Tag Archives: writing advice

Does your writing look like dreamsicle vomit?

After five years and five thousand fingerprint smudges, we repainted our entire upstairs.  Initially, DH was less than thrilled with my choices–particularly the hall bathroom.

“It looks like a dreamsicle threw up in here.”

He was right and I doubted my pick, even though I never told him that.  “You’ll see.  As soon as I get the rugs in and the pictures up and, and, and, it will be fine,” I said with fingers crossed and wishy-washy words falling from my lips.

Well, the rugs aren’t down yet and we have yet to replace the vanity light and sconce to match the chocolate-brown accents, but…

…last night DH approved.

“I just couldn’t see it until it was all put together.”

And that, my writer friends, is exactly why we need to spit-shine our submissions before sending them off to agents and editors or self-publishing them.

We must always, always send our very best.  It must not be the shell of an idea, stripped down to the paint on the wall.  Our manuscripts must be complete and compelling.  Touched up and accessorized perfectly to bring out the visions in our heads.

Only then can a reader appreciate what could be.  Because, until then, all they will see is a work in progress–a look that can be very ugly indeed.

Cat’s Guide to Avoiding Manuscript Vomit 

* If you feel compelled to send a different section of your manuscript than what is traditionally asked for, you’re not ready to query.

* If you “just finished writing my first novel”, you’re not ready for anything but a long break and a serious revision.

* If you made substantial changes to your manuscript during your last read-through, you’re not ready to unleash your writing on the reading public.

* If you feel as if replacing the faucet and countertop will make everything perfect, you must stop somewhere because you can’t afford a major remodel.  Which is the great thing about writing.  Every revision is free.  All it takes is time and dedication.

So, don’t sell yourself short by sending out a half-finished product.  Instead, take the time you need to satisfy your Inner Editor.  Listen to and learn all you can about the writing business.  I know you want your novel in the hands of readers right now.  So do I.  But, showing our babies to the world before they are truly ready will only garner rejections, negative reviews and heartbreak.

And the last thing we want to hear about our manuscripts is that they look like a hodge-podge of ideas and characters vomited onto the page.

So, go forth and remodel.  You have my permission.

Oh, Christmas Tree, Why Do I Like Thee?

We bought a Christmas tree this past weekend.  It was a family affair with three generations of tree-cutters slopping through wet grass to find the perfect pines for our respective houses.  Everyone, from one year old baby Liza up to Grandpa, had a different opinion on what makes a pretty tree.

Some wanted teeny-meeny saplings that barely reached their knees–and at four, seven and ten, those are some pretty short knees.  Still others wanted pines that soared so high the tops seemed to disappear into the clouds. 

Long needles, short needles, painted, pure, Charlie Brownishly skinny, trimmed to conical perfection or naturally full?

So many trees.  So many choices.

Tree hunting is a lot like book buying.

What tickles one person’s tweeter may totally turn off another reader.  That’s why there are so many different genres and sub genres.  It’s why one vampire book becomes a beloved read while another sits on the shelf untouched.  It’s why, in another home, the exact opposite is true.

One thing I did notice during our commune with nature: the trees didn’t care.  They didn’t care if someone walked by them and made a beeline for another pine.  Instead, they remained steadfast.  The soaked up the moisture and the sun’s rays oblivious to the hubbub around them.  In the end, they will be something.

Pinecones to repopulate a forest.  Shade for new seedlings.  A nesting ground for birds.  Food for squirrels.  Shelter for deer.  A Christmas tree to the right family at the right time or firewood or mulch as aging branches die and decompose.

There’s a lesson here for aspiring writers.  Well, maybe two.

  1. Write the story you need to tell.  Some people may love it.  Some may hate it.  It may be a bestseller or a favorite niche story that quietly gets passed around by a select few.  Regardless of what ultimately happens to it, it will serve a purpose.  Really and truly, because…
  2. …not every story will grace the great room…er, become the book of the season.  In fact, some may get self-pubbed or never get published at all.  Yet we learn from every story we pen.  These practice stories help us hone our skills and nurture the seeds of our creativity.

Nature does not waste.  Nor does she regret.  She simply perseveres.

And that, my writer friends, is what I wish for you this upcoming holiday season.  Be the tree!

 

Forced Schedules: Writing Pitfall #27

As many of you know, we own an eccentric puppy.  To her, socks = crack.  When she eats too many she gets a tummy ache.  Being a highly vocal dog, she moans–yes, sick dogs moan just like sick husbands–and rolls around in her kennel, milking her discomfort for all it’s worth.

She’s also not housebroken yet.  I am.

Sock Dog is a finished hunting dog.   This means she came to us fully trained.  She brought all her year-old quirks with her as well.  The most frustrating is her complete lack of bathroom etiquette.  Having been kenneled outside throughout her short life, she could stop mid-anything to go potty.  She never learned that front yard grass is more appropriate to piddle on than a white living room carpet.

So, I get up from my writing at various intervals throughout the day to let her outside.  I stand in the yard and croon to her, begging her to please quit chasing ladybugs so we can go back inside.  And when she’s done, my “such-a-good-girl-go-potty” praises can be heard blocks away.

We tromp back in where she plops down on the carpet, curls her lips at me in contentment and heaves a huge sigh.  “Such-a-good-owner-I-got-you-trained.”

And she does.  I hate cleaning up piddle spots and she knows it.  I’ve created a schedule for her based on when I think she should go potty.  I’d love to hear her take on this, though I can guess based on the smug smirk she gives me as she dilly-dallies around and my muse begins to wander. 

Writers are also guilty of this forced scheduling.  We don’t want too many messes to clean up, so we direct our characters’ actions.  We steer them to perform the way we want them to in an attempt to tidy up all the loose ends and resolve the conflict.  We write what’s convenient, rather than allowing ourselves to be interrupted.

In other words, we intrude on the story and feed our characters the right info at the right time and unleash them outside when we deem they are ready–when it works for the plot.  Chapter 7, Chapter 16 and Chapter 23.

Sadly, we fall victim to Writing Pitfall #27.  The one where we are housebroken, not our manuscripts.  The one where we force the writing to perform on our timeframe rather than allow it to unfold naturally. 

Personally, I would prefer if Sock Dog whined to be let out instead of piddling on the floor minutes after I let her back in.  In this same way, I prefer to let my characters take the lead in the story.  I want an organic feel to my manuscripts.  Too often, I read stories that feel forced.  As if things happen because the author needs them to happen. 

I try really hard to practice what I preach.  At one point in my YA, my MC acted on her own behalf and dragged another character out the door with her. 

“Noooo!  What are you doing?” I shouted at her–I guess I’m vocal too.  I had no place for the drunk girl in my manuscript and I considered taking her out of the apartment altogether.

It wasn’t until after I let her stay that I realized my MC had remained true to her character.  She acted on her natural impulse rather than let me direct her actions via the delete key.  My story is much stronger because of it. 

So, dear friends, how do you write?  Do you follow a strict guideline to make sure you input all the proper info at exactly the right time, or do you allow the story to control the timing?  What are the pros and cons to each of these types of writing?  Is housebreaking a manuscript even a good thing or are we better off minimizing the chaos by adhering to a more structured form of writing?

Curious minds want to know.

Starts With P: writing advice

Our preschool letter of the week is P.  We talk about pickles and pinecones, pigs and peacocks, porcupines and pillows.  Not in that order, and certainly not in the same breath.  Yet, like all things, I could string them together into one cohesive theme if given enough time.  I’m just crazy that way.

While contemplating this today, it struck me that novels would never get completed without the all-powerful letter P. 

And so I present you: Writing Advice with the Letter P.

  • Premeditate: Every good story needs a bit of forethought before putting pen to paper.  While I’m a pantster (writing without an outline), a certain amount of premeditation can go a long way in understanding the nuances of a novel.  For instance, I researched multiple personality disorders for Whispering Minds.  I read four books, checked out numerous websites and tapped into my psych classes from college to pull together pertinent info to my story.
  • Plot: Next I plodded plotted my way through my story.  I wrote one word after another, stringing sentences into paragraphs and pages into chapters.  Soon, I had a viable story line with a workable plot–a conflict and a resolution.
  • Progress: Every day, I wrote a minimum of 1,667 words.  While that sounds impressive, it was a self-imposed timeline posed by NaNoWriMo and their annual novel-writing contest.  Regardless of the reason, however, I made progress toward my 50k words in thirty days goal.  Each and every day, I worked on my novel.  Forward motion is the only way progress is made.
  • Perseverance: Don’t get me wrong, there were days I wanted to quit.  Procrastination could have been my friend.  Instead, I persevered through the doldrums and worked despite my absent muse. 
  • Posterior: Eventually I reached THE END.  The backside of a novel writing endeavor is a much cherished success.  Whether our words ever get read by another human being or not, simply reaching the climax of a novel and wrapping up the loose ends is a success few wannabe writers ever reach.  If this is as far as you get in your career as a writer, congratulate yourself on a job well-done.  Only 17% of those starting NaNoWriMo each year complete their goals. 
  • Practice: After our final words find their way to the page, aspiring writers feel empowered with their success.  We want to rush our babies into the literary world.  Don’t.  Suppress this urge.  Quash it.  Kill it or hide it in a box in a dark closet.  Your rough draft is your practice piece.  Nothing more and nothing less.   
  • Polish: After a solid finish, your practice manuscript needs a good spit-shine.  It needs echoes beat out of it.  It needs plot holes filled and characters plumped.  It needs to be edited over and over again until you have clarity.  It needs beta eyes to pinpoint problem areas and help make your writing a work of art–precise, polished, perfect.
  • Perfection: Okay, maybe that’s too strong of a word.  But the gist of it is, if you ever want to go from wanna-be writer to aspiring writer to full-fledged author, you must learn the delicate balance between as-good-as-I-can-get-it and editing-the-magic-out.  When we reach that comfortable place in our rewrites, we must stop the urge to tinker and start pimping our babies to the professionals.

What other P words pave the way for good writing habits and stellar manuscripts? 

Inquiring minds want to know.

Submitting, Marriage and Deli Sandwiches

On the way home from New Orleans, we stopped at a gas station.  I grabbed a turkey sandwich to appease my hunger.  Before taking my first bite, I glanced down and realized the bun was moldy.  It had expired a week previous. 

When I returned it to the cashier, she was more than a little grumpy and acted as if I had offended her by asking for a refund.  Even though I didn’t gripe or accuse, she took it personally.  By the way she was acting, I’m sure it ruined her afternoon.

Today, DH and I celebrate 18 years of marriage.  Over the course of the years, we have learned to let the little things go.  We have learned to understand the situation and ferret out how it relates to us.  In other words, we don’t take our spouse’s bad days personally and no longer get offended over things outside our control.

These two seemingly unrelated things–marriage and moldy deli sandwiches–reminded me of the submission process.  As writers, it is our responsibility to put forth our best manuscript.  However, acceptance or rejection by an agent is outside our control. 

We must learn to gracefully accept our returned manuscripts and not waste valuable time and emotions by getting offended.  Instead, we need to simply acknowledge that not all agents like moldy turkey on wheat.  We need to understand that many variables outside the quality of our manuscripts actually impact the decision to accept or reject.  We need to discontinue taking rejections (and even critiques) personally.

Only then can we gracefully remain in the writing biz for eighteen years and still enjoy the process.  Only then can we wave off a moldy sandwich without causing a scene.  And only then can we enjoy the ebb and flow of all that life–and writing–throws our way.

hugs~

How thick is your writing skin?

I bought new tennies thanks to my DD wearing mine in the mud.  While I knew better, I made the mistake of breaking them in on a three+ mile, brisk walk with the hubster.  I am paying for that mistake now.

The Free Dictionary defines a blister as “A local swelling of the skin that contains watery fluid and is caused by burning or irritation.” 

I would add “rubbing on the back of a brand new shoe” to the list of causes, and would insert the word painful before local swelling.  Especially when the blisters are silver dollar sized and stick out 1/2 inch on the back of each heel.  Terribly inconvenient might also be good descriptors, as would “hideous when filled with blood.” 

Eventually my pansy skin will get used to the new tennies and become callussed, thus allowing me to walk unlimited miles without earning more blisters. 

Not that the dictionary defines a callus as such, but in my experience, callusses are formed due to the body’s defense mechanism against repeated exposure to aggressive forces–ie, new shoes. 

A callus, as defined by The Free Dictionary, pretty much describes the plight of the writer.  It is “a localized thickening and enlargement of the horny layer of the skin.”

That first rejection causes a painful blister.  The 714th one barely adds a layer to the callus. 

I would like to pit the writing blister against the writing callus. 

When I was a kid, my dad told me that I cried at the drop of a hat.  “Even if you have to drop it yourself.”  In a sense, I was a walking blister and have since learned to quit throwing my hat to the ground.  This kind of emotional dysfunction does not suit a writer. 

As a writer, those first rejections and honest critiques are akin to my new-tennies blisters.  They are painful and caused by our inability to adequately distance ourselves from the chafing.  When experts talk about thickening our skin, they are warning against these kinds of blisters.

“Buck up.  Stop taking every comment personally.  Quit being a baby.  Stop whining.”  These are the commands we give ourselves to move past the initial pain and discomfort.  These phrases help us add layers over our emotions.  They build a barrier between us and our rejections, allowing us to continue writing and submitting.

Yet, I believe we can become so callussed that we lose sight of what rejections and critiques are telling us.  Our skin can become so thick that we simply move forward with our dreams and don’t even notice great advice when it comes our way.

So, how thick is your writing skin?  Do you still get blisters or have you built up the perfect protective layer?  Is there such a thing as being too callussed for our own good?  If so, how do we know when we reach that point?

sending virtual bandaids to those in need~ cat

Major Manuscript Changes

Much discussion in the writing arena focuses on point of view.  Should my book be first person, third person exclusive, switch POV’s, etc.?  I firmly believe POV is a matter of personal taste–for each manuscript.

Every story has different needs.  Most of the time I know what those are going into it.  However, there are times when I’m unsure.  My best example is my NaNo09 novel Whispering Minds

I love, love, loved my character’s name: Gemini, Gemi for short.  I wanted to hear it and see it and love it on paper.  Selfishly.  In addition, I had a whole lot of characters to incorporate into the novel and planned to give each of them their own space.  So I wrote in third person and switched POV’s. 

Twelve thousand words into the manuscript I realized this was too impersonal.  I struggled to capture Gemi’s essence on the page.  She felt distant to me.  And if I didn’t connect, my readers would never give one flip about her. 

Enter first person with no POV switch.  From the moment I realized my huge mistake, I let Gemi tell her story.  It worked out much better this way because she knew her journey more intimately than I and it sounded natural coming from her rather than via my translation of what I thought she wanted to say.

This technique is encouraged in writing circles and by writing professionals.  I’ve heard it from editors, agents, writers and writing coaches.  “Give it a whirl.  See where it takes you.  Use what feels best.”

However, I don’t think they intended for anyone to write 1/5th of a novel before switching.  I have started editing Whispering Minds, but feel like I’ve gotten nowhere.  All I’ve done so far is change out my she’s with me’s and my Gemi’s with I’s and a few other prominant word swaps.  I haven’t even tackled the POV switch yet.  Even so, this is a daunting task.  To date, it is my least favorite edit.

It is even worse than the time I changed an entire novel from present tense to past tense.  Ten times more horrific than a character name change.  Scads more frustrating than the time I gave my MC a sex change.  Not literally within the manuscript–just a simple character shift throughout the whole thing. 

Everything is different.  Word choices, emotions, actions, everything.  Boys use shorter sentences and don’t get all touchy-feely.  Changing tenses means a verb swap in EVERY sentence.  Events feel foreign and forced when making simple substitutions.  Voice is lost and language becomes stilted. 

“Sharon and Gemi attended the play.  The girls laughed so hard their sides hurt.” cannot become “Sharon and I attended the play.  The girls laughed so hard their sides hurt.”  Every sentence needs to be read carefully to make every appropriate substitution.  This process is time consuming.

Along the way, I’ve learned some tips when making Major Manuscript Changes. 

  1. Use the find and replace button if you have one.  While this works miracles for POV or name changes, don’t try it on a tense change.
  2. In addition, do not–DO NOT–find and replace everything.  Confusion abounds.  I almost scrapped my whole project when I realized the magnitude of clicking replace all.
  3. Make your changes 100% BEFORE editing your rough draft.  If you try to edit and change at the same time you will never understand what is going on.  Your edit will be a Disaster with a capital D.
  4. Save the original manuscript someplace else and ignore it while you work on the new edit.  You may learn–when you are all done ripping your hair out making the changes–that the original was, indeed, the better option. 
  5. Relax.  It’s not a race.  You are not graded on how quickly you get the task done.  However, your final manuscript is judged by editors and agents.  Having Timmy start out the manuscript in present tense and ending the piece with Past-Tense-Tonya will likely get your submission tossed.
  6. Use fantastic beta readers before declaring your changes complete.  A Major Manuscript Change is far too difficult to accomplish going solo (ie, we are too close to the project and know what it is supposed to say).  At the end of the day, too many minute mistakes remain.

Have you ever made Major Manuscript Changes to a completed work?  If so, what tips or tricks do you have to help others? 

As readers or writers, what are your preferences regarding POV, tense, gender, etc.?  Is one form an absolute turn off?  If so, why?

~happy editing

Poetry Lessons: yours not mine

I need your help.  Last year for my in-law’s 40th wedding anniversary, I wrote a book.  Literally.  It was a personalized, leather bound devotional (260 pages worth) to commemorate their lives.  This year, my DD gets confirmed.

Apparently I’m a better DIL than a mom, because DD gets nothing so fancy.  Instead, I’m working on a poem for her.  My hope is that it will be timeless as she grows.  Lessons to live by, if you will.  Without being preachy.

My problem is that I don’t write poetry. 

Not as a general rule.  Only when the mood moves me.  Like for weddings or funeral programs.  For Mother’s Day.  For inspiration.  For climbing out of a black hole.  For children.  Mostly for the moment.

This is different.  This is forever.  A gift now to be cherished in years to come.  Or so I can hope. 

This is my daughter.  The child of my heart.  The one I am supposed to shape and mold into something spectacular.  Her future is my success, as well as the culmination of my failures.  That’s a lot of pressure for someone who doesn’t write poetry!

Fiction is easy.  Fiction is imagination.  Poetry is the soul.  Just thinking about it sends shivers of fear down my spine.

Like many good college students, I took a poetry class.  I didn’t take to it.  Or rather, it didn’t take to me. 

So now I am seeking your expert advice. 

Please leave your best poetry tip(s) in a comment.  I will compile them into a list for other budding poets.  Together, we will learn everything we forgot or never knew in the first place. 

What makes a good poem?  And how in the heck do you write one?   

POETRY 101

  1. Think in images as you write.
  2. Rhyming is optional. Unless its a limerick!
  3. Poetry tip one: heart.  Poetry tip two: soul.  That’s all there is.
  4. Don’t overthink the poem, go with your gut and write.
  5. Throw down the bones first and then fill in the rest later.  No editing until it’s all down, rather write until there are no words left to say.
  6. It’s all in your heart, get out of your head. 
  7. Focus on how you feel, and always be genuine. 
  8. Don’t be afraid to cry.  It likely means you’ve hit a nerve.
  9. Do not compare your results with anyone else’s.
  10. Jot down reminder words or thoughts and build your poem around them.
  11. Play with it, squish it, squeeze out the dross until you find the pure silver. Then pound out the extra words until you’ve created a work of filigree.
  12. Start with free verse. Don’t try to force your feelings and ideas into a rhyme or iambic pentameter. Only use a specific poetic form if it serves your words.

Wow, twelve wonderful tips.  It’s like an AA meeting for Hopeless Poets!  You guys and gals rock my socks off.

Questioning Your Language Ability

Over the weekend I had the splendid opportunity to read for hours on end.  I love traveling in the car because DH is a driver not a rider, the duct tape works well on the kids the kids are fairly self-sufficent and I don’t get motion sickness. 

In addition, our closest rellies live two and a half hours away, so car time is akin to heaven for me.  Until Saturday when I ran across a sentence in a book that made my reading pleasure come to a screeching halt.

It bothered my so much I couldn’t let it go.  Three days later I’m still obsessing over it, so I thought I would bring it to you, my dear readers and fellow writers. 

The offending passage was this: They banned together against me in deciding to sell the farm.

Now I didn’t major in English, creative writing or any sort of language arts that would make me an expert on the subject, but this sentence threw me.  I read it.  Reread it.  Contemplated my definitions of banned and band.  Checked with the dictionary (thank you Kindle for the instantaneous and in depth definitions) and reread the entire page surrounding the questionable sentence.

Then I read it out  loud to DH, with the spelling lost in the verbal translation.  Even so, he made that face that told me the sentence sounded off.  Maybe.

Sheesh.  This sentence drove me to drink my dessert coffee this morning sans the hazlenut creamer.  I needed the strong stuff to get me through.

Now your job is to tell me if I am a writing failure taking my angst out on a pubbed author an English failure, or if this sentence really should have been rewritten.

My definition of banned (of which Webster kindly concurred) is that banned is the past tense of ban, which really means to exclude and is typically used in the sense of exclude from something.  Hence, the sentence would read something like this:

They excluded together against me in the decision to sell the farm.

My question is thus: doesn’t ban need an object?  IE–they banned me from the ball game after I flipped the ref the birdie.  Or, I have been banned from the library because I don’t know the meaning of shhhhshhhhshush.   

Likewise, am I wrong in my assumption that the banned the author wanted (and the editor let slip), is in fact band?

As in a combination of a thin strip of flexible material used to encircle and bind one object or to hold a number of objects together: a metal band around the bale of cotton and something that constrains or binds morally or legally: the bands of marriage and family?  And maybe even tissue that connects or holds structures together?  As defined here.

Should the sentence be: They banded against me in deciding to sell the farm?  (came together)

Or, They banned me from the decision to sell the farm?  (excluded)
 
I simultaneously love and hate reading somthing that makes me question my language ability.  I love that it stretches my understanding of the written word.  I hate when it bothers me so much I can’t function until I figure it out.  Even more so, I hate when I’m wrong.  But that’s beside the point.
Right now, I need some sort of validation that tells me my inner ear was right in hearing this sentence wrong, or I need someone to set me straight so I don’t mistakenly submit a manuscript with my incorrect version of the truth.
Banned or band?  Which is it and why?
Also, what kinds of things make you question your language ability?  Share examples of other tricky words/phrases that can help other writers on their journey.

The Best Writing Tips Ever

“…I thought of the lesson, only lesson I learned and remembered from two years of a creative writing class…”

This quote from one of my commenters got me thinking about the resources we tap into on our writing journey and the lessons we take away from them.  For instance, each book I read leaves me with one memorable lesson, while each class I’ve taken teaches a new concept or solidifies an old adage.  

I have more writing books than a duck has feathers.  I have listened to speakers at writer’s conferences who impart great advice.  Some of it works for me and some is just out of my reach. 

Probably the most common advice I have heard is to “Write every day.”

I would love to, but it just isn’t realistic for me at this point in my life.  I have kids who need a taxi driver mom and a dog who demands my affections.  I love spending weekends with my DH and nights get crowded with bedtimes–mine included.  Every day does not work for me.

“Write what you know.” 

What if I don’t really know enough about anything, but I know a lot about everything?  To me, this advice is pretty vague.  I write for kids.  Do I know them?  Sure, I was one–30 years ago.  Things have changed.  I love gardening, but in my own willy-nilly way.  Not the Garden Guru kind of way.

As writers, we read blogs and books, attend conferences and cozy up in the comfort of writing communities and critique partners–all in the hopes of honing our craft and getting our byline out there. 

So, my question becomes: what have you learned?  What is the single most valuable lesson you have taken away from a mentor, teacher or kindly rejection letter?  What words do you live by to be the best writer you can be?

My all time favorite words of writing wisdom come down to this: Create characters readers can care about.  If they don’t care, they won’t read.  I live by this lesson.  It drives my novels. 

As people comment, Iwill add them to our list for easy reference.  Don’t forget to read the comments, as each tip has a little more info than is posted here.

The Best Writing Tips (Ever)

  1. Leave out the bits that readers might skip.
  2. Create characters readers can care about.  If they don’t care, they won’t read.
  3. Two words changed my life: “Precise and spare”.
  4. Finish something, even if it’s terrible, get to “The End”.
  5. Edit, edit, edit and then edit some more.
  6. “Cut the crap” was one thing a prof used to always say. It made me smile, and works.
  7. Don’t just kill your darlings; kill your gerunds. Die, “ing” clauses, die.
  8. Mind your misplaced modifiers.
  9. Know your characters.  Interview them.
  10. Type, don’t think. Thinking comes later after you get it on the page.
  11. Open your brain–to learn about writing and to let your characters in.
  12. Write, get it down on the page. You can edit crap. You can’t edit a blank page.
  13. Be true to your vision as a writer.
  14. Of criticism, know what to take and what to leave behind.
  15. Do what works for you and your story.  It frees me to use any words I want in any way I want whenever I want.
  16. Don’t compare. My writing journey is mine, not yours.  I enjoy my journey and celebrate with others along theirs.
  17. “Find out what your hero or heroine wants, and when he or she wakes up in the morning, just follow him or her all day.” Ray Bradbury