  Adults read YA all the time.  Younger readers can find adult novels that they enjoy, or they might be exposed to adult novels through school.  I read Cold Mountain when I was thirteen years old (Summer reading assignment), and believe me that book is not YA.  It’s the Odyssey of Vaginas and it made me supremely uncomfortable.

The point I’m trying to make here is that Grotesque had elements of both genres.  Oftentimes it comes down to the way a story is approached.  You’ll note in the middle section of the diagram that there are several themes mentioned that could belong to either side.  The difference is that an adult novel will approach a theme of sexual abuse differently than a Young Adult novel.  I don’t know why I always capitalize Young Adult, but not adult.  Just go with it.

With that in mind, I began rethinking GrotesqueGrotesque deals with a main character who has only been alive for a few weeks, yet his body is that of an adult… monster.  He’s an adult monster.  His love interest is an adult with a child of her own.  Interestingly, a common theme in YA is the transition from childhood to adulthood.  This theme is present in Grotesque, but in a different way.  Again, it’s all about how the content is approached.  The statue that comes to life starts out with the mind of a child, but he is exposed to the horrors of the world, and that causes him to age rapidly.  He is overwhelmed by the complexity of life, the gray areas of morality, etc.  These are adult quandaries.  And so that is the direction I am taking.  I am going all in with this.  We’ll see how it turns out.

Can you believe I did a comic?  It’s been forever, right?  Enjoy!


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It’s Alive!

A few weeks back I met with my agent and her interns to discuss my book, Grotesque.  One of those interns told me that the manuscript reminded her of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and suggested I read it for inspiration.

So I did.

Boy, let me tell you, I was way off base about how this book was going to play out.  Turns out the various movies about Frankenstein and his monster may have exaggerated certain details.  As a result, this was what I thought the plot of Frankenstein was:


And here I thought Mel Brooks’ interpretation of the classic tale was super accurate!  (If you haven’t seen Young Frankenstein, you’re missing out).  But no.  As it turns out, the plot of Frankenstein actually goes something like this:


That being said, what did I think of the book?  Well, it definitely resonated with me.  The subject matter Shelley touches upon is exactly what I want to do with Grotesque.  In a slightly different way.  I mean, my book has just a little bit more action, for starters.  Plus, a happier ending (spoiler alert).  But the themes are all there – loneliness, playing God, desperation for approval and acceptance, the juxtaposition of a humane(ish) monster and monstrous humanity.  It was a really interesting and inspiring read, and I have to thank the intern who recommended it to me.

Shelley also has a way with words.  I particularly enjoyed this sentence:

“I never beheld any thing so utterly destroyed.”

It’s beautiful, isn’t it?  I can’t begin to describe the impact those words had on me, especially within the context of the book.  They are perfect in their simplicity, yet they say so much more than you’d expect.  “Utterly destroyed.”  It’s almost foreshadowing, too.  The way so many lives are so utterly destroyed over the course of the book, including those of the creator and the created.

I also underlined a couple vocabulary words I love.  “Indefatigable” and “Purloined.”  Those are great words, aren’t they?  The former means “incapable of being tired out,” and the latter basically means “stole” or “pilfered.”

I’ll wrap up with a line I marked that pretty much sums up everything I want to encapsulate with the character of my Grotesque.  It was spoken by Frankenstein’s monster.

“Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.”

Such beautiful words coming from such a horrid creature.  Shelley really could use words as an art form in a way that I can only hope to accidentally achieve from time to time.

Now all that’s left is to take what I have learned from this book and apply it to my newest rewrite of Grotesque.

Wish me luck!

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Title That Indicates I’m Going to be Talking About Romance Novels Again

I’ve been doing some research into romance novels.  This research has stemmed from a renewed attempt to figure out the genre, and how I can produce a work that fits the parameters of same.  In the interest of said research, I read one and a half new romance novels, bringing my total romance novel consumption to about twenty and a half, probably.  Maybe more.  I never stopped to count how many Sherrilyn Kenyon novels I’d read, because I wanted to maintain whatever shred of self respect I had left.

Anyway, at this point I believe I’ve come to some conclusions about a typical romance novel.  “Typical” in this case means “a straight man and a straight woman fall in love despite some obstacle or another.  And there are probably werewolves involved.”  I made notes in my phone.  Before we continue I am issuing a warning that there will be no graphic imagery but there will be sexual content in the writing that follows.  If the idea of this upsets you, stop reading.  I will forgive you!

Okay, here are the notes:

1. Each character must act like they’ve never before seen a member of the opposite sex that they were attracted to.

Match Made in Heaven

2. There must be a constant inner monologue from both characters’ perspectives about how attractive they find each other.  Remember to really beat that into the reader’s head.  In the case of my novel, Demon Heart, I diverged from this because I only narrated the book from the woman’s perspective.  Also, in the case of the long inner monologues, I wonder what one person is doing while the other is weighing out all the pros and cons of having sex with them.  All I can think of is a scenario that goes something like this:


3. Women must be saved from their emotions.

4. Men must curse their emotions (in that said emotions lead to relationships, which men either fear or believe they don’t deserve due to their dark and brooding past).

5. (This is exactly how I typed it into my phone last night) A man waiting for consent before doing a sex is super gentlemanly and attractive.  If he both asks for consent and is ridiculously hot, then it is ok to have sex with him within 24 hours of meeting him.  A lasting, loving relationship is sure to ensue.

Note on #5: I have read two novels so far that treat consent like a novel concept.  The first did it horribly wrong, where the male lead – the love interest! – was undeniably assaulting the female lead, but she decided it was okay because, hey, at least he’s hot and deep down inside she really did want this, didn’t she?  I was appalled.  The second got a pass because the female lead had been raised in an emotionally abusive environment with people who constantly belittled her, so she was truly learning that consent was a thing she could expect and ask for.  Still I mean… let’s just get past this, okay?  I think it’d be a great help if romance novels just took consent as a given, and didn’t tout it as some sort of proof of the man’s character.  “He didn’t rape me, so he must be a gentleman!” just doesn’t work.

6. Men are always upset (at least once per book) by the unfortunate combination of their stiff and/or tight jeans and their erections.  It’s super uncomfortable for them, and the reader definitely needs to know that.  It is crucial to the plot.  The sexy, sexy plot.


7. No butt stuff.  Butt stuff is neither romantic nor a symbol of twue wuv.  Only oral and vaginal sex are loving forms of sexual expression.  Reading the previous statements may very well have made you uncomfortable, and therein lies the root of the problem.  Sex with a stigma attached to it is not sexy.  Therefore it is not mentioned, hinted at, or overtly used in any way.

8. Every eleven words, at least one character thinks about how much they want to have sex/pictures the love interest naked/is actively having sex with that love interest.

9. A real man knows it’s his duty to bring a woman to orgasm before he has his own climax.  That’s just common courtesy.  Conversely, the woman does not owe the man pleasure.  His orgasm is not brought on by her actions, but is rather his reward for seeing to her needs first.  And because she’s hot.  He gets to orgasm because she is very attractive, as his inner monologue should have pointed out several times already.

So there you have it.  The results of my study.  If you were thinking about writing a steamy romance of your own, now’s your chance.  You have a handy little guide right here.

And speaking of steamy romances, I have moved my novel Demon Heart to two other platforms.  You can still buy it on Gumroad for $1.00 if you want.  Go to this link and type in coupon code writeright.  OR, if purchasing a Word document isn’t your thing, you can buy it on Kindle for $2.00.  Or you can pay full price for an actual book to be shipped to you from Amazon, complete with front and back covers.  I actually wanted to charge $2.00 for the book as well, but Amazon had a minimum dollar amount I had to charge so they could make sure they made money.  So sorry about that.  But the Kindle and Gumroad options are still there.

I also have an Etsy shop where I do artwork.  You can check that out.  And I’ll be writing soon about my second rewrite of Grotesque!  Ta!

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