Tag Archives: writing tools

Mixed Massages: when what we say isn’t always heard

The view on the way down from Hanging Lake

Last week while visiting beautiful Colorado, I partook in a mixed-message massage that went something like this:

  • Masseuse: What are you looking for today?
  • Me: Well, I went hiking yesterday, so an overall massage would be great.
  • Him: Okay.

Only it apparently wasn’t okay.

I know because I’ve had massages before. Massages where my WHOLE body got a good rub down. Massages that actually targeted the muscles you specify. Massages that didn’t ignore the single largest muscle in your body, as well as the ever-important-to-mountain-climbing quads.

My masseuse, bless his heart, was either deaf or didn’t understand that my rear end was included in the I-went-hiking-whole-body-massage request. When it came time for working out the kinks in my gluteus maximus (aka, the largest muscle in the human body and one that is used extensively while hiking a mile and a half straight uphill to see an incredibly beautiful lake), he threw another blanket over my bum and poked at it like one might use a stick to prod a presumed-dead animal on the side of the road. When I rolled to my back, the only muscles not ignored were in my feet.

What I thought I said (a full body massage) and what he heard (only the parts you like most) were two completely different things.

Does this ever happen to you? Dear writers, how do you employ mixed messages to ramp up the tension between your characters? Dear readers, do mixed messages work in the books you peruse, or do you get tired of the main characters’ inability to communicate properly? 

As a married mother of four, I can attest that mixed messages occur on a regular basis. Thankfully, though, I’ve only had one mixed massage.

 

Book Reviews and Other News

Since starting my preschool in September, I’ve not read a single novel.  Sad, but true.  At least it was until last weekend when I devoured three books. 

THE DUFF

By Kody Keplinger

This is a tough book for me to review, as I read it through the eyes of a mom with a fourteen-year-old daughter.  The amount of swearing and sex was disturbing to say the least.  Not that children aren’t faced with this kind of thing in the halls at school, but to me, literature has always been an escape from the nastiness of real life. 

Yet I suppose I should have suspected a bit of hubbub from a book written about the Designated Ugly Fat Friend. 

However, when I put my child advocate hat on, I could appreciate the honesty of the main character and the addictive nature she fights with as she struggles through her parents’ divorce.  Instead of using alcohol to ease the depression and confusion, she turns to sex to numb her from the pain. 

In the end, Ms. Keplinger did a wonderful job of portraying low self-esteem and the fight for self-respect.  The characters were believable and the message was subtle.  Maybe a bit too subtle for my taste, as I picture some kids not quite getting that casual sex is a bad thing since the MC ends up with her bed partner.  Spoiler.  Sorry. 

Definitely worth the read if you can get past the language and into the meat of the story.  Definitely not something I will pass on to my Dear Daughter until she adds a few years to her age—though that’s likely just my over-protectiveness coming out.

PRETTIES and SPECIALS

By Scott Westerfeld 

These are two books I would let DD read right now.  I tested the first in the series (UGLIES) this past summer and just now had the time to enjoy the last two.  And enjoy, I did.  In fact, I read the page-turning SPECIALS in five hours. 

At the heart of these stories, Mr. Westerfeld addresses human nature and the ability to triumph or succumb to outside pressures based on our inherent personalities.  I know, sounds dry and psychological, but they’re not.  Trust me.

They are action-packed, character-driven adventures set in a dystopian future. 

The thing I loved most about these books was the depth of the characters.  The protags were flawed and the antags had redeeming qualities.  My second favorite thing: the wide range of emotions and desires Mr. Westerfeld captured throughout the series.  This grass-is-always-greener approach led the MC through many thought-provoking scenarios where the fate of others rested in her hands. 

My only complaint—comes from the mother in me—was the cutting in the second book.  This form of pain relief is so prominent amongst youngsters these days and I hated to see it so up-front.  However, the handling of it was honest enough that it worked.

 One thing Mr. Westerfeld does is gets kids.

Now, for the News 

  1. I’m attending the Iowa Region’s SCBWI conference this weekend.  It proves to be amazing, and I am open to any questions you may have.  Please leave a comment or shoot me an email letting me know what you want to know and I’ll try to find the answer during my amazing three days with industry professionals.
  2. I have officially finished my MG novel revision.  Now it needs a once over and it’s ready to send to my agent.  Yay!  This book has been long in the making (six years) and I hope I did it justice with my latest epiphany.  It’s amazing how much we grow as we write, edit, commiserate with peers and polish our prose.  I love it.  The whole process is a journey worth taking, whether publication is the end product or not. 
  3. I have a secret.  A very big secret that will go viral tomorrow, Friday, April 1st.  It’s not an April Fools joke, but rather, a great tool for any writer of any level regardless of genre or age group you write for.

Please, please, please check back here tomorrow for the details.  And once the cat is out of the bag, I urge you to pass along the info to anyone you know, love or respect who ever hopes to someday see their name in print.

So, as a reader, what’s your latest read?  Anything I can download on my Kindle for the quiet evenings in my hotel room this weekend?  I’d love to get your suggestions.

As a writer, what do you most want to know about the writing industry?  Are you currently craft-centered or are you looking for publishing tips that can lead you to your dream agent and subsequent publication?  Does the e-revolution tickle your fancy or is traditional publishing your ideal?

 Inquiring minds want to know!