The Power of Words

First: Watch this


I was a strange kid. That is an affliction most writers have, isn’t it? That’s why we stop telling stories out loud and instead put them on paper. You’re weird if you are talking about fictional characters but writing about them is totally okay.

Anyway, I was strange. I was socially awkward. I was smart-school always came easy to me-but I didn’t interact well with other people. I never really learned and the older I’ve gotten the less I’ve cared to learn. To my own detriment, I know.

I had my best friend from kindergarten until fifth grade when she got pretty and I was still homely and she wanted nothing to do with me. Then I had a best friend from 7th grade until 10th grade when we had a falling out. My fault, I will admit. I still miss him sometimes.

I haven’t had a best friend since. Not unless you count my sister.

Sam thinks I’m weird because of this. Maybe I am. But I’m rambling…

The point is, I have spent the majority of my life in my head. The friends I had I only had during the school year.During the summer I was on my own again. 

I spent-and still spend-days in bed with a book. The characters I could understand. The characters reached out from their pages and whispered “you’re okay” They still do. I still need that. When a person tells you you are going to be okay I can’t help but feel they are lying. Sometimes to make you feel better-mostly to make themselves feel like they were helpful so they can go about their lives. I don’t blame them, but I don’t trust it either.

That’s part of the socially awkward thing.

When a character in a book tells you that you aren’t so strange it’s not out of pity. It’s not an attempt to brush your feelings under the rug so you can go back to talking about them.

When a character reaches out and tells you that they love you and you’re not so weird…it’s different. It’s never literal, obviously. No character is breaking the fourth wall to turn and look at you and say “you’re all right kid” It’s more that you find yourselves in the characters that you read.

I found the Amanda Palmer video on Facebook. She did a concert series “An Evening With Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer” a while back and now they are releasing the documentary. She posted the first part of the documentary and that was near the end of the 11 minutes.  If you are interested in watching it, you can find it here

I found myself tearing up, ridiculously, because I understood. Because I had the Judy Blume books. I had the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew and the Boxcar Children. I loved the Boxcar Children. I would spend days laying on my floor and reading those books.

Later I had Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl.

Which is why I wanted to share the song. 

Because I was reminded for a few minutes of being the scared, socially awkward, teased little girl sitting on the wall with a book. Because characters were always nicer to me than people. 

I’m still that scared, socially awkward little girl. I’m just packaged in big girl clothing now. I still don’t know what to say to people when I meet them or even until I’ve met them a few times. I’m still awkward for the first few hours to about a day when Sam’s dad stays with us and he and I have been together 3 years.

When whoever I was talking with leaves, I rapidly become convinced until I see them again that they wanted nothing to do with me. They were being polite. I dissect every single facial expression and turn of phrase to justify my insecurities.  It drives Sam-who is self-confident in everything he does-insane. 

But despite everything, I still have my shelves and shelves of books. I still have my shelves and boxes of characters who love me just for opening the pages and spending some time with them. They don’t judge or criticize. They don’t try to fix me. They are off having their own adventures and are happy to have me along.

Words are important. They have power just in being written or said or even read. I think that is why so many people crave to be writers and identify themselves as such even if they haven’t written a word in years. Because all of us need those characters. All of us need someone-fictional or otherwise-to sit with us and accept us when we can’t find the strength to accept ourselves. Sometimes that character is one we create ourselves.’

You are not weird. You are not ugly. You are not useless. You have purpose. You define who you are. You define your worth. Not the media, not your parents or your boyfriend or your friends. You. Anyone who tells you otherwise isn’t seeing you clearly.




NaNoWriMo Descends! My Top 10 Ways to Stay Inspired

Writers! We are so close I can taste it!

Outlines are done, plot holes have been mended, stories have been titled! Now what?

Well, my dear readers, just for you I have compiled a list of some of my favorite writing, inspirational and/or NaNoWriMo inspired websites. I hope you find this helpful.


You might think this is obvious, but if it’s not let me tell you why I recommend it. I know a few writers who aren’t doing NaNoWriMo through the website. I understand that. This is the first year I actually registered and everything. The reason, for me, was because I wanted something to keep me in line. A visible goal that I can feel like I accomplished by plugging into the computer every day. Something that I can feel proud of myself for daily. A physical mark of my success as opposed to just the mental rewards. I personally work better on deadlines so I gave it a shot. Also, the NaNoWriMo website will have weekly motivational speeches from published authors as well as an archive of pep talks from past NaNoWriMo published authors. This year features authors such as Patrick Rothfuss, James Patterson and Rainbow Rowell.

For authors that want to work under the deadline of a month to do 50,000 words in a month that is not November.



If you are on Reddit try visiting the nanowrimo subreddit. People ask questions, find buddies to work with and motivate one another, talk about their processes and all other manner of things related to the month long challenge. There is also r/writing for general writing advice, critiques on your work and other such things. If you like either of those check out other subreddits in that category by searching for subreddits using the keyword writing or writers.

I really liked this blog post on getting ready in the last couple of days before NaNoWriMo. Advice like “clean your apartment” and “warn people” that hadn’t occurred to me before.


Rainy Mood

I love this site. It is just a site where you can listen to rain. Pair the rain with music or just listen to the storm as you write. Rain and thunder is soothing and can put me in a good place creativity wise.


Neil Gaiman’s Journal

This won’t be a link for everyone but let me make my case. Whenever I read something Neil has written in his journal I feel a surge of creativity. I don’t always know what to do channel that creativity into but sometimes it gives me just the boost I need to write those next thousand words. My boyfriend watches interviews or live concerts from his favorite musicians when he is stuck on a song he is writing. What might help you is to think of someone you admire-really admire- for one reason or another and read what they have to say on…anything. Whether it be writing or the fine art of coffee brewing, if it inspires you it inspires you. Use that.


 Neil Gaiman’s “Make Good Art” Speech

I have linked to this before and I will link to this again. This fills my soul to brimming with joy when I listen to it and I will listen to it over and over again, especially when I am feeling discouraged. Some of my favorite highlights of the speech were made into a comic you can view here. Things to keep you going such as “Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg is crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor? Make good art” It’s a good way to spend twenty minutes to get out of your head and remember why you write. Laugh, get teary eyed, and then get back at your keyboard and finish that chapter.

Don’t Forget My Own Blog Post on Breaking Writers Block!

Shameless self promotion? Perhaps partially. But I really do stand by what I wrote (I did write it after all) and have been told by some of my readers on my other blog it was helpful. So if you haven’t read it, go check it out. It might help you too.


Some words of wisdom from Stephen King

Some good things to keep in mind when you are writing. This is short and sweet, summarized from Stephen King’s “On Writing” book. It’s easy to get caught up in what we are doing as writers. Too easy to give in to our own brains and ignore that the process is just as important as the writing

And Finally,

Amanda Palmer’s “The Art of Asking” TED talk

I honestly could not tell you why I find that inspiring. It doesn’t really apply to the writing field except in a very broad view with a lot of leaps of faith having to be drawn, but I do find it inspiring and so I am sharing it with you.


I hope you enjoyed this. If you have your own ways you stay inspired when you find yourself crashing before hitting your daily word count, share them with me in the comments. And if you liked this, don’t forget to follow!






The Good Boy

Halloween is only a few days away. With that in mind, I give you a short story I wrote around this time last year called “The Good Boy” Up until now I have shown this story to probably about four people. It’s dark and disturbing and one of the most difficult things I have ever written.

I hope you enjoy it





                                                  The Good Boy


Don’t open the door. That’s what He told me.


Did you hear that?

Don’t open the door. The ghosts will come in. The ghosts will hurt you. They want to bring you outside. They are blue and have shiny black metal hanging off their hips.

Guns. That’s what my book said they were. Guns.

The blue ghosts have guns and they want to take you away from me. That’s what He said. He would never lie to me. He said don’t open the door. I don’t open the door. Even though they are banging and yelling. They say they want to help me. They are lying. He told me they would like. Tricky ghosts.

They’re banging on the door again. But He’s not home. I hide with the blanket He gave me under my bed.

I’m careful not to make any sounds. Don’t want them to know I’m here. If they hear me they will take me away. I don’t want to go. The world outside the door is scary. He told me. He would never lie to me. He loves me. He told me so. He wouldn’t lie to me. He wouldn’t.


They’re leaving. They could be lying. Trying to trick me into making a sound so they can come and take me. Sneaky ghosts. Can only enter if they hear me. I won’t fall for it. They can’t take me. I don’t want to go.

I stay under my bed until I hear the key in the lock and He stumbles through the door. He smells bitter and sweet at the same time. His eyes are glazed. This is how he always is. I have a vague memory of a time when there was someone else. A woman who smelled like cookies and smiled at me. He says they are lies, even though I have seen pictures. “The pictures lie” He says. “The ghosts got in once put them there to try and trick you. Regular people don’t look like that.” He told me. “Only ghosts look like that.” Everyone is lying, He told me. He is the only one I can trust.

“I didn’t open the door like you said. Was I good?” I ask. He grunts and pats my head and then stumbles to his chair. I beam with pride. I want to be good. He only loves me when I’m good and when I’m bad I have to be punished. One time I dropped a glass of milk on the kitchen floor. It broke and spilled everywhere. He had to punish me. My arms were black for a week. I deserved it. I have to be careful. I want to be good.

“I’m a good boy, huh?” I say, following him into the living room where the television is all ready blaring. He waves me away.

He needs his rest. Taking care of me is exhausting. I need to spend the rest of the night in my bedroom like I always do. I read books. He tells me to be careful about reading books because of their lies, but I like to read. I read with a flashlight under my blanket, even though he doesn’t usually check on me. If he did I would get in trouble. Staying up late makes me a bad boy. But I like to read.

I am reading a book about a beautiful girl with long hair stuck in a tower until her prince comes to rescue her and she climbs out of the tower with her own hair.

Silly girl doesn’t know about the ghosts.

I hear a noise outside my door. I turn off my flashlight and lay down and close my eyes. He opens the door. He walks in. I hear him playing with something in his hand. I pull my blankets up higher.

Last time he put a knife to my throat. He said it was because I was bad. He said I killed Her. I don’t know who She is but I’m bad because I killed her. I don’t like it when He cuts me. I told Him I’m sorry. He didn’t believe me. He called me a liar. He said I was just like the ghosts. He fell asleep on the floor after that.

His footsteps come closer to me now. I take a deep breath like I am dreaming. He comes closer. I feel something sharp poke me in the back.

I freeze. If I don’t move maybe He will leave.

Tomorrow I will draw him a pretty picture. I will tell him I’m sorry I made Her go away. He will forgive me. I’m a good boy.

“You little fucker.” I hear him say. His breath is hot on my back. His words are slurred and I don’t know what “fucker” means. But He says it when He is angry. I know I am in trouble know.

I turn over and look at Him, but I know not to say anything. He doesn’t like it when I try to talk to Him too much. It’s rude.

“You killed her.” he says, like he does every time he comes into my room.

“I’m sorry daddy. I really didn’t mean to.” I say. He has tears in his eyes and so do I.

“Don’t call me that!” He yells. It hurts my ears. I cringe, but not too much. If He thinks I am trying to get away He will hurt me.

“I’m going to kill you.” He says. He doesn’t sound angry. Instead he sounds like he telling me a fact. Like two plus two equals four. I shiver and his eyes narrow.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.” I say again. I wish I knew what I did so I could make it better. I’m a bad boy. I deserve this. My throat is hot, like fire and he puts his knife against the lump in my throat. I feel it beat against the metal.

Bum Bum. Bum Bum.

That’s my heartbeat. I read about it in a book once. Everyone has a heart. You can’t live without one.

“Shut up!” He yells. He is crying. I want to touch his face. To tell him I’m sorry again. I want to be a good boy. I want him to love me.

Just then there is a banging on the door outside. We both freeze.\

“Mr. Smith it’s the police. Open up! We know you are in there. We have a warrant for your arrest and to take the boy into custody. If you do not comply we will come in forcibly!” A voice yells. There is a moment of silence where neither of us says anything. He does not move to go to the ghosts.

Suddenly there is a loud crash in the living room and the ghosts come in yelling.

One turns on the light to my room and sees Him with a knife to my throat. He points his gun at my daddy. I don’t like that. The ghost could hurt Him. Mean ghosts.

Then the ghost pins Him to the floor and forces metal bracelets around his wrists that keep his hands on his back. Another ghost comes in and sees me.

“Jesus H Christ.” he says. He makes a symbol over his eyes and chest, but I don’t know what it is. He is talking about my stained clothes and the bruises and cuts on my face.

“I didn’t do the laundry. He had to punish me.” I say. If they understand maybe they won’t take me away.

“Son, my name is officer Landry. I’m here to help.” He says, showing me a shiny gold shield on a leather back.

Tricky ghosts.

The ghost who says his name is Officer Landry picks me up. He smells unfamiliar. Like wood and sweat and sugar. His eyes aren’t glazed. He’s like the people in my books. Tricky ghosts think I can’t see through them.

Officer Landry carries me wrapped in my blanket out of my bedroom toward the front door. I’m never supposed to go through the door. I struggle to get away but he is too strong.

My dad is already gone. They took him away because I’m a bad boy. He told me that might happen. That if I wasn’t very good then they would take him away from me and put me somewhere dark and cold. Somewhere that I would hate.

The ghost carries me out of the only place I have ever known. It’s cold and people are coming out into the hall to watch. They know I’m a bad boy. They know this is all my fault.

I wonder if I will ever see my dad again.

Stupid ghosts.  

As NaNoWriMo Draws Closer….

November 1’st is a mere ten days away at this point. Now sets in panic mode. The fear that 50,000 words is way more than you can manage. You don’t have a strong enough plot…you don’t have a plot at all. You have a plot and characters and dialogue but what if it is terrible? 

Shh. Breathe.

Now is the time when I see a lot of posts going around about how “real writers” write their stuff. It is tempting, at this point for us lay people, to give in to those voices and give up. Well, I’ll never be Neil Gaiman or George R.R.Martin or Hemingway. I don’t write the way other people say I have to write so I must be terrible what’s the point?

I am here to offer you a very different kind of advice.

It’s all fine. You are fine. Whether you are the greatest outliner in the world or you’ve never done an outline in your life, you are fine. Gaiman doesn’t do outlines. Brent Weeks outlines religiously. They are both fantastic authors. Gaiman hand writes the first draft of whatever it is he is working on. Stephen King doesn’t. (At least not as far as I could find)

Writing isn’t science. Writing is art. There are, and always will be, an abundance of people willing to tell you what you are doing wrong and how you should be doing it instead,

“If you want to be an author,” they’ll say, “you have to have a writing degree.” If you want to be an author you have to read books like an author. You have to dissect language, characters, plot devices. You have to spend hours thinking about why the author wrote what they wrote rather than enjoying it.” “If you want to be an author,” they’ll yell from their soap boxes where they are decidedly NOT writing “you have to do three outlines. If your story changes you change the outline.” “If you want to be an author you have to do it my way or you won’t be any good.”

What they are really saying, however, is that THEY are an author(whether they are published or not-and usually they aren’t) and so you have to think like them. Their way is the only way, It’s an ego thing. It might make them feel good but telling other people that they don’t think like you so they can’t be what they say they are is useless and harmful.

I shutter to think about the number of amazing books none of us will ever get to read in our lives because someone who wanted to be an author was told “what’s the point. The greatest books ever written have already been written. Why bother?”

I have no problem with people who outline every single plot point in their novel. I have no problem with people who read books specifically to dissect the authors intentions. I have no problem with people who do character profiles for every character as the characters come up.

Neither do I have a problem with the writer who sits down at the computer with the first line of a novel in their head and just writes. 

My last book came about that way. I had a line in my head. Next thing I knew I had 30,000 words down and counting. 30,000 words I am proud of, by the way. I know the characters that are and that will be. I know how it will end. I don’t know every detail of how it will get there. But I don’t want to. That’s the fun part.

The only requirement, if you ask me, to be a writer is simply that you sit down and write. Whatever your process is, you are good. Don’t let the naysayers bring you down. Don’t let the people who tell you 50,000 words in a month is impossible and even if you do it they won’t be good.

They don’t have to be. It’s your story. It’s your first draft. No one ever has to see your first draft. They get to see the polished perfect piece at the end. 

What’s important to remember is that if you want to write, write. Screw everyone else. Your process is your own and it’s nobody else’s business. 

If you find yourself in a situation where someone is telling you that if you don’t follow certain rules then you can’t be a writer remember two things:

1. As Robert Downey Jr. said: 

“Listen, smile, agree, and then do whatever the fuck you were gonna do anyway.”

2. The greatest artists that have ever been-writers, musicians, painters etc…-did not get that way by following the rules. Someone else trying to fit you into their box is just them afraid to try new things. They follow a formula that they think equals success. Some of them may end up being published. Some of them may even end up famous.

But none of them will be remembered for doing something great. Following the rules doesn’t lead to greatness. It leads to uniformity. Uniformity is boring in art.


If you are looking for inspiration over the next couple of days (or even over the month of November as you try to hit your daily word count) I suggest these:


Neil Gaiman’s Make Good Art Speech:

Neil Gaiman’s Journal: On Writing

Neil Gaiman’s Advice to Aspiring Writers (from the Nerdist Podcast)

Brent Weeks does (when he’s not terribly busy) blogs on world building. This is one. I suggest reading them all if you are stuck in your world at all.

Brandon Sanderson’s complete Creative Writing Class from BYU. Some of it may be helpful. Some might not. I like what I’ve seen though.

Sanderson also has blog posts on his author site where he writes about laws of creating magic systems. He isn’t finished. I believe he is up to law 3. Here is the first one:


That’s probably good for now.


I’ll be in the zone (theoretically) during November. Which means one of two things: either I will be posting a whole lot more or I won’t post at all. If I can pull my head out of my notebook or ipad I will try to give you updates on my word counts and stuff I am learning during my first NaNoWriMo.

If you have your own places you get inspiration for writing, link in the comments!






Are We, As Women, Boxing Ourselves In?

Men get a lot of crap for the way our society is. I don’t necessarily think that’s fair.

I just attended a conference in Washington about women in Fantasy. I loved it, as I love Fantasy. But there was an overarching theme that I felt throughout the conference.

I seemed to feel I wasn’t the “right kind” of feminist for this conference.

Here is what I think defines feminist:

Wants women to be equal to men

That’s it. I don’t blame guys for the fact that it’s a patriarchal world. Old traditions and habits are hard to break. It’s hard not to want guys to be “manly” while protesting loudly that they shouldn’t put women in a box.

Which brings me to my headlining thought:

Are we, as women, boxing ourselves into stereotypes?

 When I was at the conference there was one panel in particular that really kind of rode on my nerves a little bit. They were talking about how they were tired of seeing women in stereotypical roles. They were complaining that men don’t write women well(which I actually disagree with. I think both George R.R. Martin and Brandon Sanderson write fantastic women but more on that in a second) and women feel they need to hold the mantle of womanhood on their shoulders when they write our gender so they make them a stereotype as well.

That’s a fair point. Not a completely accurate one, in my opinion, but a fair one.

Here is where I started to notice hypocrisy. While bemoaning how men write women, they started to say what a woman needs to be in a book for her to be a “good” female character. Essentially taking the stereotypical female warrior, queen, mother etc…out of one box and placing her into a completely different one. But it was still a box. The women at this conference said “well we only see one woman in books so she needs to be…” and so on. They complained about the female characters in Song of Ice and Fire. 

Which didn’t make sense to me.

George R.R. Martin’s women are women in whole. He writes them very very well.  They are multi-dimensional. They aren’t “just the mother” or  “just the tom-boy” They are incredibly complex women. Like real women. But the problem I seemed to notice was that his characters didn’t fit into what they wanted to see as female characters so they weren’t “good”. But women don’t fit into stereotypes.  We aren’t all “just the housewife” or “just the mom” or even “just the Queen”  We are housewives and mothers and readers and writers and artists and dreamers. We are insecure some days and think we are smoking hot the next day. We have bad hair days while our men can’t tell the difference between how we wore our hair the day before and how we are wearing it now. Sometimes we are mad for no reason and sometimes our reason is cryptic. But we are valuable and we are important. We are not one archetype. We are not just the “Strong Warrior” or the “Queen fighting for her kingdom” We are both, and none all at the same time.

And that’s okay. It should be okay for us, as women, to say to one another “You aren’t perfect. You inherited this kingdom rather than conquered it but it doesn’t take away from your capabilities as a ruler” (that was another discussion that was had) We need to be able to look at the female characters in books and find something in ourselves. Whether that character is one-dimensional or multi-faceted…if the character touches you-if you find something in you that you didn’t know was there-than who cares? Some women are conquerors and some women just want to stay in and read about conquerors. And it should all be fine.

Don’t get me wrong, feminists of the male and female variety have a long way to go. Don’t believe me? Check out this blog post made of the most popular search terms when searching things like “women should” and “women need to”

Working at Gamestop taught me that there is still a ridiculous amount of ignorance surrounding women in the world.

But not all that ignorance comes in male form. 


Let me be clear on one thing before I go: I loved the conference I went to. I had a great time. Despite my crippling shyness(and being with someone who was equally shy) I met some great people. I had fun and I will go again. The hypocrisy I saw is not limited to these women nor do I think it is intentional. They were all incredibly kind and wonderful. They just want the best representation they can for our gender. That being said, I feel like perhaps they have not chosen the best way to go about it.


NaNoWriMo Prep

I am doing National Novel Writing Month this year. I think I can be successful this year because I actually decided to do this prior to November and I have a story waiting to be told. I am officially registered through their site. We will see how it goes.

If you don’t think you can do 2,000 words a day (technically 1666) sit down and write a short story in a program that has a word counter. I have found that the first 700-1000 words flows pretty quickly and I can do it in about 20 minutes. The next thousand is harder. For me, at least. You may discover that 2,000 words is less than you think. Or you may discover that it’s more. Either way you may come up with a gauge that tells you how hard you will have to work.

I have two stories I am working on currently. The one I am going to do for NaNoWriMo and then another I have been working on for two or three months. I am excited about both. I know what happens in both and where they both go.

That being said, prepping is my weak point. I have honestly have never had to do any prepping and what I write tends to be better when I don’t. At least that was the case in high school. I would write most of my papers the morning it was due, around 4 a.m and turn in the first draft. Most of the time I would be missing a comma or something but otherwise the papers were always perfect. I get that from my mom. She has done the same thing through all of her college degrees that she has done. (I believe she has two bachelors and is working on a doctorite. My mom is very very smart) I didn’t know any of that until I was telling my mom how I would hate when my teachers would make me outline a two page paper-especially when they would expect my paper to follow said outline-since I could research and write and edit without an outline. An outline has always been a waste of time. I don’t say any of this to brag. Quite the opposite, actually.

My method of just write worked, and continues to work, for short stories and papers. It doesn’t work quite so well for long novels. At least not for me. I know Neil Gaiman and some other authors can do it but if I don’t do some prep for novels-which is my preferred medium despite the fact that I am better with short stories-as far as connecting to an audience quickly-goes. I get lost writing novels if I put it down for more than a few weeks and start to contradict the rules I set up for myself in my universe simply because I have forgotten the rules I have set up.

But I never really learned to prep. The outlines I learned to do in high school weren’t really helpful for me since it was broad and I usually know where my story starts and that’s it. That’s all I’ve ever needed. My outlines tend to turn into mini stories when I try to set up the chapters which I found would make me bored writing the story later. The creative part-what happens and why-is the fun part.

All that being said, I do think prep is important. What prep means is going to change from person to person. I am not an outline person, for example, but I just spent a good deal of time writing character profiles to make sure I keep my characters in character, as it were, and then designing a hierarchy for the Gods and Angels that will take place in my story. I am going to make up a map- a crude map because I am NOT an artist-so that I can keep track of everything that I do and make sure the locations make sense.

Initially I was doing all of this because, honestly, I thought that I should. Not a great reason but it got me started. I am finding that I am actually enjoying the prep work. Learning my characters before-at least on a shallow level to get me started-has really gotten me fired up about my NaNoWriMo novel.

I can’t wait for November first so that I can put everything I have discovered about my story and my characters with the page and, eventually, other people.

As part of my prep, I have also started talking to people about their novels and what they do to prepare and what their stories are about. I joined several writing and NaNoWriMo subreddits to keep me excited. Trying to seek comfort and find inspiration in other people. It is not my strong point.

I am not a people person. Not because I don’t want to be. Just because I don’t know how to relate to people.

That being said, if you are doing NaNoWriMo and would would like to join me on my writing journey, let me know and let me know what you do to prepare before writing a book. Maybe we can inspire each other.