Meet Jeanette Watts in Our Third Author Q&A

Welcome to Em T. Wytte’s Third Author Q&A, featuring the fabulous Jeanette Watts! I say fabulous because anyone who can manage to work, sew, run 5 dance groups, and write multiple books is pretty amazing.

But as Levar Burton would say, “You don’t have to take my word for it.”

An Interview with Author Jeanette Watts

Meet Jeanette Watts in Our Third Author Q&A


 1. What was your first finished book?

Wealth and Privilege

2. How many books did you start or work on before finishing that book?

I wrote countless fan fiction books when I was a kid – I don’t think there WAS such a thing as fan fiction in those days! But my friends and I loved Star Wars, and I had my own characters, and told stories to my friends in installments.

3. If it wasn’t the first book you worked on, what made this book different? What made you finish this one?

Love. I love these characters! Thomas is a decent man surrounded by flawed and selfish people. He’s flawed, but lovable. And he loves Regina the way I think every woman wants to be loved: wholeheartedly.

4. What was the biggest challenge you encountered when finishing your first book?

Finding an agent! I spent five years looking for an agent, before my friends finally convinced me to publish straight to Kindle. I should have listened to them a year earlier than I did. Agents are crazy. They ask you to rewrite your book to their specifications, and then they don’t like your book anymore…

5. If you’ve written books since then, was writing them easier/harder? How was the experience different?

I’d heard that “the first book is the hardest.” It’s true. Somehow, once you’ve completely written one, something changes in your brain, and you know HOW to complete other books. My first book took 10 years to write. When my readers insisted I write a sequel, it took maybe two years.

6. Have you published your book? If yes, what medium(s) did you publish it in and why?

I started on Kindle, and then I had people clamoring for a hard copy. I published through CreateSpace, and Smashwords, and now I have people asking when the audiobook is coming out. Demand is a good thing.

7. Who did your cover art? What was that experience like?

The words “cover art” always make me laugh. When I published on Kindle, I had followed the instructions, proudly hit the button, and it said “congratulations, your book is on Kindle! Now upload your cover art.” I stared blankly at the screen and said, “Oh. Yeah, I guess I should have seen that coming…” I am a Vintage dancer, all I had to do was sort through 3 years of vacation photos and I had several options I could use. My husband is a marvelous graphic artist, he chose a photo, tinkered with it, and I’ve had people tell me I obviously spent a fortune on my cover art.

The story doesn’t end there… once I published hard copies, I uploaded my novel, proudly uploaded my cover art saying “Ha! I’ve got this.” Then I was asked to upload the BACK cover art. I slapped myself on the forehead and said, “Wow. I REALLY should have seen that one coming.” I told my husband I need a back cover, without missing a beat he told me I needed a photo of a woman’s gloved hand on the chest of a man in a tailcoat. Which is exactly what’s on the back cover of my book…

8. How are you marketing your book(s)?

In the most haphazard manner possible. I love getting to book fairs as much as possible, and I should really do more of them! I’ve done virtual book tours, book signings at independent bookstores, done podcast interviews, and bought various packages through AmericaStar.

9. What is your next step?

Finishing my next book, so that I can get on with writing the one after that! Just one more round of proofreading, and Jane Austen Lied to Me is ready to be released. I took a mental vacation from historic fiction and wrote a contemporary satire. I thought that would be “easier,” not having to do all the historical research. I was wrong.

10. What is your favorite part of writing?

Writing just feels good. Getting the words out of my head, and onto paper (well, computer screen…). Having the characters blossom under your fingertips. You start with an idea, and it grows into something more powerful than you. Your characters take on a life of their own, and even when you have a preconceived notion of where things are going to go, when you’ve done it right, the characters stop doing what they’re told – they tell YOU what is going to happen, what they are going to do.

11. What is your biggest struggle with writing?

Keeping all the distractions away! I am also a dance instructor, and I have started five dance groups at the same time I’ve been writing, publishing, and promoting books. The writing will get set aside for a cancan dancer who needs a new costume. Or a dancer who needs some emotional support because of family drama, and instead of an evening of writing, I’m out being a girlfriend and there’s alcohol or chocolate involved. Then I step on the scale, groan, and I have to spend more time in the gym or out on a bicycle, working off the extra calories from the night out.

12. What do you consider your weakest writing skill and what have you done to strengthen it or make up for it?

Well, I have a weakness for ambiguous endings… I got in trouble with that with my readers. So Brains and Beauty has a more traditional, wrap-up-all-the-loose-threads-they-lived-happily-ever-after ending. I don’t like it as well, but it made people happy, and they forgave me for the first one. Except of course the people who thought the first one was perfect the way it was, and now they’re disappointed in me! So I think the moral of the story is, “Never forget that you can’t make everyone happy.”

13. Do you now or have you ever done writing prompts? Did they help?

Nope, and nope. I’m having trouble keeping up with my brain, which has all these stories in there, and I don’t write fast enough to suit it. I don’t need a prompt to give me something to write about. I would just like to be able to catch up to everything I want to write!

14. Have you take any writing classes? Which ones? What was your biggest take-away?

I am an English major, so I had quite a few writing classes. Two professors left an indelible impression on me, and my writing. One used to hand out writing assignments, and then he’d say, “Just be brilliant!” And I’ll be damned if I wasn’t. He told me “if you treat people like idiots, they will perform like idiots. If you treat them like geniuses, they will perform like geniuses.” I have lived by his philosophy ever since. The second professor taught me how to ignore that evil censor monkey that sits in our brains, forcing us to rewrite every sentence as soon as we’ve written it. His technique was to spit out the words, all of them, and then go back later and edit. It’s always easier to edit words that are already on the page than it is to find the right words in the first place.

15. What is your writing background?

As I mentioned, one of my bachelor’s degrees is in English. I double-majored with Cinema-Television; I thought I wanted to write soap operas for a living when I grew up. Never got to the soap operas, but I’ve worked in marketing departments and for marketing firms, I’ve written television commercials, screenplays, one-act stage plays for a festival with a wild west theme, a textbook on waltzing, and skits for a local history museum.

16. Have you ever written in a writing circle? What did you think?

I tried that once. You were supposed to pay $20 a visit, and bring ONE page in for everyone to critique. Besides being expensive when we’re talking about a 400 page book, people were “critiquing” minutiae, because you can’t get much character development in one page.

Since then, I’ve developed a large stable of proofreader/editors. I give out rough drafts of the entire manuscript when I think it’s “done” enough, and then I get 10-12 insightful read-throughs who give me wonderful feedback!

17. When and where do you write?

I love to write in pretty places. I have gotten so much done in hotel lobbies while my husband was at a conference. Friends of mine have a cabin in Canada that is the BEST place to hide and write, with Lake Erie in front of me. One time I took a few days before a dance weekend and hid out in a cabin in the Allegheny National Forest. Creek burbling away to my right, a giant hill covered in trees to my left. Found a really, really good winery on that trip when I stopped to take a break for a while…

18. Who are your favorite authors?

Margaret Mitchell and Louisa May Alcott

19. What is the #1 advice you would give to people who want to be writers?

Just do it. Stop making excuses. You are going to have to make it a priority – but think about it. What’s more important, getting the laundry done, or getting some writing done?


What do you think? Did you learn something?

Personally, I’ve gotta say that I am loving the author Q&A series so far – seeing the overlap in our feelings toward writing, learning about our differences and their causes, and, best of all, getting to know so many creative people better!

The authors’ candor and humor are what make these interviews both fascinating and useful. So a big thanks to Jeanette for being this month’s author!

Want to be the August author? Fill out the author Q&A form!

Breaking Hyperbole as Writing Inspiration

breaking hyperbole as writing inspirationBreaking hyperbole as writing inspiration is one of the mainstays of creative writing. Especially genres like fantasy and science fiction. And since this tactic is so common, I’m guessing it’s not going to be a totally unfamiliar idea for most writers. That’s why this article isn’t meant to be a treasure trove of new ideas.

Although that would be cool. 

My goal instead is to make you more conscious of how you’ve used hyperbole as a worldbuilding or inspiration technique. Analyzing the techniques we use helps us be more deliberate in our methods – it lets us consciously choose to use them (or not) based on our goals and what we want to achieve.

How to Break Hyperbole for Writing Inspiration

All You Need Is Hyperbole and a Literal Mind 

Like most figurative language, hyperbole (when used correctly) works because the reader knows not to take it literally. It’s great for making people aware of details (without blatantly pointing them out), adding humor, and writing dialogue for characterization. 

Here’s an example:

Milly: Oh, I used to dance and flirt the night away. But that was a thousand years ago!

When the character says this, we don’t assume that she’s over a thousand years old. Instead, we understand that the situation happened a long time ago and that the character either likes using sayings or exaggerations (or doesn’t want say specifically how long ago it was).

In short, a hyperbole gives us an impression of the truth without being the actual truth.

But what if the character were speaking literally? What if it actually has been a thousand years since she danced and flirted the night away? It’s possible in fantasy stories, right? Possibly even science fiction.

Well, in that case, there is no exaggeration, which means there is no hyperbole. It’s not even figurative language at that point. Instead, the statement is the literal truth.

So when you take hyperbole literally, it’s not hyperbole anymore.

That’s why I called this activity breaking hyperbole. If hyperbole were the goal, you wouldn’t want to do this. For this exercise, however, hyperbole is a means to an end – not what you were aiming for.

Exaggerate Reality to Create Fantasy

Many of my writing prompts involve using elements of real life in the story (people watching, the library inspired writing prompt, Food as a Writing Prompt, etc.). And, oddly enough, when writing for them, you may have also used this one (What?)

As I said before, breaking hyperbole is a common part of the creative process. In other words, it’s a way of transforming reality into something new for your world or your story. Here’s how it works:

  1. Pick something from real life.
  2. Write a hyperbole about it.
  3. Take the hyperbole literally.
  4. Expand that literal interpretation to create something new.

Lizards could inspire dragons, speed trains could inspire instantaneous travel by train, and a lush garden could inspire a flower world. Or 50 other things. Whatever style or genre you write in can find inspiration by exaggerating reality to form new truths – even romance exaggerates reality for the sake of the story (and we all know to never let the truth get in the way of a good story).

It’s pretty obvious that most writers do this in one way or another. Now that I’ve made you think about it (theoretically), though, you can choose to use it deliberately on days when you’re at a loss for ideas. If nothing else, may it get your creative engine started and lead you in new directions.

Happy writing! Have fun breaking hyperbole – or storming the castle, whatever!

Sense of Urgency Is Like a Splinter

sense of urgency is like a splinter

No, not the rat.

It wasn’t until discussing the either or mentality a few months ago that I realized that I had somehow overlooked talking about sense of urgency (In a writing blog – how is that even possible?). Immediately, I put it on my list for later. Today, later is here, and it comes with a simile: sense of urgency is like a splinter.

Sense of Urgency:
Importance, Attention, & Deadlines

Talking about a sense of urgency has grown more and more popular not only in writing but also in business. Books must have a strong sense of urgency to be more gripping and fast-paced, and people must have a strong sense of urgency to make their businesses take off.

Ok. But what does that mean?

What Is a Sense of Urgency?

Well, in business, it’s your motivation and your level or intensity of caring. The elusive emotion drives you to get tasks done and tackle more. In years past, it would’ve been called “ambition.”

In writing, it’s fairly similar; however, you (the reader) are not the one feeling a sense of urgency – the main character is. Yes, we as readers respond to the main character’s need to succeed at a goal, but it isn’t our need (although, for extreme fans or those with major empathy, it can be hard to tell the difference…).

Uh-huh. And it’s like a splinter how?

Gotcha covered. It’s time to take this simile to the next level: the analogy. Don’t worry – all silliness aside, the comparison does actually make sense.

What Do Splinters and Sense of Urgency Have in Common?

I’m glad you asked. Here are a few of the items I’ve put together. Before I get into them, however, I’d like you to stop a moment to think about the splinters you’ve had over the years. From least to most memorable. Think about the irritation, the random pain when you first discovered it was there (How do they get there without being noticed?!), the intense concentration of operating on yourself to get it out – you know, the whole shebang. Got it in your head? Ok. Here we go.

Sense of urgency is like a splinter because both…

  1. Vary in size and importance (A small wood splinter versus bamboo under the fingernails. Big difference. Oh, and ever get a metal splinter? You know, the type Bruce Willis pulled out of his arm to use as a lockpick in Die Hard with a Vengeance? I have. Believe me, a normal splinter’s got nothing on that!)
  2. Hold your attention (even when you’re trying to focus on other things)
  3. Have a deadline (However vague – such as “before I type anymore because ow” or “before gangrene sets in, and I lose this finger”)
  4. Grow in importance the longer the issue remains (AKA, the closer you get to the deadline or the more side problems crop up because of it. And you thought it had your attention before it was red and swollen! Ha!)

Yes, a sense of urgency does all of those things.

Take #1, for instance. When a teacher tells you that your book needs a sense of urgency, you think of the main goal – the problem to be resolved in the climax. But there are plenty of little problems and conflicts that need a sense of urgency, too. A scene where a character has no driving need to do anything is a scene that’s dead in the water. Even if it’s as simple or small as a need to entertain themselves while waiting for someone, the character always has some motivation.

And, don’t forget, the character’s the one driving the plot, right?

As far as number 2, a sense of urgency is a splinter in your brain. Instead of pain distracting you, it’s ideas or a feeling that you need to get it done. It’s like having trouble concentrating at work because you have a million things to do at home. Or how artists tends to find ideas for their art in everything – because their art is never far from their minds!

Oh, and as far as #3, if you’re a procrastinator, you’ll understand the next sentence perfectly: you can’t have a sense of urgency without a deadline. If you can wait to do it tomorrow, why would you do it now? What’s in it for you?

The ticking clock is a cliche because it works. Having a deadline automatically creates at least some sense of urgency. In fact, the only way the ticking clock doesn’t work as a tool is if the character doesn’t care about the consequences.

Speaking of consequences, that’s also a way of heightening a sense of urgency, and it’s part of why the deadline is important as well as the variation idea (and #4). What’s the difference between homework due tomorrow and stopping a villain from destroying the Earth? Well, other than genre or trope, namely the scale of the consequences.

That’s how you differentiate between your conflicts and increase the sense of urgency for the climax. As a general rule, the main conflict should not only have more deadly or frightening consequences, but those consequences should also increase or get worse the closer the character gets to the climax. That can be simply because the result will be much worse if not taken care of before the deadline, or it could be because the situation grows increasingly complicated, resulting in worse dangers.

It’s particularly powerful if the actions that the main character takes to stop the dangers actually increases them (or, at least, the ancient Greek writers thought so…).

Hubris aside, though, that’s how motivation is like a splinter.

Speaking of which, *may your personal sense of urgency to write be like a long, nasty metal splinter that aggravates you so thoroughly you have no choice but to face it down (AKA: I hope you write.)

*A little Ray Bradbury-esque, but I meant it as a blessing.

Euphemisms for Death Can Be a Bit Disturbing

euphemisms for death can be a bit disturbingI’m not a big fan of most euphemisms for death. I understand that many of them come from a time when death (and other unpleasant matters) was not discussed in polite company. That said, with the evolution of language, some of those euphemisms for death can be a bit disturbing. Generally because the phrase is more commonly used for something else – something you wouldn’t say about a dead person.

My Least Favorite Euphemisms for Death

This thought originally started when I worked for a doctor. Whenever we got word that a patient had died, we would notify the doctor, prepare a condolence card, and finally, remove the file and label the front with “deceased.” Occasionally, however, someone would write the first of these options below instead, and it never quite set right with me.

 1. Expired

You see the problem with this, right? It made the patient seem like a product that’s past its shelf life. Eep. 

Even though I can see the metaphor (and often have a pretty dark sense of humor), I was never comfortable using the same terminology for a person that I would use for a gallon of milk.

2. Lost 

You hear this more from older generations: “We lost your great uncle in the winter of ’48.” Or during this war or x years ago. And with the feelings of loss that come with a death of a loved one, the word makes a great deal of sense.

On the other hand, we usually use “lost” when there is an opportunity to be “found.” And that doesn’t work so well in this case.

Maybe, it’s my literal brain talking, but “lost” is a word used for keys or pets – something you’ve misplaced. If you say that about a person, I expect them to have disappeared or be left behind somewhere. 

And that thought’s doubtlessly been strengthened by all the writers and comedians who’ve used that double meaning for comedy. Which, honestly, makes it feel even less appropriate to use seriously.

3. Asleep

Whose brilliant idea was this?

Sorry. I can understand a grieving parent not knowing hot to tell an innocent child that Mother/Father has died. And if the child sees the body laid out, I can see where it would be natural to leave the impression that the person is sleeping. It’s understandable and very human. 

But… all I can think about is how horribly wrong it’s likely to go in the long run.

If the child doesn’t really understand, waiting and wondering why the person refuses to wake up can take a toll. Not to mention how the parent’s pain would be renewed with each innocent, “When is Mommy going to wake up?”

Add the trauma and struggle that bedtime is liable to become when the parent finally breaks and says, “She isn’t.” The idea that you can keep sleeping forever? Against your will? Sounds like a good reason never to go to bed again!

And, yes, I realize that these are probably extreme cases, but comparing death to sleep really seems to do more harm than good. Leave it to Shakespearian plays and move on.

4. Resting in Peace

Obvious similar problems to the last one, right? Only in addition to that, there’s an implication that the peace could end. I wouldn’t be all that surprised if superstitions about disturbing graves could be traced back to this phrase.

Yep. I can see a direct correlation to zombie movies, too. For some reason (perhaps today’s parlance), “rest” simply isn’t as deep and as hard to disturb as “sleep.” Like the dead are keeping their ears open to make sure you’re behaving. 

Or maybe that was the story parents told their children to make them behave. Because that idea is totally kid-friendly. It’s not disturbing at all. Nooo.

5. Bought a on-way ticket / Bought the farm / Checked out / Departed / Kicked the Bucket / Took a permanent vacation

Ok. I can’t say that any one of these is horribly disturbing on its own because they mostly sound kind of funny (with the exception of “departed.” And “permanent vacation” [You mean, “retirement”?]).

What disturbs me is that they’re all things you can do when alive. In fact, when my grandmother bought the family farm a few years ago (literally), discussing the sale caused all manner of confusion. Although the discussions were occasionally hilarious, it seems strange (and creepy) that you’d want anyone to be confused about the fact that someone had died.

I don’t know about you, but that’s not something I’d want to misunderstand. In either direction.

I guess that’s why I’m not fond of euphemisms for death in the 1st place. There are too many opportunities for added confusion, which means added pain. That and the fact that some of them seem downright disrespectful or inappropriate. 

What do you think? Would you rather be told that someone died or that that person was lost? Or kicked the bucket? Is that disturbing to you?

Ray Bradbury Called You a Sublime Fool

Sorry. I lied. That’s not true. Ray Bradbury actually called you “the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling.” Lol. Burn!

Ok. Ok. Technically, he called himself that, too. And me. And anyone who ever wanted to be a writer. Or an artist. Man, what a jerk!

Or, you know, a realist about the writing profession with a sense of humor. Whatever.

A Ray Bradbury Quote:
An Insult, Curse, & Benediction for Writers

Ray Bradbury Quote Sublime FoolIsn’t that an amazing quote?

It has nuanced humor, the cynical pessimism of someone who’s worked in writing and knows how hard it can be, and a generosity of spirit for others with the same dream. Plus, it can be broken down into 2 smaller quotes that provide the top advice for anyone who ever wanted to write:

  • “You must write every single day of your life.”
  • “You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books…”

You’ve heard that before, right? After all, writing and reading are the number one ways to learn and to improve – at least, when it comes to learning to write.

The blessings are kind of awesome, too. They start out feeling like a curse (Why would you wish that on me?), but then they wrap around to end up as a blessing. Almost another kind of advice, a subtler one that leads you to the right conclusion instead of telling you straight out.

  • “I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime.”
  • “I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you.”
  • “May you live with hysteria, and out of it, make fine stories…”
  • “May you be in love every day… and out of that love remake a world.”

When you take them in context with the previous statements, they could practically be re-written as wishing you a long lifetime full of writing and transforming your own experiences into new stories and worlds – a wish written from one “sublime fool” to another, almost like an inside joke said with a warm smile.

Actually… if that’s the fate of a “sublime fool,” I’ll take it. How about you?

10 Funny Questions Only English Lovers Will Get

funny questions only english lovers will getOne of the best parts about the English language is all the ridiculous and funny ways you can play with it (thanks to English’s bullying nature). These 10 funny questions are great examples of that – unfortunately, only people who like English will get them. Do you?

10 Bits of Silliness for English Lovers

Are you ready for some silliness? Brace yourself – some of these might hurt!

 1. Who put an s in lisp? Was it the same cruel person who came up with dyslexic?
2. Why are there 5 syllables in the word monosyllabic?
3. Why is bra singular and panties plural?
4. Did independent clauses have a revolution?
5. Do relative clauses ever have reunions?
6. If you write a dependent clause by itself, does it fall over?
7. Why aren’t there postpositions?
8. Why does final come before first in the dictionary? And finish before start?
9. Why isn’t anyone ever plussed or concerted?
10. In English, who is the worst at waltzing? Iamb.

😀

Congratulations! You survived the ridiculous wordplays! I hope they made you smile.

Until next time!
-Em

12 Examples of Ending the Either Or Problem with a Third Choice

Examples of Ending the Either Or Problem with a Third ChoiceWhen I listed different methods for ending the either or problem with a third choice, I didn’t give any examples because, honestly, the article was long enough already. So if you wanted some examples of each type, you’re in luck! Here are 12 examples of ending the either or problem with a third choice.

Warning: there may be a lot of spoilers.

Examples that End an Either Or Problem with a Third Choice

Outside Intervention

Here are some examples of how this technique has been used.

  • The Fellowship of the Ring: Frodo is fleeing to Rivendell on Glorfindel’s horse, and the Nazgul are catching up. He can either be caught as he tries to flee or turn and fight. Suddenly, the river rises up and sweeps the Nazgul away thanks to Elrond.
  • Speaking of Tolkien’s Middle Earth series, this technique is also used when the Eagles arrive to take them from the fiery trees (every time the Eagles arrive really), when Gollum takes the ring back at the end, and probably a number of other situations that I’m not remembering.
  • The Lion King: Simba and Nala are cornered by angry jackals. They have to fight, and they’re either going to win or die. Then, Mufasa appears and sends the jackals running thanks to Zazu, which Simba and Nala didn’t even know was an option.
  • The main characters are taken captive, but just as they are about to be killed, their captor’s enemies attack. So… they’re free of the first group (mission accomplished). Unfortunately, now they’re someone else’s captives (which generally leads to an opening that wouldn’t have existed with the first captor). (Yes, I know it’s not a specific example, but you can think of a couple, right?)

Actually, these should all seem pretty familiar.

Sudden Epiphany or Reveal

Only 2 for this one: one book and one movie.

  • In Disney’s Moana,Te Kā rears up thanks to the fight with Maui, and Moana sees the spiral pattern on the demon’s stone chest, which makes Moana realize what she needs to do to return the stone to Te Fiti.
  • A Wrinkle in Time uses this, as well. At the climactic moment, Meg’s two choices are to join IT (something she is struggling against constantly) or to continually fight to figure out how to defeat IT. She has no idea how to defeat IT until IT (through Charles) makes a comment that inadvertently reveals to her what she has that IT doesn’t (Thanks, IT!).

That’s enough to give you an idea, but if anyone wants to add more examples in the comments, you’re welcome to.

Secret Skills

I know this has been used in spy movies, but I can’t think of any right now. So these 4 examples are what you get!

  • River’s ability to shoot in Firefly is the perfect example: a character is in desperate straights (fight and die OR don’t fight and die), and a character with no background in shooting appears and saves the day. Thanks to River’s already mysterious abilities (who knows what was done to her?), this doesn’t mess up the characterization.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird: To Scout, Atticus is a smart father that she obviously adores but is also a bit embarrassed by because he is a bit older, wears glasses, and prefers to read rather than hunt. When a mad dog comes into town, the obvious options to the children are completely derailed by Atticus being asked to shoot the dog with a rifle because they had no idea that he was a crack shot (a slightly vague example as far as an either-or choice; however, the secret skill reveal was too good to leave it out).
  • In Ghost Hunt, Ayako is established as pretty useless – until the last storyline of the tv show where she saves them all from a horde of spirits and leaves them all wondering, why on Earth haven’t you ever used this before? She had an excellent answer, so it works as a plot device (and doesn’t make the rest of the series seem like a lie).
  • For Trigun, Vash gets out of deadly situations because of skills the audience (and other characters) doesn’t know about for a long part of the series. It’s an intriguing use of the technique because it uses the secret skill to save the characters yet manages to keep the skill secret for quite a while – not an easy feat!

All the other examples I can think of at the moment come from anime. Hmmm… interesting.

Art of the Unexpected

Oh, that crazy unexpected. Here are 2 characters that thrive on it.

  • Miles from the Vorkosigan Saga: His claim to fame is his brain and ability to think of things no one expected. Granted, it gets him into a lot of trouble, but it also often gets him out of said trouble. For example, when he finds himself in a bad situation where the obvious options are 1. surrender and beg for mercy or 2. run, he picks option#3: taking over the mercenaries against him through fast-talking.
  • Then, there’s Peter Quill. At the end of Guardians of the Galaxy, he can either try to fight Yondu or hand over the stone. He chooses one of the best third options – appearing to make one of the obvious choices while actually doing something else.

There you go! Examples of each kind. I’m sure there are plenty more out there. You probably thought of other examples while reading this.

You know where those  should go? In the comments. Lets make this a major resource, people!

Happy Independence Day 2017!

Happy Independence Day 2017It is the 4th of July, the Independence Day holiday for the U.S.A., and I have decided that since vacation is not a 4-letter word, I am going to celebrate by taking the day off. 🙂

For those of you who live in the U.S., I hope you have a great Independence Day! Enjoy your family gatherings, grill-outs, and fireworks!

For those of you not from the U.S., I hope you have a happy July 4th going about your regular non-holiday plans. 🙂

Regular posts to resume on Thursday. Until then, have fun!

20 Reasons to Read Books

Not that most of us need more reasons to read books. 🙂 But if you ever run into one of those “why do you read?” conversations, these might be fun to throw in.

Why You Should Read:
20 Reasons

Ready for the count-down? Here goes!

20. Easy-to-use (No manual required)

Open. Read. It’s that simple.

19. Great pause, fast-forward, and rewind features.

Flip a page. Flip it back. Insert a book mark. Or remember a page number. You don’t even need batteries or a plug!

18. Decent resale value

Sure, it depends on the book. Some of them keep only 10-30% of their resale value, but there are a lot of types of entertainment that have no resale whatsoever.

Of course, you could also keep them and re-read them. Because why get rid of something you like?

17. Great effects – waaaay better than CGI

It’s called imagination. You can make it as intricate or vague as you like. Some people focus on emotion and feelings. Other people love to picture intricate images and design the worlds in their minds. Or you do both as you feel like it.

16. No hidden fees

You pay one charge up front. That’s it – tax included. You don’t get charged extra if you don’t read at a certain speed, if you read it more than once, or if you don’t finish it. One charge – that’s all. There’s not even any interest.

15. No commercial breaks – no upgrade required

That’s right. The only thing that’s going to pause your reading enjoyment is you. Or other people. If you have other people around you – you can always lock them out. Turn off your phone. That sort of thing.

It’s up to you.

14. Single-player and multi-player modes

You can read it by yourself. You can read it and then discuss it in a book club. You can read it to someone. You can have it read to you. You can take turns reading sections. You can even listen to a stranger read it.

So many options.

13. No license renewal

If you’re over 20, you lived through the transition from buying software and getting a cd with the installation information that works forever on as many computers as you want to buying software and having to pay a yearly license fee or new fees for additional users. Well, not for books! Once you buy one, it’s yours!

12. Millions of different models to choose from

And that’s probably an understatement. A major understatement. There are so many different genres of both fiction and nonfiction as well as thousands of different authors with different publications.

Oh, and lest I forget, you don’t have to choose between them. You can read as many or as few as you like.

11. Low budget

What other fun activity can you do repeatedly for under $10? Ok. Don’t answer that. But as far as hobbies go, reading is relatively cheap.

10. Teaches empathy

Reading stories gives you new perspectives into other people’s problems, which in turn leads to empathy. Something that can help you do better in interpersonal relationships whether they’re business relationships or closer than that.

9. Helps with school work

Learn more vocabulary. Improve reading comprehension skills. Increase your understanding of plot and other literary devices. The list goes on and on.

8. Increases IQ

Want to read more about why? Read the lifehack article. For the short version, enlarging vocabulary and improving empathy helps.

7. Available for free

Remember what I said about it being cheap? Well, if you’re willing to take a trip to the library, it’s not only cheap – it’s free! Support your local libraries! And check out neighborhood lending libraries and Project Gutenberg!

6. Broadens experiences

How else can you be an astronaut, a pirate, a court lady, a space-ship captain, and a soldier in the War of 1812? In the same week?

Not to mention black, white, heterosexual, homosexual, male, female, religious, atheistic, shy, outgoing, nerdy, social, racist, broad-minded, and so on. No matter what the demographic or point of view, there are books that can expose you to them and give you a wider understanding of the world and its people.

5. Fun when you’re sober

I know, right? Who knew that was even possible?

Readers. That’s who. Oh, you can read buzzed or drunk if you like, but as you know, cognizance goes down as alcohol intake goes up. So the less alcohol you have, the more likely you are to enjoy the book! Who’d’ve thunk?

4. Great way to meet people

I know I mentioned book clubs (great way to meet new people, especially when you like having a cue for breaking the ice); however, reading books in public? Great icebreaker.

Well, unless you’re trying to read. Then, people asking you what you’re reading can actually be a bit aggravating. In fact, I’d recommend that you only read in public when reading is not the actual goal. Ooh, or unless you do it on your phone or kindle. Then, people don’t know.

3. Portable

I love paper books. On the other hand, having both paper and electronic books have made reading more portable than ever. Want to take a paperback with you to work? Why not? Want to take 10 books with you for your two 14 hour flights (14 there and 14 back) but don’t have room in your carryon? Download them on your phone. Then, you don’t even have to hide the cover.

I’ve even read while getting medical treatments and while donating blood and plasma. You can read just about anywhere, and it is amazing.

2. It’s sexy

Reading is sexy. It’s brainal. Or maybe it’s brainal foreplay. I don’t know – I get confused.

The point is that people who read tend to be interested in other people who read. That hints that you might have something in common. Plus, they’re usually turned-on by brains. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it’s a case of like pulling to like.

Oh, and speaking of like – if you read similar books? That’ll definitely get the other person’s attention.

 1. Teaches you to write

What else would I make number 1?

As much as reading is a great enjoyable experience, it’s also one of the top ways to learn to write. Like William Faulkner said, learn by example and then go out and make what you learned your own.

Go. Find time to read and then make time to write.

Jennifer Rainey: Author Q&A Number 2

Welcome to author Q&A number 2! This month’s author is Jennifer Rainey. I’ve known her for quite a while – well, “known” may be a little strong.

As musicians in different bands, we have crossed paths a number of times over the years (In fact, I remember when her first book was published). That said, we were both generally working when we saw each other, so we don’t know each other that well. I did, however, know that she’s been writing and publishing for quite a while, so she’s one of the first people I thought to invite to do an author Q&A.

An Author Q&A with Jennifer Rainey

Before we get to the author Q&A, let me say that reading her answers was a real treat – 1. because I learned more about someone I honestly should know better, and 2. because they’re interesting to read for any author!

IMHO, of course. But I think you’ll agree.

To start, they’re detailed and have a lot of valuable information for other writers , which is one of the main goals of the Q&A (so yay!). Even beyond that, though, they have a tone and style that pulls you in and makes you curious to read more.

Read for yourself and see what you think!

jennifer rainey author q & a number 2


1. What was your first finished book?

These Hellish Happenings (though it’s out of print)–Thoroughly Modern Monsters is my earliest work in print.

2. How many books did you start or work on before finishing that book?

Only a handful! I started pretty young. I wrote the first draft of These Hellish Happenings at 18 and published it independently at 21.

3. If it wasn’t the first book you worked on, what made this book different? What made you finish this one?

I am all about characters. I love to see what makes them tick, and I was so very fond of the cast of characters in These Hellish Happenings. They are really what drove me to finish it.

4. What was the biggest challenge you encountered when finishing your first book?

Sticking to a writing schedule!! I didn’t have any discipline. That’s something that I’ve really had to develop over the years.

5. If you’ve written books since then, was writing them easier/harder? How was the experience different?

WAY easier! It gets easier every time. For example, where These Hellish Happenings took three years from start to finish, my latest book, The Last Temptations of Iago Wick, was 13 months from start to finish. Just like anything else, writing and publishing take practice, and you’ll see yourself improve with each book.

6. Have you published your book? If yes, what medium(s) did you publish it in and why?

I publish independently because I love having that control. Everything is in my control: cover, title, sales channels. Having that freedom is really valuable to me.

I publish exclusively through Amazon because I really value the promotional options you have with them. And I think both electronic and physical books have their merits AND their fans. Ebooks are great and convenient and you can take a ton of them with you, but there’s something really great about that physical book, too. I think it’s important to appeal to both audiences there.

7. Who did your cover art? What was that experience like?

Jennifer Rainey Q & AMe! I have some background in graphic design–I’m a marketer in my day job–so that’s a place where I’ve always been able to save some money. Corel Paint Shop Pro is my go-to program. I can’t recommend it enough as an inexpensive alternative to Adobe Photoshop.

8. How are you marketing your book(s)?

Free and bargain book mailing lists, Twitter, Facebook, networking with other folks in the paranormal fantasy genres, talking to anyone who will listen–and writing more books! We’ve all heard it a thousand times, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

9. What is your next step?

I just published The Last Temptations of Iago Wick in February. That’s the first in The Lovelace & Wick Series, which is a paranormal/steampunk series based in 19th century Massachusetts. I’m working on a novella for publication this summer–Iago Wick and the Vampire Queen. Also, I’m hard at work on Binding Dante Lovelace, the second book in the series.

10. What is your favorite part of writing?

When it CLICKS. It’s worth it for when those characters really come to life and the story finally comes together. It’s worth it for that final product. You truly want to rip your hair out during the writing and editing process, but it’s so worth it in the end.

11. What is your biggest struggle with writing?

I STILL struggle with making time to write sometimes. After a long day at work, you don’t always want to edit or write, but you just have to make yourself do it.

12. What do you consider your weakest writing skill and what have you done to strengthen it or make up for it?

I like things like dialogue and allegories and pretty descriptions of setting more than plot sometimes. I’ve really had to step up my plot game! I’ve started asking myself in a scene, “This is a little flat–what would TOTALLY turn it on its ear?” Then, I do that and see how it goes. Definitely ramps up the action and keeps that plot interesting!

13. Do you now or have you ever done writing prompts? Did they help?

I don’t often. They just make me want to get back to my main WIP!

14. Have you take any writing classes? Which ones? What was your biggest take-away?

I haven’t. I took a lot of English lit in college (I majored in it), but no creative writing.

15. What is your writing background? (Do you have a degree in writing, worked in writing jobs, etc.)

I majored in English at Ohio State, but I’ve been writing and telling stories my whole life. I wrote in high school, in college, and I’ve always read A LOT. Now, I’m in bank marketing and that frequently involves writing (ad copy, newsletters, etc.). I am almost always writing in one way or another!

16. Have you ever written in a writing circle? What did you think? (Why do you or why don’t you?)

A few in college. They’re both great and dangerous. Don’t listen TOO much to the opinions of others. Take away what you will, but don’t let others shape the way you write more than is helpful–especially if they are not fans of your genre.

17. Who are your favorite authors?

Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Jonathan L. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Shakespeare… the list goes on.

18. What is the #1 advice you would give to people who want to be writers?

WRITE. If you want to write, do it. Don’t let anything get in the way. So many people WANT to write, but they don’t because they let other things get in the way. If you want to do it, do it. Make the time.

19. When and where do you write?

I mostly write in the morning. I get up at about 5:00 AM every day! Frequently, I’m either at my desk in my bedroom or sitting on the couch in my living room, but I also love visiting the library (support your public library!).


Now, that’s dedication! I used to manage 5 AM or earlier, but I’m afraid it is not in the cards for me at the moment. So props to Jennifer for doing it every day!

Come to mention it, let’s have a round of applause and a big thanks to Jennifer Rainey for filling out the author Q&A form! Weren’t her answers fun? I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.

If anyone has anything they’d like to add to her answers or any questions, comment away. I look forward to hearing from you!