Posts tagged novel
The Emotions in Writing (Quote of the Day)

It's interesting to me to think that we may each have one facet of our emotions that "informs our writing," as Ben Elton seems to imply. For him, it's love. Love is the strongest thing he's ever felt, and that gives a unique character to his writing. But what about the rest of us? What emotions might leave their stamp like fingerprints on other authors' writings?

For me, personally, the strongest emotion I have ever felt is sadness. It's not that I've felt sadness more often than any other emotion; it's simply that I've felt it… more. Truthfully, my life has been extremely happy. There's been an abundance of joy, love, and gratitude. But I've felt grief more deeply than joy. Tears have left a longer-lasting impression than laughter. Sadness tends to wrap a fist around me, while joy feels more like a gentle hand on my shoulder—no matter how great that joy may be.

To give an example: as a Christian, I can say that I'm more emotionally impacted by the crucifixion than the Ressurection. One of my favorite bible verses is the simple, two-word phrase, "Jesus wept." The idea of God coming to earth and dying strikes me more than the idea that I will go to heaven and live eternally.

That all may sound depressing and macabre, but the thing is, it isn't. I don't wallow. I don't enjoy being sad and I'm not fascinated by inherently sad things. Despair isn't in my nature; in fact, I'm probably the most dogged optimist you'll ever meet. Grief has so much beauty to me because it's so closely intertwined with hope. Incredible things can grow out of horrible circumstances, which makes them even more incredible. That is what leaves a lasting impression on me; that is what informs my writing. It's undeniable: grief and hope together make my stories what they are; when you read them, that's ultimately what you see. And that's okay in my book.

Today's Prompt: What emotion do you feel the most strongly? Identify it and then write a story in which that one emotion is completely absent.

Happy Writing!


Harnessing the Writing Fairy: Self-discipline in Writing (Quote of the Day)

Sometimes I go through dry spells. We all do--no matter what our art or profession. I'm currently stuck on chapter 18, which I began probably three weeks ago. That sounds pathetic, I know. We've been so busy in my house, and on top of that, three sicknesses hit our family—pretty much in the same week. It's been a hard time for writing, to say the least. I haven't felt like doing it. But I know if I wait until I really feel like writing... Well, I wouldn't say it would never happen, but the moments would certainly be few and far between.

Like anything worthwhile, writing takes discipline. We can't just wait until we're possessed by some magical writing fairy that speaks through our fingers or sings through our pen. We have to take the initiative ourselves, sit down at our desks, and write. If at all possible, schedule a time of day to write something. Even if it's not a chapter in a novel, write something. Even if it's not what you need to write, write something—a poem, a song, a paragraph, a response to a writing prompt. Write something. This day, this hour, this minute. Just write.

Today's Prompt: Write a story from the perspective of someone who is employed in the job you would least like to have. This character, however, loves what he/she does.

Happy Writing!


Writing for Money--or Not (Quote of the Day)

Watercolorquote Can I get an amen? There's this weird notion amongst people that if you get published, suddenly you're rolling in the dough. Nope. First of all, that's a fallacy. Second of all, you don't write because you want to get paid. It wouldn't matter if you never made a cent. You write because you can't help it; because there are characters and words in you and they have to come out, one way or another. Ultimately, you don't write for the money; you write because you have to.

Today's Prompt: Write a story surrounding a character with these traits:

  • 30 years or older.
  • No stable profession.
  • Addicted to get-rich-quick schemes.
  • Has one talent: a knack for losing money.

Happy Writing!


When Dreams Don't Have to End (Quote of the Day)

When I asked my husband, who is also a writer, what he would say about this quote, he replied, "I don't know. It kind of says it all for you."

Really, he's right. I can't add much, but I certainly relate. Writing lulls me into a dreamlike trance. The "real world" gets fuzzy and all I can see, hear, or feel is what's going on in my story. Then I write it down, almost as if I'm nothing more than an observer. It's that same kind of separation you often feel while actually dreaming: there, but not there; a part of the world, but at the same time apart from it. Unlike a sleeping dream however, these waking dreams don't have to end. That's why I love writing: because I can summon dreams whenever I want to and nothing can make them go away.

Today's Prompt: Write a story based on the most recent dream you've had that you can remember. Bring the dreamworld to life for the reader.

Happy Writing!


Sharing through Writing (Quote of the Day)

Well I missed my quote of the day yesterday, but for good reason! In the wee hours of Sunday morning I had to take a trip to the emergency room. I had some stomach thing that left me severely dehydrated and with some kidney issues. Fortunately I'm okay; but it'll take me a while to get back to 100% capacity, so my blogs will probably be short and sweet for the next few days.

See what I did there? The whole "sharing" thing? That's human nature. Something happened to me and I wanted to share it, much like I want to share my thoughts—little pieces of myself—through my writing. We all share, in whatever way we can. For some of us it's through novels. For others it's poetry or visual art. We all have a story to tell. The question is, how do we tell it?

Today's Prompt: Write a story or poem based on an important event in your life—one that shaped who you are today.

Happy Writing!


Quote of the Day—Gloria Steinem

As a full-time mom who doubles as a graphic artist, I constantly feel like I should be doing something else. When I'm sitting on the porch enjoying my morning coffee, I feel like I should be cleaning before my kids wake up. When I'm cleaning, I feel like I should be working on a project. When I'm working on a project—a business card or some bridal stationary for my portfolio, perhaps—I feel like I should be playing with my children. And when I'm playing with my children, I feel like I should be drinking coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

And I always feel like I should be writing. Then when I actually do write, it's like there's nothing else in the world. That's why I wait until midnight to work on my novels: because I know if I didn't, my children would be running around naked, covered in Dorito dust and climbing on the furniture. My clients would fire me. The house would eventually just rot  and melt into the earth, and I'd still be sitting in my computer chair, occasionally wondering what that smell was.

Writing has a way of doing that: sucking you into a created world and making you forget about the one you live in. That's what I love about it. I never feel like I should be doing anything else when I write because there is nothing else. There's only me and the story in my head. Personally, I'm okay with that.

Today's prompt: What mundane task should you be doing instead of this prompt? Write a story about it, but include elements of fantasy.

Post your story below, if you'd like. Happy writing!


**disclaimer: because the Internet doesn't come with a "tone of voice" button... This is hyperbolic. I swear I would notice if my kids needed attention. I'm not quite in the running for worst mother of the year yet.

Quote of the Day—W. Somerset Maugham

Today I'm living that chauffeur mom life and driving the kids around to their various appointments, so there's not much time for reflection on the daily quote. I picked this one because it's quick, it's true, and it made me laugh. Here's hoping it makes you laugh too!

Today's Prompt. You moonlight as a limousine driver. But one night, you show up for a job and end up getting more than you bargained for. The first thing your (or one of your) passenger(s) says to you is "Hurry; pop the trunk!"

Happy Writing!


Quote of the Day--Steven Wright

pagenumbersquote This is just a fun one for your Friday! I know there are times I've felt like this once I "started" a project. For a long time, I felt like that with Ourselves and Others. Luckily, I was finally able to move on and have been writing like a storm ever since!

Have you ever started something and felt like you couldn't get past the page numbers?

Today's Prompt: Write about a soccer game from the perspective of the ball.

Have fun with this one! Happy Writing!



Quote of the Day—Woody Allen

I've decided I'm showing up today—showing up for my kids, showing up to write, showing up, period. Sometimes I find myself so overwhelmed by all the things I have to do that I don't even try. But how can a person be successful if he/she doesn't even begin? When you work for yourself and there aren't any concrete consequences (like getting fired) for playing hooky, it can be hard to make yourself do what you need to. I know that's true of me with my writing, and I think it's a pitfall of many of my fellow writers out there. But we want to be successful, right? We want to achieve and do what we set out to do. In order for that to happen, we actually have to set out to do it. Every single day, we've got to show up.

Today's prompt: Make yourself write when you don't feel like it. Even if you've already written today, or even if you think you'll write later but don't feel like it beforehand, make yourself do it. It'll be good practice for the next time you don't feel like writing at all.

Happy writing!


Novel Excerpt--Ourselves and Others

OaOgraphic Good news! I've recently finished Part I of my work in progress, Ourselves and Others. Woohoo! As you can probably imagine, it feels pretty awesome to reach a milestone like that, even though I'm only about 1/3 of the way through. I'm riding on this great, energetic sense of accomplishment right now and it's really helping me write. There's definite motivation to keep on pushing through and finish this thing. Since it's been such a good thing for me, I thought I would celebrate by posting a quick excerpt for my followers to read. Check it out.

To read the description of Ourselves and Others, visit the "Novels" page of my website.



“Time to wake up. I need to ask you some questions.”

I prop myself up on one elbow, rubbing sleep from squinting eyes. There's a thin nurse in my room—one I haven't seen before with rich, dark skin and a black bob. Flipping on a lamp, she smiles at me—just a quick smile, but a nice one all the same. “What time is it?” I ask her as she pulls the desk chair to my bedside.

“Seven.” She sits down and scratches letters on a clipboard. “How’d you sleep?”

The real answer is “not long enough,” but through a mouth dry like cotton, I simply mumble, “Fine.”

“Any nightmares?” the nurse asks.

“Nope,” I yawn.

“How’s your depression on a scale of one to ten?”

“I don’t know… Maybe a one? Two?”

Surprised, she looks up from her clipboard and says, “Really? Great. Glad to hear it. Now… Um…” She pauses to find her place. “Oh. During the night did you have any suicidal thoughts or consider harming yourself in any way?”

Shaking my head, I answer, “No, I didn’t.”

“And this morning so far? Any suicidal thoughts?”


Resolutely she lays her clipboard on her lap, leans back with crossed arms and gives me a good, hard look. She seems to be trying to figure me out—like I’m an equation whose numbers don’t quite add up. Finally she says, “If you don’t mind me asking, Miss Juniper… What exactly are you doing here?”

Shrugging, I quip back, “Tell you what: if you find out, let me know.”

The nurse laughs. It’s a soft yellow sound that crinkles the corners of her eyes and shakes her earrings. They swing back and forth for several seconds after the laugh stops, catching lamplight and tiny reflections of her coffee-colored skin. “I’ll do that,” she says. “You go ahead and get dressed, then head to the dispensary for your pills. Breakfast is in fifteen minutes.”

“Thanks,” I say as she stands and walks across the room. I don’t know if it’s the laugh or the fact that she hasn’t looked at me like I’m a liar yet, but I can’t help it; I like her. Before she can exit, I call, “Hey, what’s your name?”

The question surprises her. She stares at me like no one has ever asked for her name before. Maybe they haven’t. Maybe she’s been working too long amongst people who can’t even remember their own names or who are too trapped inside themselves to think of anyone else.  Up ‘til now she might have been just another part of the body of St. Clair’s, one of many limbs in scrubs. She smiles, her eyes crinkling again. “Denise. You need anything, I’ll be here ‘til two.”


That's it for now! I hope you enjoyed it!


Quote of the Day-- Douglas Adams

worldmapquote The other day my husband, who writes children's books, was wondering out loud how I could manage to finish three novels. He (supposedly) can't even imagine doing something that extensive--planning a story and getting something out from beginning to end. I told him there was a time when I couldn't imagine ever finishing a novel either, which is true. I also told him that even when I have an idea in my head, it seems that, in a way, the novel writes itself. It's like the story just exists and I'm simply the tool being used to write it down. So as you can imagine (and maybe some of you don't have to imagine because you've experienced it yourself), this quote rings very true to me. I'm always happier with the way a story turns out than I was with the way I planned to write it. Somehow, my writing always ends up where it needs to be, even when I had no idea it needed to be there.

So have you experienced this? Do you let the story "write itself" or do you stick to your plans? How does your method work for you?

Today's Prompt: Make a plot treatment, planning a short story from beginning to end. Then start writing. Did the story go where you expected it to or did it deviate? Did it end up better or worse than you imagined?

Post your response in the comments, along with your plot treatment and story, if you'd like! Happy Writing!


Quote of the Day—Gustave Flaubert

I find this to be very true of myself. In writing my current novel, Ourselves and Others, which is based on my own experience in a psychiatric hospital, I've discovered a strong desire to defend those who struggle with mental illness. I've always believed mental illness shouldn't be taken lightly, but writing about it has multiplied that belief. Metaphorically traveling back to the psych ward makes me more present than I was when I was actually there—I suppose because I'm focusing on the details in order to write them, whereas when I was in the thick of it, I just tried to keep my head down. In any case, the awful realities of living with mental illness have hit me all over again.

So how has your writing revealed or shaped your beliefs? In what way has that manifested in your life?


Quote of the Day—Gwendolyn Brooks

This is perfect. I admit I am a talker, but not a very effective one. I love to write because it lends me an eloquence I simply don't have when speaking. Using my voice out loud might feel awkward and tedious, but using my voice on paper is always completely natural.

Anyone else feel that this quote is true of themselves? Or if not, what's one reason you write?


Multiple Me

Thanks, Mr. Fitzgerald, for this little truth. I've hardly seen a more accurate quote than this. As writers, we have all these people stored up in our heads. Every character I've ever written; every character I've yet to write—they're all in me, waiting for a chance to speak. Sometimes they all talk at the same time, and the only way I can focus on one voice is to sit down at my keyboard and type. I feel all of them, all the time. That's why I write: because the only way to express the "whole lot of people" individually is to personify them on paper. Sometimes I write a description; sometimes I jot down a paragraph of dialogue I'm hearing in my mind; sometimes I even draw a sketch or find a photograph of someone who looks like the person I imagine. That's when the multiple mes gain their own identities. That's when they become concrete.

So how do you give life to the multiple yous? How do you separate them from yourself and make each individual one stand out? I'd love to hear your process.