Tag Archives: writer’s block comic

Free Sample

Welp, I finished editing Grotesque.  Before you go about congratulating me, I want to define “finished” for you:

Finished [ƒǝƞ-œŒ- ñÿď] adj – At a point where a book can be sent out for initial critique, where the book meets at least two of the following three criteria: 1. Is legible  2. Is in a language that all or most of the readers know  3. Obeys some rules of grammar

So yeah.  It’s not done.  Not by a long shot.  So I want you to keep in mind that the small sample I’m about to provide is completely unedited.  It will definitely change at least once before the month is out.  I can guarantee that.

But that’s okay!  Because all I really wanted to show you was some of the ways the book has already changed.  So I’m going to take a risk and compare the old and new introductory passages (which is only a risk because I am not sure at this point if my beta readers are going to like the new intro at all), as well as one other excerpt taken from the end of Chapter One.

For those who need a bit of a refresher on Grotesque, you can click here to go through my favorite post about it.  Or you can click here to go to the post in which I describe my inspiration for it (and then apparently provide the entirety of the first chapter, but you don’t have to read that).  Or you can go really crazy and click on both those links.

Okay, so here we go.  I’m going to put all passages in blockquotes so that they’re easy to differentiate from like…this writing I’m doing right here.

Pre-rewrite intro:

I awaken for the first time on the ledge of a tall building, the ground too far below for comfort. Above me is an inky black sky full of bright stars, a large moon, and a few wisps of gray cloud. The words for these things come easily to me, in a language that floods my mind, though I don’t know where it came from.

New intro:











Nerves tingling.

Heart pounding.

Stuttering breaths, in and out.

What am I doing?

A cold breeze dries the sweat on my forehead.

Where am I?

Sitting on a ledge, gripping onto something to keep myself steady, beneath an inky black sky dotted with stars. The moon is bright, illuminating a few wisps of gray cloud, and the ground beneath me which is too far away for comfort.

So why’d I change it?  Well, the first intro honestly wasn’t very captivating.  It also felt kind of forced and clunky to me.  With the new introduction, I wanted to try to encapsulate what it really would feel like to suddenly be alive for the very first time ever.  Once again, not sure if my readers (i.e. close friends and family) are going to like it.  It might change.  But this illustrates the direction I wanted to take it in pretty well.

Next we’ll look at a little further down in the same chapter.  This is from the old version:

“I brought life to you because I need some help.”

“Doing what?”

He shrugs.

“This and that. I have rather ambitious plans for my future, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to accomplish my goals without help. So I risked weakening my powers some in order to give you life.”

“What if I don’t want to help you?”

“Oh, you can’t refuse. You’re enslaved to my will. You will have to obey any and every command I issue to you.”

He is so matter-of-fact about it, but I find I am not nearly as calm. I feel anger and frustration rising in my gut as the meaning of his words sinks in.

“So you brought me to life just to use me as a slave?”


“I think I’d prefer to be a statue…or free.”

The man snorts out a laugh.

“And what would you do with your freedom? Do you really think people would accept you into their homes? Into their lives? You’d be hunted down and slaughtered on sight.”

I feel my throat tighten, cutting off further words. He is right, of course. This had all been part of his plan to keep me under his control.

“Besides,” he continues. “You can’t be free. Not until I’m dead. And don’t get any ideas. You cannot disobey me.”

Well, this is a solution to one problem at least. I raise my hand and slash my claws across the man’s throat. His blood spills quickly, and he collapses to the floor. The bastard hadn’t ordered me not to kill him, so I wasn’t disobeying anything by doing so.

And this is that same scene from the new version:

He shrugs. “This and that. I have rather ambitious plans for my future, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to accomplish my goals without help. So I risked weakening my powers some in order to give you life.”

“Why should I help you?” I ask, genuinely curious.

“Because I’m going to tell you to,” is the reply. “You can’t refuse. You are bound by my will, and will continue to be until such time as I meet my inevitable, but unfortunate end.”

“So you created me to be your…slave?”

Slave. The word whispers itself in my ear, its significance bubbling in my mind. Bad. Not free. Trapped. Suffering.

I am pretty sure I don’t want to be a slave.

“Don’t look so concerned,” the man says, chuckling. “You will be happy to serve me. Your only purpose in life will be to please me. You will see that everything I do is for a greater cause.”

At first his words don’t seem all that reassuring, but suddenly I can see his point. What’s so wrong with being a slave? I’ve been promised security. And this man hasn’t given me reason to believe he has bad intentions. Surely this will be a good thing. I can’t wait for his next order so that I can show him how obedient I can be.

I smile.

Hopefully you can see how different this scene has become.  Thanks to my friend Micah’s suggestions, I added a new layer to Serrafiel’s character arc by forcing him to be happy with his position in life, rather than giving him a sense of morals right off the bat.  If he were truly new to life, he wouldn’t immediately know what was right or wrong.  He’d be like a two-year-old.  And that made his arc more interesting (in my humble opinion).  Because he has to grow up very, very fast.

Also, because I just realized that not everyone will read the name with the Spanish pronunciation, Serrafiel is not pronounced “Sarah-feel.”  It is pronounced “Seh-ra-fee-EL.”  That’s the best I can do for a pronunciation guide.  In case you didn’t notice when you were reading earlier, I’m not so good with the symbols and such.

And that’s it for now!  Hope you like the sneak peek at the changes I made.

Lots of words for you to read today, huh?  How about I reward you with…




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Chapter Four

Chugging right along.  Here are the links for those who need to catch up:

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Annnd noooooow…


“Do you know where your husband is tonight?”

“Hm?” Paxton’s mother wiped sleepily at her face as she tried to think. “He’s…well he’s at work. He works every night.”

Paxton cowered in the corner. He wasn’t sure his mother knew he was there. She’d put him to bed hours ago, but he’d woken up and snuck out when he heard the banging on the door.

“Your husband’s workplace has been searched. He is not present. You do know the penalty for missing work, don’t you?”

“No…I mean yes I do, but…but please understand…he’s got to be there.” Her voice started to get higher, her speech faster. “My husband…he would never. He wouldn’t do something like that. We have a son to think of.”

“He is not at work and he is not at home. We have no other facts to consider. If your husband returns home tonight, your first action will be to call us. If you fail to do so, well…” The large man in the scary armor paused and turned to stare right into Paxton’s eyes. “There are penalties for that as well.”

Paxton’s mother followed the Enforcer’s gaze and saw her son crouching in the corner. She burst into tears, much to Paxton’s confusion. He couldn’t understand it. Had they hurt her? He only ever cried like that when he fell down.

“Please! I’m sure there’s an explanation!”

“Call us the moment you hear from him.”

They turned and left.

Paxton’s father did not come back that night. Or the next day. Paxton had no idea how to make his mother feel better. She stared out the window most of the day, jumping up and running to the door every time she heard a noise.

He tried everything he could think of – games of hide-and-seek, sitting in her lap, asking her to tell him a story – but nothing seemed to work.

On the third day of this, there was a knock at the door. Both Paxton and his mother ran to answer it.

Nobody was standing outside, but there was a package on their front step.

Paxton’s mother opened it. On top of the packing material was a work schedule with a note that said she would be expected to begin at the factory that very night. She set the papers aside and Paxton watched as she dug beneath the crumpled packaging. Her eyes filled with tears as she drew a hand out of the box. The bloodied stump of a wrist was still dripping. An old, dirty wedding band clung to the ring finger.


Okay, so…that was fun, huh?  Chapter Five tomorrow.  And guess what?  I’m back to occasionally drawing comics!  Here’s one for you now!


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Paper Rambling

As I said in a previous post, I recently began work on my newest version of The Dreamcatchers.  For those who are new here, you might want to go over to the convenient search bar I put in for you on the right side of the page and type “The Dreamcatchers” into it.  I’ve written about it a great deal in the past, so you should be able to become quite the expert on this particular book of mine.

Rewriting this book (again) has been a very difficult job for me.  I keep starting and restarting, never liking anything I write.  It seemed like I was never going to get my footing.  And then the SCBWI conference came.  I really do have to apologize to Nikki Grimes because I missed half her speech.  I also have to thank her because something about hearing her speech must have been what inspired me to start writing.  My notebook was open in my lap, my purple pen ready, and when inspiration struck, it struck hard.  I wrote nearly 5,000 words in a day, all in that notebook.  At first I thought I’d transfer what I wrote in the notebook to my computer and then continue the book on Word.  But I found that I was too tempted to edit when I was on Word.  I was even more inclined to overthink what I was about to type before I typed it.  So I went back to the notebook.  Lo and behold, more words came.

That is how I stumbled upon my strategy for getting this book written.  Write and write – by hand – without editing.  Get it out, get it on paper.  Don’t go back and reread until the whole book is done.

Paper rambling.

This is not my usual style.  But it seems to be working for me, and I’d be willing to share a bit of the process but it has to wait until the book is done.  Otherwise how can I do a Before and After?  In other words: I’m writing.  It’ll take a while.  But I’m going to share some of my writing when it’s done.

That’s all for now!

This comic took me hours to draw, so you’d better appreciate it.


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